Tag Archives: John Wick

2017 in Review – July

“It ain’t the size that counts, asshole. It’s what you do with it.”

Brooker’s challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days takes an unexpected turn this month. An announcement from his favourite cinema had him slamming on the brakes hard at the half way point of July.

Continue reading 2017 in Review – July

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2017 in Review – February

deadshot

“Y’all jokers must be crazy.”

February. Awards month. This second diary entry starts with a list of Oscar nominated films I would love to get through before the awards ceremony on the last Sunday of the month. Try as I might, I don’t have the time nor energy to travel up and down the country to obscure little picturehouses to watch three hour French films about the government’s war on Brussels sprouts (I don’t know what any of these films are about. Call that an educated guess) so that pipe dream was never going to be doable.

Maybe that’s a tick list for next year. One challenge at a time. Maybe next year will be the year I watch every single nominated film. For now, it’s all about these 365 films I have to watch. So…


the martian 2015Week One

The first week felt pretty busy when it came to films. More blind luck than organisation, the month started by knocking another film of the blu-ray pile of shame; The Martian‘s extended cut burned through our evening on day one. I honestly forgot how good that film was.

The three year old’s journey through the MCU continued with Iron Man 2 on the same night we bought foreign film Oscar nom A Man Called Ove. The Saturday of the Failed Critics Pubcast gave me train time for a first watch of 1984’s Bad Taste and a repeat visit to Luc Besson’s Lucy. A family trip for the excellent Lego Batman Movie, followed by the pretty rubbish Gold was how that Sunday started. Rounded it off with the traditional yearly watch of Any Given Sunday.

Early February ended a bit of a mixed bag. The hopefully final but surprisingly fun Resident Evil movie was certainly better than the first Schumacher Batman that I somehow ended up watching. But with the last films of the week being the great Hidden Figures and the sublime Gone Baby Gone, things were looking up.


mad-max-chromeWeek Two

In my misguided attempt to watch all the Oscar nominated films, I forced myself through a couple of horrendous films to start week two. Michael Bay’s Stars and Stripes masturbatory fantasy that is 13 Hours may be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Followed by the promising, but overall sleep inducing Passengers felt like the worst way to continue this challenge. Luckily, the newly released “Definitive Directors Cut” of Heat was enough to cleanse the palette.

The next few days was a mix of first watches and old favourites. John Wick and Training Day filling the quota of films we’d seen before; while new films were covered by The Girl With All The Gifts and Fences. All superb choices, if I do say so myself. The bizarre documentary Beware the Slenderman was our Saturday night viewing this week. Four films on the Sunday filled in my numbers nicely, I finished off the weekend with the beautiful, boner inducing “Black and Chrome” cut of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Luckily, work was quiet as this week carried on. An empty office and a stack of paperwork meant iTunes films to pass the time. A couple of films at work, the original Jungle Book with the kid when I got home and I ended the week with an early contender for film of the year, John Wick: Chapter 2.


DEADPOOLWeek Three

More films at work mean that by the time we are watching Leon that evening – another from the Pile of Shame – I’ve added three more to the list. Revisiting last year’s War on Everyone, along with an impromptu Paranorman watch and rewatching Antoine Fuqua’s Shooter meant my list had a diverse selection being added.

Excellent espionage thriller/comic book film Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Founder clocked in at numbers 98 and 99 on my spreadsheet. Leaving space for something special for the next milestone. Film 100 was the first watch of this year, the seventeenth since the film came out almost a year ago to the day. Film 100 was the one, the only, Deadpool.

A couple of animated films, that included the surreal but fun A Cat in Paris brought up the rear for the most part this week. I also managed to get my sticky hands on a review screener for the latest film from one of my favourite directors to end this week. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely watch James Cullen Bressack’s Bethany.


nuns-with-gunsWeek Four

The month begins to come to a close. The original cut of Mad Max: Fury Road kicks things off (yes, a different cut is a different film. My challenge, my rules). Peter Berg’s Patriots Day and Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness meant the week had an up and down middle section. You can hear me wax lyrical about both on the Oscar fallout podcast. This week also saw us dig into one of the worst films we have ever seen; Nude Nuns with Big Guns is just as award worthy as you think it is.

Loads of films with the kid this week, too. On request, we saw three, THREE, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The two recent ones and the original 1990 version. Creepy, rapey Michelangelo aside, they ain’t the worst movies in the world. And she loved them, that’s all that matters. It’s the same reason I sat through the Angry Birds Movie again! Luckily, she didn’t watch our final one of that weekend, we watched the dug in to The Greasy Strangler. Just… wow.

Finally, after weeks of joking around about how ridiculous it is that we could live in a world where Suicide Squad won an academy award, it actually happened. So a rewatch of the film I loved that everyone else despised; the Oscar winning Suicide Squad. Then, as I write this, I’m in my seat at the local IMAX waiting for the premiere of Logan to begin. And thanks to Fox’s brilliant marketing ploy to show it at 10.23pm, it still counts as a February film. And much like last month, the second I turn this in, it’s onto writing the review.

This is getting tiring. But at this point, I’ve done more than half of the number I totalled last year. That can’t be bad.

Two months in the bag. Only ten to go.

Films seen this month: 54

Current count, as of 28th of February: 114 of 365.

John Wick: Chapter 2

“Can a man like you know peace?”

Couple of years back, the first John Wick film came out of nowhere and blew those of us that knew about it away. Word of mouth quickly made it a surprise hit and soon enough it became the measuring stick for all modern action thrillers.

Watching the once uninteresting Keanu Reeves rack up an impressive body count with outstanding stunt work, and brilliant fight and gun choreography, John Wick was the action movie equivalent of great porn.

So of course we now have a sequel.

A few hours after the end of director (and stuntman) Chad Stahelski’s previous film, John Wick’s past appears to have caught up with him. The formally retired assassin is handed a contract that would be terminal to refuse, so heads to Rome to work on regaining his freedom.

As is always the way, things aren’t as simple as they seem and Wick finds himself a loose end in somebody else’s plan. Now, he’s worrying less about retiring and more about surviving the tidal wave of bad guys on his tail.

What? You wanted a more in depth story? Sorry, that’s not what John Wick nor its sequel are about.

What John Wick: Chapter 2 is about, is expanding and improving on almost every element of the original thriller’s already excellent pedigree. It’s about taking all the action, the gun play, the superbly cinematic fighting and turning them all up to eleven.

Let’s be honest: a plot which revolves around a retired hitman resurrecting his demons because some clueless yob killed his dog and stole his car, is simultaneously cliched and beyond ridiculous. What makes John Wick stand out is not only how ludicrously absurd it is, but how fully it commits to that absurdity. The choreography behind Reeves’s stunts and (what has lovingly come to be known as) “gun-fu” skills makes the martial arts shit that earned Cardboard Keanu all that praise back in his The Matrix days, look like kids playing at being Bruce Lee.

Chapter 2 of this franchise follows the standard sequel blueprint. From the opening scene (resembling the car-combat of a Twisted Metal game) through to the destruction of our main character’s home at the hands of an insane mobster with a grenade launcher; John Wick 2 ups the ante in almost every way that the returning directors are able. And that’s just the first quarter of an hour.

Quickly finding himself in Rome – one of my favourite parts of this film that isn’t the firearm based destruction of any and all bad guys – we get to glimpse into the underworld that John Wick inhabits. Needing a new arsenal for his new country, it’s an absolute delight to watch the assassin tool up for his latest job, picking and choosing weaponry and outfits like the rest of us would choose what aftershave to wear.

Now we get to see Mr. Wick plough through a never ending tidal wave of bad guy cannon fodder. Nameless, faceless goons with absolutely no stock in the story being told are here simply to up the body count. The only real downside is that the big bad guy of the piece (played by the supremely average Riccardo Scamarcio) kind of falls into this same category. He just doesn’t provide any real sense of threat, or even a little mild peril. He’s as generic an Italian mobster as you can imagine. Tony Soprano this guy ain’t. The poor guy didn’t have a chance.

Scamarcio is introduced to us not five minutes after we have been given a glimpse of greatness, as (the always amazing) Peter Stormare shows up as the Russian mob boss trying to make peace with the contract killer after the events of the first film. You’ve really got to pull out the big guns if you want to have your main bad guy be comparable to Stormare. But that is a minor niggle in such a great film.

Whilst on paper, John Wick: Chapter 2 seems almost generic in its averageness, this would be the worst book to judge by its slightly bland cover. It may look like it should be a straight-to-dvd action film, but it is in fact one of the greatest action films to be released in ages; possibly the best since Wick’s first outing.

A breathtaking, two hour-long, ultra-violent ballet of guns and hand-to-hand combat that is, even at this early stage of the year, in contention for the best film of 2017.

The Best of 2015 Thus Far

As we’re now well and truly past the half-way mark for the year, it seems like as good a time as any for a few of the Failed Critics contributors to bundle together and reveal which films they’ve enjoyed the most so far. Come December, we’ll still be running the annual Failed Critics Awards, giving you the opportunity to cast your vote for your favourite films of 2015.

In the meantime, let’s have a quick run through of what some of our writers and podcasters have chosen as their five favourite films of the year. Will the biggest film of the year so far, Jurassic World, be featured? Will United Passions somehow infect this article too? Will anyone pick anything other than Mad Max?? Find out below…


by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad maxFighting the urge to fill my word limit with just paragraphs of me repeating the words “Perfect”, “Awesome” and “The most fun I’ve had this year with clothes on”, I’ll try and be a little more cohesive in my description. It had been thirty years since the last film in the iconic Mad Max franchise, to bring a fourth entry to a series after that long is a massive undertaking at the best of times. But when its original star is as iconic as the film’s that made him famous, replacing him as well would be a recipe for disaster in any other filmmakers hands. Thankfully for all of us, the series’ creator made a triumphant return and gave us one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. A breathtaking, visceral two hours (on three occasions) in the cinema left me shellshocked and shaking with excitement and almost unable to write my review when I got home I was so pumped. Oh, and there’s a dude on a truck made of drums and speakers playing heavy metal on a flame throwing guitar! No more needs to be said!

2] Ex Machina

3] Whiplash

4] Still Alice

5] It Follows

WORST: Avengers: Age of Ultron – Years of subtle hype and weeks of actual hype in the buildup to this, the biggest Marvel movie yet. What we got was a more than two hour long wet fart of a film that left me blindingly disappointed with a really bad taste in my mouth.


by Paul Field (@pafster)

1] Wild Tales

wild talesDark, twisted and utterly enthralling anthology from Argentina. All of the stories are great, no fillers here as is often the case with anthology films. I love a revenge film, and to have 6 served up in one sitting is a real treat. Hard to pick my favourite… the parking ticket is brilliant, the plane passengers unsettling and hilarious, the overtaking motorist caper that escalates out of all control…..but I think the Wedding. Pissing off the bride on her wedding day is an absolute no no, and here, she conveys her displeasure in spectacular fashion. As a first feature from Damián Szifron, this is outstanding and will take some toppling come the end of the year.

2] Hyena

3] Creep

4] We Are Still Here

5] Buzzard

WORST: Lost River Ryan Gosling believing his own hype, delivers the most pretentious load of cobblers ever committed to film. Utter, utter toilet.. and yes, I’ve seen United Passions, Accidental Love and the new Danny Dyer film this year too. Its worse than all three of those, on repeat, for eternity.


by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

1] Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

birdmanReleased in the UK on 1 January 2015, I still don’t think I’ve seen a funnier, more entertaining film in the cinema all year. Michael Keaton is absolutely phenomenal as the flailing former superhero movie star attempting to reinvent himself as a stage actor and producer. His manic behaviour, coupled with director Iñárritu’s frenetic, constantly adapting story shot as if the whole production was just one long take; I just loved every minute of it. However, I was hesitant to put it as number one on my list, given a couple people I’ve recommended it to have hated it! But ultimately, despite seeing it only two days into the year, nothing else has managed to better it yet for me.

2] Mad Max: Fury Road

3] Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

4] Cobain: Montage of Heck

5] John Wick

WORST: United Passions – Technically not even released in the UK this year, and unlike Jupiter Ascending (cinema) and The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (VOD), I didn’t even watch this legally. But if there’s a more abhorrent, reprehensible piece of offensive propagandist garbage with as high a budget and released globally within the next decade, I’ll be surprised.


By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max 4I’m still thinking about this movie, weeks after seeing it. The action, the character, the dialogue, the music and most importantly, the SCALE. It’s over the top in every sense and works for me on every level. I can’t wait to get hold of the home release and enjoy it without the hindrance of 3D. Absolutely superb movie!

2] American Sniper

3] Furious 7

4] Jurassic World

5] Terminator Genisys

WORST: Fifty Shades of Grey Bloated, tacky, overly polished and un-sexy. I didn’t get an erection and I didn’t get a shag that night.

by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

1] The Theory of Everything

theory of everythingThe Stephen Hawking biopic earned lead man Eddie Redmayne an Oscar and deservedly so. His portrayal of a genius of a man going through various stages of a terrible, life changing illness was extremely believable. The film also put over a side of Hawking you don’t often see, the friend, parent and husband, not the man who invented time. Or something.

2] Ex Machina

3] Kingsman: The Secret Service

4] Selma

5] Furious 7

WORST: United Passions Garbage of the highest order. I found Tim Roth less deplorable playing a racist in Selma than I did playing Sepp Blatter in this tripe. It’s offensive that it was even made.


by Callum Petch (@CallumPetch)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max fury roadFury Road is the kind of film whose existence is a reminder that this Movies thing might be alright after all, a beacon of hope that we can all look to in dark times and remind ourselves that we can, in fact, have it so much better.  From its uncomplicated story, to its unique world and set design, to its outstanding special effects, to its jaw-dropping practical stunts, to its brilliantly subtle Tom Hardy performance, to its mesmerising Charlize Theron performance, to its openly and furiously feminist and matriarchal heart, every last frame of this utter masterpiece is what I have heard perfection is supposed to be like.  It is everything that modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking isn’t, a purposeful pushback against everything wrong with those films right now that, in a just world, will have everyone following its example in the years to come.  Both times that I saw this movie, my veins pulsed with pure adrenaline from frame one and the feeling did not stop until long after I left the screen in tears of pure joy at that perfect final shot.  I foresee nothing else coming anywhere close to it for the rest of this year, mainly cos I have no idea what’ll happen to me if there is a better film than Fury Road to come.

2] Magic Mike XXL

3] The Voices

4] Shaun The Sheep Movie

5] Spy

WORST: Entourage  I said everything I needed to say about this reprehensible piece of abysmal shite here and here.  I’m not going to repeat myself.

Knock Knock

Well, at least Keanu Reeves is still picking interesting projects?

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

WARNING: Minor-ish spoilers for Knock Knock, semi-major spoilers for the 1971 version of Straw Dogs, and possible Trigger Warning for discussion of rape scenes.

knock knock reevesI think Knock Knock is attempting to run on the Straw Dogs principle.  Allow me to explain.

In the 1971 version of Straw Dogs – the good one, in case you need further distinction between the two films – there is a centrepiece sequence in which Amy, the wife of David, is raped by Charlie.  The scene has become infamous, however, because of how ambiguous it is seen to be by many people for, at a certain point during the rape, Amy can be seen by some to enjoy it, indicated by her kissing and embracing Charlie, possibly turning the rape into consensual sex. It turns the scene into something much less clear-cut, that can distort or enhance the film’s subtext depending on how you view it, although it is important to mention that Amy has traumatic flashbacks to it throughout the rest of the movie, and that her second rape later on is clearly and unambiguously a rape.

Although it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, Knock Knock seemingly wants to use that principle to fuel its entire movie.  Evan (Keanu Reeves) is a devoted and loving husband and father who, one night when his wife and children are away on a trip, provides shelter for two women, Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas), who are stranded in the cold and rain lost on their way to a party.  They then proceed to, whilst waiting for a cab, slowly start coming onto Evan, who frequently and firmly rebuffs their advances.  Then, when the cab does arrive and it’s time for them to leave, they approach Evan, naked, unzip his trousers and, despite his pleas, give him a blowjob, eventually transitioning into full-on sex between the three of them.

The second half of Knock Knock chronicles their subsequent punishment of Evan for the sex, using the justification that Evan is completely deserving of this because he didn’t stop them.  The fact that the sex kept going after the initial blowjob is treated, by the two girls and the film itself despite Evan’s constant pleas that he didn’t want to do it and is a loyal father and loving family man, as though it were consensual and that Evan should just have said “no”.  Except that he did.  Frequently and emphatically.  And the film goes to great strides during its second half to show that, no, Evan could not have physically stopped them from overpowering him, because if he could break free and stop them at any time the film would be over.  Evan was, at least from where I am sitting – and though I have talked with many people about this, I am still not completely certain or confident in saying this, so feel free to continue this debate in a civilised manner in the comments or on my Twitter – raped, yet the film treats him as if he could have just stopped it at any time.

That is an extremely privileged and rather reprehensible viewpoint that, if the genders were reversed, would be taken as being a rape apologist.  But it’s what the entire film bases its moral compass on and, therefore, its second half on.  And it’s so tone-deaf and just plain wrong, not to mention its marginalisation and discrediting of female-on-male rape, that I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  “This can’t be the film’s entire message and point.  There has to be a twist coming, a reveal that will change this whole thing completely.”  But it didn’t, and there is no twist, which is just bewildering to me.  After all, movies like this are basically morality plays and I cannot believe that this film’s message is “Don’t ever cheat on your wife, being raped is no excuse.”

By which I mean, I literally cannot believe it because, well, this film is too utterly ridiculous to be taken as a straight-faced erotic horror-thriller.  The dialogue is utterly ridiculous – Keanu Reeves earnestly extolling the virtue of vinyl is something that really needs to be seen to be believed – the characters are paper-thin, the tension is nearly non-existent because the film gets really stupid the further in it gets, the acting is legitimately laughable – including a woefully miscast Reeves who spends pretty much the entire time purposefully giving the exact opposite of his John Wick-quality performance – and the payoff to this seemingly straight-faced tense and terrifying horror-thriller is… two full-on honest-to-god gags.  Not of the unintentional kind, of which this film has plenty, but of the genuine intentional kind.  One of them’s actually pretty damn funny, too.

So I’m having a hard time taking Knock Knock seriously because… well, I really don’t know if it wants to be taken seriously.  It’s so ridiculous, so histrionic and melodramatic, that I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a ridiculous parody or is just so completely inept that it’s coming off like this.  So is the film sincere in its primary message – and secondary message of “Bitches be crazy” – or is it just negligence brought on from nobody adjusting the film’s moral compass to be more firmly behind Evan or the girls?  Is Keanu Reeves – because, good lord, he deserves every last Razzie that’s going to be thrown his way come end of year, and I say this as one of his absolute biggest fans – purposefully being so hammily terrible or is just hammily terrible?

What’s more… I don’t hate this movie.  It is an incredibly bad movie with a reprehensible moral compass (if everyone involved is being serious) and nothing to recommend about it besides its unintentional hilarity, but I don’t hate it.  I think I was honestly having fun at how utterly terrible this film was, like I was watching a future Mystery Science Theater 3000 candidate unfolding in front of my eyes, if that show were still with us.  Like, the film is pure garbage, but it wasn’t the kind of garbage that causes me to sit and question why we as a collective humanity exist and why I am wasting my life watching the film in front of me.  Knock Knock is almost, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, so bad that it’s good, even though it’s kind of an embodiment of every MRA douchebag “aren’t women so mean to nice guys” and rape apologist ever at the same time, somehow.

And yet I don’t hate it, and I’m afraid for what that says about me as a person.

Callum Petch is cheating on you, yeah.  Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Owen’s 2015 in Film: Part 4 – April Fool

With the fourth entry in his continuing year in review series, Owen casts a glance over the films he’s been watching throughout April 2015. As with each of the previous articles in the series, Owen will be breaking down the month by week, providing a review of one arbitrarily chosen film seen during each period.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

Oh boy. This is getting a bit embarrassing. I think I better just stop promising to catch up on my Werner Herzog films because yet another month has passed where I’m still so far behind on them. In fact, I’m so far behind on a huge pile of movies that it’s getting a bit ridiculous. I’m not even going to make excuses this time (Daredevil) as to the reasons why so many days (Daredevil) listed below indicate that I’ve seen “absolutely nothing” (Daredevil) on them. There’s no (Daredevil) point. I just haven’t seen anything (Daredevil) on those days. I’m sorry. (Daredevil) That’s how it is. The website itself has been a bit manic, as you can probably tell if you’ve been on here over the past 4 weeks. I doubt we’ve ever published so many podcasts in such a short period of time before!

What I did end up watching last month doesn’t seem to follow any rhyme nor reason. A lot of them were classic films I watched because I felt like I had to after Amazon kept posting them to me and I had little else important to do or things I’d rather be watching. I did squeeze in another couple of Albert Pyun movies during April, which I’m quite proud of. A shame that neither were exactly good; they certainly weren’t better than March’s Heatseeker, Cyborg or Adrenalin even. But there weren’t any specific themes I was chasing. No science fiction binges, no run through of a studios output. Just an assortment of stuff.

Anyway, enough waffling. On with the reviews…


Week 1 – Wednesday 1 – Sunday 5 April 2015

Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – Opera (1987); Friday – Little Norse Prince (1968); Saturday – MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO (1988); Sunday – [absolutely nothing]

totoroI haven’t always been the biggest Studio Ghibli fan. It took a long time before I came around to their work. The fantasy movies they produce, whilst spectacular to look at, just don’t hit me emotionally. Visually they’re unbelievably impressive pieces of art that absolutely deserve the admiration they get. However, there’s only so much that pretty pictures can do for a film to stop it from being boring. If the story isn’t all that great, then that’s where these films have faltered for me in the past. Their films such as Whisper of the Heart, Ocean Waves, Only Yesterday and Grave of the Fireflies, those that are more tightly based in reality, or playing on nostalgia, these are the films of theirs that I enjoy most. There are a few exceptions, such as Miyazaki’s story of two young sisters who find their new forest home has some unusual neighbours. The message of the film is to respect nature and look after your family, not forgetting where you come from, and as such the whole movie is just nice and fuzzy. It’s a sweet little story; at times sad, tense and perilous, but so sweet and fun. You can’t help but like every single character, from the two sisters, to their father, the dustbunnys and the cat bus, and of course the eponymous Totoro. It’s the first time I’ve watched it since learning of the supposed reality behind the story (seriously, do not click this link if you don’t want to ruin My Neighbour Totoro for yourself forever) which did have an overwhelmingly depressing effect on the movie, but it was still just as good as it was the last few times I’ve watched it.


Week 2 – Monday 6 – Sunday 12 April 2015

Monday – Splash (1984), The Dark Crystal (1982); Tuesday – JOHN WICK (2015); Wednesday – Captain America (1990); Thursday – The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982); Friday – [absolutely nothing]; Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

john wickCallum actually wrote a really good review of John Wick for the site about why you should watch this film, and we did talk about it on the podcast earlier in April. But I feel like even that hasn’t given the film enough exposure, so I’m going to talk about it again here! John Wick is the least-American American-thriller I’ve seen for a long time. It’s clearly an action film heavily influenced by the ultra violent brilliance coming out of Asia in films such as The Raid, The Chaser, The Man From NowhereDrug War, etc more so than it is by anything Liam Neeson has done of late. When I say that John Wick is brutal – watching Keanu Reeves play an ex-hitman getting revenge on the idiot son of a mob boss who was stupid enough to steal his car and kill his puppy – then I mean it is brutal. Even though here in the UK it’s rated a fairly tame 15, do not be alarmed. It is hardly Taken 3 levels of softened, jump-cutting guff. It has a strong cast (Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, etc) all led by Keanu having something of a Reevesival (consider that term well and truly coined). I really enjoyed Man of Tai Chi, which was his directorial debut, but it’s good to see him doing well again in something like this. It’s a very entertaining, completely over the top, full throttle thriller. Again, as I said on the podcast and on Twitter shortly after watching it, John Wick bullseyed every target it aimed at. A thoroughly enjoyable wince-inducing actioner.


Week 3 – Monday 13 – Sunday 19 April 2015

Monday – SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (1927); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – The House by the Cemetery (1981); Friday – Cœur fidèle (aka The Faithful Heart) (1923); Saturday – Lost River (2015); Sunday – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

sunriseI think I’ll avoid the wrath of Steve by not talking about Star Wars (which is still not very good, sorry!), nor repeat myself by sighing over Lost River, and will instead pick F.W. Murnau’s very highly rated silent classic, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. It’s only my second ever watch of this film, although it was my first time watching my recently acquired shiny new Eureka ‘Masters of Cinema’ Blu-ray. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Sunrise is still an excellent film. Whilst previously I’ve always thought very highly of this, I always remembered the middle part of the film being substantially weaker than its opening and closing thirds. I doubt I could tell you why exactly now, as I feel like I’ve not only enjoyed the film overall much more on this second viewing, but I think I might even appreciate its structure more. The build up to the collapse of Janet Gaynor and George O’Brien’s marriage was fantastically well constructed in the earlier part of the film, right before O’Brien succumbs to the alluring Margaret Livingston and her promises of taking him to the city, if he can murder his wife and make it look like an accident. The despair and kooky frolicking that follows the dark and grim first 30 minutes or so didn’t come across half as disjointed as the last time I saw it. Instead having the opposite effect of being almost tragic, knowing how close they were to ending it all. Murnau does a truly brilliant job at showing you that love between two people can be a magical, binding and unbreakable thing, particularly through its portrayal in the ending of the movie. But I won’t spoil it! Suffice to say, if you’ve ever put off watching this because it’s in that slightly pretentious looking Sight & Sound list, don’t hold out any longer. Take the risk! It’s definitely worth a chance.


Week 4 – Monday 20 – Sunday 26 April 2015

Monday – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930); Thursday – Master and Commander (2003), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015); Friday – [absolutely nothing]; Saturday – Gattaca (1997); Sunday – Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), Infernal (2015), Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

all quiet on the western frontProbably most notable for being the first film to ever win both Outstanding Production and Best Director at the Academy Awards, no I’m not talking about Age of Ultron. Christ. God no. All Quiet on the Western Front finally made its way into my DVD player last month. Last year, I got hold of a pre-release copy of the restored documentary Forgotten Men, which was released three years after Lewis Milestone’s award laden movie, but dealt with a similar concept. Whereas All Quiet… follows a group of young German soldiers who enlist to help protect “the Fatherland” full of enthusiasm and naivety, but soon learn the harsh realities of war in the trenches, Forgotten Men featured interviews with veterans of the Great War. What both share in common is strong anti-war messages, as well as being genuinely upsetting at times. The tragic loss of life, the impact war had on the lives of ordinary people all for a cause they don’t fully understand, living ‘between the wars’ as we now know it to be, it makes for an unsettling and uncomfortable story. Nevertheless, the direction and cinematography of Milestone’s movie (originally released as a silent film before being re-released as a “talkie”) make it stand out as one of the most important war movies of all time as well as one of the best.


Week 5 – Monday 27 – Thursday 30 April 2015

Monday – Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015); Tuesday – The Sting (1971); Wednesday – STREET FIGHTER: ASSASSINS FIST (2014); Thursday – Maps to the Stars (2014), Rocking Cambodia: Rise of a Pop Diva (2015)

street fighterI think it must have been back in 2013 when randomly on Twitter I was followed by an account that apparently represented a new Street Fighter series that was in production. Being a fan of the video games in my youth, as well as the animated films and even the live-action movie (ahem, JCVD), I have to admit it did peak my interest and I gave their website and YouTube channel a butchers. One thing that struck me fairly quickly was the sheer attention to detail that had gone into every single martial arts fight that they were working on, as well as the attempt to really make this a focused look at the relationship between Ryu and Ken. Having now seen the final product after its release on Netflix, it’s even more clear how devoted to the project that Joey Ansah, who directs and features in the film itself as Akuma, certainly was at capturing a story first and a video game tie-in second. Whilst it’s not a flawless victory (apologies for throwing in a Mortal Kombat reference) with much of the films generous run time of 150+ minutes taken up by work-out sessions, montage moments and plenty of training, it does look very impressive. British actor Christian Howard plays Ken Masters, but also coordinated and choreographed a lot of the fight scenes in this film and that’s where the movie shines. It looks exactly how a Street Fighter film should, with some exceptionally well shot action. It’s probably a bit long and a bit slow for anyone who’s not a fan of the games to stick with right through to the end, but I enjoyed it and have my fingers crossed that they’ll continue the series in some form or another. Whether it’s as another webseries or even another film, I’ll be back for more.


And I’m pretty much done for this article and actually releasing it within a few days of the end of the month for a change. It’s also probably the first of these monthly articles that all four films I’ve chosen are ones I’ve enjoyed as opposed to having a bit of a rant about some. I’m not sure how that happened, but there you go. As always, I’m happy to discuss any of the above in more detail or argue why I liked each of them, or even have a conversation about any of the others I’ve seen and not reviewed! Just leave a comment in the box below or message me on Twitter at @ohughes86. See you in a month’s time!

John Wick

A breath of fresh air in the American action movie landscape, John Wick delivers on everything it sets out to do.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

john wick 1The dog should not have any actual weight prescribed to it.  It should just be a MacGuffin, a paper-thin excuse for yet another violent revenge flick, a self-parodying barrel-scraper that induces unintended/perfectly intentional laughter whenever it’s brought up for whatever reason.  That’s how this should go.  That’s how this is apparently supposed to go, if you purely subscribe to the American action movie way of doing things.  The catalyst for the violence has long since stopped mattering to the majority of mid-level non-blockbuster action movies.  Nobody really cares what motivates the (nearly always) grizzled white man to whip out their pistol and start painting the sets red, right, so why invest any meaning into it anymore?  Just pick the most obvious tropes – usually involving the fridging or kidnapping of women – and away we go.

“F*ck that,” says John Wick, which gets into its head this crazy little concept that if you actually invest something into the world and characters and set-up for that violence, then the violence might carry legitimate weight beyond a reflexive appreciation for cool bloodshed.  So the dog is still a MacGuffin – whatever is the instigator for the revenge in these films always is – but it’s one that carries legitimate emotional attachment for John Wick (Keanu Reeves) himself.  It’s more than just a parting gift from his recently-deceased wife to him, it’s the last tangible evidence that he can and does deserve the better life he escaped his mob days for.  That he can be actually be a good person and that the universe won’t rip his wife from him totally as recompense for his sins.  That he won’t be alone.

That’s why Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) ordering its killing for no other reason than its being loud is such a blow to John.  It’s his worst fears coming true, his hope being extinguished, a grizzly reminder that he cannot escape and does not deserve to escape, that he will be forever alone.  And the film takes great pains to communicate this to the viewer.  A relatively decent stretch of the opening of the movie is dedicated to demonstrating John’s solemn grieving and how the dog, and what it represents, is the thing that finally causes him to break that stoicism and grieve like a human instead of a force of nature.  It doesn’t matter that he has Daisy for barely a day before she’s taken from him, it still f*cking hurts, as his rather terrifying mid-film monologue to Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist) demonstrates.

Plus, that dog is so f*cking cute it’s unreal.

That kind of attention to detail is why John Wick is so bloody good and such a wonderful breath of fresh air in the non-blockbuster American action movie landscape.  This is not a film that simply slaps together the barest vestiges of plot, character and theme, attaches them either side of a rote series of action beats, stretches the thing out to an uncomfortably long time, and then calls it a day.  This is a film that has real genuine effort put into everything, a film made by people who wanted to tell a genuine story, with a series of themes and characters they genuinely wanted to see through, and action that helps tell that story instead of simply marking time.

Specifically, the world of John Wick is a wonderful concoction.  A seedy yet high-class and professional world of connected and business-like mob members, gangsters, and code-honouring hitmen and hitwomen.  Everyone knows each other, all put up the veneer of being (or genuinely are) respectful to one another, and most hang out in a specially decked-out and designated neutral ground hotel in upscale New York called The Continental with its own bar, concierge (Lance Reddick), and a highly-trained medic on standby.  Services are paid for in special gold coins, certain cops are acutely aware of what goes on and know exactly what the smart response is, and there are swift and severe punishments for breaking any rules or codes of ethics.

It’s extremely well drawn and sketched out, but it doesn’t overwhelm the film, it never overtakes the film barring a scene or two of loose end wrap-ups.  This is all instead world-building that correctly sits on the sidelines in favour of Wick’s personal journey of revenge and Viggo’s seemingly mandatory attempts to prevent said revenge.  The film does not stop for extended periods of time to explain the history of The Continental, how the cleaners work, and how everybody knows each other.  These things exist and how they exist is told through actions instead of straight exposition.  Most similar action films wouldn’t even attempt this level of world-building, let alone trying to integrate it this smoothly, and the fact that John Wick does so demonstrates just how much genuine effort and love went into this thing.

Following on from that, this movie looks amazing!  The way that it plays with colours and the warmth of such to tell its story as well as add stylish flourishes during the rare instances in which a shower of red gore decorates a part of the scenery is subtly clever stuff, but it’s the action scenes that really stick out above all else.  Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch – the latter of which is not credited because weird DGA rules – shoot their action scenes much like how Soderbergh shot Haywire’s action scenes: clean and clear where every shot has been carefully arranged to frame the action, and shaky-cam is very sparsely-deployed and never in such a way that the action on screen is obscured or hard to follow.  It’s so controlled and thought-out in a way that most action films really aren’t nowadays; I’m reminded a lot of The Raid 2, in that respect.

But with that said, John Wick is still a load of fun.  It takes itself seriously when it needs to, but knows when to kick back and just have some good old fashioned fun.  Much of the world is played for wonderful deadpan humour, and the action scenes themselves are a tonne of fun thanks to clever staging and that stylish verve which cribs a lot from classic John Woo gun-fu films.  There’s a kind of grace and balletic nature to proceedings, as John tears his way through waves of goons with a precision and rhythm that has the feel of an extended and tight dance number, a feeling helped by the way that Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richards’ score synchronises extremely well with the action.  Any time the pacing is thrown off, like with a poorly-timed reload or if John ever takes a hit or if a knife is brought into play, it feels jarring yet far more alive than yet another scrappy brawl with a jittery camera would be.

Praise must also go to Keanu Reeves as Wick himself.  On paper, the film wouldn’t seem to ask him to do much except glower angrily at things and be a walking badass, but Reeves also makes sure to keep John’s grief bubbling just under the surface, informing nearly everything the character does and letting it explode in a mid-film monologue that is some of his best work in forever and is quite possibly the most terrifying I’ve ever found him.  He’s obviously given help by Derek Kolstad’s great script, but Reeves still works his ass off to imbue John Wick with a depth that most other actors in this role likely wouldn’t have bothered trying.  He’s backed up on all sides by a uniformly excellent supporting cast – Michael Nyqvist is brilliant as the father who only seems to want to protect his son out of obligation, Alfie Allen is delightfully turd-like, Adrianne Palicki has a lot of fun as an overly-cocky femme fatale, among others – but he is the centre and he nails it completely.

When I first heard about John Wick a good 8 or so months ago, it was from that trailer and I was sold completely because it sounded like a dumb silly action film, and I like me a good dumb silly action film.  But John Wick turns out to be way smarter than that.  What plays as ridiculous in a trailer is revealed to be understandable in context, the work of a film that invests enough emotion and depth and attention to detail in its world to make the revenge rampage matter.  This is a film that remembers that violence is more affecting and more gripping when affixed to actually interesting characters and worlds than when it’s just thrown up on screen with a minimal amount of context.  That’s already enough to recommend John Wick, but the fact that the construction of those action scenes also has that same love and care and detail paid to it?  Well, that causes this to be one of the best pure action films I’ve seen so far this decade.

I love this movie, do not miss out on it.

Callum Petch is a twenty-something trying to be sure.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Furious 7, John Wick and Occasionally Jokes

john wicikWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics podcast! Back down to our normal run time of just over an hour you’ll be glad to hear after our mammoth 150th episode podcast last week.

Regulars Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by Callum Petch and making his debut on one of our proper podcasts, the equivalent of us bringing in Jason Statham to our franchise I’m sure you’ll all agree, is Jackson Tyler.

On that topic, the team review new releases including the box office juggernaut Fast & Furious 7 (or Furious 7, or whatever you want to call it), revenge thriller John Wick, teen comedy The DUFF and the latest from Noah Baumbach, While We’re Young.

There’s also time to discuss the latest news which is, erm, well, there wasn’t really any. We also take a look back at the classic Jim Henson fantasy movie The Dark Crystal; Callum shares his LCD Soundsystem love with documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits; Jackson revisits the Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny; whilst Steve continues with his foray through the Harry Potter series.

Join us next week as we finally get around to inducting Jean-Claude Van Damme into our illustrious Corridor of Praise!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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US Box Office Report: 14/11/14 – 16/11/14

Dumb and Dumber audiences turn up in droves for Dumb And Dumber To, Beyond The Lights exists an imaginary pile of cash, Christmas is doomed, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Surprisingly, it turns out that the audience size for a sequel to Dumb & Dumber is about equal to that of the audience for a second week Disney film, which I genuinely did not see coming.  Dumb And Dumber To ended up taking the top spot this weekend with about $38 million in ticket sales, just $2 million more than what Big Hero 6 managed.  For those wondering, my surprise keeps alternating between “that many people turned up for a 20 years later sequel to Dumb And Dumber?” and “only that many people turned up for a 20 years later sequel to Dumb And Dumber?”  I dunno.  I’m in shock, I just don’t know what I’m in shock at.

In any case, unlike next week, there was more than one new release this weekend.  With regards to the wide releases, bottom of the pack was Beyond The Lights – a film whose trailer just caused me to vomit profusely in sickening anger – which could only manage a very mediocre $6.5 million from 1,800 screen for a distant fourth place.  Birdman continued its slow expansion nationwide and managed to crack the Top 10, albeit with about the same haul as last week but in more theatres.  Whiplash, meanwhile, continues to be punished for NOT BEING IN FRONT OF MY EYEBALLS RIGHT NOW DAMMIT by struggling to find a non-arthouse audience – its expansion to 441 theatres could only manage $801,000.

In limited release land, we have a pair of successes, an OK performer, and a hilarious failure in more ways than one.  Most successful of the lot was the speculative fiction drama Foxcatcher which rode a near-literal wave of buzz and good press to a weekend total of $288,000 from six theatres – a ridiculous per-screen average of $48,000.  Performing much less great than that – but still great, it must be said – is the Tommy Lee Jones-directed western drama The Homesman which managed a very respectable $48,000 from 4 screens for a $12,000 per-screen average.  Whilst in expanding news, The Theory Of Everything infected another 36 theatres and raked in an average of $18,000 from each of them.  Yes, I do think that film looks insufferable, don’t act surprised.

Elsewhere, John Stewart of The Daily Show (as every mention of his name must be suffixed with by royal decree) released his directorial debut this past weekend and Rosewater did… OK.  It managed $1.2 million from 371 theatres for a per-screen average of $3,325, which is OK.  Not great, not poor, OK.  It’s fine, could’ve been better but still enough to crack the Top 15.  Much less OK, and more closer to straight up “bomb” territory, was Saving Christmas which could only manage $1,012,000 from 410 screens for a dismal $2,468 per-screen average.  This means that either Americans don’t give a sh*t about the threat that faces Christmas, or that stoners who want to laugh at inept entertainment with no redeemable value except MST3K sessions were too busy staying at home watching Adult Swim.  In either case, America is doomed.

Oh, and The Book Of Life collapsed out of the Top 10 because you people hate good movies.


dumb and dumber to

This Full List is Dumberer than the other box office reports you could be reading elsewhere.  Also, it just reminded you that Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd existed and now you hate life.

Box Office Results: Friday 14th November 2014 – Sunday 16th November 2014

1] Dumb And Dumber To

$38,053,000 / NEW

So the film that my Secondary School Physics teacher would throw on almost quite literally whenever he couldn’t be bothered to teach us finally got a sequel, eh?  Well, if it leads to a late-career resurgence for Jim Carrey then I won’t complain.  I still really like Jim Carrey and that streak he had in the mid-to-late 90s still predominately holds up!  I’d like to see him get one last run at the spotlight.

2] Big Hero 6

$36,010,000 / $111,653,000

There are people on this world that do not like The Emperor’s New Groove.  I do not know who these people are or why they are incapable of experiencing joy, but they exist and I want nothing to do with them.  I defy you to watch scenes like this, or this, or this without cracking a smile at least once – I think science has deemed doing so to be physically impossible.

3] Interstellar

$29,190,000 / $97,810,000

Not too bad a drop, quite frankly, especially considering the near-non-stop toxic word-of-mouth on this thing.  Look, folks, I am not Interstellar’s biggest fan either – I barely think it’s good, even if I did enjoy it – but maybe calm the vitriol somewhat, eh?  It’s not the worst film ever, it’s nowhere near the worst film this year!  It’s just a rather disappointing mess that tried to do too much and failed in its lofty ambitions.  Perspective, people!

Now, if you wanna talk Worst Film Of The Year candidates, let me talk to you about Nativity! 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!

4] Beyond The Lights

$6,500,000 / NEW

Will this be the next Ride Along or the next Obsessed?  Well, which do you think it’s going to be?  Come on.

5] Gone Girl

$4,625,000 / $152,699,000

Rosamund Pike is not going to get a Best Actress nomination, is she?  Let’s get real, we all know that the Academy are not going to go for Gone Girl, despite the fact that I still haven’t seen anything that comes even slightly close to its level so far this year.  Since we all know that Scarlett Johannson getting a Best Actress nomination – let alone deservedly running away with the statue before the nominees have even been announced – for Under The Skin isn’t happening, Pike would have been my backup “I approve” choice.  But, again, getting realistic, that probably isn’t going to happen.  Siiiigh…

6] St. Vincent

$4,025,000 / $33,258,000

You should really listen to St. Vincent’s self-titled album if you haven’t already.  It’s one of the best albums of the year.

7] Fury

$3,810,000 / $75,941,000

I… err… don’t really have anything to put here.  What can I say?  Not every film has an endless bountiful stream of material to mine on a week-by-week basis.  And so it goes.

8] Nightcrawler

$3,038,000 / $25,000,000

Going back to the cinema to see this again on Tuesday.  I’ve wanted to go and see it again for a good while now, but I have just been way too busy and way too swamped.  Bright side: cinema screen should basically be empty!  Woo!  In the meanwhile, and on a related note, Matt Lambourne has a short piece on why we are all to blame for his crappy movie choices up on the site if you have a spare five minutes.

9] Ouija

$3,025,000 / $48,105,000

Oh, just fuck off.

10] Birdman

$2,450,000 / $11,575,000

As I mentioned last week, this doesn’t hit the UK until January.  You know what else I found out doesn’t hit the UK until next year?  Chris Rock’s Top Five which looks brilliant and doesn’t get here until MarchMARCH.  I’ll tell you right now, Penguins Of Madagascar better be next-level amazing because it’s the sole thing making up for this incredibly dull-looking Rest Of 2014 Schedule for me.

Dropped Out: John Wick, Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Book Of Life

Callum Petch is the only one in the only world.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

US Box Office Report: 7/11/14 – 9/11/14

Interstellar’s opening isn’t so stellar, Big Hero $56 million, The Theory Of Everything lacks an easy pun for this headline, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

A lot of people, myself included, felt that Disney were signing Big Hero 6’s death warrant when they chose to schedule it directly against Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.  I mean, it’s Christopher Nolan!  You all have seen how much his last films made, right?  I get the idea of counter-programming, but Nolan films are events, and you, Disney, have only just solidified your second renaissance!  Are you insane?!  Those fears, however, conveniently forgot one key part of this equation: Disney always wins.  Disney.  Always.  Wins.  No matter how long it takes, no matter the force against them; Disney will always win.

And win they did, quite handily at that.  Big Hero 6 opened in first at an excellent $56 million estimated, the second biggest opening for an animated film in 2014 only behind The Lego MovieInterstellar had to settle for an estimated $50 million, one that more than likely will not hold when the actuals come in, which puts it below Inception, Gravity and even Prometheus – as Box Office Mojo notes, likely whilst applying salt liberally to the film’s various wounds.  If one were to include Wednesday and Thursday IMAX-only screenings, then the total would rise to $52 million, but we don’t include such cheat tactics around these here parts!  This is the weekend Box Office Report and, last I checked, the weekend doesn’t include Wednesday or Thursday!  Nice try, Nolan!  Thanks for playing!

Activity elsewhere on the chart is limited, as seemingly everybody else realised that they have better things to do than be crushed by Disney and Nolan and so got the hell out of dodge whilst they were still able to do so.  The one major release was the none-more-blatant piece of awards bait known as The Theory Of Everything, in which Eddie Redmayne metaphorically gets down on his hands and knees and begs for awards by playing Stephen Hawking in a biopic about his life.  So, naturally, the film also did pretty great in limited release, as folks cued up to have an opinion to spout come Oscars time, taking $207,000 from 5 screens for a $41,400 per-screen average.

That just leaves a trio of documentaries that were likely dumped here because all the prime spots on the release schedule were taken.  Doing the best in terms of pure gross, primarily because it played in the most amount of theatres, was On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter, a pseudo-sequel to the 1971 Steve McQueen-fronted doc, which took $344,000 from 231 screens (for a per-screen average of $1,489) full of people with nothing better to do that given Sunday.  Next, and most successful in terms of per-screen gross, was National Gallery which made $9,700 from 1 theatre full of people who couldn’t be arsed to just book a plane ticket to London and see the place in person.  Finally, Death Metal Angola, about soft rock in the Maldives, made $2,500 from 1 screen populated with people who had a very strangely specific urge that needed scratching.


big hero 6

This Full List is really rather pissed that Big Hero 6 is giving the UK a miss.  Hey, that rhymed sorta!

Box Office Results: Friday 7th November 2014 – Sunday 9th November 2014

1] Big Hero 6

$56,200,000 / NEW

Yup, you heard that right!  Big Hero 6 doesn’t hit the UK until January of next year, adding to a pile that already includes Whiplash, John Wick, Inherent Vice, Birdman, Foxcatcher and a hell of a lot more.  That also means that the only film I’m really excited for from now until the end of the year is – and I kid you not here – Penguins Of Madagascar.  Look, American studio execs, I get that you want to capitalise on the inevitable awards hype that all of these films are going to get, and I get that we forcibly colonised your country one f*cking time, but come on!  There are giant empty gaps in our release schedules that are being plugged with dreck like a third goddamn Nativity movie!  You can do better, dammit!

2] Interstellar

$50,000,000 / $52,151,000 / NEW

Owen has reviewed it here because I am way too busy to crank out a review right now.  But also because, honestly, I’m still not quite sure what to think of it.  I did enjoy it, but the film is incredibly fatally flawed in ways that are too numerous and lengthy to explain here.  I’ll try and find time go into detail on it at some point, but for now I will say that Hans Zimmer’s score is absolutely atrocious, like a church orchestra that’s being disembowelled and expressing the feelings of said disembowelling via their instruments as they slowly bleed out.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that “overwrought” doesn’t even begin to cover it, and I’m pretty sure the guy in charge of the organ dropped dead at some point and nobody bothered to move his corpse from the keys he face-planted.

3] Gone Girl

$6,100,000 / $145,428,000

I have a friend who works at a cinema and she managed to snag me a Gone Girl poster from work today.  I have good friends.

4] Ouija

$6,017,000 / $43,472,000

The fact that this hasn’t sunk like a stone since its release genuinely confuses the hell out of me.  Like, nobody liked this one, critics and audiences, so who’s still going to this?

5] St. Vincent

$5,707,000 / $27,356,000

Chris O’Dowd’s slow breakthrough into America is one of the more bewildering things that I have come across recently.  I mean this in a good way, for once, though.  I like Chris O’Dowd, I think he’s a funny actor – although Moone Boy did quite literally nothing for me – but I thought he’d be an exclusively British thing.  You know, like how Steve Coogan has never broken through into the US despite being STEVE F*CKING COOGAN?

6] Nightcrawler

$5,512,000 / $19,756,000

OUCH.  I mean, I really should’ve seen this coming, Nightcrawler is not exactly the kind of film that will sit well with general audiences, but still.  This really isn’t the fate that one of the year’s best films deserves.  It might survive next week, as Dumb And Dumber To is the only wide release that will make money, but this still deserves way more love.  If you’ve yet to see it, go now!

7] Fury

$5,500,000 / $69,268,000

This was pretty darn great.  Took a while to warm up and ultimately didn’t do much that many other war dramas haven’t already done better, but its cast is great, its individual scenes are really good, and the whole is the sum of its pretty good parts.  Glad to see that Sabotage appeared to be a fluke for David Ayer after all!

8] John Wick

$4,075,000 / $34,745,000

Wha…?  Huh…?  Wh…?  IT’S JOHN WICK, YOU GUYS!!  I don’t even know you people anymore.

9] Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

$3,495,000 / $59,208,000

Yes, I did end up seeing this.  No, it wasn’t awful.  I mean, it’s not that good, but it is pacey, incredibly earnest, and has committed performances from a game cast.  It’s that earnestness that keeps it from being an intolerable slog, because the film is that happy and sincere that it overwhelms any cynical boundaries.  It’s not a good film, we can’t forget that, but it’s not an awful one so I’m willing to chalk this up as the most minor win possible.

10] The Book Of Life

$2,800,000 / $45,215,000

This has yet to cross $80 million worldwide.  Why do you people hate nice things?

Dropped Out: The Judge, Dracula Untold

Callum Petch asked her for her number all the same.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 24/10/14 – 26/10/14

Ouija makes contact with idiot spirits who have money to burn, St. Vincent is the kind of clown that’s crying on the inside, Laggies doesn’t lag behind, John Wick underwhelms goddammit, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

The world is a cruel, horrible, and uncaring place where anything good will fail miserably whilst anything bad rakes in the cash hand-over-fist.  That’s my theory, in any case, as to why Ouija triumphed over John Wick at the box office this weekend.  The former, a strongly-marketed PG-13 horror film with dreadful reviews released near-Halloween to capitalise on a seasonal desire to be spooked in some way, took first place with $20 million in ticket sales.  The latter, a lightly-marketed R-rated action film with excellent reviews slotted into a free weekend of a ridiculously cramped release schedule, took second place with $14 million in ticket sales.  Sure, you could point to other factors that would cause a film like John Wick to underwhelm, but I’m sticking with my initial conclusion: people suck.

Ah, well.  At least John Wick wasn’t 23 Blast, the faith-based sports biopic about Larry Freeman, a man who lost his eyesight but still managed to go on and play in the NFL anyway.  That film got its start in 617 theatres, maybe even had big aspirations as to overall total gross and its standing in life, only to have them snatched away from it by a cruel, uncaring public.  It only managed to make $402,000, making its opening weekend the 11th worst for any wide release film ever, and with a dismal $652 per-screen average to boot.  This would be the point where I make cruel tasteless jokes at the film’s expense, but I find this just too sad to crack wise at.  On the bright side, it still opened better than last week’s Men, Women & Children.  So at least it has that going for it.

In limited release news, Laggies, the new film from Lynne Shelton which has been renamed to Say When in the UK for some reason, got its start in 5 theatres and banked a respectable $78,500 – for a per-screen average of $15,700.  Citizenfour, a documentary about Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal, did much better, managing to confiscate itself $125,000 from 5 screens worth of people who fancied a change of pace; one has their limits when it comes to buzzed-about Indie Dramedies, after all.  Meanwhile, Studio Ghibli’s The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya expanded to 20 theatres and raked in a far less impressive $63,500, for a per-screen average of $3,175, as a sad reminder that most people don’t seem to give a sh*t about Ghibli if the film isn’t made by Miyazaki.  Dammit.

Finally, we have multiple expanders, the most successful of which was the Bill Murray-led St. Vincent.  Admittedly, it’s the only one that went nationwide and boats the advantage of having Bill Murray in the lead role, but it still managed to crack the Top 10 with $8 million in ticket sales.  Whiplash, which I want in my life now DAMMIT, added 25 more theatres to its slow conquest of America and managed a decent $266,000 from all 46 of them.  The provocative Dear White People, which still looks amazing and still doesn’t have a UK release date for NO GODDAMN REASON, jumped up to 384 screens and finished with a much more down-to-earth and expected total of $1,384,000.   Birdman, meanwhile, expanded to 50 screens and did exactly as well as a film like Birdman is expected to do – $1,436,000 and a per-screen average of $28,720.


ouija 2

This Full List was a final gift from John Wick’s dying wife.

Box Office Results: Friday 24th October 2014 – Sunday 26th October 2014

1] Ouija

$20,006,000 / NEW

This seems like as good a time as any to tell Owen that I will not be coming into “work” for a week commencing on January 23rd.  That’s when Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell comes out and I sequester myself away from the world for a straight week to do nothing but play it.  I live for the simple things, like a new Saints Row with an increased focus on Kinzie Kensington, the greatest character in anything ever.  So, yeah, sorry Owen.  Can’t say you weren’t notified, though!

2] John Wick

$14,150,000 / NEW

This is no longer coming out in the UK this year.  I have to wait until January 2nd to watch John Wick.  This was NOT THE GODDAMN DEAL, LIONSGATE!!  I was supposed to get John Wick at Christmas!  It was all-but-guaranteed a spot on my Top 10 of 2014!  To withhold it until next year is evil, ya hear?!  Pure evil!  HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!  (*goes on like this for another 5 or 6 pages*)

3] Fury

$13,000,000 / $46,050,000

OK, that’s not a good hold at all.  Considering the star attached to it, the level of advertising that it’s received, and the fact that pretty much nothing came out this week, this should have held better than a 45% drop.  Owen’s review went live last Tuesday if you want to know if there’s a reason as to why few came back for repeat showings.

4] Gone Girl

$11,100,000 / $124,093,000

Battle lines have been drawn in my Film Studies course over Gone Girl.  You either love it, like I and several students do, or you hate it, like most of our lecturers seem to.  If this doesn’t end with a full-on all-out war, then I am going to be sorely disappointed.  At least I know that I will be on the right side of history if everything does kick off!

5] The Book Of Life

$9,800,000 / $29,913,000

Of course I saw it this weekend, who do you think I am?  The only reason as to why I haven’t reviewed it yet is quite simply because I haven’t had the time.  It’ll be up by Wednesday at the latest.  Short version: really good, best looking animated film I have seen all year, last 30 minutes are incredibly rushed.  It absolutely needs to be seen, definitely way more than it currently is.  If you’re still on the fence though, quite rightly believing that my opinion means sh*t, then know that the film is Lauren Faust and Craig McCracken approved!

6] St. Vincent

$8,058,000 / $9,189,000

There’s a part of me that wants to just talk about the music of Annie Clark instead, but I get the feeling that this one is going to hang around next week, so I’ll hold off on bombarding you with links until then.  You should listen to St. Vincent anyway, though.

7] Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

$7,023,000 / $45,544,000

So I was all set to see this Saturday but, before I’d even set off for the cinema, the screening I was planning on going to had sold out.  That came as a surprise, but rest assured that I will be seeing this at my next free occurrence, which is Wednesday!  I may accidentally miss awards bait dramas, I may miss horror flicks, and I may even accidentally miss awful-looking action flicks, but I shall never miss an insufferable looking live-action family film!  That’s just not my style!

8] The Best Of Me

$4,736,000 / $17,663,000

…THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST…

9] The Judge

$4,345,000 / $34,377,000

Yeah, I ended up missing this one.  I was too busy in its opening week and all showings were pulled this week at my Cineworld, so that was the end of that.  I could have gone to a different cinema and paid money, but my remaining cash went to My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks (review here) and bis gig tickets and like f*ck am I willingly spending money on this cure for insomnia!  So, goodbye, The Judge!  At least be glad that I didn’t make any Arrested Development references during your stay!  That takes restraint!

10] Dracula Untold

$4,302,000 / $48,328,000

… … … …nope.  Can’t do it.  Can’t let The Judge escape without an Arrested Development reference.  Hit it, William Hung & His Hung Jury!

Dropped Out: Annabelle, The Equalizer, The Maze Runner

Callum Petch don’t care if we never come back from the night.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 12/9/14 – 14/9/14

No Good Deed goes without an accompanying first-place victory, America shrugs at Atlas Shrugged Part III, Dolphin Tale had a sequel, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Hey!  It finally happened!  Americans were finally given films to see that weren’t Guardians Of The Galaxy!  Unfortunately, in their combined crazed panic to get to the cinema and see these new films, lest they be taken away at the last second and they end up having to see Guardians yet again for the 27th goddamn time, American moviegoers failed to realise that most of the films that they were seeing were actually utter sh*t.  But, hey, when has that ever stopped anything from becoming popular, right?  In first place is No Good Deed, the Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson starring home invasion thriller that absolutely does not have anything disagreeable going on under the surface no siree bob, with $24.5 million in ticket sales.  Behind that we have Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to Dolphin Tale and one I whose existence I will never not be bewildered by, which managed to con $16.5 million worth of families out of their monies because they don’t have Netflix in those far flung corners of the country (along with electricity, heat, and running water) and had to take what entertainment they could get.

In the more limited release-y side of proceedings, The Drop, a crime drama starring Tom Hardy and featuring James Gandolfini’s final role, succeeded best out of being the one released in the most screens, managing to break into the Top 10 with $4.2 million banked.  As for those films that didn’t have that luxury benefit of a screen count that barely counts as “limited”; awards-season-hopeful that-will-be-nominated-for-jack-sh*t-because-it-was-released-too-early The Skeleton Twins did the best of the bunch taking $411,000 from 15 screens for a $27,000 per-screen average.  Next up is My Old Lady, a comedy-drama that looks conspicuously lacking in both comedy and drama but managed to overcome those handicaps to take $134,000 from 11 screens, for a per-screen average of $12,182.  After that we have The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, the smushed-together cut of a romance-drama that is supposed to have its separate “Him” and “Her” cuts (which view events exclusively through the perspective of him or her) released at some point but you know the Weinsteins, which disappeared $77,200 from moviegoers pockets at 4 separate screens.  Ha.  Ha.

In the midst of all of this, though, spare a thought for poor old Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?  The final instalment in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s landmark novel that continued pressing on regardless of the fact that audiences said “no” twice before, having to raise the second film’s budget by selling the debt of the first one due to it bombing spectacularly, and taking to Kickstarter to fund the finale (not joking), escaped into the wild, this week.  Now, normally, I’d sit here and laugh ultra-derisively at its pathetic opening of $355,000 from 242 cinemas (for comparison, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 opened on 299 screens in 2011 and made $1.6 million), but I kinda pity the thing more than anything.  Everyone involved kept shouldering on, regardless of the financial bombs, the critical paddling, and the fact that they had to replace the entire cast between each film, because they wanted to tell their story.  They desperately wanted to tell the story of Atlas Shrugged on the big screen and they weren’t going to let such a little thing as “repeated total systemic failure” get in their way!  That’s kinda admirable, in a deluded way, and I applaud them for keeping on!  Then I remember that the movies are absolute garbage and return to laughing at their quixotic endeavour.

Elsewhere, As Above, So Below bottomed out spectacularly in only its third week, slipping from sixth to twelfth; The Trip To Italy, otherwise known as “the cut-down film version of The Trip’s second series for fat stupid Americans with short attention spans”, extended its reach to 71 more screens and managed to take another $481,000 overall; The Identical, otherwise known as last week’s only new release, plummeted from an already dreadful opening by 75%; and Guardians Of The Galaxy became the first film this year to cross $300 million domestic.  Which, you know, is a sign that Hollywood is f*cked and all that.  Rather than deservedly doom-mongering for a couple of minutes, though, can we at least just celebrate the fact that a brilliant goddamn movie is making serious money, with China still to go?  …  …  …  …OK, that’s long enough.


This full list just broke into your house and is standing right behind you.  I’m joking, of course.  But one day, I might not be.

no good deed 2

Box Office Results: Friday 12th September 2014 – Sunday 14th September 2014

1] No Good Deed

$24,500,000 / NEW

So, this is a film in which a big scary black man basically forces his way into a small defenceless woman’s home and tortures her mentally and physically for about 70 of the film’s 85 minutes?  Nope, can’t see anything wrong with that set-up!  Absolutely nothing that makes it tone-deaf in today’s societal climate!  Not at all!  Thank goodness the woman was black instead of white, otherwise then, and only then, would things have just crossed the line of good taste!

2] Dolphin Tale 2

$16,550,000 / NEW

Right, I want answers, which of you asked for a sequel to Dolphin Tale?  Who honestly left the cinema after seeing the first film three years ago and went, “I need a sequel to that yesterday!”  Who was it?  Was it any of you on the Failed Critics staff?  Was it you, Shawky?  Don’t try to deny it!  You’re the kind of guy who has seen Guardians Of The Galaxy 18 times in the cinema!  Seeing this there once would not surprise me in the slightest!

3] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$8,041,000 / $305,926,000

Speaking of, I finally fulfilled my promise to my cousins to get them to the cinema to see this, this past weekend.  They loved it, the elder one even forgot he had sweets for the entire first hour of the movie because he was so transfixed by the film on display.  They both declared it “BEST FILM EVER” which I imagine was just as much because it was my treat as well as it being a great damn movie, but it was still refreshing to see just how much of an impact a good film can have on younger children who haven’t hit the “jaded teenager” mark yet.  Ah, to be young…

Oh, sorry.  Forgot for a sec that you don’t give a sh*t about my personal life.  Moving on.

4] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

$4,800,000 / $181,041,000

On the subject of films with uncomfortable treatments and scenarios for women, is anyone else really kinda disturbed by how the turtles treat April O’Neal in this trailer?  They tower over her, menacingly intimidate her, one of them lays claim to her, and then they all threaten to “find her” if she reveals their existence.  Err… our heroes, ladies and gentlemen?  Maybe things are better in the finished film but, this being a film with Michael Bay involved in some capacity, I’m not holding my breath.

5] Let’s Be Cops

$4,300,000 / $72,972,000

So, I suspect that we will be getting that sequel notification any day now.  Oh, you think there won’t be one?  We are just two months away from a sequel to Horrible Bosses and seven months away from Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.  We will be getting a sequel to Let’s Be Cops, just wait for it.

6] The Drop

$4,200,000 / NEW

Yay!  Tom Hardy’s starring in movies again!  Which reminds me, I need to get around to seeing Locke.  Would have seen it already, I love me a film with a purposely constraining premise, but it never came to any of my cinemas.  Also, last time we’ll see James Gandolfini in a role.  😦  At least this gives me an excuse to link you to his scenes from In The Loop.  Not that I need the excuse, mind.

7] If I Stay

$4,050,000 / $44,937,000

Just one more week in the Top 10 and it beats The Fault In Our Stars’ run!  Let it have this one, America.  It’s going to spend the rest of its life being unfavourably compared to that film, in terms of quality, financial success, impact and staying power; might as well give it this one break.  Course, there are 4 wide release films next week, so that’s pretty unlikely, but wouldn’t it be something if it did succeed?  And what if it beat The Maze Runner into bloody submission!  Oh, wouldn’t that be something!

8] The November Man

$2,750,000 / $2,495,000

Right, forget this crap; have you seen the trailer for John Wick yet?  Tell me you have!  It is the most brilliantly ridiculous nonsense!  If you somehow don’t want to see this film immediately after watching this trailer, then you and I are no longer on speaking terms.  In fact, I’m going to embed the trailer below this entry so that there is no possible way for you to miss it!

9] The Giver

$2,626,000 / $41,329,000

Oh.  Sh*t.  Right.  So, I didn’t actually expect this one to stick around this week, which means that my world-beating pun from last week is now rendered premature and wasted.  Fantastic.  F*ck you very much, The Giver.

10] The Hundred-Foot Journey

$2,461,000 / $49,409,000

HIS DOG WAS A GIFT FROM HIS DYING WIFE AND THE BAD GUYS KILLED IT!!  That is pure gold, folks!  Why are you not as hyped for that crap as I am?!

Dropped Out: As Above, So Below, When The Game Stands Tall, Lucy

Callum Petch will shoot your mouth if he knows where he’s aiming.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!