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After the third film in the series took a creative detour the producers behind Halloween decided to bring back The Shape aka Michael Myers and return the franchise back to its slasher roots. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, bowing in 1988 to audiences, was a hit. A big reason for that was the producers of the film were able to get Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael’s nemesis and former doctor, to return to hunt down the serial killer once more. Choosing not to return were John Carpenter, Debra Hill and original final girl of the first two movies Jamie Lee Curtis.

First things first. It’s a shame neither Carpenter nor Hill, the original creatives behind Halloween, didn’t come back. They could have too. At one point during the pre-production stages of Halloween 4 Carpenter delivered a treatment, or at least worked on one, to the producers of the film. Creatively neither Carpenter nor the producers could come to an agreement on the direction of Halloween 4 and the later opted to go with a new writer and the film followed a more standard 80’s slasher route. I would love to see Carpenter’s original treatment. It’s not out there. I’ve looked. Rumours state it took a more supernatural approach to The Shape. Wouldn’t that have been somthing?

The Return of Michael Myers picks up ten years after the events of Halloween II. During that time we learn Laurie Strode has passed away but before she did she had a daughter! Jamie, her kid, is now living with a foster family and so the movie can exist she is now the target of Michael Myers. There’s really not much going on in the overall plot. Since the second film in the franchise it’s had this whole “He keeps going after his relatives angle” as the driving force behind the sequels. Like Myers main goal was to wipe out his bloodline and whoever happens to get in the way of him doing that. Thankfully this sequel works, for the most part, due to some decent characters, the return of Loomis and a strong final act.

Danielle Harris who plays Jamie Lloyd and Ellie Cornell who plays her foster sister Rachel make for two strong leads. Remember there was no Laurie Strode this time so it fell on these two new characters to connect with the fans and drive the franchise fowards. The two actors are really good and you know personally speaking I would have followed those two through several sequels. Early in the film it’s set up that Rachel is a bit resentful towards Jamie and the baggage she brings into her family but as the film goes along Rachel really steps up when she finally understands it is pretty much just herself standing in the way of Jamie and Michael Myers. It goes without saying that Donald Pleasence is brilliant and lets be honest he probably didn’t need to do this sequel but he came back and not only that he came back to work and it shows in his performence. Beau Starr as the town sheriff makes a good impact along with decent support from Sasha Jenson and Kathleen Kinmont.

Halloween 4 doesn’t have the same cinematic clout as Carpenter’s classic. There are times the film, the actual look of the film, shows its lower budget. In the way some of the scenes are shot it feels, well, it just doesn’t look as cool as the original. Not to say director Dwight H. Little doesn’t deliver a decent sequel. The opening titles are boss and really do a good job of setting the tone of the film. What’s weird about ’em is how they open the movie against these spooky looking farm land back drops and then none of those actual locations are used in the rest of the film. Missed opportunity if you ask me. The last act of Halloween 4, from the rooftop chase to the shocking final scene, is one of the best in the series. So by no means am I saying Halloween 4 is bad because I don’t think it is and I feel like Little brought in a decent sequel that could have been way worse. It defo falls on the stronger side of the sequel fence when it comes to this franchise.

I’ve seen some fans moaning about the new film and how it takes away the relavence of additions to the franchise like this one but that’s not the case. Halloween 4 isn’t going anywhere and hasn’t been erased or made pointless. To be quite blunt it’s own direct sequel did, arguably, more damgae than the 2018 movie. The same thing happend with Halloween: H20 and Halloween: Resurrection, the later undoing a lot of the good stuff H20 had accomplished. Sometimes this saga can be its own worse enemy. Halloween 4 is one of the good ones.

 

Toy Story 4 teaser trailer

Posted: November 14, 2018 in Movies
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Toy Story 4 is real and is happening in case you forgot. I kind of did.

It feels like this sequel has been coming for a long time, with a few stops and starts during it’s pre-production. I believe the original plot for this was actually thrown out and the whole film was re-worked. Hopefully for the better.

This teaser trailer, which was a nice surprise, gives away very little. We do get introduced to a new toy who will be joining the already much adored cast of characters. There’s another teaser trailer out there which introduces another two toys who are new to the series too. If you wanna go and check that out.

Do I not sound very enthusiastic about this film? I am. I love this series.

Here it is, I think Toy Story 3 was a perfect cap to the first three films and those characters, is a fourth film pushing it? You can bet there will be a Toy Story 5 if this makes big bucks. Which it will. I get it though. This is a mega franchise with a really passionate fan base. Millions and millions of fans all over the world will be delighted with this and I am too, sort of.

If the film is excellent then great. Keep ’em coming, just part of me feels like quit while you’re ahead know what I mean? I don’t think the plot sounds that good either. Something about a road trip I believe. Whatever. I hope it’s awesome.

We’ll find out next summer when Toy Story 4 hits cinemas and hopefully get a better idea about the sequel with a more telling trailer down the line.

Good news retro fans. DreamWorks and Netflix’s She-Ra reboot is set to debut tomorrow on the streaming service. That’s November 13th. You know the more I see from this new take on the 80’s classic animation the more I love the look of it. She-Ra was the companion show to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series. These shows stood out due to their mix of science fiction and fantasy which came together to create exciting new worlds. Both also had amaze theme songs.

He-Man and She-Ra ended up being massive hits in the eighties and would go on to impact fans beyond their childhood. He-Man has had a few reboots over the years but this will be the first time She-Ra has been given a new shot. I was a big fan of both shows. Had the toys. Loved ’em both. Hopefully this new series manages to carve a new and fresh take on a classic tale. I will be tuning in to find out.

Given Netflix and DreamWorks previous offering was Voltron and how good that ended up I think long time fans and new fans should get ready for a great new show. Check out one of the latest trailers above.

 

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The original Planet of the Apes was a big success that spawned several sequels and a televsion series. A case could be made that the material became over staturated and soon it went quiet on the Apes front. Until the 90’s. I remember reading about a Planet of the Apes film in development and due for release around 1996/7. Said film was to be produced by Oliver Stone and have Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. At one point Jim Cameron was attached and it looked like that movie was going to happen.

Only it didn’t. It took until 2001 to get the Apes franchise back into theatres when Tim Burton got behind the camera to bring audiences his re-imagined vision of the Planet of the Apes. Not a sequel nor a remake but a alternate take on the world audiences were stunned by in the late 1960s.

Usually this sort of film would have got me into theatres when it was out originally but I guess I was busy. I had heard mixed opinions on it over the years but now that I have saw it I think it’s decent. For a start the film is required viewing for the outstanding visual effects and make up work from FX mastermind Rick Baker. The attention to detail on the film’s apes is the best in the entire franchise to date. It is amazing work. Baker and his team really went above and beyond the call of duty. You can recognize the actors underneath the make up and their performences are fluid. Beyond the ace work on the apes the entire look of the planet and the ape city and their culture is extremely detailed. Visually this film is fantastic.

The plot of the film is kind of similar to the original movie. A astronaut crash lands onto a planet where he soon finds out apes are the dominant species and humans are either hunted or used as slaves. There’s a similar focus put onto moral arguments too, like in the original film, such as class, slavery and rights to life but not with as much care beyond the surface level I felt. All of those issues, I think, were laid out far better in the original movie. Some plot beats are quite different though and in those instances I think the film works fine. For example the apes, led by the vicious Thade (Tim Roth), seem on the whole far more agressive. Especially Thade. This ape HATES humans and will stop at nothing to eradicate ’em even if it means killing his own to get the job done and make sure things go his way. There’s a big focus on time travel here too that the film plays around with which results in some interesting stuff.

Leading the cast is Mark Wahlberg. In the late 90’s the actor became legit after his role in Boogie Nights. This film was his first big summer blockbuster lead. History has shown Wahlberg is more of a great character actor with the right material and not the Arnie type. He’s okay in the movie but I think it is fair to say the likes of Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter make more of an impact with their impressive ape roles. Paul Giamatti and Michael Clarke Duncan co-star in strong supporting roles. The comedy is played up more in this film too, not too much but more than in the original film. Touches like that help to set it apart enough to not be just a flat out remake.

I think this a worthy addition to the Apes saga. Not a bad attempt at all at relaunching the franchise. The idea was this film would be the start of a trilogy and the film made enough money to warrant a sequel but it never came around. An interesting “What if?” so to a series that has gone on for decades. With what felt like the final film in the most recent of batch of Apes movies having come out last year (War for the Planet of the Apes) I wonder if another reboot is on the horizon in the years to come?

 

 

 

Ready Player One

Posted: November 7, 2018 in Movies
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This look at Ready Player One might comes across like I wrote it from the haters corner. I apologise for that and I must stress that is not the intention here. The book, written by Ernest Cline, was a smash hit. A wicked celebraion of popular culture – movies, video games, television and comics – from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The ultimate mash up of those things is found in the Oasis, a virtual world the characters from the book would frequent, where the only limits is a person’s imagination. Who better to bring a movie of the book to life than Steven Spielberg? The book is crammed full of homages to worlds he had a hand in creating so it makes perfect sense he came on board to direct.

The movie is good. It is better than the book in fact. The issue I had with the book was it was told in a first person style and it read like Cline was, arguably, living out his own dreams through his characters. There’s nothing wrong with that but I just didn’t care for it. The story was a boss idea but the execution was lacking and the book – if you’ve read many treatments or scripts you’ll know what I mean – felt like it was one big extended movie treatment more than a book. Basically it screamed “PLEASE MAKE ME INTO A MOVIE” and that’s what happened. Cline is rich so he’s won and good on him. Usually Ready Player One would be ideal for my taste but me and the source just never clicked. Everything felt way too on the nose. I didn’t like the lead character either. Like at all.

What makes the film better is – clearly – you got Spielberg directing. You are not trapped in the narrators head and having to listen to how awesome he thinks he is. Yea I really didn’t like the Parzival/Wade character in the book. In the movie he comes across way more likeable. Probably due to the fact he’s played by the talented Tye Sheridan. The other big draw of the movie is seeing what hits – movies, games, shows etc – get to cameo in the movie and its virtual playground. That stuff is fun and I don’t want to spoil any surprises. I will say I wish they’d gone further with some homages but when you are dealing with stuff like that there are tons of rights issues. So it’s understandable you can only work with what you have access to.

The other strong aspect of the film is the plot. With the book so clearly wanting to be a movie that story lent itself to a very film friendly template. What you have here is a good old tried and tested quest movie. The characters must become their virtual avatars and take part in a series of mysterious quests in order to gain keys which will allow them to control the virtual world of the Oasis. This is open to anyone who plays online, which is most of the world’s population, as the real world is so dire. Also after the keys is a big bad corperation who want to flood the Oasis with advertiseing and will stop at nothing, even murder, to see they get those keys first. Thankfully the tasks are well thought out, visually impressive and lead to some awesome action sequences. The fact the characters come across a lot better in the film than the book helps too. The movie had a good cast.

Ready Player One is a interesting ride. Beyond the plot and the cool visual stuff the technical side of the movie making process highlights how a clear plot, tight direction and likeable characters make for a good film regardless of how it is presented. With, I’d guess, half of the movie taking place inside of the Oasis the film is a blend of live action and (CGI) animation. I’m not sure if the actors actually under went motion capture or not for when they appear as their avatar counterparts but regardless the results are impressive. It goes without saying if you’re a old school film fan there is a lot to enjoy in this movie.

When I heard Spielberg was directing Ready Player One I got excited because despite being luke warm on the book I knew he would elevate the material and that is what has happened. I’d stop short of calling the film great. It’s fine as far as Spielberg blockbusters go. It’s certainly not up there with his best for me but it’s not a bad movie. Put it this way. I waited to see this via rental and although I liked it my intital reaction was I was glad I hadn’t paid over £10 to see it at the theatre. This is defo worth a watch, even on a technical level, it’s clear a lot of passion and work went into it.

Despite my feelings on the film and the book both have legions of fans so my voice is just one of many and should someone say they think it’s great I could see where they are coming from even if I couldn’t feel as passionate about it.

 

Go

Posted: November 5, 2018 in Movies
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I was a teenager when I watched Doug Liman’s Go at the movies. At that point in my life these characters were like beyond cool. Re-watching Go as an adult I feel free enough to say I would run a mile from these guys and gals now and would not want them in my circle of freinds. Talk about poor life choices. Also, talk about getting older and wiser. Or boring. I’m okay with being boring.

Liman made a name for himself in the 90’s when he put out a small film called Swingers. It was part of this indipendent movie boom during the decade and the picture was a big hit. Alas I can’t comment on it cause I ain’t seen it but it did bring me to the attention of Liman as a director to look out for. When the trailers for Go appeared the film, focusing on several young L.A. guys and gals over the course of one crazy night, looked more suited to my taste.

The film is kinetic and the hyper flow is one of the best parts about it. Go is a light crime thriller with a healthy dose of dark comedy thrown in. There are multiple main characters and the film recounts one single night in their lives from multiple points of view. The plots interconnect and the result is one through line that packs a punch. Drug deals going wrong, a hit and run, shoot outs, unexpected romance, mistaken identity and one crazy trip to Las Vagas I don’t think anyone over the age of twenty one would want to take. On paper it looks like the film runs the risk of being too crammed but it isn’t. Clocking in under one and a half hours the film flies by and is engaging all the way through.

Go is notable for having a great dance soundtrack. Back in the 90’s a solid soundtrack was a common boast for a movie – Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting and Go to name a few of the ones I like. No Doubt contributed ‘New‘ to the film’s soundtrack and I love that track. Everytime I listen to it I can’t help but think of Go. The music video also slots right into the 90’s rave cultrue the film has shades of.

Liman populated his movie with a mix of up and coming talent from TV – Dawson’s Creek Katie Holmes was massive in the 90’s and one of the stars of that show I think we all thought would have THE movie career out of that cast. Sarah Polley was, like Liman, known for her smaller independent films and incredible talent and Go was probably her big mainstream break out role. Now a big name, Timothy Olyphant was just making his way through Hollywood and had already made a splash with his prior role in Scream 2. This was a hot cast for the time and the fact everyone on board was full of talent helped the film’s cool factor even further. Personally I think William Fichtner’s character is the best. The actor is so good in this film. His character, without spoiling anything, is brilliant and his scenes are some of the best and funniest in the film. Taye Diggs, Jay Mohr and Scott – best name ever – Wolf are great here too. Wolf was best known at the time for his work on the hit television series Party of Five, Diggs would go on to feature in the solid and fun House on Haunted Hill. Does anyone remember Action? Mohr starred in that show, centred around L.A. and Hollywood and it was a brilliant show. Short lived but oh so good and well worth tracking down. It was a bit like Entourage before that became a thing.

Go, when it came out, was a hit. It had that same sort of buzz and anticipation that Trainspotting had. It’s redundant to compare the two films. Although they share some plot points the tone is way different in each. Over the years I feel like this film has gotten lost a bit and that makes me sad because it’s a great film. Some films are ideal snap shots of the past and I feel like Liman’s movie perfectly cpatures the very end of 1990’s perfectly. Okay. I hope there’s enough here to make you want to go and check this out if you haven’t seen it already. This is a special flick, one of a time now passed but still feeling as fresh and enjoyable as it did when it was out.

 

 

The Night Comes For Us

Posted: November 2, 2018 in Movies
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You may have heard that the director of The Raid, Gareth Evans, has lost the itch to go back to that world. For now it looks like there will be no The Raid 3 but fear not! Luckily for fans of said movies the team who brought us Headshot (it’s awesome) are back with The Night Comes For Us.

There’s no denying that The Raid flicks and Headshot had the same fierce DNA running through ’em. If I didn’t know better I would think all three movies were made by the same person. Indeed Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, director of Headshot and this movie, have worked together in the past. For a split second I was sad Evans had turned his back on The Raid. I got it though. He wants to try different styles. I saw Apostle, his latest, it wasn’t for me. Thankfully my itch for kick arse action and carnage was taken care of because The Night Comes For Us is a bloody boss martial arts action movie.

The Raid’s Joe Taslim stars in this brilliantly brutal flick as ex-Triad enforcer Ito. He makes the choice to spare a young child’s life and he and the girl end up on the run from his former employers who have put a hit out on the both of them. That’s the simple version of the plot.

What makes The Night Comes For Us so good is the plot, the action and the characters. I gave a simple outline of the film’s story above but there’s a lot more to it than that. Best experience those parts of the film for yourself. Seriously guys the action and the fighting (and the bloodshed!) in this film is off the reservation. There’s tons of brutal throwdowns in this film and the body count is off the charts. The fighting, the skill on display during those sequences, is all outstanding. I love martial arts and when I see it on film being executed as good as it is here I just go nuts for all of this kind of stuff. Even though, chances are, I/you will be watching some of the violence from behind your cushion. This film is not for the screamish.

Character wise I thought this film rocked. Ito makes for a really flawed but likeable lead character. He’s not a good guy but because he made the right call morally during one moment of his life you root for him to turn everything around for himself and the kid he saved. Fellow Raid/Headshot co-stars Iko Uwais and Julie Estelle leave impressions as two deadly characters. Both keeping the audience guessing as to whether they are part of the solution or part of the problem. The rest of the main cast all making the most out of their underworld characters. I think the whole cast do great work here, clearly it’s the majority of the actual actors doing their own fighting and stunts and I love to see that. Each character has their own look to them too which often gives off a fighting game vibe you know sort of like “CHOOSE YOUR FIGHTER!” but in a way which works!

Tjahjanto is a boss director. I feel good saying that and confident in that statement because I love both this movie and Headshot. Personally I’d rate this above Headshot and I really liked that movie. The Night Comes For Us just feels much more focused on the plot, the action, the characters and the mood of this city. Some parts of the film reminded me of Drive but cooler. One fight scene in particular taking place in an apartment complex displays some excellent examples of creating tone through lighting. The film is full of great moments like that which elevate scenes which are already great to even better. At just over two hours the film is on the longer side than is usually the case with these kind of films but it never drags. Tjahjanto keeps a good pace through the movie.

I bloody love this movie. LOVE it. Action fans and martial arts fans this is defo a film you have to check out. The good news is this is streaming on Netflix here in the U.K. so you know chances are you’re good to go and can see this now if you like. The bad news is that I don’t think, so far, Netflix release home video releases of their movies. I’d love to own a DVD of this beast of a film.

 

 

Hella Classic: True Romance

Posted: November 1, 2018 in Movies
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1993’s True Romance is a belter of a movie. Directed by Tony Scott and boasting a script from Quentin Tarantino the film stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in what is a love story for the ages.

On his annual birthday trip to the movies Clarence Worley (Slater) and Alabama Whitman’s (Arquette) worlds collide literally. He’s a comic book store assistant and she’s a call girl hired by Clarence’s boss to make sure he has a birthday to remember! Fate works its magic and it becomes clear these two are destined to be together. Seeking to free Alabama from her past Clarence confronts her pimp, things get VERY messy and two lovebirds find themselves on the run with a suitcase full of drugs. Seeking an “out” they head to L.A. to sell the drugs and begin their life anew. That’s only if they can manage to evade the mob and the cops.

Tony Scott directs this film into a whole other level of excitment, emotion and a pace that sends the film speeding along to its fantastic conclusion. The film is very violent but it’s shot in that Tony Scott style that makes it digestable, despite at times being quite dark. Clarence’s showdown with pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman) is brutal and Alabama gets to show she is not a woman to be messed around with in a nasty encounter with a mob enforcer, which is probably the hardest action scene to watch in the film, due to the audience absolutley rooting for the young couple to succeed. The dialogue and characters are brilliant. As you would expect from the film’s writer. The film has a massive host of characters that range from likeable to despicable and each one, whether a big or small role, feels as if they’re fully formed.

This movie has an excellent soundtrack. The title orchestral theme from Hans Zimmer is iconic. The track You’re so cool! has been used in pop culture countless times over the years and is as recognizable and associated with its movie as the Jaws or Terminator themes. It’s a perfect theme for the film and Alabama and Clarence’s love. A healthy dose of rock ‘n roll fills out the soundtrack and gives it a strong kinetic pace.

Rounding out the cast is a wide range of amazing talent. Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken and Samuel L. Jackson all feature and are excellent. Gary Oldman is almost unrecognizable as Drexl such is the way he vanishes into the role. Character actor Michael Rapaport is great in this too. He plays Clarence’s best friend and aspiring actor Dick Ritchie and the character brings a lot to the film’s later half. And of course both Slater and Arquette, both young actors at this time, manage to not only anchor the film but hold their own against all these established names and runaway with the movie.

When my mates ask me “What’s your faveourite Tarantino movie?” it’s True Romance. Always. If he wrote it I consider it a Tarantino flick. Ultimately though this is Tony Scott’s film. He gave it the magic it needed to come alive and I can’t picture, nor want to, what this would have turned out like if another director had of been behind the camera and that includes Tarantino. Tony Scott did great work with True Romance. One of the best films I have seen and one I come back to again and again.

 

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This latest installment in the long running slasher series is one hell of a return to form. Halloween is a direct sequel to the original 1978 classic directed by genre legend John Carpenter. What it asks of the audience is to put aside any of the previous sequels in the series and instead focus on this fresh spin on where the story goes next. It doesn’t erase any of the other films. Instead it offers another path for the series iconic characters to travel. A bold move and one which I appreciated. I think it is fair to say that as a franchise Halloween had hit a creative brick wall of sorts after 1998’s H20.

Michael Myers, who stalked and almost murdered Laurie Strode back in the original movie, is locked away. His reign of bloodshed and terror has never been forgotten. He left a trial of bodies in his wake and in the process this being of pure death became the stuff of nightmares and legend. Laurie has never forgotten her fateful encounter with Myers. Although he failed to kill her that night his mark has stayed with her for forty years! As Halloween approaches and Michael is due to be transported fate will again see that these two will cross paths once again on Halloween night and this time scores will be settled. I ain’t going any further into the plot.

Director David Gordon Green has crafted a really good movie here. As a slasher movie this film delivers. The way the film is lit and shot is a credit to Carpenter’s original. Tension and scares are constructed in the best way. You never know when and where Michael will strike. When he does these encounters are scary and effective in their suddeness and how brutal they are. People die hard in this film and it leaves a lot less to the imagination when it comes to bloodshed. One tracking shot, you’ll know it when you see it, must have made Carpenter proud. Yet this is Green’s film and as such his respect for Carpenter’s film and the impact it had on cinema is clear in his take and the skill he and his crew employ to pull off what they have here.

What impresses the most is how the film is much more than that. Trauma is a big part of this film and by that I mean emotional scars and how that trauma can fester and spread. Forty years is a long time to live in fear and the film does not shy away from exploring how hard that must be. It’s funny too. It’s not all blood and grim-central. That’s down to the script and when you see it is written by Green and his frequent collaborator Danny McBride alongside Jeff Fradley it is no surprise. The humour is earned and feels natural. Do not go freaking out thinking the film is like a slasher version of their previous works because it is not. This is a dark film and these guys are on record as stating they’re actually big fans of the genre and it shows. For a start their script hooked Jamie Lee Curtis back. Curtis surely felt she had left Laurie Strode and to see her come back to this world and how awesome she is in this film, a movie she didn’t need to do, is just so cool for a longtime fan like myself. Her co-stars are just as good. The characters are well written and interesting and the plot goes into some unexpected areas, one or two I did not see coming and that is always a plus with these kind of films.

The biggest ” We did it!” of this film has to be the involvement of John Carpenter himself. He had, until now, been hands off when it came to Halloween. Seeing how some of the sequels turned out I don’t blame him. He lent a hand here and gave advice when it came to the structure of the plot but his biggest gift being he provided the score, along with his son Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies, for the film. The music is excellent. Once those opening titles kicked off I was grinning and just loving the feel of this film and knowing it would not let me down and it didn’t.

I really like this one. Sure some fans felt annoyed at the fact it was doing its own thing but I see that as a creative breath of fresh air. Plus there’s plenty of nods to some of the later films in this one if you keep an eye out. Original Myers actor Nick Castle is here too. I’m finding it hard to think of some negatives. I guess if you don’t like slasher movies then you probably won’t like this? Or if you can’t let go of what was a really messy continuity up until recently? I am just happy this film is here and that I like it. This and The Predator were my two MUST SEE movies of the year and I feel real lucky they turned out as well as they did.

This is a celebration of Halloween and one which puts the series back on track. It is that strong a part of me thinks all involved should just quit while they are ahead in case a crap or rushed sequel follows this but hopefully that will not be the case. If the same care and skill goes into what comes next it can be a direct sequel to Season of the Witch for all I care. As of writing Halloween looks set to be breaking some franchise and box office records so I think a sequel is on the cards and hopefully the success of this movie will encourage studios to bring back some other iconic slasher movies. So far it is shaping up to be a hell of decade for horror!

 

 

 

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Jumanji is a boss 90’s family/fantasy movie. In 2005 the film got a sort of sequel in the form of Zathura: A Space Adventure but that film was more of a spiritual sequel than a direct sequel. It took a few more years for that to arrive and it did with last years Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The sequel was – according to fans and critics – worth the wait. It made a lot of money at the box office during the Christmas 2017 season. It’s directed by Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher) and stars Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Heart.

I like Jumanji a lot and I think Zathura is a fun companion movie. The trailers for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle had my hopes high this sequel could work as well as the first movie. Sadly I don’t think it does. On a surface level everything is fine – the plot, the acting, the pace and the themes – but it just doesn’t have that charm and magic the original had in spades. At least it didn’t for me. A ton of people had a great time with this so maybe it’s me who is in the minority.

See the plot of this film is decent. Jumanji, we all know by now, is a jungle set board game which traps the player inside the game until they beat it. If the player dies in the game they die for real. The focus of the first film had the players trying to stop the contents of the game coming into our world. In the sequel the kids caught up in Jumanji are transported into the game, this time taking the form of a video game. Now that angle I really liked. Inside the game their avatars become the main characters of the film and that is where Johnson, Hart, Black and Gillan come into it. Jack Black is the best part of the film. The other cast members put in likeable enough performances, apart from Hart (I like Kevin Hart but his character annoyed me in this) but it’s Jack Black who comes out of the film winning. He is so good here.

I like how the film takes the audience inside the world of the game. It’s fun getting to finally see just why Jumanji is so dangerous. The locations used to bring the game to life are pretty good too with some cool sets and location work creating a real deep jungle vibe.  The plot makes a throwback to the mid 90’s and during those scenes I loved the attention to detail. From the band posters to the game console on display. Once the board game takes on the traits of a video game there are some fun gags that hold true to the rules of video games.

This brings me to what I didn’t enjoy so much. The animals aren’t the stars and the film brings in more run of the mill action movie bad guys as the villains. Giving the sequel a action movie vibe. Normally I’m all for a fun action movie but not with this. I dun know. It just didn’t flow well for me and some stuff that was meant to be funny just didn’t work. It’s like the world of the series was made to accommodate Dwayne Johnson and what he brings to a role when it should have been the other way around. This is more like a action flick using the Jumanji world as a playground. If you don’t mind that you’ll no doubt have a good time with it.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a good movie. Don’t let my vibes on it put you off seeing it if you plan to. There’s some stuff in here that is a lot of fun and it’s not boring although at two hours it almost goes on a bit too long. I guess I hold the original flick too close to my movie loving heart. I also think Zathura is the better ‘sequel’.