Resident Evil Welcome To Raccoon City: Sony Isn’t Even Trying To Hide The Product Placement

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The first two games in the Resident Evil series are mashed together in what serves as another cinematic reboot of the franchise.

Oh boy this one is going to be divisive.

For the most part I really enjoyed this film, not as much as the earlier Resident Evil films with Milia Jovovich, but those hold a special place in my heart.

The biggest pro I can give this film is that I found it to be genuinely quite freighting, I don’t scare easily but this one did a number on me and stayed with me after I left the film. I thought the film did a lot of good atmosphere work as well as showing how much of a threat the mutants and Umbrella themselves are. I also thought the film was very tense throughout which only heightened this.

The casting… This is where things will get dicey for some. For the most part I thought the casting was good, many won’t like the portrayal of Leon S. Kennedy here, some for bigot reasons as Avan Jogia is playing a race swapped version of the character and others for the fact that he is constantly proven by the film to be inept and a bit of a loser. To those who Leon is there favourite character this will annoy them to no end, however, I was never that attached to Leon. Personally, despite him being a screw up character I actually thought Jogia did a lot with the role and I really liked him, he was probably my favourite character in the entire film.

Kaya Scodelario is great as Claire Redfield and Robbie Ammell is okay as her brother Chris, I think Scodelario is the start of the show throughout and would love to watch a Claire solo film with her in it. However, where the casting falls apart for me is with Tom Hopper as Albert Wesker. Firstly Hopper doesn’t look the part and looks distractingly miscast throughout, and moreover the characterisation of Wesker is all wrong with the film trying to portray him sympathetically despite him being one of the big bads of the Resident Evil universe. I didn’t like it.

The mashing together of the first two games stories worked for me and I felt like they gave both justice and didn’t rush through it. I would have liked Mr X to make an appearance but hey maybe in a sequel. I think there is enough there for both long time fans of the series, like myself, as well as for newcomers who might be unfamiliar.

Two other smaller issues I had with the film was the blatant product placement, it is everywhere, and the drawn out flash back opening, which I found to be quite slow. Personally I would have opened it with the police investigating Spencer’s mansion, but that’s just me.

Overall, I enjoyed myself I thought it did justice to the series and it scared me. Hopper was miscast badly and the product placement and opening put me off to a degree but the good vastly outweighs the bad.

Pros.

Jogia’s Leon

The scares

Scodelario’s Claire

The ending

Cons.

A slow opening

Hopper

The product placement

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The Spirit Of Christmas: Ghost Sex For Twelve Nights A Year

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kate, played by Jen Lilley, is a workaholic who is tasked with prepping an inn for sale during the holidays, little does she know it is haunted.

There is some charm here let it not be said there isn’t, however, the cliches and the laughably dumb plot really hold it back.

So yes the lead falls in love with the ghost, played by Thomas Beaudoin,  that is the plot of the film, but wait is he even a ghost? The film says yes but then he becomes human for twelve days a year or something because he is cursed… None of it makes sense.

Moreover, though the film wants us to celebrate the love between the lead and the ghost we really shouldn’t be, the ghost has or rather had a wife which the film is totally fine with him abandoning for his new girlfriend. The morals are all over the place and it gives the film and iffy taste to it that takes away from some of the charm.

Despite all of this this film is charming and the romance does feel genuine and warm which allows the film to have something good to cling to.

Overall, a subpar Christmas rom-com with a plot that makes no sense and a charming romance that is overshadowed by troublesome morals.

Pros.

The leads are both serviceable

The romance feels genuine

Cons

Troublesome morals

A silly plot

Pacing issues

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After Earth: Scientologist Propaganda

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Scientology meets science fiction and produces a mess; no this isn’t Battlefield Earth.

Did this film almost lead to the death of Will Smith’s career for a few years? Honestly maybe. This film is awful for many reasons the clearest of which is the fact that this film reeks of scientologist propaganda, but luckily no one saw it so it was unsuccessful in that respect.

The plot is almost unintelligible, something about space and fear etc. It is a strange mixture of nonsense and trite cliché  leading to a bore of a film. I know that Shyamalan has always struggled with pace in his films but this might be his most egregious example to date, by the end of the film’s second act the film feels like it is over, but then no it carries on for another thirty to forty minutes.

Neither of the Smiths are at all likeable here, particularly Jaden. They neither feel like normal people nor do you care about them.

Overall, this has to be the lowest point of Shyamalan’s steep spiral downwards.

Pros   

The premise is mildly interesting before it becomes overly convoluted.

Cons.

It is Scientologist propaganda

Neither of the Smiths are likeable

It has major pacing issues

None of it makes sense

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The Power Of The Dog: What Did That Horse Do To Him?

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Phil Burbank, played by Benedict Cumberbatch berates those around him for a few hours in a period setting.

To me this film embodied everything wrong with arthouse cinema. It is pretentious, it thinks it is deeper than it actually is, and none of it really leads anywhere it just a series of scenes spaced out with rants from Cumberbatch.

Honestly I found this film hard to watch as it was so slowly paced that it almost put me to sleep. Really the only interesting part of this film was seeing must how unlikeable Cumberbatch’s Phil could become and seeing how sinister he could get.

Moreover, if you like animals this may not be the film for you as there are a number of scenes where Phil is cruel to animals, and it can be distressing and hard to watch. I understand why the filmmakers choose to include these scenes, to show just how evil Phil is, but they can’t shake this overwhelming sense of needlessness.

Overall, Cumberbatch is good but the film as a whole is boring, hard to watch and far from what it thinks it is.

Pros.

Cumberbatch

It is interesting to watch Phil devolve

Cons.

It is overly pretentious

It is boring and far too long

Scenes of animal cruelty that feel needless  

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Walk Of Shame: Stop The Slut Shaming Hollywood

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A woman, played by Elizabeth Banks, almost misses out on the job interview of her life after a drunk night out, awaking in unfamiliar terrain.

What to say about this film that hasn’t already been said. I find it amusing that someone who is as outspokenly feminist as Elizabeth Banks, looks at how she handled the failure of Charlies Angels for more, appeared in this deeply sexist and troublesome film. It shows how someone’s opinions can change on a trend. Though maybe I am overly harsh on Banks.

This film is simply awful in many ways, namely the fact that it is not even remotely funny and is instead intent on just reusing stereotypes and quietly slut shaming its protagonist for laughs. Not a single one of the jokes land and worse yet a lot of them are off putting and leave you feel angry at whoever wrote them down, this film is crass and misogynistic in the extreme.

Ultimately I just feel like films with this kind of lazy old fashioned narrative just aren’t needed or wanted anymore, and everyone involved probably wants to forget it.

Overall, widely problematic and unfunny.

Pros.

It is short

Banks has a few chuckle worthy lines

Cons.

Rampantly sexist

It is not funny

Banks deserves better than this

The message of it is all wrong

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South Park Post Covid: The Future Is Bleak, Especially If You Are Apathetic To Covid

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids of South Park are now men forced to return to their home town after the death of one of their own, in a world still ravaged by covid.

Honestly I think the main reason for my low score is because I am personally I am really bored of covid and talking about it, seeing this whole hour special just go on and on about it became old quickly. I wish it could have been about anything else.

That said I do admire the show for lampooning the current crisis and laughing at how extremely over the top some people have been about it, acting like it is the end of days or something. I thought this coupled with the side plot about comedy in the era of cancel culture/ woke comedy were really interesting and insightful comments on where we are right now as a species.

I didn’t think this was the funniest thing I have ever seen from South Park as though there were a few jokes that landed, and landed well for that matter, for the most part they left me cold. I don’t know if it is because of my apathy towards hearing about covid but I didn’t find myself laughing a whole lot here.

Overall, if this hadn’t been about covid I probably would have found it funnier.

Pros.

A few good jokes

Not being afraid to laughable at how over the top some people have been with covid

Comments about woke comedy

Cons.

I am bored of covid narratives

It is not hugely funny

The central mystery is not all that interesting

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Robin Robin: Whilst You Sleep At Night Mice Steal Your Food

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young robin called Robin, voiced by Bronte Carmichael, is taken in by a family of mice, but must then find out who she is after she realises she doesn’t make for a very good mouse.

My track record with Aardman Animation is mixed, I liked Wallace and Gromit and thought Early Man was okay, but I really didn’t like Chicken Run. So when it came to watching this I was mixed, however I have to say this is easily the best Aardman feature to date and if this is any indication for what they are going to produce through their collaboration with Netflix then I am very on board for what is to come.

I thought the film was sweet and really sold its message of being yourself and being proud of who you are well. I enjoyed all the characters and thought each had their moments to shine over the features run time. I thought the pace was well decided as well, as by keeping it short it allowed the film to have a real momentum that lead to it be constantly engaging and never boring.

Finally, there is a musical element to this film which could be hit or miss for people, for me I thought it worked and I enjoyed almost all of the songs, bar the final proper one during the third act, but for the most part I thought the songs added to the film’s charm.

Overall, a lovely little animated Christmas film.

Pros.

It is sweet

It is well paced

It has fun characters

The songs work well

Cons.

The third act could use work as it is a little played out  

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8 Bit Christmas: Do You Remember The Eighties:Of Course You Do

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A child, played by Winslow Fegley, must overcome a sea of obstacles to get a Nintendo games console for Christmas.

This film took eighties nostalgia, which is already quite a tapped out well, and went too far with it. Though I enjoyed the sentiment of the film and thought a lot of its messages were good, I thought the film leant far too heavily into eighties nostalgia and showed us all the things we have seen before, and all too recently at that.

I could never hate this film as it features Neil Patrick Harris in a leading role. Harris is as terrific as always and manages to get a number of good jokes here. I particularly enjoyed the film’s final scene which I thought really hammered home the emotional message of the film, I thought during this scene Harris did a magnificent job of selling the emotion of the scene and turning something that could have felt quite overly sentimental into just poignant enough to resonate.

The laughs were quite sparse for me, like I said Harris has a few funny lines but outside of that the film is quite lacking with most of the jokes not landing. I found a lot of the side characters to be quite annoying and the video game violence subplot to be not only annoying but deeply caricature like of everyone involved, it was silly to include if they had nothing meaningful to say on it.

Overall, a very meh Christmas film that manages to sneak past average thanks to Neil Patrick Harris and a powerful emotional ending.

Pros.

Harris

The ending

A few funny jokes

Cons.

Annoying side characters

Far too reliant on eighties nostalgia  

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The Sitter: Children Are Evil

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An unemployed slacker, played by Jonah Hill, takes up a job babysitting three kids little does he know just how much he has taken on and how much trouble it will be.

Okay I’ll admit it, every now and then I like a trashy comedy. I won’t sit here and pretend to be highbrow. My sense of humour is darkly juvenile and/or edgy for sure. As such I actually found this film to be quite funny, I wouldn’t say all of the jokes landed but about sixty percent of them did and that pushes the ratio in a positive direction.

I found the film to be surprisingly heart felt at times as well, yes it won’t win any awards for the more serious moments, but I thought when the film took a break to reflect it really worked well. I particularly enjoyed how Hill’s character realised slowly over the course of the film that he was in a toxic relationship; I thought these moments felt earnt and well done.

Sam Rockwell is a delight as the villain though I would say he is underused.

In terms of issues I would say this film is a little too reliant on gross out humour, or little kids saying bad words humour, neither of which land well and more often than not come across of quite desperate.

Overall, a funny trashy comedy film that won’t blow you away and is a bit too reliant on gross out humour.

Pros.

The heartfelt moments

A good number of funny jokes

Hill

Cons.

Too much gross out humour

The ending

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The Feast: If You’re Bringing Up Long Strands Of Hair Seek Medical Attention

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film follows a Welsh dinner party in which everyone in attendance dies by the end of the film at the hands of a mysterious being.

Though the premise is nothing new there is something so unsettling about this film that makes it good. There is an off-kilter uncanniness that accompanies this film wherein nothing is quite like it seems and everything is filled with clues and hidden meanings, in many ways to truly get everything out of this film you should watch it several times over.

I enjoyed the rural folk horror and thought it did interesting things with a message of environmentalism and not disturbing the natural world. I found the film more uneasy than scary however, there is nothing from this film that stayed with me after watching.

The acting is all quite good. I think Annes Elwy was strong as the lead and played both sweet and sinister well. Most of the characters in this film balance out fairly standard greed and lust issues with far darker under the surface evils to great effect.

Overall, a strong folk horror film that is well worth a watch even if you have to read subtitles.

Pros.

Elwy

The folk horror

The uncanniness to it all

The twist

Cons.

Not particularly scary

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