Castaway: The Love Between A Man And His Ball

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I had never seen this film before, this was my first time watching it. I knew that it was a big deal and seen as one of Tom Hanks’ best films, but I couldn’t comment on it myself until now. After watching it I found this film to be fascinating, it ran the gambit of emotions, it moved me, it annoyed me, it made me cheer.

At times I found the character’s decisions to be woefully stupid, and that annoyed me, however reflecting on it now I am left asking maybe that was deliberate and done to show that the character wasn’t a natural born survivor and so of course he would make mistakes maybe even laughably dumb ones.

I found the performance from Hank’s to be the one of his best. I quickly warmed to his character and felt invested in his journey as he tried to get off the island. I found the actual process of him getting off the island to be incredibly tense, seeing him almost get washed away with the waves multiple times. However, I found the double tragedy of Wilson’s death and his wife moving on to be the most effecting part of the film- truly heart-breaking.

Another thing I noticed was a similarity in the music here with Hanks’s other late nineties project Saving Private Ryan. At first I found the similarity in music choice to be jarring and even a little insulting to what it was used to symbolise in the other film, but as the film went on I found it to be fitting and even well picked.

Overall, a very entertaining film that moved me multiple times.

Pros.

Hanks

The music choice

The fight for survival

The comedic moments/ Wilson

Cons.

Pacing issues, it is on for slightly too long

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The Grey: A Wild And Savage Soul

The Grey

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

 This film separates itself from the wider bulk of Liam Neeson’s work, by having a more soulful, philosophical edge- contemplating the human condition, and the reasons why we carry on. Yes, there is brutal action as well, as you would expect from a Neeson flick, but here it is done more thoughtfully. I think for the most part, the emotional themes and the action blend together well, however it does lead to a few pacing issues.

The pacing issues really come into effect in the film’s second act which starts to drag. This section really needed more action than it has and is the only real time where the weighty themes start to get in the way of the actual fight for survival.

I think as a character piece this works well, the struggle of Neeson’s lead is not only familiar but also deeply personal, many who have gone through a similar situation can understand and connect. Moreover, the final scene where Neeson’s character embraces his death and stands proud ready to fight the wolf pack that has been pursuing the band over the course of the film feels right, as well as earnt. The desperate futility of the situation is beautifully macabre

Overall, a surprisingly deep Neeson flick.

Pros.

Neeson

The character work

The ending

Cons.

The pacing

A slight clash between themes and what’s on screen

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Jungle: Lost In The Wilderness

Jungle is a biopic survival film directed by Greg McLean. The plot follows young Israeli explorer Yossi Ghinsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), who gets stranded alone in the amazon for three week, the film details his fight to stay alive.

This is a harrowing film especially towards the end when you can see the physical and mental tole the whole ordeal has had on Yossi; it makes you question just how much the human spirit can endure. Adding to that when it is revealed that Karl (Thomas Kretschmann), was not who he said he was and that he had taken other people out to the jungle before, with said people never coming back, it adds a whole chilling other tone to the film.

I think for his part Radcliffe is trying his best, he gives a strong performance especially with the physicality of it but is limited by a weak script. That would be my fundamental problem with this film, the way it is structed and set out from a writing sense. The bit up until Yossi is left behind feels like it goes on for ten years, it is painfully dull and takes up far too much of the film. Likewise the actual survival parts of the film, the interesting bits, feels far too short almost rushed.

Overall, I can only recommend the last half an hour of this film, as that is the only bit that is compelling and interesting. The rest feels torturously slow and drawn out being crippled by poor writing.

Pros.

Radcliffe

The very real feel of the survival parts of the film/ the physical transformation

Cons.

It is incredibly slow

The writing is bad

There is only half an hour of the film that is interesting

1.5/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Sanctum: The Surface World Doesn’t Want You

Sanctum is a true story thriller film directed by Alistair Grierson. The plot is at least partly inspired by the real-life expedition undertaken by the film’s writer Andrew Wrights and the films executive producer James Cameron. The plot sees a group of people trying to explore a series of underground caves before bad weather floods the cave.

So, I went into this film fairly blind, I was not aware of what it was about and only learned after the fact.  I thought this was a made for TV thriller/ science fiction film.

The reason for that assumption is right from the off you have some of the worst CGI I have ever seen from a film. Cameron is known for having some of the best film tech in the game, but clearly he didn’t let the people making this film use it. The helicopter flight in at the beginning as well as when rappel down the cave wall is embarrassingly bad.

The characters are deeply, and I do mean deeply unlikeable, for the most part they have no personality at all simply existing as hollow shells that recite dialogue, but when they do show any signs of personality you wish they hadn’t. I don’t know if this was reflective of the actual people and they were “just trying to be factual”, or if the writing was simply terrible.

Overall, I bet this is one film that James Cameron wants nothing to do with, an embarrassing mess of unlikeable characters and god-awful CGI, don’t watch it!

Pros.

I’m struggling to find any

Cons.

It is dull

The CGI is awful

The bad effects take you out of the film

The characters are awful

The writing is bafflingly bad

0/5

Reviewed by Luke

Mayhem: Corporate Is A Killer

Mayhem is horror comedy film directed by Joe Lynch. The plot sees hard working office worker Derek (Steven Yuen), trying to reclaim his job amidst a pandemic outbreak. This pathogen breaks down people’s inhibitions and makes them give into their baser impulses including lust and murder. In a very Raid esque way, Derek and pissed off client Melanie (Samara Weaving), have to beat/kill each one of the important office figures to get their key cards allowing them to get to the top of the building and plead their respective cases.

This film is excellent, it manages to tap into to that inner anger that anyone who has ever worked a job they hate has within them, pure rage. This becomes a nice undertone to the film that when coupled with the copious amounts of gore throughout the film feels almost primal.

The gore is top notch, it feels like punctuation to a bloody point, never does it feel needless or gratuitous it feels just right. My favourite kill in the whole film is when they disembowel ‘The Reaper’ when a handsaw, it is so unexpected and well done it made me laugh with gory glee.

Both Yuen and Weaving are on top form here, Yuen is believable as a man pushed to the edge. He manages to be easy to root for despite all the bad things he does throughout the film, more over Derek’s voice over also leads to many hilarious moments that are genuinely funny and sharp.

Weaving once again proves that not only is she a great upcoming talent, but also a budding action heroine. She has great on-screen chemistry with Yuen and the two make for a great pair, I would love to see them in more together. Weaving plays the role of Melanie with the same metal charm as she has shown in her other big screen performances thus far and every second of her performance here is magnificent.

Overall, this film has a really frustrated feel to it, it feels angry at the world and it is a hell of a watch. We go on a journey with these characters and the ending feels very satisfying definitely worth the watch.

Pros.

Yuen and Weaving are both fantastic.

It has a great angry energy to it.

The gore is spectacular.

The ending feels satisfying.

Cons.

It does get a little repetitive towards the end.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Hills Have Eye: Keep On Driving

The Hills Have Eyes is a horror film directed by Wes Craven. The plot sees a family traveling through the desert on their way to California, when they stop midway through their trip they come under attack from a group of cannibalistic murders a battle for survival quickly ensues.

This was my first time watching this film and I am pleased to say it holds up well, it was frightening and menacing throughout and best of all it had a constant sense of dread that would not let up.  Right from the first scene of the film you realise that something is wrong, then it builds and builds throughout. The moment when Beauty, the dog is killed, made me sit up and take notice

This film makes you wonder just who is out there, could there really be cannibals in the hills? All of the savage cannibals are terrifying, but Jupiter (James Witworth), was perhaps the most unsettling. The moment when Jupiter nails Big Bob Carter (Russ Grieve), the father of the family, to a makeshift cross it truly shows you just how evil these people are and perfectly illustrates what is to come. I liked the fact that they took the time to explain Jupiter’s backstory I thought it made him more rounded as a character.

I thought the choice to have most of the heroes be horribly inept, expect for when they manage to kill Jupiter in the end and instead have Beast, the other dog, be the one that picks off most of the baddies, is almost wonderfully comical. I would guess that it is not supposed to be humorous, but seeing this dog destroying this some what organised/experienced killer family one by one could be a film in and of itself.

The thing I like the most about this film is the fact that it feels stand alone, the ending neatly wraps everything up without too many lose threads. Of course there was a sequel, but it feels like this film closes the arc, which is how films should be, you shouldn’t have to watch another film to know how the last film ended.

Overall there is a reason that this is a horror masterpiece, a must watch for sure, Craven is a master of the genre.

Pros.

Beast the dog.

The explanation and backstory.

It has great atmosphere.

Everyone is giving great performances.

Cons.

Some of it almost feels comical and that is not great for a horror film.

4.5/5

The Furies: Killing In The Name Of

The Furies is a horror thriller film directed by Tony D’ Aquino. The plot sees Kayla (Airlie Dodds), be abducted and taken to a battle ground where young women are forced to fight mutant looking men, what’s more each woman is paired with one mutant as a protector, so it is not only a battle between the women and the mutant, but also a battle between the women themselves as well as between the mutants themselves.

I have a series of issues with this film that made me loss interest quickly and want to turn it off.

Firstly, a lot of it makes no sense, things just kind of happen without any rhyme or reason and they aren’t explained. The very first scene of the film is what I thought was a flashforward, but it never seems to appear in the film, and it makes me think, what is it, is it a misplaced scene or something?

Secondly, none of the characters are likable they seem to do everything they can to be as unlikeable as possible, like Kayla herself is prepared to let every single girl in the game die, just so she can find her friend. Yes, not every character needs to be likable, but there is not one character you can root for in this film.

Thirdly, the ending when Kayla gets out of the game and tries to hunt down the men who are responsible for the slaughter is better than the film itself. If this film ever got a sequel, I would like to guess that it would be far better as the premise alone would be infinitely better. The ending is for sure the best bit of the whole film and that it only practically because it is the end.

Finally, the constant references to evil men and the patriarchy becomes a bit jarring and dated after a point, a lot of the time they aren’t actually referring to the men that are hunting them down and killing them rather just men in general, which strikes me as odd, but no doubt it was in an effort to seem trendy.

Overall, this film is painfully average, it doesn’t make sense and it is hard to watch.

Pros.

The ending.

Cons.

It is hard to watch.

It is repetitive.

It tries too hard to be trendy.

None of it makes sense.

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

Preservation: The Deadliest Prey Of All

Preservation is a horror thriller film directed by Christopher Denham. The plot sees young couple Wit (Wrenn Schmidt) and Mike (Aaron Staton) as well as Mike’s veteran brother Sean (Pablo Schreiber), go on a hunting trip, however once they get to the woods, they realise that they are the ones being hunted and a battle for survival ensues.

I have had a run of bad luck recently with the films I have seen, maybe I need to change my viewing habits I don’t know, but of a bad bunch Preservation is probably the best. Though there is very little new on display here, it is about as formulaic and generic as you can get, it is passable as horror comfort food, hollow and meaningless, but entertaining all the same.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Pablo Schreiber’s name come up in the credits, I think he has a great stage presence and is defiantly a young actor to watch. He is great when he is on screen, he plays the veteran who can’t readjust to society type of character, he wants to go and live out in the woods off the grid, the character lacks any kind of nuance and is really just an easy stereotype, but Schreiber plays him well.

It is a shame he is killed off within the first half an hour of the film.

I didn’t really like or care about any of the other characters so that was were I checked out really.

The only positive I will say of this film is I thought the kills were good, they were suitably gory and intense and had a nice weight to them that made them seem impactful. I thought the violence of this film was very visceral and well done, it never reached a point for me where I think it went too far.

I think the twist at the end where it turned out the people hunting the main character were just a group of kids didn’t really do much for me, if it was meant to add depth, or raise moral questions it didn’t do either of those things for me.

Overall, it is a passable watch if you have nothing else to watch, however it is not good just merely average.

Pros.

Pablo Schreiber.

It is entertaining enough.

Cons.

You don’t care about the film or the characters really.

It is dull.

It has been done better before.

2/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Hunt: Politics In America

The Hunt is a satirical horror film directed by Craig Zobel. The plot sees a group of far-left extremists gather together a group of people who have written mean stuff about them online and then hunt them down. They perceive the people they are hunting as right wing and as a scourge to society; the film goes out of its way to satirise the current political climate making a joke out of both sides.

Before I get into the review let me just say that this film is incredibly political, it rams politics down your throat, so if you don’t like that sort of thing don’t watch it. When I first started the film, I didn’t like the politics of the film, I thought it felt jarring and dated, however as the film went on and I saw more of it and crucially more of the satire, I realised that it was actually really well done and funny.

This isn’t a horror film that is the pivotal misconception it is far more of a dark comedy; the film is actually really funny at times and has some great laugh out loud moments. Betty Gilpin who plays Snowball has the majority of these funny lines and is by far the standout performer in this film, she is a great action heroine.

The gore and action of the film is also surprisingly good, these sequences are both tense, but also humorous. The bit when two shopkeepers kill three of the captives at the beginning of the film, is really well done it is tight and exciting.

Hilary Swank plays the films villain Athena and she to is excellent. She plays the manic cult leader type so well it seems eerily real; she is a great love to hate the villain. The fight scene she shares with Gilpin in the final act is fantastic it is well choreographed and Swank brings a great physicality to the role which is matched perfectly by Gilpin.

Overall, this film is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but if you stick with it and let the satire work on you it will make you laugh, Gilpin and Swank are both giving it their all and it makes for a great overall experience.

Pros.

It’s funny.

Gilpin and Swank are both great.

The action scenes are superb.

The premise is intriguing.

Cons.

The politics will be off putting for some.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

47 Meters Down Uncaged: A Shark Attack Film Where You Want The Shark To Win!

47 Meters Down Uncaged is a survival horror film directed by Johannes Roberts. It is a sequel to the passably alright film 47 Meters Down, a film that didn’t need a sequel. The plot this time around focuses on a group of girls who go diving in a newly discovered cave, only to become trapped and at the mercy of a shark.

I have to say it is hard to screw up a shark movie this badly, I applaud the makers of this film for being this inept this utterly devoid of knowing what people want. This film is laughably bad.

First off, this is an incredibly PG affair, there is very little gore even when the sharks are ripping people apart it is all very bloodless, which to me feels like an effort to try and get this film out to the younger teen audience, but in doing so it spits in the face of what modern shark movies are and that is gritty bloodfests.

Secondly, unlike the characters in the first film who were serviceable, the characters here are your usual collection of teenage girl stereotypes and clichés. They are supposed to be experienced divers for the most part, or at least people who have a basic understanding of how diving works. Yet despite this they spend all their time underwater screaming near constantly, which uses up all their oxygen, someone who has been diving once could tell you that.

What’s more the characters in this film are annoying, they spend all their on-screen time either screaming and crying or doing dumb things that will only make their situation worse, but they don’t seem to care, maybe they want to be eaten alive?

The shark itself doesn’t show up until a third into the film which wouldn’t be that bad if the film without the shark was at all in any way interesting, but sadly this first third is a slog and one that is very hard to get through, when the shark does finally appear it leaves you saying finally an end to this tedious boredom.

Overall, Sylvester Stallone’s daughter made her acting debut in this and if this in any indication for things to come, her career is going to be short and very hard to watch. A train-wreck of a movie from start to finish.

Pros.

There are one or two interesting scenes.

Cons.

The characters are dumb and annoying.

The film manages to ruin sharks.

The acting is incredibly weak.

It has no regard for logic or survival skills, even though it is a survival film.

1/5.

Reviewed by Luke