Coming out in 1995, The Usual Suspects was a hit, winning Academy Awards for its screenplay and for Kevin Spacey in its supporting role, but has it really withstood the test of time? Directed by Bryan Singer, and with a script by Christopher McQuarrie, we are left to wonder who the hell Keyser Soze is and what's he doing influencing the lives of five unlikely criminals. Co-starring Stephen Baldwin, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Pollak, The Usual Suspects has sustained its reputation over the years, but does it really deserve the love it gets? And just how effective is its notorious twist?
Contains minor spoilers.
Following on from the success of Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho directs South Korea's first superhero movie, Psychokinesis. Ryu Seung-ryong stars as Shin, a middle-aged security guard who gains psychokinetic powers after drinking from a comet-tainted spring, who then decides he's going to help his once abandoned daughter Roo-mi (Shim Eun-kyun) stand up against the big business developers who destroyed her fried chicken shop. While the film does delve into whimsy and sentimentality, there is some genuine authoritarian horror, but does it reach the heights of Train to Busan? Also starring Park Jung-min and Jung Yu-mi.
Listen to our review of Train to Busan here.
Non-spoiler review up until 13:56, then its full-on spoiler territory.
The build up for Avengers: Infinity War has been almost a decade in the making, and now the Marvel heroes come up against their biggest enemy. Directed by The Russo Brothers, Josh Brolin plays Thanos, a villain seeking to bring balance back to the universe with his massive gauntlet and the six Infinity Stones. The only problem is it requires the death of half the living beings in all the universe. Infinity War brings together nearly all the characters from Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and the other solo franchises to their biggest battle yet, but can they succeed? We discuss what works with the film, our personal gripes, and what we hope to see for the franchise in the future. Plus, what does Thanos have in common with David Attenborough and Friedrich Nietzsche? Listen on to find out.
This week we delve into a Virgin Viewings, where one of us gives the other a favourite film to watch, and this time it is Richee's turn to watch Michael Powell's infamous 1960 psychological thriller, Peeping Tom. After creating such classics as The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus with Emeric Pressburger, Powell nearly destroyed his career with this film, which scored disastrous reviews. However, Peeping Tom has gone on to become a cult classic, becoming a precursor to the contemporary slasher film. Starring Carl Boehm as a film maker obsessed with capturing the last look of fear on his victims faces. Also starring Anna Massey and Moira Shearer, has Layla succeeded in showing Richee a Virgin Viewings he'll actually enjoy? Listen on to find out.
Giant monsters! Destruction! Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson! Everything you could want from a modern disaster movie, right? Directed by Brad Peyton, and based on the video game, Rampage is a simple story about a bunch of big animals that go berserk and the one sensitive but strangely indestructible man that can bring them down. Co-starring Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Joe Manganiello, we look at what this film does right and wrong, and why it could of done with camping it's self up a bit.
We also refer to Pacific Rim Uprising in this podcast, and you can listen to our review of that film here.
Based on the stage play by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, Ghost Stories, also directed by Nyman and Dyson, follows a twisting narrative that contemplates the very nature of ghosts. Paranormal skeptic Professor Goodman (Nyman) is sent to solve three increasingly bizarre haunting's that send his own beliefs into doubt. Co-starring Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse and Alex Lawther, Ghost Stories delivers a mediation on why we choose to believe in ghosts, and the dangers of not acknowledging the ghosts in our past.
You can read the Leigh Spence article we talk about at the end of the podcast here.
One of our favourite TV shows of last year is now back with it's second season, so we check in with Netflix's Santa Clarita Diet to see how the Hammond's are dealing with life after wife and mother Sheila is turned into a zombie. With all the problems that murdering and eating people has, can it really top the suburban nightmare of keeping up with the neighbours, being a good parent and staying sane in front of your boss? Plus, with the first season being so successful, does the second season keep up the laughs and gore? Staring Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo and Mary Elizabeth Ellis.
You can listen to our review of the first season here.
We review Ready Player One (with minor spoilers) first. Skip forward to 25:44 for our Isle of Dogs review.
We review two big hitters in the cinema this week. First up is the Steven Spielberg directed adaptation of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, where lonely orphan Wade (Tye Sheridan) fights against waves of references to gain control over all-encompassing VR world, the Oasis. We discuss what the film does right, the original book, and what kind of nostalgia the film is trying to go for. Second up we look at Wes Anderson's latest stop-motion animation Isle of Dogs, where lonely orphan Atari (Koyu Rankin) has to travel across Trash Island to find his long-exiled best friend. As per Anderson's films, there is plenty of admirable style, but is there much substance behind it?
We discuss spoilers in this review.
The sequel to Guillermo del Toro's popcorn classic, Pacific Rim Uprising delivers more jaegers, but not nearly as much fun. Directed by Steven S. McKnight, John Boyega stars as the estranged son of the hero of the last film, who teams up with scrappy scrapper Amara, played by Cailee Spaeny, to help save the world when kaiju's raise their violent heads again. With a tonne of retconning, ugly cinematography and dull awful dialogue, Pacific Rim Uprising provides a grim entry to this years blockbuster season. Also starring Charlie day, Rinko Kikuchi, Jing Tian and Scott Eastwood.
We review Tomb Raider first in this podcast. Our Annihilation review starts at 18:43.
First up we review Roar Uthaug's adaptation of the reboot of the classic game. With Alicia Vikander taking on the iconic role, we look at how Tomb Raider updates this franchise, whether it breaks out of the tropes associated with adapting video games, and we wonder if Lara Croft has got any smarter. Secondly we review the "too smart for the cinema" Netflix exclusive Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland and based on the novel by James VanderMeer. Starring Natalie Portman as a wife whose long dead husband turns up alive, she has to delve in a mysterious alien "shimmer" to find out what happened to him. With beautiful and terrifying visuals, we look into the themes and layers of this dream-like thriller.
Directed by Nash Edgerton, Gringo sees David Oyelowo play a naive business man whose life falls apart on a work trip to Mexico, and who decides that the best way to start a new life is to fake is own kidnapping. Mix in that a drug cartel and a young couple who are drug mules, then you have a film that... well, we've all kind of seen before. Co-starring Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, and Sharlto Copley, Gringo is a watchable comedy that's light on the laughs, but how much can you truly enjoy a movie that preaches the upside of being an arsehole?
Based on the 1972 manga by Go Nagai, Netflix delivers us a truly mesmerising original anime series. Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, Devilman Crybaby focuses on the meek little Akira Fudo who is transformed into a devil after his long lost friend Ryo turns up. While he can control the demon Amon, as Akira is a kind hearted sole, he cannot control what the other demons do nor how the rest of the world reacts to the news. With some wonderful animation choices, Devilman Crybaby watches like a Nicolas Winding Refn film with a lot more emotion, and the finale is truly something special and satisfying.
Directed by Duncan Jones, Netflix exclusive Mute has garnered a lot of negative responses since its release on the weekend. Staring Alexander Skarsgård as Leo, an Amish mute in a futuristic Berlin, he has to traverse the underground world of AWOL US military surgeons to find out what happened to his missing girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh). Co-starring Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux, Mute has some troubling aspects to it, including a paedophile side character, but is it as bad as everyone says? Listen on to find out.
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Special thanks to Leigh for composing the end music played in the middle of this podcast. Check out their posts for this blog here and their own blog Dancing with the Gatekeepers.
We review Black Panther first in this review, and our The Shape of Water review starts at 21:11.
What luck did we have with two of our most anticipated films of the year being released in the same week. First up we review Marvel's Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, which sees T'Challa become king of the advanced but secretive nation of Wakanda, whose privacy is threatened by old and new enemies alike. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira. Secondly we review Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, a love story story between a mute woman and an amphibious man whose romance is caught up in secretive and violent government plots. Stars Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon.
Based on the book by Richard Morgan, Netflix's Altered Carbon sees cyber-punk mix with film noir in a transhumanist world. Advanced technology means that humans can now download their memories onto disks called "stacks" that implanted in your neck, meaning that your physical body, or your "sleeve", can be easily replaced or cloned. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is released from prison after 250 years with a brand new sleeve under the condition that he finds out who tried to kill god-like super-rich Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). With its interesting ideas and high production value, Altered Carbon certainly looks the part, but how well does its convoluted story hold up over its ten episodes? Also starring Will Yun Lee, Martha Higareda and Chris Conner.
With its surprise release on Sunday night, The Cloverfield Paradox carries on with the franchises unique take on advertising, this time arriving with aplomb onto Netflix. Directed by Julius Onah, we are treated to another genre take on the mcguffin that is Cloverfield's own Lovecraftian monster, this time featuring a crew of astronauts who want to start up a particle accelerator in space to solve the worlds energy crisis, but end up ripping a hole in space-time. Radically different from the franchises previous films, how different is Paradox to other movies though? And was it a good move to release it straight to Netflix? Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl and Chris O'Dowd.
Based on the graphic novel from 1989, and directed by Sam Liu, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight sees the Dark Knight fight off against the mysterious killer Jack the Ripper as part of DC's Elseworld series. With a bunch of familiar characters playing unfamiliar parts, Gotham by Gaslight mixes Victoriana references into a semi-steampunk world and puts Bruce Wayne's detective skills to the test, but how can he seriously expect to succeed against the notoriously anonymous Ripper? And how many heavy handed references can you force into 78 minutes. Starring Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Carpenter and Anthony Head.
Disney and Pixar have come out with another stellar, and emotional, family film in Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. Focusing on young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), he has to travel through the land of the dead on Dia de Muertos to find his great-great-grandfather and gain his families blessing to take up music, which has been banned within his family for generations. With gorgeous visuals and wonderful songs, and with some added catharsis, Coco does all the things you expect from a Pixar film, but is that enough. Also starring Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt and Alanna Ubach.
Martin McDonagh returns with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film that weaves themes of rape, racism and police brutality into a surprising funny flick, if darkly so. Starring Frances McDormand as a mother who loss her daughter under horrendous circumstances seven months previous, she decides the best way to get the police's and public's attention back on the case is by installing three billboards accusing the police of not caring about the case. This, of course, gets the community riled up. With a brilliant script and excellent characterisation, Three Billboards is a enjoyable movie about dark themes that doesn't attempt to emotionally manipulate.
We are easing ourselves in 2018 by chilling out and watching some Netflix (plus, we're both ill). The Vault, directed by Dan Bush, sees a city bank robbed by feuding sisters Francesca Eastwood and Taryn Manning. However, the bank has less then expected money. Cue James Franco, the banks assistant manager, who tells them the real money is in the vault in the basement, but the only problem is that the basement is haunted! A interesting premise, but how many horror cliche's should you include in your movie?
Apologies for the minor amount of coughing in this podcast. As I stated, we're both ill.
We've had our 10 Worst Films of 2017 podcast out, and now its time to looks at our favourites. This list is made up of films that we have reviewed on the podcast through 2017, and I'm happy to say that this list is made up of movies that I know we'll be raving about for years to come. Let us know what your favourite film of 2017 is in the comments below.
It's that time of year again where we want to take a reflective look back at the year past, and today we take a look back at the ten worst films of 2017. This list is made up of films that we've reviewed on the podcast through the year, so excludes obvious duds like The Emoji Movie, Transformers: The Last Night and King Arthur, as we just couldn't justify giving money to films we knew we were going to hate, so consider this an alternative list.
Twenty-two years after the original film, Jake Kasdan's sequel Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has come out and is updated for the video game generation. With an onslaught of stars including Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan, we see four cliched teenagers transformed into digital avatars who have to save the world of Jumanji and themselves. With some lazy writing, inconsistencies and bad jokes, Welcome to the Jungle makes up for it with its charismatic cast, but how does it fare when compared to the Robin Williams classic?
The Star Wars franchise is back and Rian Johnson is at the helm. The Last Jedi sees Rey try to get long lost Jedi master Luke Skywalker to help the Rebellion, but she also has to contend with Kylo Ren invading her consciousness. Meanwhile, Poe is trying to save the Rebel's fleet from the First Order, and Finn tries to locate the First Order's tracking device and a master code breaker. But with 40 years of distance between the first film and this one, is the franchise starting to disappoint its fans? We run down the good and the bad of The Last Jedi and wonder if the vitriol is warranted. Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Issac.
Check out guest blogger Steven's brutal review of The Last Jedi in their post here.
The best worst movie ever made? James Franco plays the lead and directs in The Disaster Artist, the story behind the notoriously bad Tommy Wiseau film The Room. Also starring Dave Franco, Alison Brie and Seth Rogan, The Disaster Artist is a loving portrait of a ridiculous and mysterious man trying to live out his dream of being an actor in Hollywood with his best friend Greg Sestero. We also have our Virgin Viewings of 2003's The Room, and wonder if it possibly the worst of the worst films we have ever reviewed on the podcast.