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Non-Review Review: Hotel Transylvania 2

Hotel Transylvania 2 certainly has some moves.

The film might be computer animated, but director Genndy Tartakovsky draws from more a classic style of cartooning. There are several points in Hotel Transylvania 2 where it seems like the film has reverted to a two-dimensional style, with figures standing in silhouette against the background. Even the human characters of Hotel Transylvania 2 take on an elasticity, stretching and distorting in the style of classic Looney Tunes. Hotel Transylvania 2 gets considerable mileage out of this slapstick element.

Drac pack's back...

Drac pack’s back…

It helps that the film is packed with gags. Not all the jokes land as well as they might, with the film leaning a little too heavily on some particularly cheap shots, but there is a sense that Hotel Transylvania 2 is more concerned with getting those jokes into the film than it is with actually constructing a narrative around them. The film packs an impressive quantity of humour into its ninety-minute runtime, with nothing in the film being allowed to overstay its welcome.

That said, the movie hits some speedbumps when it comes to plot and characterisation. Some of these issues are simply structural, with Hotel Transylvania 2 eschewing all but the most basic of set-up and pay-off in favour of energetic cut-away jokes and quick sight gags. Some of the issues are tonal, with the film wrapping up some very uncomfortable plot developments and decisions with a simple “all’s well that ends well” conclusion that ultimately avoids delving too deeply into any of the implications of certain characters’ actions.

Vamping it up...

Vamping it up…

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Non-Review Review: Pixels

Pixels has a fun concept.

The idea of video game characters invading the world is a delightfully gonzo piece of pop culture nostalgia. It is easy to see why Sony picked up the option for Patrick Jean’s 2010 short film, even if the concept was not new. Neither version of Pixels can quite measure up to Raiders of the Lost Arcade, the short that aired as part of Anthology of Interest II during the third season of Futurama. That ten minute short story captured the sheer unadulterated joy of a world under siege from its juvenile obsessions.

You are my sunshine...

You are my sunshine…

There are a lot of problems with Pixels. The most obvious is that it seems completely disinterested in its core concept as anything other than a vehicle for Adam Sandler. There is a lot of CGI and a number of recognisable pop culture references, but Pixels plays just like any other Happy Madison vehicle. It is an excuse to pair Adam Sandler up with a beautiful actress and pay for trips for friends and acquaintances around the world while making jokes that were tired when most of the audience was making them in the playground.

Pixels never embraces the goofy joy of an invasion of eighties video games, instead wallowing in the presence of washed up nineties hackery.

All the President's... People.

All the President’s… People.

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Tomb of Dracula Omnibus, Vol. III (Review/Retrospective)

Darkness spreads across the land like a bone-chilling evening mist. It swirls, boils and froths.

Then, at the moment when midnight madness is at its greatest, the darkness takes form and substance and becomes a thing of hell-born horror.

This is… THE TOMB OF DRACULA.

Pray you can avoid its deadly embrace…

Sometimes classic movie monsters just look better in black and white, eh? Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan told pretty much a complete Tomb of Dracula epic in the seventy issues of the main title produced in the previous two omnibus collections. This third gigantic tome collects a lot of what might be considered “a Tomb of Dracula miscellany”, collecting various odds and ends from Marvel’s Draculacomics during the seventies to sort of expand and enhance the story told in the main title. It isn’t as consistent as that seventy-issue run, with a variety of weaving story threads, one-shots, text stories and a variety of artistic and authorial talent, but it’s still an interesting look at Marvel’s horror comics during the seventies.

Feed your Dracula addiction!

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Non-Review Review: Ted

Ted is an impressive directorial debut from Seth McFarlane, the creator and star of Family Guy. Those familiar with McFarlane’s work will know what to expect from Ted. It’s loud, it’s crude, it’s full of retro pop culture references, but it’s also constructed with almost surreal innocence and earnestness. McFarlane can be brutal at times, and he does make a few cheap shots here or there over the course of Ted. (Take that, Justin Beiber! Take that, Brandon Routh!) However, for the most part, the film actually does a remarkable job of balancing its crass in-your-face offensiveness with a weird emotional warmth. At it’s heart, Ted is still the story of a boy and his teddy bear. It just so happens to be a really messed up teddy bear.

Bear with me…

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“Must Do Better”: Dramatic Talents & Wasted Potential…

There’s something very sad about Eddie Murphy. His latest movie, A Thousand Words, opened last Friday in the States with an almost impressive 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that there wasn’t a single reviewer who though that the movie was even “okay”, let alone “good” or “great.” It’s are to find a film that can generate such a consensus, although I don’t think anybody was especially astounded that Eddie Murphy headlined a comedy that was frustrating and disappointing. Of course, he has undoubtedly made a lot of money, and has decided that this is what he wants to do, but there’s something very frustrating about actors like Eddie Murphy, who have demonstrated uncanny ability, but seem willing to settle for generic film after generic film.

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Berry Your Head in Shame: Watching The White Dwarf Stars In Slow Motion…

Speedman is a dying star. A white dwarf headed for a black hole. That’s physics. It’s inevitable.

– Les Grossman, Tropic Thunder

Fame is like anything else. It’s like money or luck. It comes and it goes. Still, as the poster for Halle Berry’s latest film, Dark Tide, arrive, it’s hard not to feel a little bit sorry for those performers who have watched their fame and popularity slip out from underneath them.

Halle Berry won an Oscar for Monster’s Ball. She played one of the few James Bond characters to be considered for a spin-off, appearing in Die Another Day. She got a considerable pay increase for showing her breasts in Swordfish. She headlined one of the very few female-centric superhero films, the dire Catwoman. Not all of those were good films. In fact, being harsh, I’d argue that one of them was a good film, and the rest were significantly flawed, if not outright terrible. Still, it’s quite sad to see the former Oscar-winner relegated to appearing in the latest film from the director of Blue Crush and Into the Blue.

She did make some Berry questionable choices...

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Non-Review Review: Leon (The Professional)

What makes Leon so fascinating is the combination a wonderfully disturbing script that puts a novel and unsettling twist on that “suddenly a father” subgenre, Besson’s understated direction, Eric Serra’s atmospheric score and a trio of fantastic central performances. The movie is never less than completely engaging, especially when it’s being very deeply uncomfortable. The movie is very much a “messed up”portrait of the survivor of a family massacre and her unconventional surrogate father figure, with the difficulties that both have adapting to their situation, although it’s probably Gary Oldman’s powerhouse villainous performance that you’re going to leave the film thinking about.

Leon is a bit daunted by the scope of fatherly responsibility...

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