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Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Posted by Matt Looker at 23:00 on 14 Dec 2016
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
For all the criticism aimed at Marvel, the thought of a 1-star or 2-star MCU movie these days just seems like an impossibility, and you'd like to think that we could expect the same for all forthcoming Star Wars instalments. Surely there are just too many talented stakeholders invested in the process to allow for any major misfires? And yet, there are valid reasons to fear for Rogue One: it's the first standalone spin-off, consisting of almost entirely new characters; director Gareth Edwards still has much to prove; rumours around the reshoots weren't kind; and of course the recent memory of the prequels is still hanging around like a clingy, irritating Gungan. So does Rogue One give us reason to believe that Star Wars will now always be in safe hands? Or is it just another hollow, unmemorable blockbuster facsimile? Is it a new hope, or just the latest attack of a clone?

Review: The Birth Of A Nation

Posted by Matt Looker at 12:46 on 12 Dec 2016
The Birth Of A Nation
Can you separate the art from the artist? Is it fair that a film with high hopes of awards potential is now being overlooked because of behind-the-scenes controversy? And should we let a 1999 rape charge brought against filmmaker and star Nate Parker affect how we view his depiction of rape in this film? One thing's for sure, film reviewers everywhere are grateful for being handed an easy opening paragraph before never mentioning the ethical dilemma again for the rest of the review because it's all a bit (*sharp intake of breath*)

New poster released for Christopher Nolan's Dunk Irk

Posted by Matt Looker at 22:04 on 12 Dec 2016
New poster released for Christopher Nolan's Dunk Irk
Critics are already calling it "Inception meets Space Jam".

Review: Snowden

Posted by Matt Looker at 23:00 on 10 Dec 2016
Snowden
There is a terrifying truth presented in Snowden, and I don't mean one of the obvious ones about misuse of power or unlawful global surveillance. It's one that comes early in the film and is only hinted at, but it is confirmation of a deep, dark, universal suspicion: that the incompetency you see in some of your work colleagues is a common problem that exists all the way up to the top. Like when Patrick from Legal doesn't process your request because he doesn't know the difference between an Excel spreadsheet and a Google doc. That kind of thing could very feasibly still happen at a top government level. Goddamn you, Patrick. Goddamn you, all the Patricks.

Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Posted by Matt Looker at 19:00 on 06 Dec 2016
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
At a time when every superhero, toy, 80s cartoon character, board game and emoji are fighting for enough space at the box office to create their own movie 'universe', J.K. Rowling's work is already done. Her wizarding world of Harry Potter is well established and still ripe for further exploration, which is pretty much the perfect environment in which to churn out money-making tie-in movies of lesser returns. And yet, instead, a far greater challenge has been undertaken: birthing an entirely new franchise of films set within the same universe. Somehow, audiences are going to have to get invested in a new story that - we can assume - will never be as important as the one we have already seen. So those beasts had better be pretty bloody fantastic.

Review: Bleed For This

Posted by Ed Williamson at 23:30 on 04 Dec 2016
Bleed For This
Trouble with all boxing films: they aren't Rocky. Rocky not only set the benchmark, but the template, out of which no one's really managed to break: guy has to overcome adversity, the other boxer is a metaphor for his life, and his real opponent is himself. True-lifer Bleed For This is a bit different. But not that different.

Review: Sully: Miracle On The Hudson

Posted by Ed Williamson at 23:30 on 29 Nov 2016
Sully: Miracle On The Hudson
In times of crisis, look to Hanks. America's on its arse and what it needs now more than ever is a man whose Twitter account is dedicated to finding gloves on the streets of New York, not making baseless claims of voter fraud. Inferno got it wrong, but Sully understands better what sort of hero Hanks can be: the kind who manages to land a malfunctioning aeroplane but afterwards just wants everyone to stop going on about it.

Review: Moana

Posted by Ali Gray at 23:05 on 28 Nov 2016
Moana
It seems quaint that there was an ever an outcry about the 'death' of traditional hand-drawn animation when you watch a movie with such beautiful artistry as Moana. John Musker and Ron Clements did more than most to keep that medium alive, with classics like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin on their resumes - they even tried to bring back 2D animation with 2009's The Princess And The Frog, a good-intentioned throwback to the old ways. But when the sun sets on Musker and Clements' jaw-droppingly beautiful CG adventure Moana, no one will be mourning those outdated techniques. It is a film so vibrant and luminescent and immersive that it is impossible to argue that the future of animation isn't in good hands. Though its storytelling is a touch too familiar to qualify as a true modern classic, Moana is nonetheless a relentlessly entertaining spectacle that's rooted in authenticity and has a talent pool so deep you can swim in it.

Review: Bad Santa 2

Posted by Matt Looker at 13:00 on 28 Nov 2016
Bad Santa 2
When a film is deliberately trying to outrage, does that make it more acceptable? Is bad taste really just a matter of taste? Is it problematic that the IMDB Parents Guide for Bad Santa 2 lists warnings for violence, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes and sex & nudity (“There are close-ups of genitalia featured, but they are contextually justified”), but says nothing about the overtones of misogyny, racism and whatever you call being rude about little people? Surely it’s this kind of selective oversight that makes this a world in which Trump can become president. (*evacuates the area from the topical bombshell he just dropped*)

Review: Allied

Posted by Ed Williamson at 19:30 on 21 Nov 2016
Allied
Brad Pitt, I have decided, is too handsome. My reaction to more or less anything he does on screen these days is instinctively: "Yeah, but this character wouldn't look like that. No one does." In Allied, which is fine and all that but a bit daft, he marries Marion Cotillard while looking amazing then grows suspicious she is a spy while looking amazing, and I can't shake the feeling that all of this looking amazing is part of a comfort zone out of which he's unprepared to step.
Out this week
+Sing (U)
Our review
+T2 Trainspotting (18)
+Hacksaw Ridge (15)
+Christine (15)
+Denial (12A)