Tag Archives: the martian

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.

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Failed Critics Podcast: The Guys on the Pod

girl-on-the-train

All aboard!

Every week Owen Hughes rides the Failed Critics steam train from host Steve Norman’s caravan park in Swanage all the way to guest Andrew Brooker’s residence in Milton Keynes, stopping at the exact same point along the way to peer through the windows of the FC HQ in Oxford.

Unfortunately there are no affairs or murders for him to observe and fantasise about, only a depressed version of himself wondering why the bloody hell he sits through these uninspiring movies that 2016 keeps on churning out. Specifically the latest to cross the team’s path, The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt.

This week’s journey also pulls in at the games and tech podcast Super Pixels Radio stop. Failed Critics debutant Elliot Beverley chats with Owen about the animated stop-motion family movie, Kubo and the Two Strings.

We also have the buffet cart stocked with the latest trailers from the New York Comic Convention. It’s got all of your favourites only slightly overpriced, including Power Rangers, John Wick 2, Iron Fist, and the new Resident Evil and War of the Planet of the Apes teasers.

In What We’ve Been Watching, Brooker leaves the quiet carriage to shout about the Ghostbusters extended edition, while Steve shimmies out of the bog after feeling less than Supersonic to review the new Oasis documentary, as well as revisiting The Martian for the first time since its cinema release.

Join us again next week for a triple bill of film franchises that should’ve ended before reaching a trilogy.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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US Box Office Report: 09/10/15 – 11/10/15

Pan cannot fly, audiences do not give The Walk something it can feel, Steve Jobs wins everything, Knock Knock does Trash, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Proving either that audiences are getting smarter at avoiding garbage movies, or that completely phoning in your marketing by near-outright admitting that the film you’re trying to sell sucks isn’t a fool-proof strategy for box office gold, Pan has flopped big time.  For what was supposed to be a big, tent-pole, $150 million, franchise-starting blockbuster, the film was completely dead on arrival, managing an absolutely pathetic $15 million for third place.  Would you like a measure of just how dreadful that is?  2015 has been a year filled with terrible big budget blockbusters (and Jupiter Ascending shut up) bombing domestically, and Pan is still the worst opening of the lot!  Worse than Tomorrowland ($33 million), worse than Terminator: Portable ($27 million), worse than Fantastic 4 ($25 million), and even worse than Jupiter Ascending ($18 million)!  So, err, yeah.  Probably not getting a franchise out of this one.  Thank Christ.

Elsewhere, the bizarre-to-me “release early in IMAX” strategy has claimed yet another victim from studios that fail to understand that this is a TERRIBLE IDEA as Robert Zemeckis’ 3D extravaganza The Walk made the leap from its underperformance in IMAX last week to cinemas where actual people could see the film.  Not that anyone was interested in seeing it, mind, as The Walk completely failed to find an audience, finishing up in seventh with $3.7 million, presumably because The Martian has the whole “crowd-pleasing spectacle” market on lock.  Speaking of, that film is still your Box Office Number One with $37 million, only dropping an excellent 32% between weekends.  It’s almost like we reward Ridley Scott if he actually makes a good movie.  Maybe he should do that more often.

In the land of the Limited Releases, the big winner was Steve Jobs, possibly surprising quite literally no-one.  I mean: it’s a biopic about Steve Jobs, one that’s gone through hell to get made, directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin, starring Michael Fassbender, heavily resembling The Social Network, with excellent reviews, and has first been released in 4 cinemas in New York and Los Angeles.  If this film didn’t make an absolute killing this weekend, I’d have been incredibly surprised.  But a killing it did make, absolutely at that, with a weekend total of $521,522 and a per-screen average of $130,381 – the highest of the whole year, easily blowing past Sicario’s $66,881 from a few weeks back.  Of course, the real test is whether it can be similarly successful when it goes Nationwide in two weeks, since Danny Boyle’s been struggling with wider acceptance since Slumdog Millionaire, but I see no universe where this movie fails.

Feel free to shout that line back at me in two weeks if it does fail.

Steve Jobs was not the only Limited Release this weekend, though.  Lionsgate continued their admirable attempt to distribute films aimed specifically at Latino audiences with heist caper Ladrones.  The film, somewhat unfortunately, did not manage to do particularly well on its 375 screens, closing the weekend in thirteenth place with $1.4 million in ticket sales.  On the bright side, at least it wasn’t Knock Knock, Eli Roth’s latest excuse for a movie with a Keanu Reeves performance seemingly precisely calibrated to make one take back any praise given to him for his work in John Wick.  In accordance with a more enlightened movie-going audience realising that Eli Roth was never a particularly good filmmaker, the film crashed and burned on 22 screens with just $18,623 and an $847 per-screen average.  And as for Trash, a film that came out in the UK in February: $10,230 from 17 screens for a $602 per-screen average.  Ouch.


pan 2015

Here’s the Full List now, ENTERTAIN US!

Box Office Results: Friday 9th October 2015 – Sunday 11th October 2015

1] The Martian

$37,005,266 / $108,715,595

This film is rather sticking with me, for some reason.  I really didn’t expect it to, since I found it way too long and had the distinct sense that it would be one of those films I really like whilst watching but would just sort of forget about in the days following that viewing, but it’s genuinely sticking with me.  I think it’s because the whole thrust of the film – Mark Watney getting through his situation by organisation, bite-size tasks, and logic & reason – is very relatable to me, as somebody who goes about his life much the same way, so it resonates on that deeper level way more than I thought it would.  I like seeing that.

2] Hotel Transylvania 2

$20,420,392 / $116,942,033

Review will be along tomorrow, I guarantee it.  I’m also really sorry for not having written it already, I have just been absolutely swamped this past week and I’m behind on everything.  Just bear with me, it is coming.

3] Pan

$15,315,435 / NEW

Oh, boy, I need to find the time to get a written review of this out.  To not review this total trainwreck would be a dereliction of my duties as a Film Critic.  Not kidding, this is… this is really something.  At this rate, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 won’t be in my Bottom 10 of 2015 at all, and that is an utterly miserable thought to have.

4] The Intern

$8,678,187 / $49,592,234

Fun Fact I learned in my inaugural East Asian Cinema lecture this past week: What Women Want received a Chinese remake in 2011.  Why, I have no idea, but it exists for those of you who may be interested in checking that out.

5] Sicario

$7,579,324 / $26,935,340

Seeing this again on Saturday!  Might even be inspired to finish my review, too, because everyone should be singing from the rooftops about this one.  It really is that brilliant.  Very nice to see it doing OK at the Box Office, too.

6] Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

$5,371,941 / $70,765,331

There is not one element of this story that doesn’t make me hate every single one of this film’s cast members.  “And everyone just takes stuff, obviously…”  Obviously.  You just take stuff when told not to.  That’s something everyone just does, obviously, you goddamn f*cking prat.

7] The Walk

$3,719,177 / $6,430,676

Kinda disappointed in this one, even though I did rather enjoy it.  It’s charming, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fun, and the actual walk itself is brilliantly tense, but it falls down the same way that most recent biopics have fallen down and that’s in the fact that it has absolutely nothing to say about its subject other than “wasn’t this a cool thing that happened?”  It doesn’t want to interrogate Phillippe’s arrogance or the reasons as to why he wants to do the walk, so the film ends up feeling empty.  It almost gets away with it, because Zemeckis is a brilliant popcorn filmmaker, but the film’s ultimately too insubstantial to make it worth watching over Man On Wire.

8] Black Mass

$3,118,427 / $57,557,128

I really don’t have anything to say about this movie until I can see it.  Stupid release window disparities…

9] Everest

$3,073,035 / $38,253,250

I keep forgetting this movie happened, which is especially weird since I rather liked it and even shed a tear at the ending.  Huh.  Probably a good thing I don’t hand out star ratings, otherwise I’d look like a bit of a fool right now.

10] The Visit

$2,523,505 / $61,158,030

Crimson Peak is going to completely bomb, isn’t it?  Like nearly everything else that Guillermo del Toro makes, it’s going to be brilliant and it’s going to bomb hard, isn’t it?  Yet M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie will close having made more than 12x its budget domestically.  Goddammit, World…

Dropped Out: War Room, The Perfect Guy

Callum Petch has got it all wrong.  He now writes for his own website (callumpetch.com).  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Panning Pan, Suffering Suffragette & Walking The Walk

suffragette 2015In this episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by guests Andrew Brooker and Callum Petch to take a look over the latest film releases, review what else they’ve been watching in the past seven days, and to cast their beady eyes over recent news.

With the score tightly poised at 1-1, Steve’s ground breaking, Earth shattering, cataclysmic quiz kicks off this week’s episode, swiftly followed by some news close to home [INSERT ‘NEW WEBSITE’ KLAXON] and some a whole (cinematic) universe away. The team also discuss the trailers for the first ever Netflix original movie, Beasts of No Nation, as well as the upcoming Coen Brothers film, Hail, Caesar!.

We also feature a look back at The NeverEnding Story, a look ahead to Hotel Transylvania 2, and a look… now… at the Fright Night remake. Callum retains his dignity when Owen and Steve shrug in unison at Sicario, before delving into some returning TV shows, including The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Z-Nation. Unfortunately, they haven’t been seen on a new SONY BRAVIA TV. Ahem.

Of course the podcast wouldn’t be complete without a review of the latest films to hit the cinema screens. Callum can’t quite fathom the ‘who’, ‘how’ or ‘why’ Pan was made, whilst Steve explains why we’re all bad people for not watching it. Brooker and Owen reveal why Suffragette might just be one of the films of the year, but may also be a difficult watch for some people. There’s even room for a final grab at the popcorn bucket as the new Robert Zemeckis movie, The Walk, proves to be a success.

Join Steve and Owen again next week with more new guests for a Halloween triple bill and a review of Crimson Peak.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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Owen’s 2015 in Film: Part 9 – September Refuelled

As yet another month passes in 2015, it’s time for the next entry to Owen’s year in review series, looking at a selection of the films that he’s been watching throughout September. As with each of the previous articles in the series, the month will be broken down by week, with a review of one arbitrarily chosen film seen during each period.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

everest-base-camp-movieNormally in this series I’d pick whichever movie that I happened to fancy writing about. Be it the one I found the most interesting, the one I loved most, one that I hated, etc. It typically changes with each new entry.

However, having taken a look back through the whole month, it appears that I’ve seen at least one new release in each week of September. Therefore, I’m going to do something slightly different for this month’s article, I think. After all, it’s been a month of new starts for me personally, beginning life as a full time University student.

I’ve learnt a lot over the past five weeks; how to be a better writer, the essence of what being a journalist actually means – and just how much I missed going to work. Seriously. I spent just over one solitary week unemployed, having left employment on Friday 11th September before enrolling at University on Thursday 24th. It was horrible. My expectations were that it would feel like a holiday. A nice, albeit short break before my life completely changed.

Wrong.

It was a tedious, slow, excruciating week of sitting around doing nothing, getting more and more anxious about whether or not I’d done the right thing. I do not envy anybody who has to spend longer than that out of work. But at least it did give me a chance to reflect a little. Some time to think about the decisions I’d made; about what I had let myself in for.

Contrary to the seemingly popular opinion that student life is all about causing queue congestion by paying for everything with a cheque, staying in bed until 2pm and eating Pot Noodles for breakfast, it’s been bloody hard work. Rewarding and exciting. But hard.

It’s certainly threatening to scupper my plans to resurrect my Horrorble Month sequel, the project I completed last October where I watched a horror movie every day in the lead up to Halloween. It’s actually where I conceived the idea of doing this as a more regular thing.

Although, back in September, I did still manage to actually get through a decent number of movies. Starting with…


Week 1 – Tuesday 1 – Sunday 6 September 2015

Tuesday – Star*Men (2015), Welcome to Leith (2015), No Tears For The Dead (2014); Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of A Window And Disappeared (2014); Saturday – Area 51 (2015), Blood Lake (2014); Sunday – THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED (2015)

transporterI know it’s weird how I constantly feel the need to defend my preference for action movies; quite frankly, it shouldn’t be an issue. Taste is a subjective thing, of course. However, there is a stigma attached to the genre that suggests those who enjoy mindless action on camera are morons. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that opinion. People are entitled to enjoy whatever the hell they want and it’s not necessarily a reflection on your level of intelligence. Laugh at Adam Sandler if you want, cry whilst watching My Little Pony, ponder the nature of existence during the three hours of motorway footage you found on YouTube. It’s your choice. That said, what an absolutely enormous waste of everybody’s time the latest entry to the Transporter franchise is. From its tacky opening scenes trying (and failing) to revive the swagger that the original Luc Besson movie had in swathes, to its boring and overdue conclusion; I had no fun watching this whatsoever. The only thing more annoying than Ed Skrein’s Statham impersonation is the missing ‘L’ in the movie title. I love the original movie as much as anyone should, but the sequels have been subpar. Even The Stath agrees, given his comments in an interview with Sabotage Times about working with Ben Foster:

“…for me to be able to work opposite someone like that and not some hairdresser cast off the street – which is what happened with Transporter 3 – well, it was fantastic.”

At least The Transporter Refueled wasn’t quite that bad, I suppose. Also in its favour is that it did introduce the always watchable Ray Stevenson as the father of the notorious getaway driver Frank Martin. The plot too is acceptable (if badly structured) for this sort of film, with the delivery package this time being four women enacting their revenge. But it was in essence a dull, unexciting and incredibly stupid crapfest.


Week 2 – Monday 7 – Sunday 13 September 2015

Monday – Tabloid (2010)Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002); Friday – [absolutely nothing]; Saturday – SONS OF BEN (2015)Sunday – The Hunted (2003)

sons of benOrdinarily I wouldn’t cover a film in this series that I’d already written a review for on the website and talked about on the podcast. Nevertheless, it: a) fits the criteria I set out in the introduction; and b) is an indie documentary that deserves a bit of extra publicity. As such, here are a few snippets from my original review to give you an overview:

“What happens when you’re a fan of the beautiful game in a country where football is not even close to being in the top three most popular sports on the continent, never mind without half a dozen teams a stones throw from your bedroom window? Well, if you’re in Philadelphia, then of course the only viable solution is to set up a supporters club called the Sons of Ben for a team that doesn’t yet exist. That’s exactly what Bryan James, Andrew Dillon, and David Flagler did in January 2007 hoping that one day a Major League Soccer franchise would open in their beloved home town.

“Director Jeffrey C. Bell tells the entire unbelievable story of this passionate community of soccer fans coming together to support a non-existent team, from its humble beginnings as a conversation at a bar, through to its surprising conclusion.

You can purchase Sons of Ben: The Movie on DVD directly from their website. They have other outlets such as streaming and digital download planned to happen soon so keep an eye on their Twitter and Facebook pages for updates. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqAFIAHox6w]

Week 3 – Monday 14 – Sunday 20 September 2015

Monday – L’eclisse (1962)Tuesday – Mortal Kombat (1995), Legend (2015)Wednesday – Starry Eyes (2014); Thursday – Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994)Friday – Class of Nuke ’em High (1986), Pernicious (2015)Saturday – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)Sunday – EVEREST (2015)

60ea71a0-dcbf-4e43-92f6-415984fbdbd6-1020x612To borrow an often used football cliché, director Baltasar Kormákur‘s Everest is a film of two halves. The first hour of this adventure-turned-disaster movie is mind numbingly slow. It drags. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on the characters involved in this 1990’s expedition to the summit of Mount Everest, led by Jason Clarke as real-life New Zealander Rob Hall. I understand why the film is purposefully designed to be this slow, as it builds up enough backstory to make you care about the characters involved, hoping that you’ll be bothered by them if something were to happen. Perhaps the reason that this drudges on so tamely is because there are too many characters, each with their own stories to tell. This may be a very slight spoiler, so apologies in advance, but once they finally got to the top of the treacherous mountain, it did occur to me that surely there wasn’t much of the 120 minute run time left. And yet! I was wrong. I glanced at my watch and there was still somehow an hour to go. But what an hour of cinema it was. I was surprised by just how invested I became in these people given the fact that I was certain that up to that point, I’d been bored. I’d have liked to have seen a little more about what Rob Hall’s wife (Keira Knightley) was going through back home but otherwise it was a very emotional 60 minutes. It’s probably the first movie for years that has caused me to well up in the cinema whilst watching. Apparently a lot of the footage was actually taken at camp one on the real mountain too. The film looks amazing for it and between the visuals and the latter half of the story, it’s definitely a film worth seeing and makes up for a tepid opening half.


Week 4 – Monday 21 – Sunday 27 September 2015

Monday – Bride of Re-animator (1989); Tuesday – Dawn of the Dead (1978)Wednesday – Day of the Dead (1985), Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015), Sicario (2015); Thursday – Day of the Triffids (1962), From Beyond (1986)Friday – Invaders From Mars (1986), Return to Oz (1985); Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – THE MARTIAN (2015)

maxresdefault-3I’m going to spare your eyes from going even more square whilst staring at your computer screen for any longer and suggest you click the link below and instead listen to my review of Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi movie:

FAILED CRITICS PODCAST: THE INTERN, THE MARTIAN & SICARIO (29 Sep 2015)

Alternatively, read on below if you’d rather.

There appear to be two types of ‘Ridley Scott’ in this world. There’s the Ridley Scott who makes ambitious, misunderstood or sometimes simply just plain bad movies such as American Gangster, Exodus: Gods & Kings, Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven (the theatrical cut at least) and The Counsellor, to name but a few. Then there also appears to be a Ridley Scott who makes exciting, intelligent and often influential science fiction movies with an enticing premise and wondrous, imagination-capturing special effects and plots. Think Blade Runner, Alien and (yes, even) Prometheus. Where that leaves The Martian is definitely more towards that of a studio-led film than a recognisably Ridley Scott movie. There’s very little character in the picture; you certainly wouldn’t guess from looking that it was Ridley Scott rather than, say, Steven Speilberg, Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard etc. Not that this is necessarily a problem. The lack of identity in respect to its director is moot considering just how enjoyable The Martian is. Adapted from the Andy Weir novel of the same name, the plot revolves around wise-cracking astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is stranded on the planet Mars where his crew have abandoned him, assuming him dead. Although there’s a large support cast of talented actors (Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benny Wong(!) etc) the majority of the run time is carried by Damon, whose antics and humour make his time on the red planet seem all too brief. Even though the final third descends into Gravity with pop tunes sound tracking it, the biggest compliment I can think to pay The Martian is that I wish it were a biopic simply so I could spend more time learning about this fascinating and epic adventure.


Week 5 – Monday 28 – Wednesday 30 September 2015

Monday – Vamp (1986); Tuesday – Wolf Cop (2014); Wednesday – SKIN TRADE (2015)

skintradeheaderAh, Netflix. From time to time, you throw up some real gems that I would otherwise have overlooked. Usually they’re films starring Scott Adkins or Donnie Yen. On this occasion, Skin Trade lured me in by plastering martial arts movie icon Tony Jaa’s name all over it. If that wasn’t tempting enough, they only went and got Dolph Lundgren involved too. What the double team that is, eh? But wait! Ron Pearlman, as well? Well, blow me down with a feather (or flaming flying kick – Onk Bak, anyone?). The truth is, Skin Trade is complete and utter tosh. Quelle surprise, right? Maybe that’s a bit unfair as for at least 10 minutes, it’s OK. It’s alright. It’s not horrendous. Dolph plays a NYC cop who teams up with a Thai detective (Tony Jaa) to stop the Serbian crime boss (Ron Pearlman) and his human trafficking gig. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; I’d even stretch that a bit further and say Jaa’s first action scene in a small room was impressively well choreographed and set the bar too high too early. You can see he’s clearly still got it in him to pull out some fantastic moves on screen. Unfortunately, it just gets progressively worse from then on. Its great cast are left to scrape together something resembling a cohesive plot but without fully capitalising on the potential of its concept. I will keep my fingers crossed in the hope that Tony Jaa gets another crack at the lead role in an American movie, Skin Trade somewhat remarkably being his first. He definitely proved he’s capable enough during his cameo role in Furious 7.


And that’s it for another month. Join me again roughly this time in November for part two of my “horrorble month” lists, where once again I aim to watch at least one horror film every day through October. Until then, feel free to comment below on any of my reviews – or send me a tweet!

US Box Office Report: 02/10/15 – 04/10/15

The Martian sciences the sh*t out of making money, The Walk loses its (bank) balance, Sicario means “dolla dolla bills y’all”, the public vote against Freeheld, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Proving that Matt Damon can say all of the most accidentally ignorant crap that he likes and that Ridley Scott can spend a full half-decade crapping out stinkers whilst both still remain the kind of perfectly lovable and bankable box office draws that Hollywood executives wish to Maker they could create out of thin air, The Martian is your new box office number 1.  The big story for many people is how the film has fallen just short of breaking Gravity’s “Best October Opening Ever” record – by $750,000 – although the estimates may push it over the top.  Because, after all, who cares about excellent openings unless they break records, right?  Besides, if we should be sad about anything, it should be the fact that the godawful Hannibal is still Ridley Scott’s best opening weekend ever.  That’s the real tragedy.

Speaking of tragedies, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Pepé le Pew imitation in The Walk.  This is meant to be a serious movie, right?  Cos, quite frankly, I probably won’t be able to take seriously two hours of “Omlette du fromage”.  Audiences very much seemed to agree with me, in this instance – that, or they saw Man On Wire and sussed that they didn’t need to see it fictionalised and in 3D – and even with critical acclaim and an initial opening exclusively on IMAX theatres, its true home, the film failed to find much of an audience.  In fact, and in sharp contrast to Everest from a few weeks back, it didn’t even manage to crack the Top 10, stalling out at number 11 with only $1.5 million.  The film hits actual theatres that people want to go to next weekend, but this whole “release early in IMAX” thing really doesn’t seem to be paying off as studios were likely hoping it would.  Y’know, probably because IMAX really just isn’t very good.

But do you know what is very good?  Sicario, that’s what!  One of the year’s absolute best films finally went wide this week and, for a bleak-as-f*ck and slow-moving thriller that is as decidedly uncommercial as… well, as Denis Villenueve’s Prisoners, did surprisingly well, securing third place with a decent $12 million.  The film even supposedly has an “A-“ CinemaScore, too, so it may have some legs over these next few weekends.  Comfortably above it on the chart, meanwhile, is Hotel Transylvania 2 which actually held better than the first film did – and that only dropped 36% between weekends, let’s not forget – with a miniscule 32% drop and $33 million.  So, once again, can Genndy Tartakovsky please go and make whatever he wants now?  It’s clear the public will accept it!

Do you know what they didn’t accept, though?  Freeheld.  Yes, the weekend’s big Limited Release, and the latest blatant entry in Julianne Moore’s awards nomination reel, turned out to be a bit of a stinker, and nothing kills off a Limited Release’s box office prospects better than middling reviews.  Freeheld therefore only managed to scrape $40,000 from 5 screens and a per-screen average of $8,000.  Still, at least it can take comfort in the fact that it’s not Stonewall!  That film, incidentally, dropped down to 83 screens and made an absolutely pathetic $18,700 this weekend.  Better performing was the documentary He Named Me Malala which took a strong $56,000 from 4 screens for a per-screen average of $14,000.


the martian 2015

You know what’s been strong this week?  My paragraph transitions!  …here’s the Full List.

Box Office Results: Friday 2nd October 2015 – Sunday 4th October 2015

1] The Martian

$55,000,000 / NEW

Super happy to see this one do well, if for no other reason than it might give Ridley Scott the kick up the arse he needs to stop making crap films this decade.  Yes, I know that he plans to make his next film another Alien movie/Prometheus sequel, let’s focus on his career after that, OK?  In fact, whilst I have everyone’s attention, can we all just stop making Alien-related movies, please?  We haven’t had a good one in almost 30 years, and I highly doubt that the Neill Blomkamp who just made Chappie is going to turn that around.  Although I will admit that I am still excited for that one, in a “trainwreck fascination” kinda way.

2] Hotel Transylvania 2

$33,000,000 / $90,541,765

Saw this yesterday and a review will be up by Thursday as I still have to write this week’s Lost Cels first.  Film’s millimetres away from being genuinely great, for the record, although its best asset is still its utterly amazing animation.  Seriously, the work that Genndy and co. have done with translating 2D-style squash-and-stretch animation to 3D is just outstanding.  I cannot wait for him to put it to use in a film that doesn’t have Adam Sandler’s icky undertones attached to it.

3] Sicario

$12,075,000 / $15,076,295

Just a few more days and I get to see this brilliance again!  God knows I’m going to need something to wash down Pan with.  Have I ever mentioned that Pan looks like utter garbage?  Cos it really does.

4] The Intern

$11,620,000 / $36,523,892

You know what?  If this actually built to something and wasn’t two sodding hours long, I’d be giving this a full-on enthusiastic thumbs up.  It’s not particularly funny, but it is really charming and its characters are really likeable and the cast are great, and it manages to balance lionising The Older Generation and The Way Things Were with a genuine respect for the modern world and businesswomen who try to juggle work and family without being condescending or placing one higher than the others.  Seriously, it gets so much right; I just wish it built to its ending, was actually funny, and wasn’t two sodding hours.

5] Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

$7,650,000 / $63,241,124

And the maze keeps running running, and running running, and running running…

6] Black Mass

$5,905,000 / $52,521,030

No, seriously, how has no-one made a Black Eyed Peas parody song about The Maze Runner yet?  Is it because The Black Eyed Peas were The Absolute Worst and nobody actually remembers anything from any Maze Runner after having experienced them?  And I just answered my own question.

7] Everest

$5,510,000 / $33,181,310

Tosh from Torchwood is in this.  Unsurprisingly, she is given basically zero lines.

8] The Visit

$3,950,000 / $57,695,090

Anybody managed to see Cooties yet?  I have high hopes, since I actually laughed at the trailer and it has Alison Pill who always deserves the best things, but I know that this can easily go very, very wrong and the reviews aren’t great.  Still, at least it looks better than Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, a film whose trailer is Exhibits A, B, C, and all the way down to Z on why we should just stop using zombies now forever.  ZOMBIE BOOBS LOL!

9] War Room

$2,800,000 / $60,544,613

Oh, just go away already.

10] The Perfect Guy

$2,400,000 / $52,615,190

So Creed isn’t due out in the UK until January.  January.  Now, initially, I got really confused, since it’s basically a new Rocky movie and Rocky Balboa opened simultaneously in the USA and the UK.  But then I realised something: they’re setting up Creed to be an awards season contender, so now I’m just annoyed.  Even if it’s good, Creed ain’t getting nominated for jack, and the whole Awards Season thing of keeping us Brits out of the loop on seeing these films until the opening of the next year is bullsh*t.  Again, NON-SIMULTANEOUS RELEASING OF ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILMS IN 2015 IS BULLSHIT!

And you thought I’d get through one of these pieces without stepping on my soapbox!  Ha!

Dropped Out: The Green Inferno

Callum Petch guesses we’re kicking this city down.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: The Intern, The Martian & Sicario

sicario 1Hello and welcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast, released slightly earlier than usual to try and push it out just before the end of International Podcast today (that’s today for the next couple of minutes, anyway!) As such, we recommend you check out our fellow podcast comrades Wikishuffle, Black Hole Cinema and Diamond & Human; all of whom are deserving of your time during your commute or whilst peeling the spuds, or whatever you do whilst you’re listening to us.

Joining Mexican assassin Steve Norman and intergalactic failed critic Owen Hughes for this week’s episode is Andrew Brooker, undertaking his unpaid work placement, as they review three new releases. They’re so new, in fact, that they are not even out in the UK yet! First up, Owen reviews new Ridley Scott sci-fi The Martian (which doesn’t feature any aliens – xenomorphs or otherwise) before Brooker seethes over the new Anne Hathaway / Robert De Niro comedy The Intern. There’s even room for a review of the much anticipated crime-thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt as an FBI agent working with Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro on the trail of the Cartel in Mexico.

Before any of that though we have our quiz (which Steve helpfully explains in detail) and news section where the team react to Sam Smith’s Bond theme replete with improv poetry, The Simpsons opening Smithers closet, and the Prometheus sequel details. This is followed by our usual what we’ve been watching section, which sees: Owen review cult 80’s horror From Beyond as he pleads for your HP Lovecraft recommendations; Steve runs through three first watches of Beverly Hills Cop, Cooties and Cop Car; and Brooker reminds himself of a time when De Niro could do comedy well with Analyze This.

Join us again next week as we review ‘the Scottish play’, Macbeth, and have a very special guest in tow for our Scottish triple bill: It’s the acclaimed author of the Three Realistic Holes trilogy of novels, Escobar Walker!

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