Bob’s 2018 Retrospective: 200 Mini Reviews [Part 2: The Pretty Good and the Pretty Bad]

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Now into the Pretty Bad flicks. Not quite god awful but not recommendable either.

10 x 10;

Luke Evans holds Kelly Reilly hostage in a, you guessed it, 10×10 padded room. She has a secret and he wants her to admit it. It’s a good concept, and there is some solid drama and tense sequences. However, everyone is so damned unlikable and the concept gets stretched to its breaking point long before the film ends. Would be a great short, but too long as a film.

Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies;

When this started, I rather dug it, despite it’s obvious flaws of really cheap filmmaking. It didn’t’ fall back into southern stereotypes, and had some interested – if badly acted – characters. But once the zombies came into the play, it just went bad becoming standard in every way and couldn’t sustain.

Bad Time at the El Royale,

Bad Times is the correct title. Dammit, I’m mad at the lost potential here. Goddard has done some great stuff. But in trying to ape Tarantino, he unfortunately apes him at his later more self-indulgent days. At 1h40 this could have been a tighter, more enjoyable film, but at 2hr 23 minutes, it drags. Too many pointless subplots, too many past cutaways that lead nowhere, not enough drive. As each character has their own motivation, there isn’t’ a cohesive push forward. It also lacks in the script – a film like this needs snappy, fun, clever dialogue. Instead it’s turgid and standard. A waste of amazing performers.

Chappaquiddick

This is one of the type of true stories, here when Teddy Kennedy drowned a woman in his car, it would be better off just reading the Wikipedia page. Nothing new is really learned. The main issue is while Jason Clarke is good as Teddy Kennedy, the film elects to take a middle ground on him, decided to make him neither a villain or a victim (using that term loosely). Thus, he’s not compelling. Lots of hemming, hawing, and rich white men slowly conspiring. ZZZZ

The Children Act,

I’m just gonna copy my Short Take on this.  One of three McEwan adaptations this year (see below for my thoughts about one of the others, On Chesil Beach), The Children’s Act doesn’t really make an impression.  (Can’t believe it’s been ten years since Atonement blew everyone away). Emma Thompson stars as a UK judge who rules on tough cases based around children’s rights – particularly ones with the parents and the law disagreeing. The focus decision and the fall-out from it in the film is based around whether Jevohah’s Witness parents can refuse their 17 year old’s life-saving transfusion. It’s odd in this decision is made pretty quickly into the film, leaving Thompson to puddle along afterwards. There isn’t much drama to drive the film. Thompsons’ judge is a bit weary and over worked, and there are marriage tensions between Thompson and Stanley Tucci, but there is little spark between them to make us care. The 17 year old tries to be a part of her life, his eyes opened to secular things after the transfusion (um.. spoilers?) but not enough time is given to him to truly care.

The Children Act plods along with little drama or tension. It feels lost. Without Thompson or Tucci this film would barely make a blip in the feature pond.

Christopher Robin

Let me lead with the residents of 100 Acre Woods looked amazing, lifelike and with such detail. Making 100 Acre Woods into a dystopian hellscape for them was not so amazing. Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a once imaginative youth is now an older, stuck up man going through a particularly trying time at work. Familiar? Yeah. Old Christopher Robin  (Ewan MacGregor) is forced by Winnie the Pooh to revisit his old home. HIs wife Hayley Atwell and daughter are around too, but they really get the short shift in this story. It drones on into a standard climax chase and “hey let’s have fun!” ending.

Oh, bother, don’t bother.

The Commuter

This year’s early in the year Liam Neeson fights a bunch of people to solve a mystery is on a train! (in next year he kills people with a snowplow! I’m serious. It’s called Cold Pursuit). Vera Farmiga, working for a very obvious “Secret Badguy Reveal”  asks Neeson to find a particular passenger and mark them for totally-not-nefarious-means. Thus begins this preposterous tale of Liam Neeson yelling at a train full of confused people. It’s nonsense, and not even all that entertaining nonsense.

The Devil and Father Amorth – REVIEW 

William Freidkin, the director of The Exorcist, meets with a “Real” Exorcist – the official demon-remover for the Catholic Church. Sounds interesting, but the actual thing is a lot of chanting at someone who just needs some therapy and meds. Friedkin pads this to feature length with dicussing the movie, and giving lipservce to the mental illness side. This would have been fine as a special feature on the latest of the myriad of Exorcist releases. Review here.

Down a Dark Hall

I don’t remember a great deal about this, to be honest. I remember it looking pretty alright with some good performances but what happened… couldn’t tell ya. Sorry

Early Man

Another one I hate that I didn’t like. I love Aardman. Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep (its film was one of the best of 2015, can’t wait for the sequel in 2019), and the other stop-motion work from them. I love stop-motion. Love Love Love. Usually the humour is wonderful and fun. For Early Man, finding cavemen in a crater coming face to face with the Bronze Age and forced into a … underdog sports movie. There are some great jokes and clever bits but for the most-part fell short. (I’ll admit, I have an inkling to rewatch it… I feel I missed something, maybe I’ll be kinder in round two?)

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