The Aviary: The Most Boring Movie About A Cult Ever Made

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two women, played by Lorenza Izzo and Malin Akerman, escape a cult run by the love interest from the Mindy Project

Really there isn’t a whole lot to say about this film. Its narrative of self determination and the roads that lead lost people to join up with cults and other harmful organisations is nothing new. Indeed most aspects of this film have been well-mined before by other better projects and this just feels like it is trying to replicate them to justify its existence.

The saddest thing about this film is the fact that it wastes an incredibly talented cast. Izzo, Akerman, Messina and Holt have all been really good in previous projects so there is a well of talent to draw from, yet this film just ignores that and has them be boring, forgettable and beige.

They try and do a horror/thriller aspect to the film wherein the characters believe they are being pursued by their former cult, or are they? However, in the end this just leads to a trite predictable conclusion.

Overall, a generic snooze fest that wastes good talent.

Pros.

It is watchable if there are no other options and you can’t go and do something else

Cons.

It wastes the talent

It is incredibly generic

It is dull

The actors are given nothing to work with  

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The Silverton Siege: What The Mummy Gets Up To On His Off Days

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Loosely based on real world events, this film sees 3 young South African self-described freedom fighters hold a bank hostage whilst demanding the release of Nelson Mandela.

I thought for the most part this film was quite strong. It had good stakes and never let the tension slow down, by not having any respites or lulls in side stories or God forbid comedic relief this film allowed itself to be constantly engaging and intriguing.

Moreover, I thought the performances across the board were strong, I would not say there was a single weak performer. Thabo Rametsi was a compelling lead who really sold the struggle and inner turmoil of the character he was playing. Arnold Vosloo was also magnificent in his role and really brought something to the film.

I thought the social commentary of the film worked for the most part, however, in some areas it was laid on pretty heavily and as such felt a little clumsy. It certainly raised awareness and made me think a lot more about that time and place in world history, but I do think the writing could have been a bit stronger in this regard.

Overall, an above average Netflix film but certainly not something that will set the world on fire.

Pros.

Rametsi

Vosloo

The tension

Cons.

The social commentary is a bit too in your face and obvious

Pacing issues

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Ambulance: A Return To Form For Michael Bay

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Criminal brother Danny and Will Sharp, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Yaya Abdul-Mateen II, end up hijacking an ambulance after a bank robbery they are involved with goes down the pan.

In many ways I thought this was a return to form for director Michael Bay, it was tense, thought provoking and totally nailed its action/chase scenes. There were a number of times were you could say I was on the edge of my seat, and I thought Bay did a good job of racketing up the stakes, there is a surprising amount of action for a film where most of the characters remain in the titular ambulance for most of the film. I thought the best scene was most likely the cartel attack which brought the crazy manic violence to a whole new level.

I also thought the performances across the board were strong, Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzales both gave great performance and brought a lot to their respective characters, likewise Garret Dillahunt seemed to be having a lot of fun in his role too. The one bad apple in the bunch, however, was Gyllenhaal, that is not to say he gave a bad performance but rather that it was incredibly limited. I don’t believe that this is Gyllenhaal’s fault more so I think the character is written to be very two dimensional and then because of that Gyllenhaal has little to work with.

My main area of criticism would be the pacing, the film is on for way too long and there are  a lot of unnecessary sub-plots that add nothing to the film. For example why did we need to see the marriage counselling session of Keir O’ Donnell’s FBI character? We didn’t. Maybe the film included it for a bit of levity within an otherwise quite dark film, but even in this case it comes off as needless.

Overall, the best film Michael Bay has made in a long while.

Pros.

Abdul-Mateen II

Gonzales

The action and stakes

The ending

Cons.

The pacing

The needless sub-plots  

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The Outfit: The Perfect Fit?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A humble tailor, played by Mark Rylance, becomes wrapped up in a war between two rival Chicago gangs.

I thought this film leant a bit too heavily on Rylance, luckily he is more than capable of not only keeping it going but also elevating it, however without Rylance this film would be lost in a sea of mediocrity.

I thought for the few brief scenes he had Dylan O’Brien was a very welcome presence, and he also entirely lost himself in the role, however, the film kills him off early on and creates some what of a void for itself, as none of the other characters, bar Rylance, are in anyway interesting.

I enjoyed the mystery about Rylance’s characters past and found myself keenly invested in it. The same can’t be said for the warring gangs plotline which for the most part felt incredibly played out and more than a little overly familiar. The ending somewhat brought it all together to offer us something satisfying but even then I think the film could have gone further.

Overall, Mark Rylance makes this film what it is, but even he can’t propel it to greatness.

Pros.

Rylance

O’Brien

The mystery surrounding the lead’s past

Cons.

The central plot all felt very generic and familiar

The rest of the cast outside of Rylance and O’Brien are forgettable  

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The Contractor: A Wannabe Tom Clancy Film

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another generic American military film, this time about a cash strapped soldier, played by Chris Pine, who becomes a private contractor to make ends meet only for it to go wrong.

This film felt like a Tom Clancy story without any of the smarts, or a David Makenzie film without the style. In many ways you have seen this film before, you know everything that happens in it and how it ends even before it has started, it is incredibly predictable.

Not only is it predictable but also aggressively boring as well. Yes, there is some competently put together action scenes and enough intrigue to at least keep you off your phone, but in no way is this film interesting. Kiefer Sutherland’s villain is obviously one from the get-go, so when he does betray Pine’s character you are left saying ‘finally’, rather than ‘ I didn’t see that coming’.

Another thing I didn’t like about this film was how little they gave Gillian Jacobs to do and how her role was worse than a cliché. Jacob’s plays the long suffering wife of Pine’s character and does seem to exist as a character or a person outside of him at least in the eyes of the film. I understand the film is a rough tough action film about men and war, but that doesn’t mean the female characters have to be reduced to barely human cliches good for raising kids and ignoring.

Overall, nothing you haven’t seen before.

Pros.

It is watchable

A few competent action scenes

Pine is serviceable

Cons.

It is dull

It is predictable

It reduces it’s female characters to less than cliches    

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The Village: The Beginning Of The End For M. Night Shyamalan

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A township of people exist in fear of the creatures that live in the woods just outside of town.

Prior to watching I had heard very mixed things about this film, and after watching it I can say I am mixed. Do I think this film marks the start of Shyamalan’s journey into hackdom, with a brief moment of hope with Split? Yes, I would say so, all the elements that would come to form the basis of bad Shyamalan are present here, though it is not as egregious as it would get with his later works.

I think there are some good elements here, the premise is interesting and the world building is strong, couple this with good performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard and William Hurt and you can see the film has a lot going for it.

However, where everything is undercut is with the twist. I would say this is the first time in early Shyamalan’s work where the twist feels both needless, but also entirely predictable. The reveal that the elders were behind the monsters all along as a means to keep the town isolated from the rest of the world feels incredibly obvious from the early stages of the film. Moreover, though the climax of the film teases us with the outside world it then promptly does nothing with it and basically ignores it, which feels like a huge missed opportunity.

Overall, this film feels like a midway point in Shyamalan’s career, situated between past glories and future disappointments.

Pros.

The performances

The world building

The premise

Cons.

The twist

The ending  

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Against The Ice: The Bleak White North Of Greenland

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An expedition to Greenland soon turns into a life or death struggle for two men, played by Nikolaj Coster- Waldau and Joe Cole. Based on the 1909 true story.

I think this film is a remarkable tome to the human condition, both Coster-Waldau and Cole are  giving it their all and you can really feel it in their performances, from the beginning both sink into their characters so completely that you forget that you are watching a film.

Moreover, the film maintained a strong sense of tension throughout, there were multiple moments where, pardon the trite overused phrase, I was on the edge of my seat. I thought the film for the most part was deeply enthralling and kept you engaged throughout, this was helped along by you caring about the fate of the explorers.

My main issue with the film was that though for the most part it did a good job of keeping you interested there was significant pacing issues resulting in slow moments that hurt the film broadly and that tested your interest in it, regarding this there are also a number of sub-plots that could have been cut down to save time as they really don’t add much of anything.

Overall, an interesting film that is dragged down by some aggressive pacing issues.

Pros.

Coster-Waldau

The tension

You care about the characters

Cons.

The pacing

It overstays its welcome

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Asking For It: Yikes

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The rape revenge-sub genre needs to end, or find something interesting to say.

Many people have called this a feminist film, however, to them I say is it? This film does nothing to advance the cause, or add to the conversation, it just shouts out a lot of things  other films have already said about gender issues, but hopes that by being the loudest you won’t realise that this film actually has nothing new to say. It is barely knee deep.  

None of this is helped by the fact that the characters are barely two dimensional and are written as hollow cliches, acting more as mouth pieces for regurgitation than as characters. The cast have all been talented in other things so I am left to either assume they either couldn’t be bothered here, or the writing wasn’t good enough to induce a good performance.

Moreover, the greatest crime of this film is that it is deeply boring and never really does or says anything that is worthy of getting your attention let alone keeping it.

A final question I have for you all is this, who was this film made for? Who is supposed to like it? Anyone? No one?

Overall, a poorly executed message film that will no doubt be forgotten about by next week.

Pros.

Hudgens has charisma even if her character is a horrendous cliché

Cons.

The message achieves nothing and is regurgitated

The cast are all barely two dimensional

It has awful pacing

It is boring and generic  

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Blacklight: The Battle Against Retirement

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Liam Neeson continues to refuse to retire and stars in yet another disappointing action film.

Folks we are a long way from the days of Taken.

I remember when a Liam Neeson action film used to be a sight to see, there was a time when almost all of the films Neeson, wherein he was staring, were golden. Sadly those days seem long over. I admit as a Neeson fan there was still a little of that old Neeson charm to be found here, but it is wearing thin. That said if this film didn’t star Neeson I would have turned it off early and not reviewed it, he was the one thing that kept me going.

The plot of this film is deeply generic and familiar to the point of parody. All of the threads have been well tread by other better films, and the attempts at social commentary never seem to come together, it can’t seem to decide what it wants to say.

The rest of the cast outside of Neeson might as well not exist as they are given so little to do it would have made more sense to simply have Neeson just doing things and not interacting with anyone for the length of the film as they add nothing.

Overall, it is sad to see Neeson reduced to this.

Pros.

Neeson

It is watchable

Cons.

The plot

The wider supporting cast

It is boring and generic

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No Exit: No One Cared About This Film So Why Should You?

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another deeply generic, thoughtless thriller that you have seen one hundred times before, maybe more.

Is this the standard of films coming out these days? Honestly whilst watching I found it quite hard not to go on my phone, or just do something else, there really was nothing in this film that kept me engaged or even remotely interested.

The performances all reek of a group of people brought together by a need to get another hot tub rather than by anyone caring about the project. Most of the cast keep one look on their face consistently throughout the film, such is the standard of acting on display here.

Some other reviewers have been angered by a scene in which a character snorts some cocaine as a means to gain strength, now I am not bothered by this because in a film as poor as this with a script and screenplay that both scream of being written over a weekend with the idea to crank something out I would not expect anything more.

Overall, clearly no one on the production side of things gave a damn about this film and it shows.

Pros.

It is short

Cons.

It is generic

It is way too familiar

The acting is awful

So is the writing

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