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Archive for April 2016

Ctrl+Alt+Death

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Being stalked is I would imagine not an overly pleasant experience. Thankfully an experience that I have virtually no association with. So imagine how much worse it would be to be stalked by a dead girl? Well that is exactly what happens to poor Laura Woodson in the recently released cyber-thriller Friend Request. A film that has a fantastic premise, but alas much like other modern horrors does not live up to its trailer hype and delves into familiar overdone territory in the third act.

Laura is lovely, attractive, cultured, educated and most importantly popular. A fact that brings her to the attention of new strange student Ma Rina (one quick grumble, why is anyone in modern teen/horror films that expresses artistic talent or individuality a mopey, whiny prick?? Anyway, I digress….) So Ma Rina attaches to Laura, much like a gloomy window hanger or sad caterpillar, a friend request is sent and then shit starts to unravel. Overbearing Ma Rina bombards our heroine with posts, messages and other pleasantries. A birthday celebration lands Laura into trouble and Ma Rina takes it badly. So badly, she hangs herself and records the act for posterity.

Laura feels suitably although to be fair unjustly guilty. But the fun is only starting. All her friends receive a post notification. A video. The video of Ma Rina in her last act on earth. Then the friend requests come. Laura is hounded and berated by most of her online friends but she cannot delete her account or her friendship with her now deceased classmate. And this was one of my favourite elements of the movie.

As a society we are chained to not only our phones but our dependence on faceless interactions with people we hardly know or met on a night out. The young (and disgustingly attractive) characters in this film are treated subsequently and all meet grisly deaths. An almost kind act of redemption from beyond the grave and there is no way stop any of it. This is where my second favourite element of the movie. Each death is framed and shot in a nod to other movie deaths. In no particular order, The Exorcist (1 & 3), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ringu, The Eye and The Omen are all referenced.

The last act does the film a disservice. I won’t spoil it but the writers chicken out and revert to lazy back story which can be seen halfway through the film. The explanation of the killings and why they were done serves a purpose but it feels flat and uninspired, in the same way the Paranormal Activity series of films relies on the same explanation for every other world experience.

Overall, Friend Request is an above average modern horror film. The premise is incredibly entertaining, the actors are passable and served by a half decent script. The deaths are ridiculously entertaining and the film only loses steam as it drags to its third act. Recommended!!

 

3.5 / 5

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Written by thepanch

April 26, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Batman Vs Superman

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First of all, I need to get this out of the way. Upon my first viewing I wanted to call this review Batman Vs Superman: Yawn of Justice. I know right, I’m so whimsical. But I felt I needed to watch it again, so I did! And I rethought my initial knee jerk reaction and gave it another deserved chance. This film has been quite undeservedly derided universally. Now I can see why but it is a bit unfair. It’s going to be hard to convince you otherwise if you already hate it and to be honest, I’m not going to try. The best way to approach this is the simplest approach, what was good and what was bad. Right, the good.

Batman fights Superman. If like me you’ve been waiting for this since your teens it delivers and then some. But Zack Snyder makes you wait, oh he makes you wait. It is worth it to be fair. The fight borrows heavily aesthetically and in terms of action from The Dark Knight Returns. The heavily advertised metal suit Bats sports, the use of kryptonite and Superman’s inability to see through lead based products with a craftily deployed smoke bomb. The fight is everything I hoped for. Two titans kicking the living tar out of each other.

Ben Affleck. Holy fuck! His hulking frame, shown in a glorious training montage, is impressive enough but his performance behind the beef and indeed the cowl is spectacular. His Batman is world weary, greying, physically and mentally broken. And gone beyond vigilante, I mean he flat out kills loads of guys in this movie! And there has been a lot of huzzah about this. I don’t feel any moral outrage about it, I don’t condone it but I understand the reasoning. He sees it as the only way to solve Gotham’s problem. Well, it’s either this or burning the whole place down, the place is a hole.

Henry Cavill. Sadly, like in the woeful Man of Steel, treated rather shabbily by an underwritten part and a hammy script. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my dislike of Superman, but he can be made interesting (see Death of Superman (graphic novel), the first two original Superman movies with the impeccable Christopher Reeve). There are glimpses of hope in this movie. Supes is struggling with the weight of being himself. Cavill does a great job but is let down by an underdeveloped arc.

Jesse Eisenberg. I wanted to hate this version of Lex Luthor. The trailers made me physically wince and shift uncomfortably in my seat, but he grew on me over the course of this film. His maniacal, and as the film moves forward completely mental plans are made all the more delicious by his unnerving jumpy nature. This guy really hates Superman and he goes to great lengths to try and stop him.

Gal Gadot. It’s pretty easy to shoehorn in a hot chick to play a well-loved, renowned superhero but with the casting of Gadot, the film does Wonder Woman a great justice. She was powerful, sexy and could hold her own with the two guys. I will gladly watch her in her inevitable solo outing! Which, in a rather ham fisted way, brings us to the bad elements of this movie.

Wonder Woman. Not Gadot. Or indeed the character in general, no it was more the way she was shoehorned in to be one of the reasons for Bats and Supes to forget their hatred and unite to fight a common foe. The last half hour is rushed as fuck. And an email attachment Bruce Wayne sends her instantly sets up the Justice League with tiny trailers for Aquaman, Cyborg, The Flash and indeed Wonder Woman. Now the whole rushed ending. Two things here.

Doomsday. I got it, I totally got it but come on that ridiculous CGI, the lasers and really bright flare. Completely ruined an otherwise great battle. And ultimately, he was only here so our heroes could team up. To be fair, Gadot can handle that Lasso of Truth like a boss and looks bad ass doing it. Could have done with less of this hulking CGI mess. Now another reason that the last half hour was ham fisted and lazy as. I got a hold of an exclusive deleted scene. Text only mind.

INT: ABANDONED WAREHOUSE. Batman stands triumphantly over Superman. He raises his arms up to bring down a kryptonite tipped spear into Superman’s chest. Just before he bring sit down, Superman wearily raises a hand.

Superman: “Wait.”

Batman looks at him, smirks and slowly brings his arms down to his side.

Batman: “Make it quick. This ends now!”

Superman: “Right on the count of three, say the first thing that comes into your head.” Batman: “What?”

Superman: “Say the first name that comes into your head.”

Both: “Martha!”

Batman: “What?”

Superman: “Did we just become super best friends?”

Batman: “I think we just did…. Shit.”

 This didn’t happen like this I admit but it was pretty close. I call bull shit, Zack Snyder!

Anyway, I enjoyed it more on the second viewing. Not a perfect film by any means but it is enjoyable. And serves as a nice taster for The Justice League and reportedly three solo Batman films starring Ben Affleck and hopefully in the guise of his ever present butler, Alfred Pennyworth the ever reliant Jeremy Irons. He was great in this film and did a great job as Pennyworth. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend going to see it as it is a lot of fun but don’t expect any jokes.

2.5 / 5

 

 

Written by thepanch

April 3, 2016 at 10:52 am