Thursday, 12 January 2017

2016 - A Year In Film In 140 Characters Or Less.

2016 is like so last year already! But for my own benefit more than anything else, here's all my mini-reviews I published on my Twitter account for films released last year handily gathered together in one place. This is by no means every film I saw, but just the titles which I felt compelled to post a succinct '140 characters or less' verdict upon. For my latest Twitter reviews you can follow me here: @M_R_Movie
In Alphabetical Order:  

10 Cloverfield Lane: A taut, tense puzzle, which toys with whether it's a claustrophobic entrapment chiller or something far more apocalyptic.

All Hallows Eve 2: Marked increase in production values & proliferation of stories. No real catalyst for, or continuity between segments though.

Among The Living: Deformed, deranged, disturbing. A bit episodic & makes little sense but as a twisted dark fantasy it's nasty & nightmarish.

Anguish: Latest fright film to use mental health issues as the catalyst for its horror. All very intense & ponderous & really rather dull

Anomalisa: The spark of attraction & connection flickering in the mundanity of existence. Beautifully animated, emotionally complex, unique.

Arrival: Contact, communication & collaboration. Profound, poignant, eerily topical, a sublime slice of spiritual sci-fi for troubled times.

Baskin: A freefall into the abyss. An orgy of startling nightmare imagery & surreal logic, it's blood-soaked, bizarre, bonkers & brilliant.

Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice: Fleeting great moments but it's baggy, bloated, borderline incoherent & a bit like watching at least two movies at once.

Bite: Agreeably grisly body horror throwback, with the clear mission statement to drown its cast in slime & gooey, gory, grossness. Tasty!

Blackburn: A bit Wrong Turn, a bit My Bloody Valentine, a bit like a composite of various films. Utterly generic, if watchable slasher trash.

Blair Witch: Lacks original's impact & novelty, but nicely exploits primal fears with solid shocks despite annoying over-use of jump scares.

Bloodsucking Bastards: Crimson coated corporate comedic creature feature. Office Space with added bite, a decent if disposable vampire romp.

Body: Clammy crisis of conscience chiller. A murderous moral minefield which scores bonus points by having Larry Fessenden in a pivotal role.

Captain America Civil War: Too little plot for too many characters & yet still too long! Repetitive drama, artificial conflict. Mid table Marvel.

Cell: After a strong airport based opening this rapidly spirals out of control. A bad signal - a directionless, disjointed, incoherent mess.

Cherry Tree: Occult imagery, twisted teen romance, weird witchcraft & flesh-crawling centipedes. A mixed bag, muddled but not without merit.

Creed: Doesn't duck many clichés, but delivers emotional punches & dramatic blows to match the impressive fluidity of the fight sequences.

Creepy: Kurosawa returns to suburban shocks with a serial killer chiller favouring suspicion over suspense, with a dark, disturbing reveal.

Criminal: What's really criminal is how this ludicrous, overlong sci-fi tinged action nonsense wastes such a top cast. Dumb & not much fun.

Curtain: Quirky, culty, crazy. An ambitious oddity with the low budget invention & DIY charm of Henenlotter & Coscarelli. A B-movie gem.

Dad's Army: Lacks the nostalgic charm & gentle wit of the beloved TV show. Such a pity as the period detail & inspired casting is faultless.

Deadpool: Profane, punky, violent Marvel departure. Reynolds perfect hubristic, wisecracking fit. Solid foundations for cool new franchise.

Doctor Strange: A deluge of flashy FX & mind-bending cosmic twaddle. Feels like an 80's Charles Band movie with a budget, but not as much fun.

Dog Eat Dog: Cage & Dafoe scenery-chew in watchable Tarantino-lite crime caper, but by Schrader's standards this feels terribly disposable.

Don't Kill It: Deadpan Dolph a delight in gloriously gory tongue in cheek demonic possession romp. A hugely entertaining B-movie blast.

Eddie The Eagle: Utterly formulaic & manipulative, but you'd need a heart of stone not to be charmed by its triumphant feel good factor.

Elvis & Nixon: Quirky, character driven with few deft comedic touches & solid performances, but fairly inconsequential. It's no Bubba Ho-Tep!

Emelie: Reasonable one-dimensional cuckoo in the nest chiller. An unsettling & often uncomfortable watch, as Sarah Bolger gives good psycho.

Everybody Wants Some: Mirrors shallowness of its characters in a nostalgic celebration of hedonistic youth. My favourite Linklater since Dazed & Confused.

Evolution: Sparse dialogue & lush visuals it exudes a hypnotic dreamlike quality, but feels like a sterile, less spiritual cover of Spring.

Eye In The Sky: The complexity & culpability of modern warfare. A moral, ethical & political conundrum as tense trigger fingers twitch.

Frankenstein: Rose transforms classic Gothic text for modern age yet retains the dark tragedy of source material. An impressive update.

Goddess Of Love: A most fatal attraction, a dark & disturbing descent into delirium. Alluring Alexis Kendra's Venus is far from (h)armless.

Gods Of Egypt: A deluge of dire digital FX, dismal dialogue & mind-boggling, incoherent plot. Actually makes John Carter look a classic!

Goosebumps: A fun but flimsy family friendly monster mash which nails an 80s Monster Squad / Joe Dante vibe. Giant mantis is the highlight.

Green Inferno: Americans abroad brutalised yet again by Roth. Explicit, but too inane to have visceral impact of films which inspired it.

Green Room: Nazi punks fucked up! Premise bit of a stretch but as events go south the brutality rises with violence as hardcore as the music

Hail Caesar!: Fragmented & frivolous, more a Coen sketch show than a cohesive whole, a mirthful chuckle at expense of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Hangman: Voyeuristic, intruder chiller which stretches credibility to breaking point. Has fleeting shocking moments, but recycles clichés.

Heist: Solid if generic mix of John Q & Speed. Well paced with strong cast & decent character development. Better than most STV thrillers.

He Never Died: Wonderfully quirky quasi-vampire film delivers bone-crunching brutality & black humour. Henry Rollins is a deadpan delight.

High-Rise: Idiosyncratic & insane, its class politics play out in unsubtle metaphor but it generates a vivid sense of debauchery & decay.

Holidays: Festivities themed fright anthology, plays trump card early with truly nightmarish Easter story, then becomes increasingly patchy.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople: Warm, witty wilderness romp which tugs on heartstrings & tickles the funny bone. One of year's best. "Majestical."

Hush: Superior, suspenseful spin on home invasion sub-genre milks every drop of tension from a premise Hitchcock would've been proud of.

I Am Not A Serial Killer: Clever, creative subversion of serial killer story. Defies expectations & warps genre conventions. Avoid spoilers!

Imperium: Conventional plot, curious casting. Solid domestic terrorism infiltration drama sees Radcliffe further shed his Potter persona.

Independence Day Resurgence: Lengthy preamble before the spectacle. If ID4 was a guilty pleasure this is merely guilty of being a predictable retread.

Insidious 3: A sorry sequel spun from supporting characters. It's an over familiar retread adhering to the law of diminishing returns.

Intruders: Superior subversive spin on home invasion sub-genre. Nasty violence & inspired plot twists as it smartly confounds expectations.

Jane Got A Gun: Despite its feminist slant it's a fairly traditional revenge-driven Western. Moments of introspection shattered by gunshots.

Jason Bourne: Basically an elongated 3-act chase sequence with minimal plot & sparse dialogue. Kinetic but empty. Greengrass's weakest entry.

Jeruzalem: A solid Cloverfield inspired street-level end of days fable scuppered by its irksome Google glasses found footage mechanism.

Joy: Capitalism fairytale, which shifts tone from forced quirkiness to increasingly dull drama. Lawrence needs more than a mop for this mess.

Kill Command: Militarised man vs machine sci-fi has hugely impressive spfx, but its plot & characterisation were clearly lost in combat.

Knucklebones: Solid splattery indie demonic monster romp, boasts spectacularly gory scenes including a seriously eye-watering sexual demise!

Last Girl Standing: Less post-modern, more post-mortem slasher. Novel genre inversion with savage, psychotic, seriously brutal final act.

London Has Fallen: About as subtle as a rampant hippo on meth, but if it's spectacular meat-headed violence you're after, this delivers.

Lost After Dark: Faithful pastiche of 80's slashers. Robert Patrick ruins the illusion but it really nails the retro vibe, style & splatter.

Love & Mercy: Portrait of tortured musical genius teetering between inspiration & insanity. Unorthodox dual time line shows scars & healing.

Mark Of The Witch: Stylishly shot occult indie. Compensates for sparse plot with woozy hypnotic Suspiria vibe. Its 3.2 imdb rating is a joke.

Martyrs: Serviceable standalone shocker but compared to visceral transgressive masterpiece original it's a diluted, pointless cover version.

Midnight Special: Mysterious, magical, nostalgic throwback to a golden age of cerebral sci-fi. Otherworldly but ultimately full of humanity.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children: A bit unruly & rough around edges, but as a compendium of Burton's obsessions there's ample imagination & visual wonder.

Nerve: Ridiculous if mindlessly engaging zeitgeist cyber-thriller / social network nightmare. Highlight is the sci-fi sheen of neon-lit NYC.

Never Let Go: Kicks off at break-neck pace, with premium action, but loses momentum, bogged down in political conspiracy halfway through.

Nina Forever: Ghosts of girlfriends past, macabre, morbidly humourous, (nec)romantic, a bizarre love triangle with a deliciously dark twist.

Our Brand Is Crisis: Bullock best thing about a seen it all before political satire, which takes a very slight approach to a serious subject.

Pet: On the surface a tale of psychotic obsession reveals deeper, darker layers of manipulation & mind games anchored by two excellent leads.

Plan 9: Can't decide if it's post-modern spoof or straight-up zombie indie. Lacks naive charm & innocent ineptitude of original. Garbage.

Pride Prejudice & Zombies: Odd mix of corsets & corpses is a novel genre hybrid. Handsomely shot & benefiting from gutsy female characters.

Purge Election Year: Not as satirical or scathing as could be, but the way this series has evolved beyond its initial concept is impressive.

Road Games: A bumpy ride - minimal mystery & lacking suspense, it's a bland, largely bloodless bilingual thriller with an obvious twist.

Rogue One: Slack pacing in first hour, bland characters, reworked set pieces. Partially redeems itself via strong final act & powerful climax.

Room: From a place of confinement & cruelty this soars with emotional impact. Tied my stomach in knots & pulled my heartstrings to bits.

Scouts Guide To Zombie Apocalypse: Immature, idiotic, crude, lewd & laddish. A geeks vs ghouls guilty pleasure. I surprisingly kinda dug it.

Sinister 2: Utterly run of the mill sequel. Ups the nastiness factor at the expense of the genuine creepiness & impact of the original film.

Some Kind Of Hate: Contemporary slasher is a revenge fantasy for the disturbed & downtrodden. Slick & splattery with dubious self-harm angle.

Son Of Saul: Dignity amidst unrelenting cruelty. It's sickening sounds & harrowing horrors on periphery which haunt. Gruelling but essential.

Southbound: Satanism, slaughter & dread in the desert. Cyclical in structure & slightly unresolved, but a superior modern horror anthology.

Spotlight: A fine ensemble bring their A-game to sharply penned forensic investigation of systemic scandal. Powerful, gripping, essential.

Star Trek Beyond: Finally this summer, a genuinely thrilling & fun blockbuster. Action, spectacle, humour, emotion & a fab score. Loved it.

Suicide Squad: Could've been darker & more disturbed, but is way better than reviews suggest - a blast of sociopathic superhero fetish fun.

Sully: Eastwood's customary economic style & Hanks' subtle performance bring the personal drama to forefront of a gripping reconstruction.

Summer Camp: Essentially it's Cabin Fever meets REC, mining a rich seam of black humour. The 'rage' action is relentless, but repetitive.

Supersonic: A candid cut & paste history of a meteoric rags to riches rock & roll odyssey. Bittersweet & beautifully evocative of its era.

Swiss Army Man: One of strangest films I’ve ever seen, but for all its overt oddness there's real charm here. A celebration of life via the lifeless.

Tale Of Tales: Visually lavish, beautifully bizarre. Mix of eye candy & mind-bend, a deliciously deranged, twisted freaky fairytale fantasy.

Tank 432: 90 minutes of utter tedium punctuated by quarrelling, sporadic gore & trippy interludes. The final revelation will surprise nobody.

The Accountant: Intriguing mix of genres-Bourne meets Rainman; a tad convoluted & often feels like an incomplete jigsaw, but has its merits.

The Assassin: Sedately paced, dramatically remote yet visually arresting - stunning use of colour, costume & location. Beautiful but bland.

The Big Short: The economy crashes as the fourth wall smashes making accessible a subject that'll leave your head spinning & blood boiling.

The Boy: Doesn't do much new with the concept, but has a few creepy moments & captures that fusty, archaic old Amicus / The Innocents vibe.

The Darkness: Generic sub-Poltergeist suburban haunting clone. Decent performances but largely devoid of scares it's anodyne & forgettable.

The Evil In Us: A narcotic nasty. An anti-drugs cautionary tale in the guise of a gruesome splatter movie. Puts the psycho in psychotropic.

The Forest: Does bare minimum with creepy concept & location full of potential. Aims for J horror, but is strictly J for Just very ordinary.

The Funhouse Massacre: Gory, gaudy Halloween set horror - a colourful carnival of blood which plays out like a stalk & slash Suicide Squad.

The Ghoul: Meeten's twitchy central performance aside, this is a soporific descent into insanity & angst. An ordinary tale of madness.

The Girl With All The Gifts: The evolution of the zombie film, heart & soul amongst blood & guts. A smart, cerebral, stunning gift to genre fans.

The Good Neighbour: Build-up superior to the reveal, but this maintains tense intrigue as it morphs from voyeurism suspense to tragic drama.

The Greasy Strangler: Nudity & crudity, profanity & insanity. Gleefully grotesque, a delirious deep-fried blast of cartoon bullshit artistry.

The Hateful Eight: Reservoir Dogs reworked as a sprawling, stunningly shot nihilistic Western. An unruly mix of brilliance, barbarity & bloat.

The Jungle Book: Pinpoints middle ground between venerable Disney & Kipling adventure. Visually lush, rich characters, breathtaking FX work.

The Last Witch Hunter: Dull, tepid & largely incoherent twaddle with Vin Diesel approaching Tor Johnson levels of unintelligible gibberish.

The Mind's Eye: Worshipping at the Cronenberg altar, this is superior to any official Scanners sequel, putting the psycho into psychokinesis.

The Neighbour: A gritty, taut, mean-spirited thriller with a razor-toothed vicious streak. Preferred this to similarly themed Don't Breathe.

The Neon Demon: Hypnotic eye candy as empty as a model's stomach. Compelling & cruel, art & antagonism. Divisive, provocative, deranged. Loved it.

The Other Side Of The Door: East meets West in supernatural study of grief, which blends Pet Semetary & Don't Look Now with J-Horror imagery.

The Revenant: Stunningly shot saga of survival & revenge. Rarely has cruelty of nature & savagery of man looked so striking & felt so harsh.

The Trust: Loose cannon Cage & fretful Wood an engaging pairing in heist film laced with black humour, growing more tense & fractious. Decent.

The Vatican Tapes: Standard exorcism fare enlivened by its director's trademark breakneck action licks & a particularly bonkers conclusion.

The Void: A full-throttle throwback to 80's style practical creature FX & intense horror. Its influences are legion, its imagery stunning.

They Call Me Jeeg Robot: Unbreakable with Toxic Avenger vibe. Superheroes grounded in reality with emotional punch to match the brutality & black humour.

They Look Like People: Slow burn psychological chiller, which nicely teases expectations as it builds towards a genuinely suspenseful climax.

Trash Fire: Dysfunctional relationships, religious fundamentalism, mental decay. Seriously scabrous, deliciously dark, caustically comedic.

Victor Frankenstein: Looks amazing - top production & set design. Explores intriguing themes, but rather ponderous & devoid of dramatic heft.

Victoria: In technical terms a one take wonder. Slow to start, but once it shifts gear in 2nd hour it becomes a far more thrilling prospect.

Wind Walkers: A bit Jacobs Ladder, a bit Wolfen, a bit The Thing. Has its moody moments, but utterly all over the place in tone & narrative.

Worry Dolls: Solid, splattery voodoo possession serial killer yarn, boasts a drill through the head scene which outdoes Fulci for gory excess!

X-Men Apocalypse: A genuinely imposing villain & some revelatory character back stories help disguise an escalating sense of series deja vu.

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