Angry Birds Review

It’s been a while getting here. I’ve missed every other time to see Angry Birds but after much deliberation I would endeavor to see it. I can’t be a proponent of video games to films and not see what is ultimately one of the most well-known franchises and multimedia enterprises make it’s first steps into Hollywood.

Angry Birds stars Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Sean Penn and Peter Dinklage and is directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly. The film follows Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad) and Bomb (McBride) as they try to save the eggs on their home-world, Bird Island, from an invasion of Pigs.

Back in February I went to see the remake of Point Break. I came out of that screening with a desire to stop reviewing films. How does this link to Angry Birds? I came out of that screening shaking with rage at what I had made myself endure for the good part of ninety minutes.

The story is as hackneyed and generic as it can possibly be. It’s your usual redemption narrative, which is completely out-of-place. It takes so long to get going, never has an hour and a half film felt SO BLOODY LONG. I didn’t think Angry Birds had a story, but that goes to show that you can make a movie out of anything. That doesn’t mean you should make the movie though.

The voice cast is fine, but half of them sound like their phoning it in. Sean Penn’s entire role is grunting, which is a waste of his talent. Peter Dinklage sounds like his going through the motions, I think he was just brought on to add his name to the poster to boost ticket sales. Granted, they don’t have much to work with; jokes about excrement and other slapstick humour is abound, none of it is of merit or memorable. “But it’s a kids film” I hear you say. Okay, the film does have a U certificate, but what child will understand references to The Shining? Or constant sexual innuendos? Or bad language, usually replaced with the word “clucking”?

That’s not even the worst part. The final straw that broke me was the blatant advertising in the middle of the film. As soon as the Birds find Piggy Island, they start using the catapult to fling themselves into the Pig Castle. Before our trio of heroes can be shot by the catapult, around five to six birds are shot first, each displaying their special abilities. These are the birds that you need to spend real-life money to acquire in the game. It’s pandering to the child audience who are in the theatre, “Hey, buy our game, but if you want the rest of these cool birds, getting mum and dad to buy them for you”. Product placement is nothing new in films, just look at any number of James Bond films. But James Bond has an age certificate. And the things he peddles (mainly watches, alcohol and cars) are not being sold to children or being advertised to children. What Angry Birds is doing is shady and exploitative.

And do you know what the worst part is? This is only the start. Did you know Fruit Ninja just got greenlit? Tetris is also in development. The film industry is getting hold of widely known properties and trying to put a narrative to them when they have no backbone to support a narrative. Battleship, Ratchet And Clank even Warcraft, all films that tried to put a narrative on things that have no narrative to begin with. You might call me a hypocrite; I promote video games as being the next great medium that cinema can link with. But the thing is, there are great game stories (I’m not going to go into here). These are just brands that are being stretched into hour and a half adverts.

Bringing it back to Angry Birds, it is honestly one of the worst things I’ve seen this year. Point Break may have made a hobby that I love doing waver, but Angry Birds needs to be called out for the abomination that’s it’s pushing into cinemas.

Score: 1/10 The apotheosis of terrible filmmaking.

Everybody Wants Some!! Review

Richard Linklater is an incredibly ambitious director. Just look at his filmography; Boyhood, which was filmed over twelve years, the Before trilogy that did a similar thing to Boyhood but over eighteen years, or even School Of Rock which placed several untested child actors to the front of the film. Now, Linklaters’s back to his college roots, after his first college-set film Dazed And Confused with Everybody Wants Some!!. 

Everybody Wants Some!! stars Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell and Ryan Guzman and is written and directed by Richard Linklater. The film follows the baseball team at a Texas college in 1970s in the three days before term starts.

The film cast are mainly unknowns or just starting into their careers. I liked this a lot in Everybody Wants Some!!. A few films I get pulled out of the experience because the actor isn’t being the part (Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men) but here, like in a lot of Linklater’s films, it just feels like we are watching real people just talk with each other. The film is set in the few days before term actually starts, so we several scenes of the characters getting to know each other and bonding over drinks and dancing in clubs without the film having to stop while the characters all go to class. The very last shot is of two of the characters sitting down for their first ever university class and promptly falling asleep.

The characters are your stereotypical Linklater types; the main character (who has no definition apart from being the one who we are meant to sympathise with), the lovable rogue, the not-so lovable rogue and the girl. Even the characters realise how stock they are. After bouncing around from a disco to a Western-themed barn dance, to a punk concert and then to an Arts event, the main character Jake remarks to his friend Finnegan that they’ve managed to swap between parties so well because they have no characteristics. While every film set in a fraternity has a debt to the seminal Animal House, Everybody Wants Some!! works by getting away from the tired college stereotypes or the frats and the nerds by all the characters being on the baseball team.

The script, written by Linklater, is his usual blend of humour spliced with moments of deeper meaning as the characters have conversations about their lives and the responsibilities while growing up. At the beginning of the film the jokes come at a fast rate and are very memorable; a sequence where the guys all drive down to the bar and on the way start to sing the song that comes on the radio. The scene plays for nearly the entirety of the song and it just keeps getting funnier as it plays. The jokes start to fall away after the midway point of the film as we get to know the characters more and rivalry and tantrums start to break out between the teammates. I was worried while watching that it was going to descend into the classic narrative of the break-up/make-up trope but luckily the divides are quickly patched over and aren’t left hanging for any amount of time.

I ended up liking Everybody Wants Some!! more than I thought I would. I’m not even a big Linklater fan, I guess I just have a sweet spot for films set in university/college because I am in university at the time of writing. That’s why I loved Ocean Waves and Animal House so much. I think Everybody Wants Some!! will be the new version of Dazed And Confused, it will be THE college film for a new generation, myself included.

To conclude, Everybody Wants Some!! is a fun ride back into the college years of the 1970s. While it isn’t Linklater’s best film, it still holds up as being one of the funniest of 2016 so far.

Score: 8/10 Funny and timeless, it’s standard Linklater.

Eddie The Eagle Review

Everyone seems to be raving about Eddie The Eagle. it’s been getting incredibly high ratings and people are calling it the best British film and best British comedy in a long time. After putting it off for a couple of days, I finally went and watched it. Is it one of the best British films?

Eddie The Eagle stars Taron Edgerton. Hugh Jackman, Keith Allen, Jo Hartley and Tim McInnerny and is directed by Dexter Fletcher. The film follows the true story of Eddie Edwards, A British ski jumper, who entered the Winter Olympics despite coming last at every stage.

The story of Eddie Edwards is a proper underdog story. A man who proved everyone wrong and defied all the odds and went to the Olympics, not to win, but just to take part. The film dutifully recreates his story, spanning several years of his life and makes the film an all-round feel-good movie. If that’s all you really want from your film, a good old underdog story, then Eddie The Eagle is a fine choice. I’m not sure how much of the story is fabricated, but it does have some underdog sport film clichés, but you can easily overlook these. It fits perfectly into director Dexter Fletcher’s other films, such as Sunshine On Leith, he aims to make a film that will leave the audience feeling happy by the end.

The film has been billed as a comedy and the trailer was incredibly funny. Sadly most of the best jokes are given away in the trailer. There are some good moments that weren’t shown, including an extended sequence by Hugh Jackman as Eddie’s trainer Bronson describing ski jumping in comparison to spending a passionate night with film actress Bo Derek mainly from how absurd it gets. The training montage is also another good moment as the duo have some unorthodox methods as to how to prepare Eddie for the bigger jumps. Jackman and Edgerton have a good chemistry and helps to keep the film together when the jokes don’t appear. There is even a sly joke at Cool Runnings, the story of the Jamaican bobsled team who competed at the same Winter Olympics, despite Cool Runnings being the better film.

The ski jumps are created very well and are a highlight of the film. For every jump we get a point-of-view shot going down the slope, a reaction shot of the people on the ground and then a shot of the skier flying through the air, usually in slow motion so we can see it in all its glory. It’s very good and entertaining to watch, as well as been shot and edited to make them as exciting as possible. The jumpers should be getting billing next to Edgerton and Jackman, mainly due to them having to throw themselves down the hill and crash to show Eddie’s change from failure to triumph. Over and over again we see them crash and fall from the forty metre slope, it deserves praise that they are willing to be grievously injured for the film.

In the end, Eddie the Eagle is just alright. The good jokes are a bit few and far between and even at 1 hour 45 it feels a bit too overlong. Billy Elliot does the British underdog film better and Cool Runnings does the Olympic underdog story better as well. If you’re wanting to go to the cinema, pick Zootropolis instead.

Score: 5/10 Doesn’t soar as far as it could.

Anomalisa Review

Anomalisa has been on my watch-list for about half a year. It featured on many critics best of 2015 lists and one of my fellow students has been raving about it seemingly forever. Today, it opened, so I went to the very first screening at 9:15. The things I do for cinema…

Anomalisa stars David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan (yes, only three actors) and is directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. The film follows Michael (Thewlis) who on a business trip to Cincinnati meets Lisa (Leigh) who he becomes enraptured with.

Charlie Kaufman is well known in the film industry. He’s the writer and director of films like Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Anomalisa fits perfectly into the quirkiness and the engaging script of the other three films. It doesn’t have the cutting wit of a Tarantino or a Sorkin, but that is actually something in its favour. It’s more nuanced and believable and the dialogue between Michael and Lisa feels like we are peeking into a real life conversation. The film is full with dark humour, luckily none of which was spoiled in the trailer. I was almost in tears at some of the jokes, especially a extended computer segment at the hotel between Michael and a concierge, or an encounter with a golf buggy being driven through the hotel. Thewlis also has a speech during the final third that will become a defining moment of cult cinema, much like Sam Jackson’s “Ezekiel” or anything by Morgan Freeman.

The film is stop-motion, with the models being created by 3D printers. It took over two years to create and it looks stunning. There are moments when I stopped seeing puppets and began to see them as actors. That might be down to Thewlis and Leigh, who do a fantastic job at voicing the characters. Leigh especially, coming off the back of The Hateful Eight, Anomalisa is a complete change of character and shows her range as an actress. There is a third act reveal that uses the puppetry to great effect. I’m trying not to spoil it here, but it will go down as one of the greatest mind trips in the history of surrealist cinema. I’ve done some stop-motion before and I know how taxing it is, but Kaufman and Johnson have transcended a lot of what has come previously.

The BBFC gave Anomalisa a 15 certificate and it earns it well. Strong language is throughout as well as a fully animated sex scene. It’s not over-sexualised but is still a bit out-there in terms of weirdness. I guess it’s the fact that it’s stop-motion, it makes it seem very awkward but in a good way. It reminds me of a similar scene in The Spectacular Now, which is my favourite love scene due to its realism.

I don’t want to spoil the film, as it’s one of those rare ones that works wonders if you know nothing about it, but you have to be prepared for some out-there scenes. I already talked a little bit about the surrealist scene, but there some moments which will throw certain audience members. A lot of the oddness comes from the third member of the cast, Tom Noonan, who plays every other character, be it male or female, young and old. All of Noonan’s characters have the same face, which is a nice visualisation of Michael knowing there is something special about Lisa. It takes a while to realise what the film is doing with Noonan’s characters and it’s a bit strange to see female characters talking in a deep bass voice (which then is the same voice for their child). But it all adds to the feeling of there being something not right underneath the surface of Anomalisa.

I came out of Anomalisa feeling so many different emotions. It’s changed my perspective on certain things, it’s something that hits on a very deep level. If you watch Anomalisa, you’ll laugh, you might cry and you’ll have watched one of the greatest films of the 2010s.

Score: 10/10 Just go watch it. There is no equivalent. This is perfection.

Hail, Caesar! Review

The Coen Brothers are probably the most multi-talented duo in Hollywood at the moment. Both Joel and Ethan have produced, written and directed films for over thirty years, recently working on the script of Bridge Of Spies. Now, their new film, Hail, Caesar! is in cinemas.

Hail, Caesar! stars Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johannson and Alden Ehrenreich and is directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen. The films follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Brolin), a “fixer” for a major Hollywood studio during the 1950s.

The film is set in the Golden Age of Hollywood and there are several jokes and references to the films of yesteryear, the film is basically a love letter to Hollywood. We see behind the scenes of the films such as in the cutting room and the board meetings, with funny scenes at every turn. It reminds me of Singin’ In The Rain to an extent. We jump from movie lot to movie lot, seeing snippets of biblical epics, westerns and musicals. The film also moves between several genres of film, with parts being mystery, noir, romance and comedy. Unfortunately, this was one of my problems with it, as the film didn’t feel consistent with its tone. The film also changes aspect ratio whenever it goes into one of its film-within-a-film moments, which also annoyed me a little.

With the Coen Brother’s also writing the script as well as directing, the jokes come thick and fast. The Coen’s know how to construct farcical scenes well and hide little jokes in the margins for the more eagle-eyed viewers. My favourite from Hail, Caesar! is an extended back-and-forth between Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes (the first of several cameos in the film) over pronunciation of a line of dialogue.

The film is littered with cameos from actors and actresses, each one bringing their all to the film. Tilda Swinton (in two roles), Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Michael Gambon and Channing Tatum all fill out the side space well. Channing Tatum, who leads the best scene in the film, a highly choreographed tap dance/Broadway song is brilliant, but is in the film for less than ten minutes. It’s nice to see all these talented actors, but ether they don’t feature enough or bog down the narrative with added weight. Michael Gambon does some voice over but it comes out of nowhere at has no narrative cohesion. It doesn’t open and close the story, it just pops in whenever it feels like it.

Watching the trailer, you would think that Hail, Caesar! is a crime comedy about George Clooney being kidnapped and Josh Brolin has to go out and find him. In all honesty, that story is only around a third of the film. The Coen’s add side-story on top of side-story, smothering the main plot with additional characters and stories that are either never resolved or end too quick. When we do get back to the main plot, it potters around for a good while before being resolved far too quickly. This blurring of stories is what the Coen’s do in a lot of their films, but it makes Hail, Caesar! feel very disjointed.

Hail, Caesar! is a very quirky film. If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s work then you might find enjoyment here. If you’re a real film history buff then you’ll get all the nods and jokes to the 50s production, but to the average movie-goer, those same jokes will fall flat. It’s not for everyone, but for those who get it, you’ll find several laughs within.

Score: 7/10 Baffling and a bit odd, but still very funny.

Grimsby Review

Sacha Baron Cohen has become one of the most recognisable comedians in the world (hence why he can’t do his old Ali G/Borat/Bruno trick anymore). I missed his last film, The Dictator, back in 2012, but I’ve heard mixed responses. How does his new film, Grimsby, line up with his earlier work?

Grimsby stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher and Penelope Cruz and is directed by Louis Leterrier. The film follows Nobby (Baron Cohen) who finds his long lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) who is now a secret agent.

Baron Cohen’s earlier work went for the shock value. While a lot of it was funny from time to time, most of the humour comes from the sheer ridiculousness of the scene. I remember several scenes from Borat and Bruno that could fit that mould. Grimsby does the same, it goes all out with the gags and it will either make you howl with laughter or want to throw up.

The story spans across the whole globe, as Nobby and his brother Sebastian go from London to Grimsby, to South Africa to Chile. The best jokes are in the first half, when the brothers are in Grimsby. I wanted the film to stay there, but as soon as the film moves to the other countries, it loses a lot of the jokes. The majority of the laughs just come from vulgar language, which I can get onboard with. I don’t need every comedy film to be Cambridge Footlights, bad language can and is funny. If you’re just looking for an hour and a half of some guys saying rude words then you’ll be happy with Nobby.

However, Baron Cohen’s shock value does jump into the film every so often, and it’s here where the film really took a dramatic turn. A scene involving poison (which was featured heavily in the trailer) starts off as a simple joke but the film then goes mad and makes it incredibly cringe-worthy. I thought it couldn’t get any worse but there is a scene around the half way mark that honestly made me feel queasy. I’m not going to divulge it here, just know that it goes on for way too long and that I had to look away from it. There are some off jokes as well, including jokes about child molestation, rape and several homophobic jokes. It’s not clever or witty, and sours the tone of the film.

My biggest question is why are there so many big name actors in this film? There are actors like Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson who I can understand being in a film like this, but why is Mark Strong here? He looks like a man who is just here for the money and is kind of embarrassed by his film choices. Penelope Cruz seems to be on a roll for “comedic” films after her stint in Zoolander 2, and here she is hardly acting, just reading the script in a bored voice. And I don’t know why Rebel Wilson was here as well but she is hardly in the film, amounting to around five minutes at most.

The film is only 83 minutes long, which is really a godsend. The story is paper-thin and bad words only go so far before becoming repetitive, but the film flies along at a record pace, hoping that you’ll be laughing enough that you won’t mind.

In the end, I must admit, I did laugh a few times in Grimsby. It wasn’t the best script or jokes, but there are a few broad ones that will make you smile. But sadly, Grimsby isn’t able to see the film through to the end, just going into toilet humour in an attempt to shock you into laughter.

Score: 5/10 A few good laughs, but nothing worth going to see in the cinema.

Zoolander 2 Review

The first Zoolander film came out all the way back in 2001 and has subsequently become a cult comedy hit, highlighting the careers of its stars. Now, fifteen years later, a sequel comes to theatres. Does Zoolander 2 recapture the comedy glory of the first film, or has it been too long for the really, really, ridiculously, good-looking male model?

Zoolander 2 stars Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Penelope Cruz and is directed by Ben Stiller. The film follows male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) who comes out of retirement to find his long-lost son Derek Jr. and stop a evil fashion-based cabal from killing him.

I remember hearing that Zoolander was getting a sequel and since I’m an optimist when it comes to films, I was hopeful that we would get another instantly quotable and often funny film. Sadly, I was disappointed, as it seems that in those subsequent fifteen years, no new jokes have arisen.

The majority of the jokes seem to be call-backs to the previous film, such as Will Ferrell’s Mugatu asking for his latte, or a sequence near the end where Zoolander must perfect “Blue Steel” again, this time to stop a bomb instead of a throwing star. There are a handful of jokes that are new, but most of them are hit and miss. A lot of the new material could be considered offensive or just plain unfunny, such as an extended joke by Zoolander and Hansel about how fat people are gross and untrustworthy, or another moment where the duo debate androgynous model All’s (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) gender, asking whether All has a “hot dog” or a “bun”. I wouldn’t even class it as a joke, I can’t see a punch-line anywhere in the scene.

The first film had a couple of cameo appearance by celebrities, such as Paris Hilton and a spectacular couple of minutes by David Bowie, but in Zoolander 2, the film is packed with famous people, some without any connection with the fashion industry. While Zoolander 2 has fashion creators such as Tommy Hilfiger, Anna Wintour and Alexander Wang, others are ridiculous. Susan Boyle, Kiefer Sutherland (who does a really out of place joke about miscarriages), Ariana Grande, even Neil DeGrasse Tyson pops up at one bit to say a string a swear words while describing the universe. The film even tries to redo the David Bowie scene but with Sting instead, which pales in comparison to first film. It just screams a certain type of pandering, where the actors just asked their famous friends if they wanted to do a two-second wave to the camera for a few dollars.

The first film was an over-the-top story about male model being brainwashed to be highly-trained killers. It was a story that was silly but knew it was silly, so it made the film funnier. The story in Zoolander 2 stars out pretty simple, but over the run time, more plot points and characters get piled on top of each other until it’s a mess of a story. The last ten minutes are mangled, as the film tries to ret-con the entirety of the plot up until that point, before spinning around again and saying “Oh no, we were right the first time.” Unfortunately, I was already bored by the lack of engagement on-screen, that I didn’t even care about the double twist.

I will admit though, it was nice to see the characters that we all loved back in 2001 back in Zoolander 2. Just Zoolander and Hansel standing next to each other was enough to elicit a smile from me. But the rest of the characters aren’t really that charming or entertaining. Kristen Wiig, who plays Alexanya Atoz, the head of fashion a label, is putting on a really thick accent, which makes her dialogue really hard to understand. It almost sounds like the reversed dialogue from Twin Peaks. Will Ferrell does nothing as Mugatu, just screaming and shouting instead of anything more varied. It’s all just wasted talent.

In the end I say, who asked for this film? I didn’t think there would be millions of people craving another Zoolander film and unfortunately, it’s really quite terrible. If you’re wanting a comedy to see in the cinema, just go watch Deadpool.

Score: 5/10 Just stick to the first one.

Deadpool Review

The first superhero film of a year saturated with superhero films. We’ve got Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Captain America: Civil War also coming out this year. But first, we must start with this week’s Marvel property, Deadpool.

Deadpool, stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein and TJ Miller and is directed by Tim Miller. The film follows mercenary Wade Wilson (Reynolds) as he acquires mutant abilities, transforming him into Deadpool. He then goes after the men who ruined his life and tries to save his ex-girlfriend.

Deadpool as a comic book character is known for being very post-modernist. He regularly breaks the forth wall, or referencing the comic book writers or other characters, he even uses the comic book panel layout to fight his enemies. It’s his signature style, and thankfully, the script writers, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have got it down perfectly.

The jokes start from the very start, where instead of a credit sequence, vaguely insulting descriptions pop up e.g. “A Shameless Cameo” (Stan Lee) or “An Overpaid Idiot”, (the director, Tim Miller). It’s the first time a Marvel film has gone into full-blown comedy mode, and nearly every joke hits it’s mark. Near the middle of the film, once the spark of the opening has worn off, a fair few of the jokes become very hit-and-miss, sometimes just being profane for the sake of it. It does turn just far enough back around for the ending, but it never really recaptures the excellent comedy of the first half an hour. There are even a few “jokes” to try and win over fanboys (involving the last two superhero characters Reynolds infamously played) that repeat so often it feels a bit tiring.

While many people were angry about Ryan Reynolds being Deadpool (my Twitter feed was full of comic fans spitting in 140 characters), he brings a huge amount of energy to the role. TJ Miller (who was in Disney’s kids Marvel film, Big Hero 6) as his friend Weasel is good in the nerdy sidekick role, with some great lines. There is a small role for famous singer Leslie Uggams as Deadpool’s elderly blind roommate, whose arguments with Deadpool over furniture are hilariously absurd. My favourite character though is Colossus, played by both Stefan Kapičić and Andre Tricoteux. He should be a massive bruiser, but Kapičić’s (excellent Russian) voice, mixed with Tricoteux’s motion-capture create a character who does everything to not hurt his enemies. There is even a bit during a fight where he helps an enemy back to their feet before engaging them again.

The licensed soundtrack is magnificently overdone and entertaining. Keeping with the post-modernist flourishes, the soundtrack is all 80s to early 90s, featuring Juice Newton’s “Angel In The Morning” (which accompanies the opening credit sequence), Salt-n-Pepa, several instances of George Michael and Wham! and DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” (which is the background to a brilliantly over-the-top slow-motion walk). They’re all toe-tapping songs, and fit perfectly into the messed-up mind of Deadpool’s character.

The story flips back and forth through time, which personally got rather annoying for me. We start the film with Deadpool on the tail of the man who ruined his life, before jumping back to before he acquired his superpowers, and then back to the present. The film does this several times and by the third or fourth time it became tiresome. The starting story was the most interesting and it took a long time to come back to this plot thread, instead just adding baggage to his earlier life. Once he gets his powers though, the story picks back up again and we get some gory and blood-soaked fights.

In the end, Deadpool is a better than anything that came out under the Marvel banner last year. I don’t know if it stands up with the best of them (which I think everyone collectively agrees is the first Iron Man) but it will find an audience who want their superheroes to be more foul-mouthed and puerile. Watch at your own discretion, but you’ll definitely laugh with and at Deadpool.

Score: 7/10 Funny, gory and gloriously dumb.

Dad’s Army Review

It’s been nearly 40 years since Dad’s Army finished it’s initial run on television. Through re-runs and DVD sales, it’s been passed down through generations and still has a large following today. Does the new feature film follow in the high steps of the television show or does it sink like so many film to television adaptations?

Dad’s Army stars Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon and Blake Harrison and is directed by Oliver Parker. Based on the highly successful TV show, the film follows the Home Guard of the small seaside town, Walmington-On-Sea, as a Nazi spy threatens to pave the way for an invasion.

While much of the acting is superb, it’s sometimes let down by the casting. Some actors, such as Toby Jones or Blake Harrison are the spitting image of the former roles, adding to the sense of nostalgia, but others, like Bill Nighy or Michael Gambon just feel flat and out-of-place somewhat. Gambon especially, who plays fan-favourite Godfrey, just seems to be playing himself rather than performing. It seems a waste of good source material when paired up against some incredibly lifeless acting.

The script, by Hamish McColl, whose previous work includes Mr. Bean’s Holiday and Paddington, capture the spirit of the TV show and has a very British sense of humour throughout. The BBFC have rated the film as a PG for, “mild bad language, violence and innuendo”. The violence is mostly slapstick and in the finale when a simple chase turns into a multi-tiered gunfight (which incidentally is one of the funniest parts of the film for its sheer absurdity) has no blood, so it’s a film that the whole family can go to and they’ll be able to laugh at the jokes targeted at them. The innuendo is what fuels most of the jokes in the film, but a lot of them are hit-and-miss, leading to a lot of awkward silences or at least a roll of the eyes instead of a laugh.

The story is as basic and played out as you might expect. I distinctly remember the film’s plot being the plot of several of the episodes of the TV show, just with slightly different outcomes. Within five minutes of the film starting you’ll know how it ends, which is quite sad since for such a well-loved and long-running franchise, it smacks of laziness that they didn’t put a more thoughtful or at least a more developed story on screen. The film’s run time is only 100 minutes, meaning it’s pretty short in comparison to the rest of the cinema’s output, but there are still scenes in there that go on for way too long or just don’t add anything to the film. There is a love story between three/four characters (which again was a plot in the TV show) and here it just sits and does nothing original or interesting with the idea, bar one scene which is ripped straight from The Importance of Being Earnest.

The film also at times looks pretty shoddy. Some scenes, like a wide shot during a patrol on the seaside cliffs of Bridlington are quite nice, but others have an odd haze about them. On natural light was used in the film which may have been the reason why most of the indoor scenes have this golden filter rather than a clear picture. Natural light may have been used well in The Revenant, but it doesn’t look good for you Dad’s Army.

In the end, Dad’s Army has its problems. The story is paper thin, a majority of scenes aren’t lit properly and some actors just seem to be going through the motions. But the jokes, along with a healthy dose of nostalgia bring it around.

Score: 6/10 Can’t give it a higher score, but it’s a recommendation for the family.

The Big Short Review

Wall Street is good theatre. Several films have been set on what is basically the capital of the United States market and economy. In that sort of high-stress environment, good cinema thrives, with films like Margin Call, The Wolf of Wall Street and…well Wall Street. Does The Big Short (nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars) stand with these great films?

The Big Short stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt and is directed by Adam McKay. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis, the film follows several brokers on Wall Street who predicted the 2008 Housing Crisis and decide to bet against the market and get rich.

If you don’t know the first thing about stocks, don’t worry I’m right with you. Top bond salesman Jared Vennett (Gosling) turns to the camera early on and says, “I know this is boring and confusing, so here’s Margot Robbie in a bubble bath to explain it.” The film does this several times, with celebrities such as Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain popping up and explaining what several of the market terms mean through simple analogies. It’s incredibly funny and is kept up throughout the entire film, with characters turning to screen to explain how things happened or drawing pictures in thin air. However, don’t think it’s a pure comedy like The Wolf of Wall Street (despite it being nominated in several awards under “comedy”), it’s more of a drama that a laugh-out-loud film.

You have to pay attention throughout, the film will stop and explain a term but it will then set off again and assume you got the gist of it. I missed a couple of lines of dialogue and for the next ten minutes I was confused over what was happening. It’s a film that isn’t afraid to talk about complex and deliberately puzzling exchanges and statistics. Luckily, with the help of those previously mentioned cut-aways to celebrities or a Jenga set to symbolise the housing market, the audience can follow along the winding trail of buying and selling dodgy commodities. It’s a riveting script, and McKay and collaborator Charles Randolph have done a fantastic job of making what could be an intensely boring subject into one of the most suspenseful.

The cast is a major strong point. A lot of the main players are playing against type; Steve Carell is a surly man with emotional baggage, Christian Bale is a doctor with Aspergers who walks around his office barefoot and plays music obnoxiously loud and Brad Pitt is quiet retiree who is paranoid the government is spying on him. Most of these men never meet face-to-face, but they all figure out at some point that the market is going to collapse and the joy comes from their different methods and approaches to how they will get out of it without losing money or their jobs.

By far the best performance is Ryan Gosling. Sure, I might be a fanboy, but in The Big Short he is fantastic. He’s obviously channelling Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort and looks like he’s loving playing the part of a ruthless salesman. The moments where he verbal puts-down his underlings, or clears an entire men’s bathroom so that he can have a private phone call are funny and create an interesting character, and serve as a good distraction in-between the major money-conversations.

As soon as I finished The Big Short, I knew that it had majorly shaken up my predictions for the winner of this year’s Oscar. It’s riveting and often hilarious but it’s painfully fast. When your problem with the film is “there should be more of this”, you have something good. If you think you can keep up with its rapid pace, then The Big Short get’s my recommendation.

Score: 9/10 Thrilling, funny, thought-provoking and totally deserves it’s nomination.