Throwback Thirty – Short Circuit 2 (1988)

bullshit, childhood, film, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking weird, meh, review, robot, sci-fi, sequel, silly, TBT

5_star_rating_system_1_star Thankfully, I was able to catch up with myself for Throwback Thirty this week. After failing to watch Short Circuit 2 after I drew it out of my jar I actually managed it for today. Yesterday I settle down and had an afternoon of Johnny 5. It’s been ages since I last say Short Circuit so I wanted to remind myself… you know, in case it was too difficult to work out what was going on! Other than reminding me of how much I adore Ally Sheedy and causing me to Google (not for the first or the last time) ‘what is Steve Guttenberg doing these days?’, my rewatch of the 1986 science-fiction film wasn’t that memorable. I remember liking this film way more than I did. I don’t even think I had much of a warm nostalgic feeling about it. It just seemed a bit shit now. Of course, it was always shit but when you’re a kid nothing with a talking robot will ever be completely terrible, right? I mean, if I’m honest, the talking robot was still pretty cool as a nearly 30 year old but I was still disappointed with the film. So, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I sat down to watch the sequel for the first time. If there’s one thing we know it’s that the sequel is always worse than the original… and I say that as a younger twin. So I know what I’m talking about.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Paddington 2 (2017)

Ben Wishaw, British, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking adorable, Hugh Grant, Julie Walters, paddington, review, reviews, sequel

71JUP-kqx8L._SL1081_5_star_rating_system_5_stars I have been desperate to see Paddington 2 for a while now even though, until this week, I hadn’t seen the first film. When it first came out in 2014 I wasn’t sure it was ever going to be able to capture the brilliance that I remembered from childhood. I was a cynical 26 year old who wouldn’t admit to wanting to see a children’s film. So I never did. I guess it begs the question, why, then, was I so desperate to see its sequel? Well, for one thing, my friend doesn’t bloody stop going on about how great it is recently. For another, it’s got a 100% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been nominated for a fair few BAFTAs. Now I realise that it’s never wise to read too much into the ratings on 
Rotten Tomatoes but there aren’t many films who have ever managed it. So I guess there was more to this than met my sceptical eye. It was time to finally catch-up on what I’d missed so I watched the first film. It wasn’t completely perfect but I absolutely loved it. It was funny, sweet, and wonderfully British. Everything that is so great about the Paddington stories by Michael Bond was brought to life thanks to Paul King’s film. And Benjamin Wishaw? He was clearly born to play a talking bear who loves marmalade and looks great in hats. How could I not, after that, make it my mission to see the second?

Tuesday’s Reviews – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Dwayne Johnson, films, fucking stupid, fucking sweet, Jack Black, reboot, review, sequel, silly, the Rock, unnecessary sequel

 It’s been 22 years since Jumanji, the film directed by Joe Johnston and based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book, was released. That film was groundbreaking in the 90s for its use of CGI and has become a much loved classic thanks to Robin Williams’ lead role. The original book isn’t exactly crammed with material to adapt but there was so much potential with the concept of a board game that came to life. I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched the original film at this point but it always makes me feel like a kid again. I know it’s meant to be a kind of scary situation but I’ve always wanted to play this fucking game. I don’t care how many monkey’s destroy my kitchen or monsoons fill up my entire house with water. It looks really fun… and incredibly dangerous obviously. For a movie that has it’s fair share of flaws, it’s pretty damn perfect and has remained a classic even though it hasn’t really aged well. So the news that we were getting a new film was worrying. I know Hollywood likes to remake and reboot franchises these days but, surely, nobody would be stupid enough to try and remake the original? I mean Robin Williams made that film what it was so trying to make it without him would be suicide. However, the news that this would be more of a sequel than a remake was enough to get me a bit excited. Dropping the Rock, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan into the jungle? Who wouldn’t want to see that even a little bit? Was I still annoyed that they were squeezing as much cash out of the original film as possible? Was I still worried that it was going to be a terrible mess? Was I concerned to see Karen Gillan dressed like Lara Croft despite it being 2017? Yes, yes, and hells yes! Did I care enough to not see it? Nah.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

bullshit, Disney, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, fucking stupid, Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, pirates, sequel, unnecessary sequel

Let’s be honest, even leaving the possible domestic abuse to one side, Johnny Depp has well and truly gone rogue in recent years. No offence to the man but he’s kind of a walking parody of himself these days. I mean I wouldn’t be shocked to discover that the actor genuinely believes he is Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s the only thing that explains the fact that he won’t stop making Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Watching the 4th film was painful enough; those fucking mermaids man. Then we have to suffer the indignity of a 5th. It just stinks of desperation. This has been a dying franchise since the 2nd film because, let’s face it, there was only so far you could go making films based on a fucking theme park ride. Yet, Disney keep flogging that dead horse and are back with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. A film that, for some unknown reason, was renamed Salazar’s Revenge in the UK. Now, it was bad enough that I actually watched this film but to have to watch it with this god awful title? That’s too much. So I’m defying my geography and referring only to the superior title. Salazar’s Revenge? For fuck’s sake, that sounds like a really terrible soap opera or something. This is the POTC movie that, basically, nobody asked for so to give it such an underwhelming name for its European distribution just seems like a super bad idea. Although, with the news that a 6th film is dependent on DVD sales it may actually pay off for us in the long term.

It seems to me that there are two types of people in the world. There are those who have slowly but surely grown sick of the same Captain Jack Sparrow shtick that has become so tired and predictable over the last 4 POTC movies. Then there are those with brains so tiny that they’d be endlessly amused just from looking at their own hands. Since the first Pirates of the Caribbean film wowed audiences in 2003 very little has changed about the character. There has been little, if any, development over the span of 4 films and he feels less like a character than a series of mannerisms at this point. We saw, from the disappointing On Stranger Tides, that Jack cannot hold a movie on his own so, to try and reinvent the wheel, the franchises 5th outing is going back to its roots. We see the return of original stars Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush as well a carbon copy of the plot. All wrapped up in a package that is nowhere near as polished as any of the Gore Verbinski’s three films. So, it was never going to go well.

The powers that be have clearly decided that too much of Captain Sparrow can be bad thing and have, once again, placed him as second fiddle to a couple of bright young things. In this case it is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), offspring of William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an astronomer and horologist on a quest to complete her father’s work. Just like the first film, Will and Elizabeth 2.0 are both searching for some sort of mystical McGuffin (in this case it’s Poseidon’s trident) that will, supposedly, solve everyone’s problems. To do this they must ask for the help of everyone’s favourite rock star pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). At the same time, Jack is trying to outrun an old enemy (Javier Bardem) who is seeking both bloody vengeance and an end to his death curse. There’s also the inevitable appearance of the British navy who decide to get mixed up in everything. Dead Men Tell No Tales is clearly trying to recapture the excitement of the first but the ride isn’t as much fun this time round.

The main problem lies in the fact that, the more you examine the plot the less it makes sense. I mean how does Salazar know that Jack’s compass holds the key to his escape? Why, when they do escape, are they unable to step on land? What exactly is Barbossa’s motivation for anything? Why the fuck do British sailors go after the trident? There is so much included in the plot that, when you think about it, doesn’t add anything to the narrative. David Wenham turns up as the face of the British Empire but he has absolutely no impact on anything that happens. This film isn’t a well-crafted masterpiece but is just a series of events that come together to make the ending possible in the most dramatic way. Things need to happen so we can have the cycle of double-crossing that has become a requirement in this franchise. It’s just the most convenient and laziest way of making the story work.

Which, I guess, really isn’t a problem in itself. It’s just that there isn’t enough to distract us. Johnny Depps’ Captain Jack has become super irritating in the past few years so no amount of his weirdness is enough to keep you on board. Even Javier Bardem, who is the greatest Bond villain of recent years, doesn’t feel as invested in the character of Salazar as he should be. The character may be a triumph of CGI but he never feels like the most terrifying of foes. Of course, there are some fine action sequences at the start of the film but as time moves on these become more absurd and confusing. An early sequence that sees Henry save Jack and Carina from being executed is a fabulous sequence in the same vain as the Gore Verbinski era but it quickly just descends into madness. The final showdown is just a mess of CGI with no elegance or coherence.

I was genuinely shocked to discover that this film is actually the shortest in the franchise. It definitely felt longer than any of the previous films. Watching it from start to finish seemed like a fucking marathon. There simply isn’t any life in this franchise anymore. Or at least in the franchise as it once was. I think the days of Johnny Depp doing his Keith Richards impression are well and truly over. If this is going to continue, and really I don’t think it should, there should be a change of direction. People will try to defend Dead Men Tell No Tales as being mindless entertainment. I defy that statement. This film isn’t mindless entertainment: it’s just mindless.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Despicable Me 3 (2017)

animation, family, films, Kristen Wiig, meh, review, sequel, Steve Carell

Let’s get one thing straight, I, like every other sensible adult human being, fucking hate the minions. I’m so sick of seeing those tiny yellow pricks all over the place again now that the fourth film in this movie franchise has been released. Not content with giving them their own film, the annoying little creatures are back with their master in Despicable Me 3. It’s a bit insane that a random animation from 2010 has cultivated so many follow-ups but here we are. I had originally planned on seeing this film with a friend from work but, before we could, she cruelly left me for a better job. So, instead, I had to watch it without her… which is a shame because she was definitely more excited about the whole thing that I was. If I’d seen it with her I might have gone in with higher expectations or, at least, without an underlying sense of dread. I didn’t hate the sequel to Despicable Me but there were moments when it seemed unnecessary and not very well thought out. So I really doubted that a third film would be much of an improvement. However, in my review of Despicable Me 2 back in 2013 (god I’ve been writing this nonsense for a long time haven’t I!?), I decided it was Gru’s lack of villainy that made it fall so short. The trailers have suggested that he is rethinking his moral life so maybe my prayers have been answered?

At the end of Despicable Me wannabe super villain Gru (Steve Carell) had found himself the adopted father of three young girls. After Despicable Me 2 he added a new wife (Kristen Wiig) to the equation. The question on everybody’s lips was “who would Gru acquire in number 3?” Turns out it’s an identical twin brother. Possibly in an attempt to save on wages by making Steve Carell work twice as hard or to save the animators the job of having to create a new character. Who knows? Still, Gru is shocked to discover that his mother has hidden his sibling, Dru, from him all this time. The discovery couldn’t come at a better time for Gru who, at the time he is approached by Dru’s butler, has just been fired from his job with the Anti-Villain League. He has very little time to process this personal upheaval before he is whisked off to his brother’s fancy mansion in Freedonia. Turns out the father he never really knew was actually a super villain and Dru is keen to keep up the family tradition. But, to do so, he needs his brother’s help.

After finally settling into a happy life of crime fighting, can Gru really just get back into villainy? Well, quite possibly considering the humiliating defeat that sees him chucked out of the AVL. Is there really any other response to being beaten by an ex-80s child star than resmuing your life of crime? Yep, 80s throwback Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) has repeatedly outwitted the AVL and, after Gru allows him to escape yet again he and Lucy are forced out. Leaving Bratt to carry out his plan to steal the world’s biggest diamond whilst listening to classic 80s music. Will Gru take the righteous path and hep stop Bratt or will he embrace the life Dru is pushing him towards?

Then there’s a lot of shitty stuff about Lucy trying to come to terms with being a mother and some more adorable moments of their youngest daughter Agnes being super cute. In terms of narrative, Despicable Me 3 is kind of mixed bag. Lucy gets incredibly short-shrift and I find it hard to see why Kristen Wiig would have agreed to this bullshit. It’s the kind of sentimental and cliched “am I a good mother?” shit that you seen in every terrible sitcom or soap opera at some point. It’s clearly the worst part of the film but just won’t stop. There are some great moments to be had, obviously, and Balthazar Bratt is a far superior nemesis to the previous film’s. His 80s references will keep parents entertained whilst children will just enjoy his over-the-top silliness. He’s the perfect foil to Gru and his insane gadgets are like something James Bond’s Q would come up with if he started creating whilst he was in a drunken haze of 80s nostalgia.

The Gru/Dru storyline doesn’t always work but there are some humorous moments to be had. Dru is even less successful than his brother and there is some fun to be had with their bickering dynamic. It kind of grows old after a while and the chemistry doesn’t always fly. If I thought the emotional struggle in the second film was weak then this is even more of a damp squib. But, as with the previous film, none of that matters at all in the long run. Despicable Me 3 is a film intended to amuse little people; by which I mean children and not someone of diminutive stature but that’s not to say short people can’t be amused by it. Anyway, this is a film that’s main purpose is making children laugh and, when it comes down to it, it never pulls any punches. Every spare second is crammed full of jokes that it doesn’t really matter if not all of them land as well as they should. The target audience isn’t even going to notice.

Especially when the screen is constantly being filled with those irritating yellow tic-tacs every 5 minutes or so. That’s all that really matters, right? Despicable Me 3 is the worst of the 3 films, as it probably should be, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find joy within its running time. There is still enough life in Gru that audiences can’t help but want him to succeed and, more importantly, keep coming back to the cinema to watch him try.

TBT – Shrek Forever After (2010)

animation, fairy tale, films, fucking awful, meh, reviews, sequel, TBT

Sometimes I hate this blog, specifically the TBT feature. It forces me to remember how quickly time is passing. I remember seeing Shrek Forever After with my friends from University and, it turns out, that was about 7 years ago. It feels like yesterday. I came to re-watch this after finding it on Netflix recently and having no clue what to write for today. I try to link my Tuesday review with my Thursday one but I was finding a companion for The Best of Adam Sharp a bit of a pain. I think the fourth Shrek film works though: instead of a man looking back on his life and imagining “what if?” it’s an ogre. It was also a rather easy thing to watch when I got home from work yesterday. It’d been a hellish day and all I was really capable of was watching a short film intended for children. Although, I do quite like this series of films. The first one is really good and came up with an interesting twist on the classic Disney fairy tale romance. The second film was equally fabulous. Then there was the third film, which super sucked. There’s always something funny to be found though. So, it wasn’t the worst film I could sit down to watch for your benefit I suppose.

Animated movie sequels have traditionally had a bit of a tough time reaching up to the potential of the original film. I mean look at all of Disney’s straight to VHS sequels to its most popular films. Yes, you love The Lion King but its sequel? Didn’t think so. When it came to Shrek it succeeded with Shrek 2, which was a funny and enjoyable romp with a great cast. It was the all-singing, all-dancing film that had Shrek trying to outwit and the evil Fairy Godmother. It was great. I randomly went to see it with friends despite having never seen the first one so it’s sort of become my favourite. Of course, no matter how good the second one was it was unlikely that it could continue. And it didn’t. The third film was utterly abysmal and unnecessary. So, the announcement of a fourth was hardly something to get excited about.

Although, they try to rewrite history to keep things fresh. What we have is basically It’s a Wonderful Life but with an Ogre instead of Jimmy Stewart. Brilliant! After a going through a fair few adventures, Shrek and Fiona have settled into family life with their triplet Ogre children. They are still friends with Donkey, Dragon and their weird hybrid kids. Although, reaching middle age, Shrek is starting to regret how far removed he has become from the Ogre he used to be. No longer the scary monster people were so keen to destroy, he is finding it difficult to adjust to life as a celebrity. So, he makes a deal with a super sketchy guy to have one day as the man he once was. Obviously, of course, there are some pretty dire consequences.

Those consequences create a universe in which Shrek was never born so all of your favourite characters now live a terrible life. Fiona is still cursed, Donkey is still enslaved, Puss is a fat house-cat, Gingey is a cage fighter. Yes, it doesn’t all make sense but it’s fine. As long as someone out there laughs who cares if anything makes sense. You see, the obviously creepy guy was Rumpelstiltskin who has been trying to take over Far Far Away since way before Shrek saved Fiona in the tower. He blames Shrek and plans to trick him out of a day of his life: the day he was born. Then the shit hits the fan and Shrek spends the rest of the film trying to get Fiona to fall back in love with him before it’s too late.

Shrek Forever After is a fairly interesting concept but it lacks so much of what made the original film so good. Shrek came out in 2001 and was, in a way revolutionary. It was taking the piss out of Disney and it’s well-know animated films. Taking pot-shots and being slightly risque whilst still being child-friendly. Shrek Forever After is just a desperate attempt to get back to some of that with constant references to that earlier film. I mean it’s better than the third film but that’s the least amount of comfort we can take from it. There is some heart and emotion here but it’s all taking too much from the first film and offering little of it’s own. The villain is an obvious link to Lord Farquaad but is not developed enough to make him worth fearing or hating too much. This is one of those films that mostly serves up in-jokes and easy nostalgia without taking too many risks. It’s not the worst in the series but, as the last film, it needed to be better.

TBT – Aliens (1986)

alien, Bill Paxton, fucking scary, James Cameron, sci-fi, sequel, Sigourney Weaver, TBT

On Saturday 25th February it really was “game over, man. Game over” for actor Bill Paxton. The 61 year old died after complications during heart surgery. 61 really is no age at all and I can hardly imagine how his family and friends are coping. I liked Bill Paxton; although, I find this a sort of hypocritical statement to make considering most of the time I didn’t get his name correct. Yes, I’m one of those people that could never tell the difference between her Bills. Just like trying to get a USB stick into the hole, it always takes me 3 attempts to work out if I mean Bill Pullman or Bill Paxton. Even though I know there is one Bill I prefer, I just can’t remember his name. Bill Paxton was a great actor who had the ability to turn his hand to any number of roles. In order to honour his work and, conveniently, find something to write about for TBT, I decided to rewatch one of his greatest early roles. It was the role he won himself a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. It only seems right.

Apparently there is still something of a debate going on about which film is better: Alien or Aliens. The major consensus seems to be that James Cameron’s follow up is the better all round film but Ridley Scott’s Alien is still a classic mixing of two genres that has never been equalled. Really I don’t understand why we need to pick between them. The two are very different films with very different approaches. They just happen to be about the same Alien creature. It’s about as fair as comparing Dracula and Twlight because they both contain vampires. I say, just admit they are both great. Alien was a triumph of horror and sci-fi. As I discussed a few weeks ago, it is still terrifying after all this time. Aliens, on the other hand, is more action driven and ramps up the special effects. The Alien is no longer a single entity stalking it’s prey. There are loads of them going to war with the crew of the spaceship of the USS Sulaco. Alien was Hitchcockian whilst Aliens is the kind of film that would have inspired Michael Bay.

The film picks up 57 years after the end of the first film when Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is rescued after drifting through space in stasis. Her employers, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, are skeptical about her claims about the Alien that killed the crew. Ripley is then informed that the exomoon, where the crew of the Nostromo first encountered the eggs and Kane got infected, is now the home to a colony of people. When Weyland-Yutani lose contact with the colony they as Ripley to accompany a unit of Marines and a company representative to investigate. Obviously, it turns out Ripley was right and a lot of bad shit had gone down. The colonists have been turned into hosts for Alien embryos and there are Facehuggers and Xenomorphs waiting to strike the Marines. Ripley must use her knowledge to get the Marines out and ensure the safety of the colony’s only survivor: a young girl called Newt (Carrie Henn).

As I mentioned earlier, Aliens is a much more familiar seeming sci-fi film. It keeps certain amounts of the horror and tension of the original film but adds more violence and explosions. Instead of an unsuspecting group of civilians trying to outwit a monster, this time we get to experience a group of full-blown Marines blow them the fuck up. It makes the first film look kind of tame and is unrelenting and uncompromising in it’s quest for more bloodshed. It’s a wild and crazy ride that was pretty technologically advanced in it’s day. It is the perfect action film. Although, I will say that out of the two films, it is the earlier one that has stood the aesthetic test over the years. The only problem with cutting edge special effects is that, in years to come, they start to look very silly and outdated.

All this talk of action doesn’t mean that the film lacks depth. Maybe it lacks a tiny amount of finesse that the first film did but has much more to offer than gunfire. Sigourney Weaver is given more room to develop the character of Ripley as she revisit her past and has to deal with the emerging mother-daughter relationship with Newt. She has a lot of emotional drama to deal with as well as going further to prove that Ripley really is the original badass female. The rest of the crew also have greater room to move than most of the original crew. We get to know the group of Marines much better than we did the crew of the Nostromo and their relationships feels more familiar and understandable. The soldiers are brave, bloodthirsty and scared in equal measure. They are like a family and a realistic military unit.

Just like Alien before it, this sequel will leave you in a fragile and terrified state but it will be for much different reasons. Rather than the slow build up of tension, this films offers a much more visceral punch and is a non-stop assault of action, scares and violence. Is it better than the original?  I refuse to make a choice. Both films are fabulous in their own way. Why can’t we live in a world where we enjoy each of them?

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Jeff Daniels, Jim Carrey, review, sequel
I remember a fair few of the key jokes so I’m sure I watched Dumb and Dumberin its entirety when I was younger. However, if I did, it wasn’t one of the films that made a massive impact on me. Still, when news of the sequel came out I was still hit with a wave of nostalgia at the thought of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reuniting as Harry and Lloyd once again. At least until I saw the first on-set picture of the pair. Then I just felt sad, embarrassed and old. The only thing I’ve seen recently that’s more tragic is the S Club 7 reunion. I mean if Paul can no longer ‘get down on the floor’ then what’s the point?
Dumb and Dumber, the Farrelly Brothers’ outrageous road comedy of 1994, has become something of a cult classic in the last two decades. It’s responsible for helping reinforce Jim Carrey’s position as a key comic performer. Since its release there have been a few attempts to build on its success in the shape of a short-lived cartoon and an unofficial prequel, bearing little connection to the previous release.
2014 marks the reunion of the original quartet and their quest to show the world what has happened to Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) since 1994. God knows we’ve all spent the last twenty years wondering. Never ones to push themselves too much, the Farrellys bring back the road trip idea of the first film. Harry and Lloyd set off to track down Harry’s newly discovered daughter so he can make use of her kidney in some much needed surgery. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.
Although a lot of that hilarity just made me cringe. I don’t think I’ve been this embarrassed to be watching a film since my curiosity led me to watch Sex and the City 2. Trust me, I’m still having fucking nightmares about it. Surprisingly, this wasn’t because Carrey and Daniels are so fucking old now. If anything the pair made this film as successful as it was. Despite their wide and varied careers, you can tell that the two were having a great deal of fun getting back into their old roles. It is particularly refreshing to see Jeff Daniels return to this world of silliness as his career has become kinda serious lately. It’s pretty difficult not to get swept up in their energy and joy. Basically Dumb and Dumber Tois the cinematic equivalent of a contact high: you can’t get away from it.
Besides, there are a still a few moments that are funny. After all, when you throw everything at a target you’re bound to strike it at least once. Of course this does mean that for every one joke that makes you giggle there are countless ones that just don’t work or are stretched to fucking breaking point. It doesn’t help that the only thing about the Farrelly brothers’ film that hasn’t moved on in the past two decades is the humour. Now I’m not saying I expected the pair to go sophisticated for this sequel but I have to admit that jokes that perhaps seemed fresh in the 90s just seems a bit too familiar these days.
The best way to describe Dumb and Dumber To is lazy: sitting watching it I wasn’t struck with the idea that any effort had been put into making any part of this. The script is littered with nicely silly moments but not enough to make it worthwhile. The plot itself is just an overly long series of events that happen to get Harry and Lloyd into ridiculous positions. It’s all just too complicated and too contrived. There are countless plot-points that could have been dropped in favour of a clearer main narrative. We have a main road trip; a long-lost daughter; Lloyd’s romantic intentions towards said daughter; a scorned step-mother; a murder plot; a Scientists multi-million dollar idea; and a marine and his brother. It’s exhausting even typing these into the post let alone trying to keep up with them on screen.
If the Farrellys had taken more care they could have trimmed a lot of the excess baggage and unnecessary jokes to create a fairly decent 80-90 minute feature. Unfortunately, what we have is nearly two hours of material that is more worn out, bloated and past its prime than the film’s main stars. Loads of people want to see this film based on the promise the first one made in the 90s. The reality is just fucking depressing and awkward. It seems that, unlike S Club 7, some things just don’t have a place in this modern world.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Finding Dory (2016)

animation, family, films, Kate McKinnon, Pixar, review, sequel, Ty Burrell

Pixar have established themselves as the greatest animation studio in Hollywood right now. They are beloved by critics and audiences alike but they have never been able to harness they talent to become consistent. One moment they release a showstopping film like Inside Out and the next they’re offering the forgettable Good Dinosaur. For every Toy Story 3 there is a Brave to follow. Pixar have managed to create some of the greatest animated films of all time but they have also been responsible for some truly shitty ones. Plus, they don’t really have a great track record with sequels. They constantly churn out follow-ups to their big films but they have generally had trouble meeting the expectations set by the first. There is the odd occasion in which the second film will be better , Toy Story 2, but for every success there is a Cars 2. So the announcement back in 2012 that there would be a sequel to the fucking awesome Finding Nemo it was a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we all wanted to see what was happening to our favourite characters yet we didn’t want our love of the original to be put in jeopardy thanks to an underwhelming sequel. I guess that fear is the main reason it took me so bloody long to get round to seeing it.

It’s been 13 years since Finding Nemo came out. Every time I hear that I have to take a second to collect my thoughts and stop freaking the fuck out. It’s been so long and I think it’s safe to say that nobody expected there to be a sequel at this point. I doubt many people actually really wanted one. The story was a great one that came to a satisfying conclusion. We didn’t need anymore and, if people were craving more from Nemo, Dory and Marlin, then they could just rewatch the animated classic. However, as of 2012, director Andrew Stanton decided that Dory’s story hadn’t finished so he wrote Finding Dory. A sequel that owes enough to it’s predecessor whilst being a separate film in its own right. A film that was created to be enjoyed by those who have watched and rewatched the first film but still accessible to those youngsters meeting our fishy friends for the first time.

The film delves into Dory’s (Ellen DeGeneres) past from the off where we see her much younger self struggling with her short-term memory problems with the help of her living parents (Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton). As well all know from the first film, that happiness is short lived as Dory manages to lose her family and end up wandering the sea with no idea of where she came from. Until she bumps into a frantic clownfish searching for his lost son. Cut to a year after the events of Finding Nemo where Dory has settled into family life with her new friends. Everything is going swimmingly until she begins to remember snippets from her past. Forcing the trio to go on an international adventure to find her parents.

The journey takes the trio to California and the Marine Life Institute. Dory is captured by some marine biologists and sent to Institute’s quarantine area. There she meets her new travelling buddy Hank (Ed O’Neill), a gruff octopus who is trying to prevent his release back into the ocean. The two work their way around the park to get Dory to the home she once knew with the help of the quirky residents. Meanwhile, Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) make their own way into the park and attempt to reconvene with Dory. To be honest, the narrative is essentially a rewrite of the first one where the three main characters are kept apart for as long as possible before being dramatically reunited in an emotional climax. Still, that is forgivable because of the extra elements necessary to allow a character with memory loss to head the film. There is an added element of mystery embedded in the plot as we discover who Dory is as she does. We end up compiling an image of her past with every flashback before we finally find out the whole sad story. It’s like fucking Memento for kids.

After all, Finding Dory is a terribly sad tale. We see a lost and lonely fish desperately try and get back to the family whilst being held-back by a condition that has hindered her life since childhood. We see as she finally gains the confidence to see past her difficulties and make her own way. It’s a weird but lovely take on how life with a disability doesn’t have to hold you back and you can be strong enough to overcome everything. Even more than the first film, Finding Dory is a sentimental, thought-provoking and emotional film. It will create just as many tears as it will laughs and that’s what makes it so great. It is a very human film hidden in a beautiful under-sea world.

We all know that Pixar are on comfortable ground when it comes to the animation side of things and it cannot be denied that the film is visually stunning. However, they are also able to create incredible characters. Every single character added to the returning faces are spectacular. The stand-out, of course, it Ed O’Neill’s Hank. A character who not only epitomises the studio’s animation prowess (I cannot get over that scene where the octopus is introduced) but their talent for writing very real and lovable characters. Hank may be crabby but, through his narrative journey, it is impossible not to fall in love with him. His fellow inmates of the MLI are equally as wonderful. My personal favourites are, of course, Ty Burrell as a beluga whale who has lost faith in his echolocation abilities and Kaitlin Olson as a near-sighted whale shark.

Finding Dory is a film that may lack in originality but is overflowing with enough charm, heart and silliness to prove that it doesn’t matter. It may not be the sequel we needed but it is the ideal one. People will constantly argue about which of the films is better but really it doesn’t matter. It is overflowing with memorable characters that you will love forever. Plus, those fucking otters are OTTERLY adorable.

TBT – Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

Bill Murray, CGI, Dan Aykroyd, fucking awful, meh, sequel, TBT

Since watching it for the first time on Sunday, I’ve discussed the new Ghostbusters film nonstop with people. I know I seemed critical in my own review of it but I did like it. I’ve seen it again since and it’s grown on me. I still think my new found lady love is a major reason for this but I still maintain that it deserves a sequel to give it a real shot. I’m clearly not the only one that thinks so because the consensus of film critics is, for the most part, mainly positive. Of course, nobody is fucking raving about it but everyone admits it doesn’t deserve the backlash it received online. Try telling that to the so-called fans, though. They are still holding strong with their hatred of the whole thing and it’s fucking boring. I really don’t know why people got so sensitive this film. I mean, way before the internet started going apeshit about how much Paul Feig and co. had ruined the Ghostbusters franchise another film got there first. Let’s all be honest, if we’re looking for a film that shamelessly cashed in on the success of the original film then we need only look to the sequel that came 5 years later. Whatever you may have thought about the 2016 reboot we all have to agree that it had more potential than the sequel that was nothing more than an awful rewriting of the first film.

Yes, Paul Feig’s narrative owed a lot to Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis’ script but at least it wasn’t a crude carbon copy. Ghostbusters 2 is the exact same plot as its predecessor where the Sumerian God has been replaced by a fucking painting. It’s not only shows a lack of imagination but the narrative doesn’t make sense. Much like the first film, our neighbourhood friendly Ghostbusters find themselves the underdogs once again. But that doesn’t make any fucking sense. They were riding high at the end of the last film and now, suddenly, everyone’s forgotten that they prevented the apocalypse? What the fuck? I know it makes sense to show them on that upward journey again because it gives the narrative a neat structure but how do you explain that nobody even believes in ghost a mere 5 years after a buttload of them invaded New York City?

Still, for whatever reasons, the Ghostbusters are left fending for themselves and unable to investigate the paranormal. Then, surprise surprise, New York City is once again affected by a paranormal events that apparently only they know about. They, once again, save a grumpy old dude from a ghost, become super popular, get sent to prison before banding together, on the mayor’s authority, to save the world from annihilation. Then, to go along with this, their old client, Dana Barrett, is back after the phenomenon singles her out to terrorise leaving the door open for Peter Venkman to romantically pursue her… again. I have to wonder how long it took to write this fucking script? Take the old film, scribble out a few things, add a painting here, some emotional slime there and a fucking awful CGI sequence of the Statue of Liberty walking through the city and you’re done.

For years, people have been unwilling to admit just how bad this film is. Yes, it isn’t a huge fucking shambles but nothing featuring these four men on screen together ever could. They group still have great comedic timing and a great chemistry. It’s just a shame that everything feels less charming and more desperate this time around. I mean, I’m still cringing from the first time I watched Ray and Winston dancing to the fucking Ghostbusters theme at a kids party and I can’t even remember the first time I watched this film. This film just isn’t as much fun and everyone involved seems to know it. Nobody is really at their best and, for the most part, the talent is just doing what needs to be done. Even Bill Murray is tame here… still funny but not as inspiring as usual.

So, for all those people not giving the new Ghostbusters franchise a chance, I say this: if you want to criticise a film for taking advantage of a much loved film and turning it into a pathetic attempt to make money then look a little closer to home. It wasn’t Paul Feig and co who started the trend of messing with a classic. No that was set in stone nearly 30 years ago.