December 23, 2016

2016 - The Year in Review

Damn, it's that time of year again when all the movie bloggers post top ten lists influenced by their political ideologies. So, while they cross-promote and virtue-signal each other like crazy people, I'll just calmly sidestep the circle-jerk by not making any lists whatsoever.

Once again, there haven't been enough horror movies this year to make a "Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2016", let alone another "Top 10 Worst Horror Movies of 2016" to accompany it. Even combining all the movies from other genres which I've watched this year, it would be impossible to find 20 in total which I feel like mentioning again. It's really been that bad.

Cue the comedy tumbleweed...

Same time next year, Mr Tumbleweed?

Movies I Enjoyed in 2016

There were a few movies I liked, but apart from "Gods of Egypt", "The Huntsman: Winter's War", and "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children", none of them were from this year.

In October, I went on a minor journey into some Hitchcock classics with "The Birds" and "Rebecca", but I couldn't sustain enough interest in old movies I'd already seen dozens of times before to continue. I also discovered that I don't actually own DVDs of the more famous Hitchcock movies to make a series out of it and found myself slipping away from horror towards what can only be described as "great works of A-level English literature turned into dumbed-down movies for the plebs". I was just about to review "Great Expectations" when I realised that I couldn't stand any more of that horribly dated old bollocks. Even "The Joy of CeX" and their ridiculously low prices wasn't enough to tempt me back once the spell was broken.

Pure shit which makes no sense.

Instead, I watched "The Wailing", hoping that South Korea was going to deliver the goods like they did with "Gwoemul" ten years ago. I got really into it to start with as it ticked all the right boxes of "otherness" and "different", but alas, it was not to last. This already tonally-challenged abomination turned into pure shit two-thirds of the way through, didn't make a lick of sense to me at the end, and I gave up on watching and reviewing movies again. We don't even "do" Hallowe'en in Britain, so there was no point in burning myself out even further.

TV Shows of 2016

Other than compulsory viewing of "EastEnders" and "Wentworth", I mainly used the television to play Xbox games this year. I didn't watch any "Game of Thrones" except the last two episodes, and I have no interest left in "The Walking Dead", "American Horror Story", or "Ash vs. Evil Dead".

I did force myself to watch the entire first season of "Westworld", although after a couple of episodes, it turned into yet another one of those shows with more padding than narrative progression. The whole thing could have been condensed into one movie without all the "Groundhog Day" repetition, flashbacks, "flashforwards", and general messing about with timelines. Oh wait, it already was. Yeah, I think I'll stick with the original 1973 movie, thank you, rather than waste my time with another "Lost". Just like how the "Losties" were dead all along, I expect the "Westies" will all turn out to be robots when "Westworld" returns for another season in 2018 (when everyone has forgotten about it) anyway.

In fact, the highlight of this year was watching Donald Trump win the Presidential Election. Considering that I'm not into boring politics, I was still intrigued enough to watch it on the BBC, who dragged the final result out forever in the vain hope that it would change in favour of their fellow Lefties. It was great but cringeworthy late night television. Watching more and more American Democrats and SJW-types get well and truly served when Hillary Clinton lost was hilarious to me, and the fallout which followed on social media was like bittersweet icing on a cake already made delicious with their salty tears of misery.

It would be fantastic if Trump's win signalled the beginning of a long overdue worldwide change back to normality and killed the annoying Millennial religion of SJW-dom, political correctness gone mad, and the crybully victim-culture which the mainstream media has milked for all it's worth, but I doubt that it will happen. The Illuminati bankers and Reptilians from Saturn have had their plans delayed a little bit, but that's all. The fact that we voted to leave the EU six months ago in Britain and still no "Brexit" has occurred speaks volumes. As the old joke goes, "It doesn't matter who you vote for, the government still gets in."

In Remembrance

A veritable shit load of actors, entertainers, and celebrities died again this year, including several "stars" who apparently only departed this plane of existence just to upset millions of people who had never been fans of theirs before. Here are the majority of the ones I heard about through the wailing and gnashing of teeth on social media. I've highlighted the names of those I knew of before they died. R.I.P.

Lennie Bluett
Leonard White
Yves Vincent
Richard Libertini
Myra Carter
Anna Synodinou
Umberto Raho
Angus Scrimm
Ed Stewart
David Bowie
David Margulies
Brian Bedford
Conrad Phillips
Franco Citti
Alan Rickman
Micole Mercurio
Bairbre Dowling
Sheila Sim
Dan Haggerty
Lois Ramsey
Glenn Frey
Colin Vearncombe
Abe Vigoda
Frank Finlay
Terry Wogan
Dave Mirra
Richard Gladman
Maurice White
William Haze
Louise Plowright
George Martin
James Douglas
Nancy Reagan
Richard Davalos
Robert Horton
Keith Emerson
Sylvia Anderson
Paul Daniels
Larry Drake
Ken Howard
Earl Hamner, Jr.
Garry Shandling
Patty Duke
Frank De Felitta
Ronnie Corbett
Douglas Wilmer
Merle Haggard
David Swift
Martin Fitzmaurice
Doris Roberts
Victoria Wood
Madeleine Lebeau
Sylvia Kauders
Reg Grundy
Nick Lashaway
William Schallert
Nicholas Fisk
Valerie Lush
Ian Watkin
Rosanna Huffman
Burt Kwouk
Angela Paton
David Spielberg
Muhammed Ali
Lidia Biondi
Ronnie Claire Edwards
Ann Morgan Guilbert
Dave Swarbick
Anton Yelchin
Sharon Douglas
Götz George
Stuart Nisbet
Robin Hardy
Caroline Aherne
Michael Cimino
Noel Neill
Corrado Farina
Seamon Glass
Ken Barrie
Vivean Gray
Terence Bayler
David Huddleston
Barry Jenner
Cynthia Szigeti
Kenny Baker
Patricia English
Arthur Hiller
Michael Leader
Steven Hill
Marvin Kaplan
Peter Comi
Gene Wilder
Jon Polito
John Hostetter
Johnny Rebel
Hazel Douglas
James Stacy
Alexis Arquette
Todd Kimsey
Herschell Gordon Lewis
Peter Collingwood
Laura Troschel
Pete Burns
Gary Dubin
Ricky Callan
Jean Alexander
Richard Cavendish
Margaret Ashcroft
Lene Tiemroth
John Carson
Robert Vaughn
Lisa Lynn Masters
Yevgeni Lazarev
Andrew Sachs
Colonel Abrams
Bernard Gallagher
Valerie Gaunt
Van Williams
Alice Drummond
Don Calfa
Margaret Whitton
Peter Vaughan
Greg Lake
Walter Swinburn
Alan Thicke
Bernard Fox
Rick Parfitt

...and this evil fuck. Burn in Hell!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December 14, 2016

M.R. James' Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee

The late Sir Christopher Lee narrates a series of four half-hour ghost stories by M.R. James. Originally shown on BBC2 during the last week of December, 2000.

Watch them while you can!

The Stalls of Barchester (December 23rd, 2000)

The Ash Tree (December 26th, 2000)

Number 13 (December 29th, 2000)

A Warning to the Curious (December 31st, 2000)

Buy them on DVD from Amazon here: Ghost Stories for Christmas (Expanded 6-Disc Collection Box Set) [DVD] - Note: Does not include Christopher Lee reading "The Ash Tree".

December 13, 2016

M.R. James' Ghost Stories for Christmas with Robert Powell

Robert Powell narrates a series of five partially-dramatised ghost stories by M.R. James. Originally shown on BBC2 during the last week of December, 1986, they included "The Mezzotint", "The Ash-Tree", "The Rose Garden", "Wailing Well", and "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad".

Watch this one on YouTube while you still can!

Wailing Well (December 28th, 1986)

Buy them on DVD from Amazon here: Classic Ghost Stories of M R James [DVD]

December 10, 2016

Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

"The next installment in the blockbuster franchise, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice."

Considering that I've already bitched and whined as much as is humanly possible about how disappointing this entire series of "black and blue films" is overall, all I'm really doing by reviewing "Blood Wars" is repeating what I said about "Underworld: Awakening" four years ago but with a few extra names dropped in. Sadly, I've watched these movies get worse with every sequel (or prequel), and I'd almost forgotten what happened in the last one until I read my own review.

Suffice it to say that with a running time of just over an hour and 20 minutes (including 4 minutes of recaps at the start and several more minutes of flashbacks scattered throughout), there isn't a lot of anything new here. It's already obvious that it's not going to be the last of the "Underworld" series, but it's easily the weakest so far and reeks of being another half-arsed filler. "Underworld" really should have been a TV series after the first theatrical release if this is the way they are going to play it.

Obviously, Kate Beckinsale looks fantastic again. Also of note is Lara Pulver as Semira. She looks like a more perfect version of a young Sigourney Weaver from certain angles, but occasionally she has the air of Eva Green about her too.

It's almost the same deal with Theo James who reminds me of a younger Julian McMahon, Bradley James who looks like Mads Mikkelsen playing Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale", and James Faulkner who resembles Albert Finney way too much. Maybe the casting director thought they were trying to make a lookalike compendium of the latest James Bond films because that's what they've ended up with, give or take a few werewolves and vampires.

Whatever the case, the plot is weak, characters aren't given enough time to develop, and every slow scene seems to be designed as a hindrance rather than an attempt to progress the story. Consequently, if you only see the last 5 minutes, it will be enough to prepare you for the next installment, because the padded action sequences are nothing memorable either. A couple of important characters are completely wasted, but I'll say no more than that. Maybe it's an intentional contempt for the audience, or maybe it's just inept filmmaking, I'll let you decide for yourself.

Although the choreography improves later on, the majority of the action scenes are little more than a bunch of extras who no one cares about getting confusingly slaughtered in the background to the even more confusing duels between the main protagonists. There's never any sense of threat or danger involved due to none of the characters having enough screen time for you to get to know much about them.

The be all and end all of this "Underworld" movie is that it seems to only exist for completists and fans who will buy it anyway. If you haven't seen any of the others, you won't know what to make of it, who anyone is, or why anything is happening, and even with prior knowledge, "Underworld: Blood Wars" will still be very disappointing.

Already showing in Europe since the start of December, American audiences will have to wait until January for the theatrical release. For those who are wise to these things, the fact that it's a "January movie" says it all.

December 5, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

"When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers."

Really fucking good! I'm amazed at how much I enjoyed this, especially considering that it's a kids' film by Tim Burton.

Obviously, I only watched it because Eva Green is in it, and she does not disappoint. In fact, I don't think I've seen her give a bad performance in anything so far. She's not as sexy as she was in "Dark Shadows", "Sin City 2", or "300: Rise of an Empire", but then again, she's not playing that kind of role this time either.

Even though "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is more or less a ripoff of Marvel's "X-men", it's beautifully filmed, almost flawlessly acted, and has lots of surprises in the casting. Samuel L. Jackson chews scenery brilliantly, Terence Stamp is used far too sparingly, but you can't complain when Rupert Everett is in it too!

As expected, the characters and plot (based on yet another YA novel which I have no intention of ever reading) are a bit weird here and there, and the CGI Slender Man/Jack Skellington-wannabe (a lot like the one in this year's "Blair Witch") makes several appearances (because that's the scary thing now, apparently), but it's not an excessive Tim Burton fantasy. In other words, there's no Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter being overly "eccentric" to spoil it.

I'd even go so far as saying that "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is an "epic" children's adventure. A few nods to (or obvious "borrowings" from) other well known classics for the same age group are noticeable without being cliché, and it all just works. Admittedly, a major part of the story involving "time loops" falls apart under closer scrutiny at the end, as happens with every "time loop" sci-fi or fantasy movie ever made, but the target audience are unlikely to notice.

Highly recommended for all ages, and definitely one to buy when it gets released on DVD and blu-ray. If it's still playing at a cinema near you, catch it while you can.

Oh, and [SPOILER] Judi Dench's character dies in it, which is always a bonus!

December 4, 2016

Arrival (2016)

"When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team - led by expert linguist Louise Banks - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers - and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity."

So, I watched 2 hours or more (trust me, it felt longer) of this utter shite based on a novel about alien octopusses which look like the Cloverfield monster, and I can now safely say that it was boring as shit and didn't make any fucking sense whatsoever.

I'm not some fucking thickie who can't decipher movies, but "The Arrival" is such a fucking artsy-fartsy, tangled mess that there's no explanation possible for what it's supposed to be about without drifting into some obscure philosophical bollocks which nobody normal knows about or has ever read anyway. No moral, no message, none of the most obvious questions answered, nothing memorable, just piss poor storytelling. It doesn't even have Charlie Sheen in it!

Here come loads of spoilers because fuck this movie.

She looks about as happy as I did watching this horseshit.

Basically, some ovaloid spaceships appear all over the world, and the aliens inside look like scary octopusses, or walking hands, or spiders. Take your pick, they are all nasty. The ugly motherfuckers walk like disembodied hands and squirt ink. Whatever the fuck they are, you wouldn't want one swimming up your arse.

A woman linguist (played by Amy Adams) with no make-up (because she's a scientist and clever, yawn!) and a bunch of other nondescript scientists go aboard one of the ships and attempt to communicate with the octopusses, but because the military are involved, someone (predictably) sets a bomb off during one of their missions, and the story starts again, and again, and again. Not like "Groundhog Day", but like someone fucked up editing it all together.

There's a little girl involved and a baby who may be the same person, and both are the linguist's daughter or the linguist herself. Both or all of them are destined to die of some horrible incurable disease which probably came from the octopusses. I'm fucked if I know. By this point, I'd developed a serious case of Forest Whitaker eye (yeah, he's in it too) and didn't care about anything. No action, no ray guns, no boobs, no blood, no cats. Why does something like this even exist? Oh yeah, because nerds and cucks like sci-fi.

After a scene more of less straight out of "The Abyss" (another slow movie which is also boring as shit), the aliens communicate with subtitles then leave. The linguist phones a Chinese scientist guy to tell him what his dead wife's last words were, and we're back to the linguist, and the little girl, and the baby again. Apparently she's married to the Jeremy Renner scientist guy now too, because that isn't predictable at all.

And none of it makes any fucking sense!!!!

Why are they here? Fucked if I know.

8.4 on the IMDb? Give me a fucking break. It's not even worth 1 out of 10. This is complete and utter shit from beginning to end. Allegedly, it rips-off Samuel R. Delany's "Babel 17" too.

I can't wait to see how badly director Denis Villeneuve fucks up the "Blade Runner" sequel with more style over substance now. Actually, I'm not. I won't be watching it.