The Croods: Not The Nicolas Cage We Needed, Nor The One We Deserved

The Croods is an animated fantasy family film directed by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders. The plot follows a family as their way of life is threatened and they come to realise that the only way to survive is to adapt. Also it is set during the prehistoric era.

The animation models on this one are bad, there is something a bit too uncanny about them that is off putting, not to mention the fact that Eep (Emma Stone), is designed in quite a sexual way, which as we are never quite sure her age is deeply troubling.

I feel like I have seen this film hundreds of times before, yes maybe not set in cave men times, but a very similar story arc. I understand that Hollywood is a creatively bankrupt place but come on. All of the twists and turns are painfully obvious, and everything is sign posted from the start of the film. Oh the father Grug (Nicolas Cage), doesn’t like change, I wonder what intricate arc they will give him, oh he just learns to embrace change. The growth.

The voice cast are all very eh, I don’t think any of them are really trying. It seems to be a for the money venture through and through, which is upsetting as the idea of a Nicolas Cage fronted animated film was something that really did intrigue me.

Overall, boring, bland and been there done that, the animation is creepy and off putting as well, so give this one a miss.

Pros.

It is watchable

Cons.

There is nothing new about it

The voice cast are wasted

The plot is blindingly obvious

The animation is awful and weirdly sexual

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

Kill Me Three Times: Simon Pegg Makes A Surprisingly Likeable Cold Blooded Killer

Kill Me Three Times is a dark comedy film directed by Kriv Stenders. The plot follows Alice (Alice Braga), a young bartender who is caught cheating on her gangster boyfriend by infamous hitman Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg), who is then tasked with killing her. There is also a side story of a couple who is trying to fake one of their deaths to win big on an insurance claim.

Usually, I don’t care for films that have narrative that jump here there and everywhere and that have multiple different narratives happening side by side, but here I think it works well. Each time we are shown the same events we are given that bit more detail which really helps you sink into the world and become immersed.

Simon Pegg plays the likeable though cold villain very well, I have enjoyed seeing Pegg take these villainous turns recently in his career as I think he can have a real maliciousness when used correctly. Here is an example of that despite the comical appearance and bumbling, to a degree, nature he is still incredibly threatening and intimidating.

I found the film to be quite well written. There were no groanable lines and all of the characters felt fully developed and you connected with them, which is pretty much everything you want from a well written script.

Overall, a very amusing and intriguing dark comedy that has surprising depth to it.

Pros.

The separate timelines

Simon Pegg

All of the characters felt real and well developed

The dark sense of humour

Cons.

Maybe a bit too much going on.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Scooby Doo And The Cyber Chase: Too Meta?

Scooby Doo And The Cyber Chase is a family mystery film directed by Jim Stenstrum. The plot sees Scooby (Scott Innes), and the Gang be sent into cyberspace to defeat an evil virus. The have to progress through various levels that harken back to their classic monsters, defeating each along the way.

I enjoyed the references to the classic series that are all over this film, to me in the final level when they brought back the various villains from the past it was nothing short of a cheer worthy moment. I also enjoyed the tongue in check metaness of having Scooby and co go into a videogame based on them. As we have covered before in my Scooby Doo reviews I am a sucker for metaness.

However, I think very much like Aliens Invade this film does not really understand what a Scooby Doo adventure is and tires to be something else, differing from the formula drastically; maybe too much. Although, the ending that I have mentioned does fix this issue.

I think for once it is not super obvious who the villain is, which is nice to see from one of these films. I understand that they are primarily for kids, but they are usually so damn obvious.

Overall, though this film does lose sight of what a Scooby Doo film is being maybe too meta, it does bring it full circle in a satisfying fan pleasing kind of way with references to the classic series, and the mystery isn’t obvious which I appreciated.

Pros.

The call backs

The metaness

Not an obvious mystery

Cons.

Maybe too much metaness

It drags and has pacing issues

The levels other than the final one with the classic monsters do nothing for me

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke   

The Broken Hearts Gallery: A Love Story For The Hoarders

The Broken Hearts Gallery is a romantic comedy film directed by Natalie Krinsky. The plot sees recently dumped Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), open up an art exhibit dedicated to all the items that people still have of their exes; post breakup. She hopes by doing this she can get some form of closure from her own breakup as well as help others find the same.

Forget Tenet, forget The New Mutants, this is the film cinemas need to get people to come back. There is something so communal about this film, it is something that we can all relate to, it is so personable that it is hard to not form some sort of attachment to it.

Yes, some of the lines are cringe (they name the film title in the dialogue multiples times), and they feel the need to throw in some hot topics here and there to prove that they’re trendy. However, in spite of these two things I found myself really getting into this film.

The comedy is strong, and it genuinely had me laughing quite a few times, I found Viswanathan to be a really likeable lead and easily the best thing about the film. The romantic chemistry between the leads is strong and believable and will drive you to finish the film to see how things end up.

Overall, this is just a warm feel good film, that is something I needed right now, and I am sure a lot of you reading this do too. It is not going to be the best film you’ll see all year, but it is a fun hour and a half and that is enough.  

Pros.

The heart

The humour

Warm and wholesome

Very personable and relatable

Cons.

A few cringe lines throughout

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Scooby Doo On Zombie Island: A Taste Of Southern Hospitality

Scooby Doo on Zombie Island is an animated family mystery film directed by Hiroshi Aoyama, Kazumi Fukushima, and Jim Stenstrum. The plot see the Gang reunite after their mysteries have seemingly come to and end and each member has gone their separate ways. They travel to New Orleans to film a Most Haunted esque segment for Daphne’s (Mary Kay Bergman’s) new TV job.

This is the film that really kicked started the new era of direct to video Scooby Doo movies and is remembered by more than a few as the best amongst said films. Personally, I am more of a Witch’s Ghost person, but that is just me being a sucker for the ever-charming Tim Curry.

I enjoyed the meta feel of this film, much like Pirates Ahoy this film talked about the Scooby Doo franchise as a whole during the film in a very telling way, whilst keeping it in universe. I thought the writing in this regard was smart and well done.

I enjoyed the fact that this film feels like effort has been put into it, a sad thing to state I know, by that I mean there were songs created specifically for the movie, and the story felt like the result of careful planning and more crucially, a great deal of thought.

Overall, this is definitely one of the best animated Scooby Doo films, the love it has for the franchise is clear to see and it has many memorable moments.

Pros.

The metaness

The songs

The considered approach to why the gang have to reunite

It feels like it moves the story forward, rather than just being another throw away adventure

Cons.

It has some pacing issues

The reveal is obvious

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Unpregnant: Dispelling Myths And Taboos, Redefining Female Friendship, The Most Important Film Of 2020

Unpregnant is a comedy drama film directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg. The plot follows two friends as they drive cross country so one of them can have an abortion. Along the way the two rediscover their friendship and learn what it means to be a young woman in these modern times.

This film deserves all the applause you can give it, the way it handles the topic of abortion is frankly refreshing. It ignores the outdated, old fashioned and quite obviously patriarchal myths and taboos and just shows the truth of the matter, and how it is for young women going through this. It both shows the gravity of the decision, as well as the need to do what is right for yourself and your future.

I enjoyed how the film focused on religion and how much of a hold it can have over one’s life. Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson), is deeply religious and you can see how that societal pressure almost forces her to do something that would ruin her life. I was impressed by how the film was not afraid to show the extremism towards the matter, which is mainly brought about by religious reasons, even going so far as to show pro life people picking up the girls and effectively holding them prisoner so that they would miss their termination appointments.

Overall, I think this is an incredibly important film for a number of reasons, I think it starts conversations that we need to have, and normalises something that a lot of women go through in their life, and shows how an individual breaking away from their norm to protect their future despite communal pressure is always the right thing to do.

Pros.

It is brave, I know that term is overused but it is true here

It starts important conversations

It shows female friendship beautifully

It tears apart myths and lies on the subject

It is not afraid to get crazy

It is moving

5/5

Would give higher if I could

Reviewed by Luke      

Love, Guaranteed: A Quest Of Thirst

Love, Guaranteed is a romantic comedy film directed by Mark Stephen Johnson. The plot follows Nick (Damon Wayans Jr), a man who has been on over 1000 dates with the dating website Love, Guaranteed and is still yet to find ‘the one’. Enter Susan (Rachel Leigh Cooke), a lawyer who is in desperate need of a winning case, sparks fly and love blooms.

This film very much gets worse as time goes on, the characters become more and more unlikable and considering the fact that start off as poorly conceived cliches you can imagine how bad they are by the end. The message of the film seems to be oddly inconsistent and change on the fly. At one point the film is pushing that it is wrong to guarantee love, but by the end of the film it is fine to guarantee love because the baddies payed the main characters some money; the film is morally bankrupt.

Wayans Jr tries his best to inject some much-needed charism into this film, because god knows that Cooke is a wet blanket, but the poor script leaves him with little to work with. Everything about this film feels artificial and as though it has been made by comity, that is to say everything feels just a bit too safe and false.

Overall, this is a very by the numbers rom com, you can tell no real thought or effort was put into it. The romantic spark isn’t there and the characters and their dialogue is just awful.

Pros.

Wayans is trying

Cons.

It is on for too long

It feels low effort

The leads have no chemistry

The characters start off as cliches and quickly get worse

0.5/5

Reviewed by Luke    

The Babysitter Killer Queen: Netflix Really Doesn’t Understand Teens, How To Regress Characters And Ruin A Good Thing.

The Babysitter, Killer Queen is a comedy horror film directed by McG. The plot follows on directly from The Babysitter, where we now see Cole (Judah Lewis), live a life of ridicule. No one believes him, but one day events transpire to prove just how real his ordeal was.

So, I was a big fan of The Babysitter and was quite excited for this sequel, even if Samara Weaving was going to have far less of a role. It brings me no pleasure to say this is bad, it is bad for a series of reasons that I believe came about as the creatives didn’t realise what worked and what people liked about the first film.

The characters are walked back on from the first film, they behave in ways that don’t really add up with how they would do based on what we know of them from the previous film, it is contradictory. Like there is nothing to suggest that Cole’s parents would just give up on him and send him off to a mental institution. Likewise the end of the first film suggest that Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind) and Cole, might have feelings for each other and that they might start dating, yet that seems to be set back a ways here; most likely so they can string the same beats out.

The character dialogue I found to be incredibly cringey a lot of the time, it feels once again like an adult trying to guess/replicate from a false understanding how teen’s today talk. The returns and reveals all felt quite hollow to me, as though they were trying to make the best out of bad situation.

Overall, this film proves conclusively that not every film needs a sequel.

Pros.

It is still entertaining

There are a few good moments

Cons.

The characters are altered in ways that make them inconsistent

The dialogue is awful

It doesn’t have the same tension or sense of fun as the first film

2/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Night School: The Joys Of Learning And Christian Chicken

Night School is a comedy film directed by Malcolm D. Lee. The plot revolves around Teddy (Kevin Hart) a man who never graduated high school, and who has spent his life trying to ‘fake it till he makes it’. However, after a series of setbacks Teddy finds that he needs to go back to school to try and get his GED.  

This is the funniest film that I have seen in a long time, certainly in 2020. Usually the comedy stylings of Hart and his co-star Tiffany Haddish aren’t to my taste, but they really work here. Not only that but this film also has an incredibly big heart, it is the sort of film that is nice to watch during trying times like these.

The twist that Teddy had learning difficulties, was handled well, but it was incredibly obvious, so it failed as a twist. Moreover an enemy of Teddy’s from high school is now Principal and sets out to make life hard for Teddy. This inter character relationship really adds nothing to the film and feels tacked on.

Overall, despite a few writing flaws that let it down, this is still an incredibly strong comedy film that often had me in stiches, and permanently glued a smile to my face. Comedy is subjective though, however.

Pros.

The comedy

The heart and the rootability

Kevin Hart

Tiffany Haddish

Cons.

The twist was obvious.

There was needless side characters that resulted in story padding.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Four Brothers: Marky Mark Learns The Importance Of ‘Family’

Four Brothers is an action crime film directed by John Singleton. The plot sees four brothers reunite after their mother is killed seemingly by accident. The brothers decide to investigate for themselves and finding answers in the depths of the local underworld.

So love him or hate him, this is Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg’s film. It rests on his unhinged kind of charm. He goes from very meek and mild to in a fit of murderous rage in a very quick amount of time, whilst also having the character stay likeable. Wahlberg’s character does some quite bad things and by the end of the film is basically the new leader of the underworld, if unofficial, yet you are still rooting for him.

The action is solid and quite intense, the issue on this front though is that the film takes quite a long time to get to this action and drags its feet. The first twenty minutes of the film feel far too long and a bit like filler.

The wider supporting cast were all pitch perfect Terrance Howard captivated my attention whenever he was one screen, though he was killed off without much fan fare and I found that to be disappointing. Tyrese Gibson is good and gives off emotion better than Wahlberg, who seems to constantly just be angry. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a very menacing villain and he plays the calculating gang lord with cold relish.

Overall, an entertaining action film that has it moments, but can never truly be considered great because it mostly wastes its cast and suffers from numerous structural issues.

Pros.

Mark Wahlberg

Tyrese Gibson

The action.

Cons.

The first act is a slog

It wastes the potential of a strong cast

3/5

Reviewed by Luke