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You think a Christmas movie where Michael Shannon is mistaken for Bigfoot sounds weird? You don’t know the half of it. And trust me, you don’t want to know the rest. Unless you do, in which case that’s cool, we’re all friends here. I’m being purposefully vague because, well you’ll see... Let’s just say the internet has a lot to answer for.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 14:00 on 12 Oct 2017
Murder mysteries exist in a weird sort of critical stasis while you're watching them, because any story that hinges on an explosive final act reveal floats in limbo until it has shown its hand. Such a reveal - a surprise identity, a killer motive, a shock twist - may cause you to reassess everything you've already seen. The best films of the genre do just that: they cleverly subvert what you think you saw, fill in plot gaps you didn't know were there and, like a smug serial killer, flaunt the fact that they've been one step ahead of you the whole time. Yeah, The Snowman does not do any of that. You watch attentively and wait patiently and cross your legs and twiddle your thumbs but come the crushingly disappointing final act, the only dawning realisation you have is this: The Snowman is a bad movie and it turns out it had been all along. Twist!
Posted by Ali Gray
at 07:00 on 31 Jul 2017
Everyone knows Rotten Tomatoes
, the review-aggregator website that tells you whether a movie is rubbish or brilliant. But what exactly does it mean to become a Rotten Tomatoes-approved publication? What power does it give you? What perks does it afford, apart from the obvious increase in pheromones that attract the opposite sex? Join us as we lay bare the secret perks of being Tomatometer-approved.
The real monsters are inside us, you know. For example, there’s a demon that lives inside of me that comes out after approximately 3 glasses of Chilean chardonnay. Aside from my semi-serious drinking problem, It Comes At Night teaches us that any external creepy threats are nothing compared to the horrors at home. Yeah, think on that.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 20:15 on 03 Nov 2016
Considering the X-Men movies can't even stay consistent one movie to the next, it's a minor miracle the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains a cohesive whole, 8 years and 14 movies after Nick Fury first asked Tony Stark to join his professional LinkedIn network. We've had men of technology, beasts of rage, Gods from other realms and soldiers forged in war, all now reading from the same script. The latest recruit to the MCU is Doctor Strange, who heralds the arrival of the world of magic, but - like Arrested Development's Gob Bluth and his Alliance of Magicians - demands to be taken seriously. Disbelief is being suspended at a comfortable level by now: if you're cool with purple space tyrants and talking raccoons, chances are the addition of sorcerers, supreme or otherwise, isn't going to upset the apple cart.
There are a couple of premises on which Black Mass relies in lieu of a unique selling point. One is the idea, mainly established by marketing over the years, that a radical physical transformation for a role equals a daring and probably great performance. The other is that the audience's familiarity with the structure of the real-life gangster movie is enough to justify doing it all over again. Both are fallacies, and neither is enough to make it sparkle.
If you want an example of how our relationship with technology has accelerated at a terrifying rate, show a young millennial the first Toy Story movie, which turns 20 years old this year. Made in 1995, the first fully CG-animated movie was a cinematic landmark yet it was still, tellingly, a tale of simple toys and derring do. That millennial you roped in (I won't asked questions how) will now look at Toy Story and turn their nose up at the relatively rudimentary visuals; they're much more likely to get their kicks from a movie like Big Hero 6, a breathlessly exciting, migraine-inducingly busy animation that must have surely pushed the Disney render farms to meltdown. Purely from a technological standpoint, it makes Toy Story look like a Punch & Judy show.