Dazed and Confused: Alright Alright Alright

Dazed and Confused is a coming of age film, centring around various groups of Texas teens during the last day of school in 1976.

Dazed and Confused has gained an iconic place in film history, it is one of the defining coming of age films alongside other genre greats like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and, American Pie.

The reason for this is because Linklater creates an instantly memorable film, not only memorable but, one that anyone can relate to. The things that the teenagers do in this film are things that everyone has done at one point in their lives. The themes of questioning your place in the world and, the path that has been set for you; and the need to fit in are universal.

The film is shot in a documentary esque way, which is a signature of Linklater, you feel as though you’re really there with them, one of the gang. In keeping with this, Dazed and Confused really paints a picture of what 1970’s small-town America is like; glamorised obviously, it still feels like capturing a moment in history.

The performances are all also first-rate, Jason London as Randall Floyd, perfectly encapsulates a 1970’s teen; though his performance captures teenagers of all generations on the cusp of growing up and becoming a man; having to find a place in the world. What’s more Ben Affleck shines as detestable school bully, Fred O’ Bannion, a character that the film goes out of its way to make the villain showing how he is responsible for most of the younger characters misery. Though you do feel a sense of sympathy for him in the later stages of the film, as you realise that he was kept behind a year; and is the butt of a lot of jokes as a result.

This is also the film that gave us the lines, “alright, alright alright”, and “the thing I love about High School girls”, the latter of these is deeply problematic in a 2019 context. McConaughey’s character in the film is of a loser who can’t seem to move past being the cool guy in High School, he is easily the most interesting character in the whole film, mainly due to McConaughey’s fantastic performance.

Ultimately this film is a masterpiece, it perfectly sums up the teenage experience; as a result, it has become iconic. The performances are all fantastic, to the point where you forget they are actors, and instead, view them as the teens they are playing. I think it is pretty safe to say that anyone who watches this film will find something to relate to in it; a little part of themselves. This film is truly deserving of all the acclaim it has gotten in recent years and stands as one of the all-time cinema greats.


Reviewed by Luke

3 From Hell: Third Times The Charm.

3 From Hell, is a horror film directed by Rob Zombie; serving as the 3rd instalment in the Firefly Saga, carrying on from the Devils Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses.
The film takes place several years after the ending of Devils Rejects, with Otis, (Bill Moseley), Baby, (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Captain Spaulding, (Sid Haig), on death row. The Firefly family has become something in the wider pop culture of Zombie’s universe, and are revered by some as folk heroes; or, at least wrongly convicted. The meat of the film takes place when Otis is broken out of prison by his half brother the Midnight Wolfman, (Richard Brake), and the two try and find a way to break Baby out so the three of them can carry on their murder spree.

Before we get into this review, I want to say that I feel like people judge Zombies films without even seeing them when people hear it’s a Rob Zombie film, they needlessly prejudge it; most of the time deciding they’re not going to like it. I for one believe that yes Zombies’ filmography is an acquired taste but, if you can get past that you soon realise that there is no other film quite like a Rob Zombie film. Much like his horror contemporary Eli Roth it is impossible to not be aware that you’re watching one of his films.

I believe every gory, blood-soaked moment of 3 From Hell proves this in spades, there is something so pulpy and, grungy about Zombies films; insanity is not only full embraced but, celebrated. These characters evil and, monstrous as they’re, become almost anti-heroes at times and, you find yourself rooting for them; or at least I did.

It was nice to see all of the characters back on screen, and each had a memorable scene or, line; such as during the final showdown when Baby hunts down gunmen with a bow and arrow. There is a part of me that hopes that Zombie decides to leave these characters here and not try to carry on this series as I feel they’re left in a nice, ambiguous place, with the audience left to question what comes next.

The new characters are also a lot of fun with Jeff Daniel Phillips’ Warden being a fun moustache-twirling villain for the film’s first act. Phillips is both zany and insane while also being memorable; this is probably his best turn in a Zombie film to date.

Overall if you like Zombies’ films and, you like the Firefly saga, then you will like this. It is a nice final chapter for the series and, sends the killers off into the unknown at the end; leaving it all down to your imagination. I hope this ends the series as I don’t see where it can go from here, but this is Zombie’s finest film to date so if he has more like this I’m game.


Reviewed by Luke

Always Be My Maybe: Maybe more like Mediocrity

Always Be My Maybe is a romantic comedy film. The plot follows two people Sasha Tran, (Ali Wong), and Marcus Kim, (Randall Park), who were best friends when they were kids, but after a romantic mishap haven’t spoken in years; fate brings them into each other’s lives again but, will the romance return?

The romance the film portrays is very realistic, there is nothing fanciful about it; both the leads act very much like how normal people would in that situation, adding a nice sense of realism.

Both leads are likeable, Randall Park especially, who is basically just playing a younger version of his character from Fresh Off The Boat. Wong has a few good lines but, is often upstaged by Park’s charisma and charm. In terms of comedy, the film isn’t very strong, there were a few lines that made me smile, but nothing that made me laugh out loud.

The realistic drama of the film works far better than it’s comedy, with the reason that Marcus finds it hard to commit being masterfully done; you don’t see it coming, but when it is revealed it makes complete sense.

The plot is nothing new or, novel, it follows a standard will they won’t they rom-com plotline, the twists and turns are mostly standard and completely what you would expect, so it is very average in that respect. However, the charm of the leads makes up for the complete predictability.

There is one great surprise/reveal, which I wasn’t aware of as I hadn’t seen any of the trailers or, promotional materials. This surprise genuinely shocked me and instantly became my favourite moment of the film, this is, of course, the Keanu Reeves reveal. For those of you, that like me didn’t know, Reeves plays a fictionalised version of himself, the love rival of Marcus. Ali and all the other characters, except for Marcus, are completely smitten with him; which only serves to aggravate Marcus further.

Reeves is the highlight of the film, his presence makes the film, but also it takes overpowers everything else so in many ways it is a double-edged sword.

Overall Always Be My Maybe is a sweet if incredibly by the numbers affair. The leads have just enough charm and charisma to keep you watching, but only just. Reeves is spectacular as always but is barely used. The thing that hamstrings this film is its predictability, outside of Reeves’s cameo and Marcus’s later character development, everything else is easily guessable. In a sentence, the thing that stops this film from rising above mediocrity is that it’s scared to take chances.


Reviewed by Luke

Frozen 2: Into The Unknown?

Frozen 2 is an animated musical fantasy film; the plot takes place three years later and centers around Elsa, (Idina Menzel), finding out the origins of her powers.

The most notable thing about Frozen 2 is the distinct change in tone it is very much similar to the tonal shift that the Harry Potter films had; with Frozen 2 being much more mature and exploring far darker themes than Frozen.

The overall narrative choice of tieing Elsa’s powers into her being an elemental is an interesting choice. The other elementals, air, fire, earth and water are a mixed bag; fire is a cute salamander, literally to sell merchandise, air and earth are bland and full of plot holes; water is by far the best.

The songs, which are a key part, are even better this time around. ‘Into the Unknown’, is a better song than ‘Let it Go’, as it says more about Elsa’s character motivations while also serving to set up and foreshadow the later plot. That is something that applies to all the songs in this film they no longer just feel forced in because the films needs a song, which Frozen 1 is guilty of. Instead, most of the songs this time around serve a narrative purpose.

The characters except for Elsa and Olaf,(Josh Gad), who I will talk about separately, all feel sidelined in this film, being reduced to caricatures. Anna, (Kristen Bell), becomes so needy and, controlling with Elsa that she can’t let her out of her sight for more than five minutes; which leads to Anna repeatedly putting herself in danger and needing to be saved. Kristoff, (Jonathan Groff), who was already a background character in the last film is now given even less to do; making me ask the question why was he even included if they weren’t going to use him? His whole story line revolves around him wanting to propose to Anna, and it keeps going badly, does that sound funny to you? The first time it’s passable, maybe you think it’s just a throwaway gag, but no that is his whole arc; and it is incredibly unfunny. He does get a song this time around ‘lost in the woods’ which is surprisingly, but that is it. There are some other side characters but, they’re only featured briefly.

The two characters who I think are good in this film and progress in interesting ways are Elsa and Olaf. Elsa’s quest to find out who she is keeps us guessing most of the film, yes at times some of the twists along the way are painfully obvious, but I still respect how her character progresses and, the fact that by the end of the film she is no longer Queen. I think the side plot of her maybe having a romantic moment with a Northuldra woman, is brushed over far too quickly, but maybe we will get that in the inevitable Frozen 3? Olaf, who was mainly comic relief, here has an existential arc where he questions reality and the nature of change; which I thoroughly enjoyed and thought it added a nice bit of comedy for a more mature audience.

To conclude I think that this film could have been better if it was just an Elsa, and maybe Olaf, standalone film. Anna and Kristoff have so little to do why include them? The more mature story is definitely a plus as well as the ballsy ending, but the issues I have mentioned just drag it down for me.

Reviewed by Luke

Frozen: The New Christmas Hit

Frozen is an animated musical fantasy film, focusing on two Princesses Anna, (Kristen Bell), and Elsa, (Idina Menzel), as they have to save the Kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa is born with ice powers that she can’t control, which scare her to the point she seals herself away from society. However, she rejoins society when her parents die and, she ascends the thrones, this all turns bad and, the kingdom is plunged into eternal winter, she then runs off so she can’t hurt anyone else. Her sister Anna then begins a journey to find her sister and save the kingdom.

The refreshing thing about Frozen is how it bucks the traditional Disney formula. There is no Prince Charming, and the closest we get is the villainous Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. There is a romance subplot between Kristoff, (Jonathan Groff), and Anna but, this isn’t the main focus. Furthermore, the ending of the film which calls for ‘true love’, is the love between the two sisters; which I found to be delightfully subverting.

The songs are all very well done, especially ‘Let it go’ the song a million little kids listened to on repeat, they add to the dramatic elements of the film nicely. Furthermore, the Nordic/ Sami influence in the score helps the film to have a sense of original identity.

The two sisters are incredibly well fleshed out characters with very well defined motivations and personalities, being great role models for younger audiences. However, the rest of the cast are ignored as a result. Kristoff and Olaf, (Josh Gad), have their moments but, they end up feeling more background characters; with Olaf being the worst for this.

Olaf is only in the film to act as comedic relief, which more often than not comes across as annoying. The humour of the film is very much skewed towards a child audience, yes it is a film aimed at children, but most good animated films have jokes and lines in for the older members of the audience; this one does not.

The mythology of the film is very interesting, with strong Nordic influences, it is rife to explore; though it is only lightly touched on here.

Overall all this is on the better side of Disney fare interestingly bucking the trend of the film’s gone by. Anna and Elsa are both incredibly well-formed characters that have a lot to love about them; being great inspiration for little girls. The score is well used and, memorable with songs you will remember long after the credits roll. My one issue with the film is that the supporting characters aren’t given a lot to do which makes them feel more akin to cardboard cutouts.

Reviewed by Luke

Horrible Histories, The Movie: Did We Really Need This?

Horrible Histories: The Movie- Rotten Romans is a British historical comedy film, based on the best selling Horrible Histories books and the hit TV series. The plot follows a Celt girl called Orla, (Emilia Jones), and a young Roman boy called Atti, (Sebastian Croft), as they go from captor and captive to unlikely friends, all the while Boudica, (Kate Nash), and her Celtic tribe fight against the Romans.

Since I was young, I’ve been a huge fan of Horrible Histories, the original incarnation of the TV series is still some of if not the finest kids television out there. It is entertaining and informative; with a lot for people of all ages to enjoy. Needless to say, I went into this with pretty high expectations.

Straight off the bat, I was saddened by the fact that most of the original cast from the television show don’t make an appearance; not even a cameo. That certainly hurts the film. However, we do get some excellent newcomers mainly in Glow’s Kate Nash, who here plays British legend Boudica, Nash is incredibly cool and stylish and really sells the character. She steals every scene she is in especially when they do a rendition of the Boudica song from the series.

Therein lies another one of my complaints about the film, it feels too reliant on the TV series, it has many winks and nods to gags and songs that made the original so beloved, which isn’t in itself a bad thing. What makes it a bad thing though is that Horrible Histories the Movie has nothing new, it has nothing to offer besides these winks and nods. Except for Kate Nash’s Boudica, all the new characters we meet in this outing are utterly forgettable, which is a crying shame as the actors themselves are quite talented. Nick Frost and Craig Roberts are both capable of adding a lot to a film, but here feel hamstrung by a weak and predictable script.

The Show is broken up into sketches, these sketches cover everything from Vikings to Victorians, they don’t linger on any one period for too long. That is another thing this film falls prey to the entire runtime is dedicated to the ‘Rotten Romans’, and it becomes apparent after a while that there isn’t enough material to cover this length of time. This lead to long sequences that feel incredibly drawn out, not adding much to the overall plot instead just being boring.

Overall this film is the textbook definition of a missed opportunity, the absence of the original cast is felt strongly, and even a show-stopping performance by Kate Nash can’t change that. It is passable and inoffensive, but if you want to see the masterpiece that is Horrible Histories watch the 2009 series, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Review by Luke

Last Christmas: Who Will You Give Your Heart To This Year?

Last Christmas is a Christmas set romantic comedy featuring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. Emilia Clarke plays Kate a women whose life is falling apart, following a heart problem the Christmas before, she is working a dead-end job, running out of friends and about to have to go and live back at home. Yes, this character has been done 100 times before, but there is something so wholesome and relatable about the way Clarke plays the character, that you instantly root for her.

The same can be said of Kate’s love interest Tom, he is mysterious and enigmatic, keeping the world at an arms length. Once again there is nothing new about this character type, but Golding’s portrayal is so charming and, endearing that you can’t wait to see him; just like Kate.

The love story between them feel relatable and, the audience really wants them to get together by the end of the film; especially after one heartfelt scene when Kate tells Tom about her heart problems.

However, it is not meant to be. Spoilers here if you haven’t seen it.

Just when it seems as though Kate and Tom are going to get together, it is revealed Tom’s dead. He died last Christmas and, his heart was given to Kate through an organ transplant. When the twist hits you, you will feel one of two ways about it: either you will think it is a bittersweet masterstroke or, it will break your heart. I fell into the latter camp.

My other complaint about the film is there is a needless Brexit plotline in it that feels forced in, Last Christmas would function perfectly well without it, it doesn’t really come up much and, I do wonder why it was included. I feel as though it was to be current and political, but I feel it dated the film and made me groan.

The performances were all also fantastic, Golding and Clarke especially, in fact, I think this might be Emilia Clarke’s best performance yet, she is the heart and soul of the film. The direction is also strong by Paul Feig, it is very clearly a Paul Feig film with all the trimmings, which I personally love but, he is an acquired taste; if you like his other films you will like this.

I think the ending is heartwarming and sweet, as it puts the focus more on Kate’s character development rather than her getting the guy and having the happily ever after ending; that most films like this do. To some, this could become a Christmas classic, however, for those who are comparing this film to the likes of Love Actually then it won’t come off favorably.

A nice turn your brain off, happy Christmas film, Clarke and Golding are great. Watch it and be merry.

Reviewed by Luke

The Good Liar: Magneto In Retirement

The Good Liar is a crime thriller, based on the book of the same name. The plot sees Roy Courtnay, played by Ian McKellen, a con man, start a relationship with Betty McLeish, played by Helen Mirren; all as a ploy to rob her blind.

Two things before we get into the review, firstly there will be spoilers here, to talk about this film and give my thoughts I need to discuss the twist. Secondly, I haven’t read the book the film adapts.

Straight from the off you know that there is more to Helen Mirren’s character then there appears to be, she is clearly not the clueless old women we are supposed to believe she is. So when it turns out that she was playing Roy all along, literally no one the audience will be surprised.
However, though the twist is obvious, the incredibly dark context behind it isn’t. The reason why Betty turns on Roy is because he isn’t actually Roy Courtnay at all, and Betty McLeish isn’t who she claims to be either. Roy swapped identities with a British soldier during the final days of World War 2 after said soldier was killed hunting down a Nazi war criminal. Roy’s real name is Hans Taub, a German man who had raped Betty, really name Lili, shortly before the war. The whole events of the film had been a setup to pay back Hans/Roy for the sins of his past.

The twist works incredibly well in this context because it is so shocking and dark. The film up until this point had been relatively light and, so this twist greatly shifts the tone and ramps up the tension for the final stretch of the film. Russel Tovey’s Steven does this masterfully, Steven is the grandson of Mirren’s character and, we learn from the beginning that he is mistrustful of Roy. Then when he shows up on their Germany trip and takes them to an abandoned house, you know something is about to happen and, you’re gripped with suspense.

Mirren and McKellen both do fantastic jobs, they really masterfully lead this film showing why they’re both industry giants. McKellen especially is fantastic as he can go from a likeable old man to a harden bloodthirsty criminal in a split second, in what can only be described as a masterclass.

The Good Liar is a fantastic mystery film with a marvellous sense of suspense. Both of its leads are electric, and it’s nice to see elder actors headlining films. If you’re looking for a mystery that will keep you guessing right up till the end then look no further than this. The obviousness that Mirren’s character isn’t all shes meant to be, does somewhat ruin the surprise, so I can’t give this film top marks.


Reviewed by Luke

Let It Snow: This Film Belongs on the Naughty List

Let It Snow is a Christmas themed romantic comedy, focusing on the trials and tribulations of a group of teens in Illinois. If you’re looking for a feel-good, switch your brain off Christmas film then you will like Let It Snow.

However, if you’re looking for a good film, then this is the furthest you could get. I thought there was something almost offensively bad about this film, with its depiction of teenagers/ teenage life and love.

For a start, the characters feel with everything they say and do, like they have been written been adults, who have never met a teenager in their whole life and can’t seem to remember their own experience. By this I mean the characters are a collection of stereotypes and cliches of Gen Z people. What makes this even worse is that other than Kiernan Shipka’s The Duke, yes that is the character name, all of the other characters are intensely unlikeable. They’re a collection of the most self-indulgent, self-obsessed, narcissistic characters ever put to film. They whine and have fits of anger randomly, just seemingly to add some drama to the plot.

Whatsmore the love stories feel like a collection of reused plots from other more successful Rom Coms, with everything feeling more than a little derivative. However, all of these classic plots have been given a current 2019 coat of paint, so social media and the internet have to be included to the point of it becoming tedious.

The acting is understandably bad, and I mean bottom of the barrel Blumhouse bad; Lucy Hale bad. Netflix has seemingly gathered together as many teenage actors as they could get, regardless of talent, and stuffed them into this film; in a futile attempt to seem current. Also, something I was thinking of watching this is that it seems as though anyone who has ever been in a Netlfix series appears here, The Santa Clarita Diet check, The Good Place check, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina check, the list goes on. It almost feels like this film was made to promote those other shows in away.

The only likeable performance is Kiernan Shipka as The Duke, she is charming throughout and the only thing the film has going for it, however, the bar for a performance in this film to appear as good by comparison is incredibly low.

Ultimately Let It Snow feels like a cynical, teenage crash grab. The heavy pandering to a teenage audience means a lot of other people will find it hard to enjoy, I am genuinely surprised that an actor from Riverdale didn’t show up at some point, this is why people say Netlfix will greenlight anything.


Reviewed by Luke

Satanic Panic: The Devil, Demons and Devilishly Good Pizza

Satanic Panic is a horror comedy film, following Sam Craft, (Hayley Griffith), a pizza girl, who makes a call to the wrong house and quickly finds herself the target of a satanic cult- due to her being a virgin.

Satanic Panic has vibes of pulpy grind-house horror, think Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, which is a delight to see as those sort of films are few and far between these days. Couple that with the fact that the film features a lot of horror references and homages to many horror classics, and you get a film that is going to scream, “Watch Me”, to any genre hardcore.

However, if you’re looking for a scare, you might want to look elsewhere as Satanic Panic is definitely more of a comedy than a horror; the last 15 minutes asides. Said final 15 minutes which features demons battling it out is not only cool but, also the film’s scariest section.

The comedy of the film mostly lands, making me smile multiple times as I was watching it. Although, somewhat surprisingly, where the film most shines is in its attempts to be dramatic. This comes when we hear Sam’s backstory and learn she is a cancer survivor, and that she abandoned her friend/ lover on the cancer ward. This scene is surprisingly powerful, far more so than I was expecting from a horror comedy film; the emotional weight of this scene hits you hard and fast taking you by surprise and knocking you off your feet.

The mythology of the film and how it approaches demons and devil worship is also novel and fresh; especially towards the ends when it focuses on the hierarchy of Hell. As a result the film almost demands a sequel so we can see more of this world and these characters.

The characters are also fantastic, Hayley Griffith plays Sam perfectly encapsulating her spirit and, to an extent her innocence. She makes for a solid lead and, one who is easy to root for. Likewise, Rebbeca Romijn’s Danica Ross is superbly evil, relishing every moment she is on screen; either with a fantastic quip or, a memorable scene. Romijn proves here why she is one of the best actresses working today. Though the breakout star of the film and, the one for me who gave by far the best performance is Ruby Modine. Modine plays Judy Ross, Danica’s daughter who is left for dead and, saved by Sam. Judy is capable but, also incredibly damaged and, the friendship she forms with Sam is incredibly endearing; watching her fight the forces of night is something I never knew I needed until now.

If you’re looking for a film that is going to scare you or, creep you out this isn’t it. However, if you’re a diehard fan of the horror genre and, like films that pack heart, laughs and, about 10 minutes of scares then this is for you! One of the most smile-inducing films I’ve seen all year.

Reviewed by Luke