It Follows – 2015

“A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual encounter.”

One of the few horror films I haven’t been left disappointed with in recent years and I can see why it gets quite a high rating on IMDb. The one problem I had with it was that the ‘supernatural force’ is a walking sexual transmitted disease because it makes the film sound a lot more stupid than it is. Usually when films employ a storyline like that it is because they know it’s going to be bad but people might watch in the hope there will be a bit of sex in it, and this film really didn’t need to do that. Having said that it is something that I haven’t seen before and originality in horror films is something hard to find these days.

The acting wasn’t brilliant but for the most part it was pretty convincing, good mix of characters and a good script to go with it. It wasn’t the jumpiest or scariest film you will ever see but it was quite creepy, great build-up of tension and perfect timing throughout. I think the best thing about it is that it wasn’t confined to a house and even though for the most part it was after one person it didn’t feel like it because the whole group was always involved. It was also very constant, they fled for a bit and then it caught up numerous times but it didn’t have a bad repetitive feel to it because of the changing settings and the different forms the supernatural disease was taking. For me the film also had the right amount of deaths in it.

For a long time horror films were all the same, everybody died but the one innocent main character (usually a young woman), then they changed and for a couple of years nobody survived, particularly in lower budget films, but because of both of those periods now it could go either way so it leaves the audience guessing, adding that bit of suspense that had previously been lacking. In It Follows I genuinely had no idea who was going to die and who was going to survive so there was really no way it could have disappointed me at the end. Overall I feel like people will be put off by the title and summary of the plot of this film and therefore avoid it and I can understand that because it does sound stupid. Fortunately I’ll watch pretty much anything and because it sounds stupid it’s such a pleasant surprise when you do watch it because it was really good.

Advertisements

Fifty Shades of Grey – 2014

“Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.”

Both the book and then the film were massively hyped and promoted and financially very successful despite the moral outrage it seemed to cause. Whilst I’m not about to write an article about the problems with depicting women as weak or rape culture and all the other debates this film caused I will write about how truly dreadful it is from a relatively neutral, open minded perspective of someone who has watches between 5-10 films a week from every single genre because this film does deserve a scathing review from everybody who watches it.

I’ll start off with the casting of Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Firstly I find neither of them particularly attractive. Jamie Dornan has a good body and everything but his voice doesn’t match his face and his face doesn’t match his body and it’s just very offputting. Dakota Johnson is just cute. Not hot, not sexy, certainly not irresistible and along with Jamie Dornan, not suited to the role in the slightest. Now together they’re even worse. There was a lot of speculation going around that they didn’t get on at all during filming and it showed, there was absolutely no chemistry between them at all. I’m not one to find sex during a film uncomfortable but some of the scenes in this were just plainly awkward.

I’m assuming the story is pretty accurate in relation to the book. I can’t say I got particularly far in my reading of it but from what I did read it all seemed to coincide so the producers, directors and writers can’t be completely blamed for just how appalling the storyline was. I would say the ending was anti-climactic but there was never really any feel of it building up to anything so it fit in pretty well with the rest of the truly remarkably bad film. I will inevitably watch the sequel with about as much shame as I watched this one and I can imagine a similar review will follow that one as it is just a badly written, distasteful set of stories. How it managed to get as high as 4.2 on IMDb I will never know because it really is astonishingly atrocious.

Epic – 2013

“A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group of characters in order to save their world — and ours.”

I’m finding it more and more difficult to enjoy animated films both the older I get and the more of them are made. There have been a few that I can watch every Christmas like Toy Story 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me and Monsters Inc but other than that none of them really stand out, especially not in the last 3 or 4 years. I am still yet to watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 in fear of it disappointing me after how much I enjoyed the first one but this film I had no real expectations of, it has just been there waiting to be watched for over 12 months and yesterday seemed like the day to do so. I realise that a 21 year old is not the target audience for films like this but I would still like to be able to enjoy them and this one I sadly didn’t.

Right from the start it just felt very repetitive and predictable. A few whimsical lines here and there but it wasn’t doing anything for me. Trying to put myself back into the late 90’s and early 2000’s when I was the right age for this type of film I can see how it could have been enjoyable but even then it felt very gender specific. I can’t see a young boy asking his parents to take them to the cinema to watch this but I suppose the same could be said about girls and How to Train Your Dragon. Despicable Me and Monsters Inc. are the only ones I have mentioned that seem very neutral to me. The idea didn’t feel particularly original and the execution certainly wasn’t but all in all it wasn’t bad, just average.

The Big Wedding – 2013

“A long-divorced couple fakes being married as their family unites for a wedding.”

Not the typical type of film I would usually indulge in but one very suited to a boring Sunday afternoon when you need a bit of cheering up. Also it could have been a dreadful film but it has Ben Barnes in and when you’re that attractive you can do no wrong. Fortunately it wasn’t a dreadful film at all. Not particularly original, every incident and joke in it has been done before but it’s a solid feel-good film. The only problem I have with it being a feel-good film is that there are plenty around that are for the whole family and equally as good. It was rated 15 in the UK and R in America because of a lot of bad language and some nudity that didn’t really make it any better. It’s not an all out comedy film so I feel like it should have been toned down a bit to make it more marketable.

Some good casting with Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams. All household names for a variety of roles. The less famous Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, and Ben Barnes completing a nice little mix that all seemed to work very well together. I feel like they might have pushed the boat out on the budget for all these actors/actresses and produced something a bit worse than they were hoping for but it was still a pretty good film, nothing special but watched at the right time and in the right mood it’s definitely capable of being enjoyed.

French Open Predictions

I can only really see one person winning the French Open this year and that is Novak Djokovic. He has simply been unstoppable all year and with Nadal’s clay form fleeting in the run-up to this tournament I can’t see him getting close to Novak. Andy Murray as much as I can’t stand him has been really impressive on clay but mentally Djokovic has his number and that shows every time they play each other. Federer is always the favourite in my head just because I always want him to win everything but he just doesn’t have the physicality to compete with Djokovic anymore. I think there are two dark horses in the competition, possibly even three with how Wawrinka has been playing in the last month but Kei Niskikori and Tomas Berdych are both excellent on clay and in excellent form. I still don’t think either of them can compete with Djokovic on top form but if he isn’t having the best of days and a few mistakes creep in either one of them can easily capitalize. Nishikori is quickly becoming one of my new favourites and I hope he does manage a grand slam sooner rather than later but I feel like in the form he is in this year that Djokovic is simply unstoppable on any surface.

Everton – 2014/15 Season Review

It would be easy to be as negative about this as the majority of my film reviews but there have been periods of this season where Everton have been excellent and some of the new talent has been outstanding. However the only consistency we have had this season is when we have been consistently bad. The first few games of the season actually looked promising, we switched off at the end of a few games and some silly defensive errors gave us only one point when we should have had three and with them late goals being conceded came a massive drop in confidence. The shining light at this time of the season was the Europa League. 2 rather comfortable wins over one of the favourites in the tournament Wolfsburg and a great win and a draw against Lille let us put out a young team against Krasnodar knowing we were going through top of the group. The Europa League became a bad excuse for atrocious league form from October through December. We could beat teams who were inevitably going to be in a relegation battle but any team in decent form seemed to make us look like a Sunday league team. We were playing the same passing game as last year but getting outplayed at it in every game. Going forward we barely posed a threat and at the back we always looked like giving it away and it cost us week in week out. Our £28 million signing was firing on all cylinders in Europe and looking tired in the league and by the time January came around we were looking down instead of up.

We got a kind draw in Europe against the Swiss Young Boys and demolished them with ease in both legs but our league form wasn’t getting any better and our FA Cup run came to a heartbreaking end against West Ham. Despite the devastating penalty end it was the first performance of the season that I was really proud of the team and they really looked like they tried and cared. Aiden McGeady let himself down getting sent off and he knew it but his effort has been excellent this season and I have been really impressed with him when he’s been given the chance to play. I honestly thought that was going to be the match that turned our season around like it so often did in January under Moyes but it wasn’t to be. Our poor form continued into the middle of March until a good first leg against Dynamo Kiev was followed by a bullying performance against a shocking Newcastle side. Unfortunately what followed that was a humiliating defeat against Kiev in the second leg that ended our Europa League run quite unexpectedly.

Following that match was the eventual revival we needed, but it was too little too late to have any success for the season. By the time March came around it was looking like avoiding a relegation scrap would have been a success and with a few good performances and some actual effort that’s exactly what they managed to do. A couple of scrappy performances against QPR, Southampton, and Burnley and the performance of the season against Manchester United and we were looking up towards a top 10 finish. That form lasted all of a single month though and when we were safe from relegation the poor form came back, the effort disappeared, and the booing returned. Absolutely nothing to play for at the back end of the season and the only minute chance of getting Europa League next season via the Fair Play table and the fans made it clear every game that they were not happy.

Throughout the whole season the crowd had been on the back of Martinez and Kenwright. There were very boring games at Goodison when we played with no intent at all and the noise was brutal and for good reason but I don’t think it is ever a time to be calling for sackings. He made some good investments and he made some poor investments. Tactically he got it wrong a lot this season and more often than not there has been no plan B and it’s caused a lot of problems. But as I said we have had a few outstanding players this season and some good additions to the squad. John Stones for me has been phenomenal. As a young defender he’s allowed to make a few mistakes and he has done but in the second half of the season he has been the stand out performer for me and has formed a great partnership with Jagielka. However they’re both much better as right sided centre backs, so with Distin now inexplicably allowed to be let go I think it would be wise to get rid of Alcaraz and invest in a solid, left sided centre back. Aaron Lennon has been another player for me that in the latter half of the season has been a great addition. He has quickly gelled with the rest of the team and formed a good bond with Coleman on the right side but most importantly he lifts the team with his effort every time he is on the field. Besic and McCarthy are two more who are non-stop with their effort and with what could be Barry’s last season they need to form a good partnership pre-season. Coleman has been excellent once again but in games that Lennon has been missing and for the first half of the season he was really lacking in support. Naismith started off perfectly, scored a lot of important goals in the first half of the season but for some reason was replaced way too many times for Barkley, who has had a really poor season.

There have been a lot of polls of who Everton should get rid of over the summer and a lot of names are on there that a lot of people want to get rid of and I just don’t understand it. The only player who has been truly bad in every game he’s played is Alcaraz and he’s the only player I would be looking to offload in the summer. The likes of Kone, Gibson, Hibbert, Pienaar, Osman, McGeady, Oviedo they’re all dedicated and solid squad players. Gibson and Kone there would be no point in getting rid of because we couldn’t get any money for them. I do think there are some young players coming through that have excellent potential to break into the first team this year, David Henen for me being one of the most impressive. We’ve seen Galloway and Browning a few times this year and they both look like good players for the future who just need a few games and a bit of experience.

I certainly still believe Martinez is the right man for the job and unless the right investor comes along, Kenwright still deserves to be the chairman of the club. With no Europa League next season we’ll be able to put all of our focus on the league and the cups and I have no doubt that next season will be much more successful.

Playing With Dolls – 2015

“A serial killer is purposely released from an asylum for the criminally insane so that he can continue his rampage.”

A relatively accurate yet completely deceiving tagline to an absolutely dreadful thriller horror film. There is a serial killer purposely released but that isn’t really that relevant to the ‘story’ because he’s barely even in it and we only actually see him kill one person and that’s right at the start of the film. The first 5 minutes is an attractive black woman running away from the masked killer until she is eventually captured and killed but then the next 20 minutes is pointless back story on the main character Cindy (Natasha Blasick) and why she takes the ‘job’ of living in this secluded cabin with no communication or means of travel to the outside world and no other civilization for miles.

Once she reaches this cabin she is followed around by the serial killer, who it turns out is taking orders from someone who likes to watch young women being killed, because that’s really original and not been done before. So this guy giving the orders apparently wants to get to know the woman before the serial killer is allowed to kill her so he basically just follows her around the house for a couple of days (as he inexplicably has his own key to the house) until a policeman turns up while Cindy is in her hot tub and things get out of control.

Now what these low-budget horror films lack in special effects, famous actors, and better scriptwriters they often make up for with lots of good nudity and gore. This film fails on both of these attributes too unfortunately with very little nudity despite how attractive Natasha Blasick is throughout the film and virtually no gore after the initial killing in the first couple of minutes. We see a few hanging limbs and a few dodgy looking gun shot wounds (as the policeman kills more people than the serial killer) but other than that there’s just nothing. Cindy then ends up running away from the serial killer and everyone else that’s trying to kill the policeman in what is basically a repeat of the opening scene. The ending tops off one of the most anti-climactic films you will ever see. Once she has been rescued from the serial killer, by both a flash grenade and the policeman, she gets in the car with the man who has organised it who happens to turn up at the perfect time and drives off with her in the passenger seat, closing the film with a horrible soundtrack worthy of the film.

This film is a complete waste of time and its 2.6 rating on IMDb is completely justified. The cabin looked like a nice place for a little rural break in the woods if you’re scouting for one but as I’m not the film did not have one redeeming feature.