One of the many wonderful things about living on the same planet as Zac Efron is that he knows when and how to take his shirt off. It is a rare talent to look like he does with his abs out, accept that directors are going to want him to get his top off at least twice a film, and then to do so with enough of a sense of self-mockery that you don't think he's an absolute bell-end. Self-awareness is what got him and his co-star The Rock where they are today, and so a riff on Baywatch, sending up how daft it was, feels like just the ticket. So why isn't it sillier?
Posted by Ali Gray
at 15:15 on 13 May 2017
You have to feel for anyone brave enough to release a political movie in this day and age, where even the 24-hour news cycle feels insufficient enough to get a handle on current events. Miss Sloane, from Brit director John Madden, is not explicitly about U.S. government per se - there are two ideologically opposing political parties though neither are named - but it is impossible to watch without viewing it through the lens of post-truth politics. Slick as it is, Miss Sloane is about a huckster lobbyist who can lie, cheat and talk her way out of anything - and she's the hero! However, if you can tune out the Kellyanne Conway-isms and mentally frame it as a romanticised throwback to political potboilers of old, when corruption was something that happened in underground car parks and not in broad daylight, then there's lots to enjoy.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 20:30 on 11 May 2017
By rights, the Alien franchise should be dead by now, all curled up on its back like a big dead spider, flambéed by the flamethrower of critical ire. How many other movie series would be allowed so many misses and still get invited back to the plate for another swing? Throughout its various iterations since the 90s - sequels, prequels, versus match-ups - the Alien franchise has succeeded only in corroding its own legacy. Even 2012's promising Prometheus
, directed by franchise progenitor Ridley Scott, fell short of expectations thanks to its entire cast suffering total frontal lobotomies in the third act. Well, the rot stops here. In Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott has directed the best Alien movie of the past 30 years, and although that isn't exactly a glowing compliment, know this: not only does Covenant deliver a payload of short, sharp scares and atmosphere in spades, it course-corrects the franchise as a whole, retroactively making Prometheus feel like a better movie too.
While fans continue to squabble over the correct, surely-soon-to-be-official 'Ultimate Ranking of MCU films' (nearly there, guys! Seriously, you're doing great work), it's easy to overlook the fact that, at this stage, the Marvel movie-making model looks unlikely to ever produce a truly bad film. Sure, there have been Dark Elvish messes and Mickey Rourke-sized hiccups, but Marvel really has its mathematically-safe, formulaic shit together now and, as a result, always delivers an agreeable level of fun and action albeit without taking any real risks. That is, except for Guardians Of The Galaxy, the only property in the Universe that still feels like a gamble, sitting apart from the homogenised Avenger adventures to follow its own completely different set of rules. Which is why it's a shame that this sequel follows them too.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is in a film in which he plays a character who unaccountably talks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, so all's well with the world. But you begin to realise after a while that there's a reason why this isn't usually so much of a problem: it's that most of his films are a bit daft, and realism isn't why you turned over to ITV4, so you just shrug and go with it. But Aftermath isn't daft: it's dead serious. Oh heck.
In these politically fraught times, there has been a natural proclivity in the film press industry to relate even the most escapist of blockbuster cinema to current affairs. Reviews have been quick to call out, for example, that Fantastic Beasts
promoted an immigrant-friendly multi-cultural society, that Kong: Skull Island
championed the right to defend your home from foreign invaders and that The Purge
is so real it doesn't even work as a joke any more. And yet sometimes it's just impossible to separate a film from its overtly political subtext. And that's what we have here: a movie so bound by a post-Trump, post-Brexit, post-truth
agenda, it simply cannot be reviewed outside of a topical lens. And, of course, those that remember Peppa Pig: The Golden Boots know that this isn't even her first cinema experience, so it's all FAKE NEWS anyway...
Posted by Ali Gray
at 01:00 on 11 Apr 2017
The Fast & Furious franchise is not big on learning. It doesn't really care for consequences. It is of the moment. Always in the now. If it were a person, it would be the kind of person who sincerely believes in the motto 'If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best'. Fast & Furious movies are wrongheaded and backwards but they don't care, because people vote with their wallets. They are Brexit. They are dumb. They make dumb look dumb. They are awful. They are brilliant. They are confusing and simple and ridiculous and serious all at the same time, somehow. Fast & Furious 8, a title and a number which give me great pleasure to say together, is all of these things and more.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 16:30 on 01 Apr 2017
'The only colour that matters in Hollywood is green,' he typed, pleased with himself, attempting to clumsily sidestep the whitewashing controversy that surrounded the movie. Okay, fine. Is Ghost In The Shell racist? I am here today to spectacularly ignore that important issue, not because it's not worth addressing, but because the answer is 'Yes, but only as racist as most other movies', which is not exactly a good point on which to start a healthy and balanced debate. Let's just get on with the review, shall we? This is already in my top five worst opening paragraphs.
"A brazenly unconventional ghost story" says Time Out's poster quote for this film, presumably because "A profound and intimate exploration of humankind's innate need for existential crisis" didn't do the right job. There’s no denying that Personal Shopper is a ghost story of sorts, but that hardly seems an adequate description. It may begin with some spooky fare about a haunted house and a terrifying manifestation, but this isn't a film of jump-scares and sudden bangs, it's a film that gives the audience the space and respect to ruminate on the very concept of an afterlife. These ghosts don't say "boo!", they say "who?" and indeed "why?" as well as "how does that make you feel? Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Let's talk about that."
By all accounts, The Love Witch is a magical experience; a film that turns the clock back to champion a cult genre and offers a unique take on female empowerment at the same time. But as with all magic, there are always a few dissenters who have to point out the wires or, like those people that are deemed insusceptible to hypnosis, just don't seem willing to buy into it. I'm sorry everyone, but I think I’m one of those people. Not for want of trying - I was ready to be head over heels for this film, but there’s no denying it: I just haven't fallen under The Love Witch's spell.