Tarzan (2014) – Review

Film Review

Movies don't often mix fantasy and reality - they're either flights of fancy, or gritty, dark and grave. There isn't a lot of room for overlap. Beasts Of The Southern Wild turns that notion entirely on its head. It's a movie brimming with imagination and magic, but also one that dares to take a close, hard look at loss, pain, death and change. What's even more amazing is that this ambitious, powerful enterprise rides almost entirely on the very capable shoulders of a five-year-old girl.

Piranha 3DD

Given Adam Scott`s brilliant last lines in Alexandre Aja`s Piranha, you`d think that the sequel would feature some really kickass monster fish. But with a brand new director and a new cast, Piranha 3DD isn`t as much of a sequel to Piranha as it is a parody. There are several throwbacks to its prequel though, the premise itself being that the blood-thirsty fish from Lake Victoria find their way to a new water park in search of more scantily-clad prey.

The Book Thief – Review

On the whole, 'The Book Thief' is incredibly faithful to the spirit – if not the letter – of Zusak’s book.

Tom Yum Goong 2 – Review

Any action star worth his salt has a trademark: Van Demme does the splits, Schwarzenegger cracks corny one-liners, Jackie Chan integrates prop comedy into his fighting and Tony Jaa has his elephants. If he asks “Where are my elephants?!, it is far wiser to point in the direction of the nearest pachyderm and scram than to laugh in his face. This, his first film since becoming a Buddhist monk for a period, is a sequel to 2005`s Tom-Yum-Goong and a second serving of the spicy stuff that`s definitely an acquired taste.

A rousing, white-knuckle tale of the scrappy underdogs vs. big bad military forces, there’s a bit too much going on in Railroad Tigers to keep track of but it’s plenty of fun.

That Awkward Moment – Review

In a bid to stay fresh and funny, romantic comedies have gone down an interesting route of late. Gone are the doe-eyed girls tripping their way into awkward trysts that somehow turn into true love. Instead, rom-coms these days are upping the raunchy factor and spinning a more dude-friendly take on the romantic relationship - presumably to trick more guys into turning up at the cinema. The largely unfunny That Awkward Moment is the latest film trundling off that particular production line, and it's all the more a waste because its cast includes some of the most exciting young actors working today.

When Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) discovers that his wife Vera (Jessica Lucas) is having an affair, his best buddies Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) rally around. In a weird lone-wolf bonding ritual, the three guys resolve to stay single. But their studly pact of solidarity goes awry when Jason begins to fall for the sweet, kooky Ellie (Imogen Poots) and Daniel discovers that he might have a future with Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), his snappy wing-woman.

 

There's little doubt that writer-director Tom Gormican's debut feature film will be a testosterone-heavy, raunchy treatise on commitment issues and relationship phobia. After all, the awkward moment of the film's title occurs when - according to Jason - a swinging bachelor is stopped in his tracks when a woman has the temerity to ask him, "So, where is this going?". One can only hope that the film is a little smarter than it looks, that it subverts rather than accentuates stereotype.

Unfortunately, That Awkward Moment does no such thing. Gormican's script values bawdy gags (Viagra 'vitamins' and their attendant acrobatic requirements in the toilet) over genuine insights and emotional warmth. There are moments that are clearly meant to be romantic and comedic - Jason taking Ellie on a tour of a townhouse - but come off as neither. Instead, Jason commits petty theft and is immediately rewarded with Ellie's undying devotion.

Even when Gormican goes for depth, he winds up empty-handed. There's a genuinely emotional twist in store for Jason and Ellie, but it's handled in so ham-fisted a way that it's hard to believe they'll ever work out in the long term - as the film evidently wants us to believe. Similarly, the insidiously poisonous relationship between Mikey and Vera could have been interesting, save for the fact that Vera is written as a vile, sex-starved harpy.

 

The cast is better than the script deserves. Efron has an ineffable charm that's on full display when he turns up at Ellie's party - dressed up in a hilarious costume rather than in a smart-casual suit - and he keeps the farce of the film running longer than it really would on its own steam. Teller and Jordan are wasted on this material - the 'witty' dialogue they're given amounts to Mikey repeatedly calling his pals idiots - but they do lend it a little more complexity than you might expect. Poots sports a great American accent and is charming despite the generic nature of her role; Davis is a joy as spunky, snarky Chelsea.

What rankles so much about That Awkward Moment is the fact that it really could have been so much better. But, instead of taking the opportunity to defy stereotype and convention, the film sinks into a shapeless blend of easy, bawdy gags and misguided brotherly bonding - none of which are good substitutes for a tight plot and well-developed characters.

Summary: This is that totally awkward moment when a film thinks it's better than it really is.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Shawne Wang

Hysteria – Review

Interesting, useless history factoid: In the late 19th century, hysteria was a prevalent medical diagnosis used exclusively on female patients. Symptoms included faintness, nervousness, irritability and intrusions into the male spheres of politics and business (no, we kid you not). Nowadays, of course, shows like Desperate Housewives and Sex in The City have educated us to know better: the poor Victorian dames were just plain ol' horny.

Oshin ˜

In the early 1980s, pretty much the entire country of Japan was obsessed with a television series about the trials and tribulations of a girl named Oshin. The 297 15-minute episodes, broadcast twice a day for about a year, broke ratings records. Viewers were riveted by Oshin's life story, from her youngest days as a live-in servant through to her marriage and eventual establishment of her own business. It's easy to see why: thirty years after she first captivated audiences, Oshin remains a wonderful character, heartbreak and strength wrapped up in a determined little package.

Won`t Back Down – Review

Won't Back Down is a highly nostalgic movie: it reminds us of nothing so much as our droning math teacher in secondary school. Now, before we get accused of unnecessary snarkiness, let's qualify that statement; Won't Back Down isn't a bad film, it's just unable to deal with an American social issue (teacher's unions, aye or nay) while simultaneously engaging a non-American audience.

Stricken (Dutch)

We've got a love-hate thing going with Stricken: the film is cloying, over-the-top, persistently unrealistic... In fact, watching the film feels pretty much like having an ex-girlfriend who keeps phoning you when you haven't gotten over her: you'll feel annoyed, but you can't help but get emotionally invested at the same time.
Seek and ye shall find all those Pixar hallmarks: beautiful animation, humour, moving sentiment and family-friendly thrills. It’s not as profound as some of the studios other work, but it’s so entertaining that its shortcomings are easy to forgive.

Men In Black: International (2019) – Review

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) – Review

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile (2019) – Review

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Aladdin (2019) – Review

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