Baywatch – Review

It’s tricky giving an objective view of the new Baywatch movie. That’s because it has an identity crisis of sorts. Sure, it’s a beautiful image – there’s lots of eye-candy – but it gets lost somewhere between knowing this is all over-the-top, self-depreciation and a worthy action movie with TV detective tropes.

That’s another issue, it never quite feels like a movie. Not the type you pay to go see in the cinema. It’s like a really flashy, CGI enhanced, TV movie. I’m sure Dwayne Johnson didn’t have this in mind when he agreed to replace David Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchannon.

Except, he hasn’t really replaced him. Turns out this isn’t technically a reboot, The Hoff also played a lifeguard called Mitch and handed the keys over to The Rock after serving as a mentor. So, the Baywatch a generation enjoyed on the telly is canon.

Although, we’ll spare the show a link to this. Not because it’s terrible (ignore the one star reviews), it’s just too far removed from anything serious or plausible. That’s right. The TV show was like The Wire in comparison.

The movie sees a new team form before our eyes. Mitch already has his C.J. in the guise of a warm Kelly Rohrbach (don’t worry Pamela Anderson pops up again too, and she’s called Casey Jean). She’s so warm, she is the love interest for team trainee Ronnie, who looks like a little Har Mar Superstar.

Mitch’s number two is Stephanie Holden played by Ilfenesh Hadera and spared a reunion with an equally named TV counterpart. As are Summer Quinn and Matt Brody. They divert from the television styling. Summer is now feisty, played by Alexandra Daddario.

Zac Efron’s Brody is a bad-bay Olympic swimmer with two golds in the bag, a scandal where he cost his relay team a medal, and no home to go to. The lifeguard gig is a community support punishment he doesn’t take seriously.

He continues to point out the police should run investigations, not the Baywatch folks. He obviously never watched Baywatch Nights. Mitch has a bee in his bonnet about Priyanka Chopra’s Victoria Leeds. She’s opening beachfront clubs and has an eye on property.

Mitch has her to blame for a spate of bodies washing up on “his beach” and the surge in drugs.

The way the idea of the team’s sense of duty is pushed, starts out as laughable until you realise this isn’t one of the script writers attempt at humour (many other moments will have you wondering if they are meaning to be funny, tried but failed, or oblivious) but a cringeworthy ideal.

The detective segments are padded out with dick jokes, flirting, run ins with authority figures, spew references, spewing, a few saves in the water, more action scenes on land, and a lot of flesh on display.

Anyone that criticises the movie is coming from a solid base. It isn’t laugh after laugh (but there are laugh out loud moments) and for a film running at over two hours, that’s not a great indictment for a “comedy action flick.”

But perhaps those that have consigned it to movie hell failed to see the flashing lights in the opening scenes declaring this movie as anything but taking itself seriously.

It pokes fun at itself and others. It allows The Rock persona to appear in Johnson and his supporting cast add a good dose of heart. And by the end – if you’ve been opened minded – you will feel a connection to these characters.

For that reason, it can’t be hammered with a low score, nor is it reinventing the simpler genre it inhabits, so it gets a healthy…

6/10

Advertisements

Get Out – Review

Oh! The power of the trailer. Get Out, touted as a horror held the promise of a psychological thriller. A movie that was willing to throw social ignorance front and centre then scare the wits out of us. What it didn’t do was indicate the film is a badly envisaged comedy.

The clues were there, had we looked a little closer. We’ve got Allison Williams, Marnie from HBO’s Girls. Here she plays Rose, who is pretty much Marnie from HBO’s Girls. She’s taking home new black boyfriend to her white liberal, affluent parents. All the groundwork for that racial awkwardness already laid.

Just in case the incessant prodding that her boyfriend, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), is black flies over your head, we even get a scene when they report a traffic accident with a deer where the police officer asks to see his ID. For no reason.

That sums up many scenes and incidents in the movie. There’s no reason for them. Take early on, it’s established Chris is a smoker and Rose’s mother is a therapist that uses hypnotism to cure addictions. It worked for Rose’s cringe over-the-top father. Then, during a late-night wander, he stumbles across Ma, and we’re wondering if he went under.

Pause there. Great premise. Is everything we’re about to see merely a messed up hypnotic trance or is he under some spell in the real world? Can we trust what follows? Also, the teddy bear (actually a lion) he moved before his walk is still facing the other way. Yes, he must have been hypnotised.

Wait. So why are you confirming the fact for certain with the next available dialogue between characters?

Because it’s not a psychological thriller. Or a horror. Or very good.

I’m aware this is going against the grain of what early reports are saying. But does this really highlight social discourse in a relevant way? The exaggerated scenes will shame some viewers who will shift uncomfortably as they see unpleasant traits on the big screen. But those moments do not justify a film that flops between genres, not to be savvy, but because – ironically – it lacks identity.

Even when it has the opportunity to finally gain traction after laying hints of some type of cult, it feels more like The Man with Two Brains than Rosemary’s Baby. Okay, it was never trying to be that dark or sinister with the horror but the social commentary is diluted when the chosen vehicle is so poorly conceived.

Take how Chris’s best friend – the true comedy in the movie – Lil Rel Howery’s Rod starts to piece together the situation. We have black people in this strange suburban community that appear brainwashed. Then when Chris sends a pic of one such character, who felt familiar, dressed like a Caucasian, and freaked out when flashed with the camera, some more plot points are pieced together.

Turns out he’s a missing man from Brooklyn. Suddenly we have the possibility Rose’s family are complicit with kidnap and brainwashing. But it’s never properly followed through. The situation is so ludicrously obvious that the hints become annoying. And the race divide is forgotten – and worse still – exposed as a poorly conceived plot point. There was no reason, whatsoever, for choosing black people. None. Other than to get attention for misusing the topic.

Really, in good faith, I can’t jump on the bandwagon. Don’t be fooled by the trailer, don’t believe the sycophantic reviews, don’t waste your hard-earned cash. Wait for it to come on Netflix or Amazon. Or better still – save yourself the 100 minutes running time and do something else instead.

4/10

I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2016 – Review

I’m a Celeb should come with a health warning. Despite your best intentions, once you start watching, that’s you hooked for three weeks. What makes this the case? Pretty simple: Ant and Dec. Once again, their segues make the programme what it is, the best reality show on UK telly.

This is even more highlighted in the 2016 version of the classic show. To put it bluntly, everyone was too nice. That’s what happens when they “smash” (sorry, Dec) the Bushtucker trials each day. Hunger usually creates those hangry moments that make for good telly.

The only conflict this year came from Homes Under the Hammer’s Martin Roberts. First, he sparred with legend Danny Baker, then Larry Lamb. The rest of the time he was seen as a harmless idiot. He definitely was an idiot, maybe not so much harmless. It’s shocking the public voted so many off before him.

Danny Baker went first. Either a victim of people assuming he’d be safe and not using a vote or decades of dividing opinion. Thankfully Martin Roberts didn’t make the final, as feared. Even if he had, I’m a Celeb participants only remain in the public eye for a week after the show.

It begs the question why people join for such short exposure. Baker said it was his favourite show and final swansong. But why did Sam Quek, an Olympian, need to be on? To get her in the public’s conscious. She’s no longer just a gold medal hockey player. She’s a gold medal hockey player, one-time underwear model, fourth placed jungle contestant. Oh, and she’s an “elite athlete”, just in case you missed one of her many reminders.

Nor is Ola Jordan just the dancer that’s married to an asshole. She’s now the dancer that’s married to an asshole that drank smoothies made of bugs.

Carol Vorderman was a big name but it’s difficult to see if this was a benefit to her career. The Countdown days can no longer be dined out on. She came across as aloof at times, a woman happy for casual dating and stories of cringe experiences.

There was a Diversity member, Jordan Banjo, who helped raise his troupes profile and formed a strong unit in camp with the lads. They were headed with former footballer Wayne Bridge, taking over the Jimmy Bullard role. Surprisingly, Bridge managed to avoid injury and while he’s been away John Terry hasn’t shagged his wife.

If Larry Lamb was the father figure, Adam Thomas was the livewire kid brother. His big brother “comedian” Joel Dommett, a likable chap but would wear thin after a while.

The girls saw Lisa Snowdon prove age hasn’t touched her, but could also have turned her into a nation’s sweetheart. She was sorely missed in the challenges and for the group’s cohesion.

Scarlett Moffatt, the Gogglebox star, is the centre of this year’s controversy. Online, people claimed she was being fed lines for the diary room. At first glance, it sounds ridiculous but there is a definite difference between her language when she was in camp and her reflective mood. In her defence, all members that have been evicted claim she is bright as a button.

It’s hard to say if the challenges had been upped this year. We’ve become desensitised to watching bugs and penises being eaten. Wayne Bridge dodging an alligator was eye-catching but then you realise it’s been well-fed and appeased.

As soon as Adam was chopped, placing him third, the stage was set for the expected Scarlett win. If she benefitted from more screen time, it’s because she’s been more entertaining. She took to the throne, crowned Queen by the last year’s winner Vicky Pattinson.

You probably can’t remember her reign but something tells me Scarlett Moffett might be around to stay.

8/10.

Suicide Squad – Review

The post Superman battling Batman instalment into the DC Expanded Universe follows a Black Ops team assembled using the Dark Knight’s captured foes. In real terms it’s another throw of the dice for Warner Bros. after the critics slammed Zack Snyder’s last entry. So, are they the worst good guys ever? Or the best bad guys? Or bad worst bad good guys?

Director and writer David Ayer’s film focuses on the idea that now the world has seen Superman, the terror threat can’t be controlled by standard armies. The character Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is the voice for this point and the mean woman that will do anything to ensure her pet project is given the government green light.

That project is of course, what we know as, Suicide Squad. Six bad guys, some of whom display unique abilities, that can face unnatural enemies and if they fail, the government can deny any involvement.

To ensure she gets her way, Waller scares the living daylights out of the decision makers by using the Enchantress to give a graphic display of her powers.

Suspension of belief part one, folks. The Enchantress is an ancient spirit that had been trapped in an idol. Cara Delevingne’s Jane Moone accidently broke it on an exhibition and has since been possessed. Waller controls the sorceress by prodding her heart (somehow mummified and still intact).

Magic and sorcery isn’t the thing you need to suspend belief with here, it’s the idea Waller thinks a being that can travel thousands of miles and back in the blink of an eye could be kept under lock and key. But hey, we needed a tool for the main villain to appear, right?

In the least surprising turn of events, Enchantress does a runner and then gets her brother’s idol open . . . and away we go.

Enter Rebooted Robocop Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag. Bad ass special forces guy in charge of Task Force X (Suicide Squad), oh, and June Moone’s lover. Because everyone loves to make out with witches.

It’s a pretty easy set-up, and it flows pretty well. Other critics have slammed it for being convoluted. This really isn’t the case. The backstories for each of the main characters offer enough insight without dragging the main plot down and the action scenes couldn’t be simpler. It isn’t too dark nor is it humourless.

Its main flaw is how easy it is to watch. Unlike other DC projects it strips away the deeper issues and just plays out like any easy viewing action film should.

The elephant in the room is The Joker, or the lack thereof. Jared Leto has the thankless task of being the first guy after Heath Ledger to assume the role. He does a sterling job of reinventing the Clown Prince of Crime. This is a mobster style criminal. You get the impression he’s had more turf wars than attempts to destroy the world.

His fleeting appearance makes sense; too much of a good thing and this film would have been derailed. Ayers had to stay on point with a simple Suicide Squad movie.

The Joker’s squeeze, Harley Quinn, steals the show. Margot Robbie is mesmerising and one hopes we see a solo Joker film just to get more of her. Without her colour, the ensemble of villains would lack cement of vibrancy, then, and only then, this film would have been a mess.

Harley Quinn

The other characters range from Will Smith’s Deadshot. In many respects, the human side of the flick but it’s hard to not see it as Will Smith just being Will Smith. He’s caught because Batman confronted Deadshot while he was walking with his daughter.

Which requires a quick suspension of belief once again.

All the baddies Batman catches in flashbacks, baddies we’re lead to believe are the most dangerous on earth, are all caught as if they never attended Day 1 of baddie school, lesson 1, avoid easy capture.

Jai Courtney plays Captain Boomerang and is only here to provide comic relief. He may well be the least fleshed out character, aside from Slipknot.

Lost’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje performs as Killer Croc. He’s unidentifiable beneath all the makeup but somehow manages to get enough spirit over and commands attention when on the screen. You probably won’t see him appear as a villain on film but as a member of the squad, he works.

After Harley Quinn, the main props go to Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo. A reluctant participant due to the harm his powers have inflicted on those he loves. He can literally make fire and his backstory feels relevant rather than added for the sake of it.

DC went in big with this movie, from marketing and the future of the shared universe. It doesn’t deserve the negative press but Suicide Squad isn’t the feel good fix it should have been. It trumps most Marvel films out there but it seems DC are being judged by different standards.

Marvel get away with brains-out-live-action-cartoons. DC have made a better one of those but still get slated.

It lacks the depth Batman v Superman offered and the easy fun Star Trek Beyond served up, but it isn’t bad.

The Suicide Squad are the best trying bad guys out there.

7/10

 

Ghostbusters (1984) – Review

The world is Ghostbusters crazy again. Well, sort of. The relief has been palpable as the reboot of the franchise received good reviews after months of slating. One trailer earned the dubious honour of being the worst ever to air on YouTube. Not to go against the grain here, we’ve decided to look at the original, before taking in the latest incarnation. Nostalgia is creating a haunting spectre, so who you gonna call? Simms View.

It is hard to not be nostalgic when revisiting the 1984 Ivan Reitman movie, written by stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. During childhood, VHS tapes of it were played to destruction. Scenes traversed the line between family and adult, comedy and horror, fun and terrifying.

On reflection, the world has moved on and those lines are more blurred in society than ever before. Ghostbusters is still dark for a kiddies’ movie, the very first ghost we see in the library will still pop chills into younger viewers, but it’s atmosphere surpasses nostalgia.

And it should be noted, that the special effects still stand up today. The reboot has been accused of looking like an Xbox game in parts. Here, the spirits look otherworldly.

That opening scene also sets the tone with some cheesy lines: “Listen, you smell something?” I always smell with my ears. But that had already been preceded with Bill Murray’s ingenious sarcasm, when admiring a spookily tall set of books, “You’re right, no human would stack books like this.”

This is a marker and an insight to the perfect balancing act the film pulls off. Great smarmy wit from the legend that is Bill Murray, action scenes that jump out, slapstick moments (men get slimed), to great confrontations (Walter Peck), and a sense of the mystic.

A strong cast keep it rolling along. Has Sigourney Weaver ever been sexier. Her character is the love interest for Murray’s Peter Venkman and becomes possessed by Zuul. She becomes the Gatekeeper to Rick Moranis’s Keymaster. The scenes before his possession as Louis Tully add the light humour, again, balancing what is to come. His run across New York to escape the beast is one that stuck in the mind from childhood.

Weaver Ghostbusters.png

As do countless lines: “And the flowers are still standing.” “It’s a sign all right, a sign we’re going out of business.” “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!” “Don’t cross the streams.” “I couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.”

The whole team get in on the act, again, perfect balance. Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz brings the childlike enthusiasm to the team and is one half of the technical side. His knowledge is surpassed by Ramis’s Egon Spengler, who can appear too serious but Venkman is the polar opposite – you guessed it: balance.

Ernie Hudson plays the late addition to the team. His character, Winston Zeddemore, is the everyman in need of a job. He does the best with what he’s given but it does feel as if he was shoehorned into the movie. They should have brought him in earlier or given him better screen time. That’s not to say he’s unimportant but he is poorly utilised.

It’s when Winston is sat chatting about the end of days, Mick Smiley’s “I Believe in Magic” starts playing, and the ghosts escape across the city.

Nowadays, the big finale has to be OTT, and often misfires. The original Ghostbusters hits the spot. I mean, how can an ending not be good when you see a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man traipse through New York?

Very few popular movies age as well as this one. The anger aimed at a reboot is understandable when you walk through the original again. Time has not diminished the finished product. It isn’t perfect but therein lies some of its charm.

9/10