The Birds: Why Is Hitchcock A Cinematic Icon? I Don’t Get It

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A woman with too much time on her hands, played by Tipi Hedren, starts getting attacked by birds.

I am going to say something that within some film circles is the highest form of blasphemy so get ready. I don’t really like the films of Alfred Hitchcock, I think they are often slow and badly paced, and more often then not seem to think they are smarter than they actually are. His films have a certain smugness to them, the only one I actually like is Psycho.

Anyway, I did not think this was the worst film I have ever seen but I did think it was boring. Scene after scene of Hedren’s characters personal drama as she obsesses over a man she met in a pet shop, played by Rod Taylor. Honestly it is quite a ways into the film where the titular birds start to turn bad until that point you would be forgiven for thinking you are watching some old fashioned drama/romance film. The pace during this early section is so bad that it almost made me turn it off.

I enjoyed the cinematography and the shot choice and would even go so far as to say a few of the shots were quite inspired, but this didn’t make up for the wider short comings of the film. Chief amongst these I would say were the performances that frequently felt quite wooden.

Overall, painfully slow.

Pros.

A few strong shot choices

Visually a beautiful film

Cons.

It is badly paced

The birds don’t turn bad until way into the film

The performances are fairly wooden

It is boring

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Bros: Insulting Your Audience

1.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The first big studio rom-com to feature same sex leads, if you ignore Love Simon and a few others.

Honestly I just didn’t think this film was very funny. Somewhere in between all the jokes about how straight people are lame and the gross out sex gags I found myself questioning why for such an important film for a number of reasons they didn’t do their best to at least give it a good script and a few passable jokes. The humour of this film is at times aggressively unfunny and by that I mean that the film is actively angry at you for not laughing along with it, thinking that every joke made is the peak of comedy and that you are just a philistine for not laughing.

Another thing going against this film is the star Billy Eichner. Now I have seen Eichner before in a few other things and I stand by the idea that in small doses his particular shtick is funny, however, being exposed to it for over an hour proves to be unbearable. Additionally, Eichner’s character really isn’t particularly likeable and I found it hard to root for his happiness. Adding to that are the comments Eichner has made post release wherein he has said the reason the film has underperformed is not because of a weak script or unfunny jokes but because audiences are homophobic. Though this is true to an extent, it reeks of someone on the defensive lashing out because their ego got hurt, it also does nothing to make an audience want to see the movie because why support a star who is calling them names?

Overall, this film is important there is no doubt about that, but sadly what we got was incredibly mediocre with a leading man who is ill suited to the task.

Pros.

It is an important step forward for diversity within film

It is watchable

Cons.

Eichner is no leading man

It is unfunny

It has terrible pacing

It repeatedly lampoons straight people and then expects that audience to come out and support the film.

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She-Hulk: The Retreat

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Jen, played by Tatiana Maslany, heads to a retreat for a few days to try and get over the fact a guy she likes hasn’t text her back.

Once again the show promised Daredevil and didn’t deliver, like I have said before I am now convinced that he won’t show up until a post credits scene in the final episode and he will have been used to try and draw in audiences who don’t care about a show about a whiny, spoilt white girl who has a series of wine mom issues and first world problems.

I would say however in favour of this episode that it is probably one of the better ones of the series and has Jen actually think about how she views herself which I thought was interesting to see. I liked the character growth she got, and thought that bringing back Tim Roth’s Abomination was a very good idea. Fun was had.

I didn’t like that during her therapy scenes they used actual tweets about the She-Hulk show as why she feels bad about herself, as I think this just makes the show look petty. Likewise I also think it is a bad look when one of the main stars of the show Jameela Jamil has to go on the record saying about how much the show has upset men, as though all criticism against the show is sexist. It makes the whole production look like it has a chip on its shoulder.

Another thing that I thought was bad, please do believe though I am finding all these negatives with the episodes it probably is one of the better ones, is the fact that Jen’s latest potential love interest is revealed to be a villain. This continues the shows obsession with every none established male character having to be bad or incompetent in some way, though I suppose her therapy buddies do kind of balance things out on that front.

Overall, better but still not good, luckily there is only a few episodes left.

Pros.

Maslany and the focus on Jen

Bringing back Roth

The therapy scenes

Cons.

Still no Daredevil

Continued man bashing  

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Village Of The Damned: Beware The Stare

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After a mysterious incident all the women of a small town fall pregnant, a while later their offspring develop otherworldly abilities.

I want to preface this review by saying that I have never read The Midwich Cuckoos before, as such I was unfamiliar with the story. Had I seen one of the other numerous adaptions beforehand or shared some familiarity with the story I may not have enjoyed it as much.

I thought this film was really well done, it did a lot of work with atmosphere and had a show but don’t tell sort of approach to the film’s monsters. I have always found there to be something slightly disconcerting about little children especially when they gather together as such this film was bound to trigger fears in me. I thought the ‘evil’ kids here had a well-acted alien quality to them and I don’t know if they were inspired by the classic idea of the black eyed children within folklore, but if so they added a whole new dimension to it.

I also thought the pacing was really well done, far too many modern horror films try and cram in as much artsy imagery and subtext as they can bloating the film into a multi-hour behemoths which then lose sight of their scares, whereas this film does it right. I thought the runtime was tight and left just the right amount of plot to the imagination.

Overall, a very effective creepy kids movie.

Pros.

The scares

The atmosphere

The pacing

The performances

Cons.

It is a little antiquated  

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Andor: Aldhani

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Andor, played by Diego Luna, embarks on a heist and the embers of the rebellion begin to form.

I think this was a very good episode and way better than a lot of the other Disney + Star Wars shows we have had so far, however, I would say that it is a step back from what we got last week. This is very much a talking set up episode, which by no means is a bad thing as we will get to, but it does mean that the episode suffers with pacing issues. I think the worst thing about pacing in this episode is where it leaves off on, as the ending of the episode just feels like a random cut to black in the middle of a scene.

I enjoyed the scenes with Stellan Skarsgard’s Luthen, it is nice to see that he is a man of many faces. I have no idea where his story is going but I am excited to find out. Moreover, I thought his scenes with Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O’ Riley, were really strong, and I thought that O’ Riley was really starting to shine in the role.

I also thought the heist planning scene was a lot of fun later in the episode, I liked the fact they built a model diagram and that yet again it seems like Cassian will be doing a suicide mission. I thought the two stand outs of the Cassian scenes were Faye Marsay as Vel and Alex Lawther as Nemick, both instantly created memorable and likeable characters who I want to see more off.

Overall, a slower episode but still one that is a lot of fun.

Pros.

Seeing more of Luthen

O’ Riley’s Mothma

The heist planning scene was a lot of fun

Seems like there is a lot to be excited for later in the season

Cons.

Pacing issues, mainly where they choose to end the episode

Not a lot happens   

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The Horror Of Dracula: From Transylvania To Klausenberg

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A retelling of the classic Dracula tale.

I have long heard that this is one of the definitive takes on the classic novel, however, now after seeing I think that it lacks a certain something. Obviously, I am approaching this old film with modern sensibilities so some things will be lost in translation, but I think that it really suffers from clearly being very low budget. Now I know Hammer Horror was low budget and campy and that was all part of the charm, but I think here due to limitations Dracula, played by Christopher Lee, was able to be set up as a truly terrifying threat.

Moreover, I also think that this film makes a number of odd changes to the book that seem to serve no purpose other than to be confusing, as for the most part it is just swapping around character names and backstories somewhat. I don’t really understand why the film did this as it certainly didn’t add anything.

However, the incredibly strong positive this film has going for it is the legendary Christopher Lee, who easily blends into the role of Dracula and I thought was able to make the role his own and put his personal spin on it. Lee saves this film from mediocrity.

Overall, a very average film pushed up by Christopher Lee.

Pros.

Lee

It is very watchable

The final battle

Cons.

It makes strange changes to the source material for no real reason

It’s low budget hurts it in places

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Rick And Morty: Night Family

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The family program their sleeping selves to do all of the things they don’t want to do.

I think this was probably the best episode so far of the new season. I liked the premise and thought that it mixed in a nice amount of horror into the usual science fiction formula, Night Summer, played by Spencer Grammar, was especially creepy.

I also enjoyed the bond between Jerry and Night Jerry, both voiced by Chris Parnell, I thought that the relationship between the two was nice to see and moreover, it is just nice to see someone treat Jerry like an actual human being for once.

The downside of this episode for me was that it all just boiled down to one big car chase which whilst entertaining feels like the most mediocre way to end things. What’s more the whole thing ends up feeling redundant as in the end the Night family win anyway, which further adds to the powering down of Rick, voiced by Justin Roiland, this season.

Overall, a fun episode but not the best the show has ever done.

Pros.

The horror elements

The friendship between Jerry and Night Jerry

It is a good premise

A number of funny moments

Cons.

The ending feels a bit lackluster

Rick is far too easily beaten

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Dead Silence: James Wan’s Puppet Movie

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The arrival of a ventriloquist’s dummy spells doom for Jamie, played by Ryan Kwanten.

I will give this film a slightly above average score for the fact that it does boast some quite unsettling visuals and did also leave me feeling somewhat disconcerted. I think the film’s strongest element is its horror, however everywhere else it is let down.

I think the lets call it ‘industrial’ style James Wan used on the first Saw film that he tries to bring over to this film just doesn’t work at all. The two films are very different beasts and the carried over style hurts the film a lot. Nowhere is this clearer then in the final moments of the film where we get a very Saw-like twist with the same accompanying music and everything.

Speaking off the twist ending really doesn’t work, because rather than bringing everything together it instead leaves you saying, ‘wait what’ and makes the film incredibly goofy. Any kind of tension or scares are immediately undercut when you realise that a man who has played a fairly large supporting role in the film as a whole was supposed to have been a puppet the whole time. Dumb.

Overall, some neat horror visuals, but fairly weak everywhere else.

Pros.

A few good scares

Some cool effects work and make up design

It is very watchable

Cons.

The twist doesn’t work

Wan reuses the same style from Saw and it doesn’t work

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House Of The Dragon: The Princess And The Queen

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A time jump highlights the breakdown in relations between Alicent, played by Olivia Cooke, and Rhaenyra, played by Emma D’Arcy, meanwhile Daemon, played by Matt Smith, grieves.

I think again this was a slower paced episode but also one that featured a lot of great performances. Emma D’Arcy is magnificent in every scene they are in, and can communicate a great deal with even the smallest facial gesture, Cooke is also excellent and her character is quickly becoming a love to hate villain.

I thought the Dameon side plot was a little out of left field, but it was nice to see him actually happy with his lady wife as it adds some greater depth to his character. I do think the asides the episode makes to check in with his character slow it down a lot and not in any kind of good way.

The final battle/ red wedding esque fire scene was a very fitting end for the episode and really helped to make it feel as though things are ramping up as we head into the final few episodes of the season.

Overall, a good episode but definitely slower and less interesting than some of the others.

Pros.

Exploring new depths with Daemon

D’Arcy

Cooke

The ending of the episode

Cons.

It is quite slow paced

Some of the breaks away to focus on Daemon’s new life feel quite dull

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Smile: Bathsalts Will Do That To A Person

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A therapist, played by Sosie Bacon, becomes the victim of a curse.

Originally I had very low expectations for this film after seeing the trailers, but then I started to read the early reviews and my expectations went up. However, now after having seen it I can say to temper your expectations, don’t go in expecting the world and you will like this film well enough.

The two major pros of this film are Sosie Bacon’s lead performance and the final third of the film, which like Hereditary, is truly a sight to see. In terms of scares this film does manage to be quite creepy and unsettling at times and the films monster will be one that sticks in your mind long after watching. However, I did find that this film was far too reliant on jump scares to the point where they lost all effect.

In terms of the negatives about this film things are far simpler, the issues all stem from just how similar to other horror films this is. To call this an original film is quite a stretch. It takes several films such as The Ring, Truth Or Dare, Hereditary and It Follows and strips them for parts which it then sows together into a Frankenstein’s monster which then becomes this film. Moreover, because this film is so derivative there are no real surprises, everything happens exactly as you would expect it to.

Overall, better than average but far too familiar.

Pros.

A few good scares

Bacon

It is very watchable

Cons.

It is far too familiar

It is entirely predictable

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