Film Reviews: 10 Cloverfield Lane and Capture the Flag

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Note to self: Stop looking forward to films. You’ll always be disappointed. Sigh.

I was so excited about 10 Cloverfield Lane. I mean, it stars John Goodman, who is always amazing, so that alone was always going to make me want to see it. Then there’s the Cloverfield connection, which I also love. I’d heard good things about it too, things like “you can’t talk about it without spoilers, but it’s brilliant.”

When my husband said he wanted to see it with me, that was the icing on the cake. My husband and I so rarely agree on films that this gave it the double seal of approval. What a shame it failed to deliver.

If you don’t know what it’s about, Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, wakes up in an underground bunker after a car crash. Her leg is strapped up and she’s chained to the wall in a locked room. Why the cuffs were deemed necessary is never explained and they’re not used again, which really set the tone of a film that poses a lot of questions and doesn’t give satisfactory answers to them. I mean, a woman with a bashed up leg is in no position to beat her way out through a thick, locked door, but let’s use cuffs anyway to show that John Goodman is, in fact, a Bad Man, just in case people don’t get the hint right away…

Or is he?

To be fair, John Goodman is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something where he wasn’t. Howard, his character, built the bunker, and he tells Michelle that there’s been some kind of attack. The only safe place is down in the bunker with him and Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) – or is it?

Now, I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, but I am going to say that I clearly saw an entirely different film to the critics. (Same as with Deadpool. I heard you gasp, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wasn’t impressed by it at all.) I found it overly long and confused. It didn’t seem to know what kind of film it wanted to be. If it had been a straight forward thriller, it probably wouldn’t have been especially innovative, but I came up with at least three plot twists that could have made it something special, so I’m sure the script writers could have done the same.

But it’s not a straight forward thriller. It’s something else. And unfortunately for me, the final half hour of the film ruined everything that went before, when the film goes in an entirely different direction without enough time to really go into it in depth and clearly leaving things open for a sequel.

If I go into any more detail about what specifically I didn’t like, it will spoil things, so I’m going to leave it there. Suffice to say that I found it really disappointing.

3 out of 5 stars but only because John Goodman deserves a star all of his own

If you liked this, you’ll also like Kiss the Girls and Cloverfield

Capture the flag

I’d promised my youngest son that I’d take him to whichever kid’s movie was playing at the cinema this Easter holiday, which is how I ended up going to see Capture the Flag.

Meh. It’s not the best children’s film I’ve seen recently, but it’s not the worst. It’s your typical family rift healed by kids stowing away on a space ship kind of film. OK, there aren’t that many films like that, but I think you get what I mean. It’s not innovative in any way, mildly amusing rather than laugh out loud hilarious and the characters are predictable clichés.

If you didn’t know anything about it, in a nutshell, Mike Goldwing comes from a family of astronauts. In a nod to the conspiracy theorists’ claim that the moon landing was faked, he becomes sucked into a race to the moon to ‘capture’ the American flag when Texan billionaire, Richard Carson, decides that he’s going to mine the moon and wants to destroy the flag so that he can claim ownership of the moon by rewriting history and being the first person to plant a flag on the moon.

A Spanish film, it lacks the wit and broad family appeal of more successful children’s films such as Up and Big Hero 6, which is a shame, because Spanish cinema is usually incredible. The basic premise isn’t bad, but it seems to lack that distinct flair of originality that elevates an OK film into a great one. 

Still, for all that, my son loved it, so if you’re five, you’ll probably enjoy it.

3 out of 5 stars, but only because I didn’t pay full price to see it.

If you liked this, you’ll also like Space Chimps and Monster House.


Film Review: The Other Side of the Door & The Boy

Other Side of the Door

It’s been forever since I’ve seen a decent horror film and I was desperate to see something good. In the absence of a great horror, I went to see The Other Side of the Door. I hadn’t seen any trailers for it and the write up didn’t sound massively promising. An American couple living in India lose their son in tragic circumstances, so when the mother learns of a way in which she can talk to him for one last time, she jumps at the chance.

Same old, same old, right? Just another one of your typical ghost stories.

Well, yes and no. It’s not an original story by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone who knows the story of the monkey paw will know what’s going to happen. But despite that, I absolutely loved it! Perhaps it was because I had no preconceptions and my expectations were low, but even knowing what was going to happen (and the filmmakers managed to squeeze in a nice little twist at the end that I didn’t see coming) didn’t take away from a film that was disturbing, unsettling and really rather sad.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried.

If you’re looking for a ghost story that’s deftly told with characters you care about and brings a new take on an old classic, you’ll love The Other Side of the Door.

4.5 out of 5 stars

If you liked this, you’ll also like The Others and The Woman in Black

The Boy

Unlike The Other Side of the Door, I’d been looking forward to seeing The Boy for ages, so as soon as it came out, I toddled off to the cinema to see it.

The basic premise is that an American woman is hired to serve as a nanny for an elderly British couple’s son. When she arrives, she discovers that the child is, in fact, a doll and she is expected to treat it as though it were alive, following a strict routine with strange rules. After the couple leave for their first holiday in years, at first, she ignores their instructions. However, she soon starts to suspect that the doll is alive, perhaps possessed by the spirit of the couple’s real son who died many years ago in a fire.

The film had so much promise. The first half or so was really nicely done and there were a number of directions it could have gone in. However, the second half devolved into cliché that’s hard to talk about in any detail for fear of giving spoilers. Suffice to say that although I didn’t see the end coming, in hindsight, I should have done and the rest of the audience was laughing at the end of the film, which is never a good sign for a horror.

Still, overall, I enjoyed it and probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t recently seen The Other Side of the Door which is an infinitely superior film.

3.5 out of 5 stars

If you liked this, you’ll also like You’re Next.

Film Review: The Gallows & Ant Man

The Gallows

There were a surprising number of people at last night’s showing of The Gallows and I later discovered that most of the audience were cinema staff, which explained why there was so little talking. Bliss!

Sadly, that’s the best that can be said of this lacklustre ‘horror’ movie. Charlie is being touted as the next big horror icon, the slogan declaring that Jason has his machete, Freddy has his glove, and Charlie has his noose, implying that Charlie is going to be equally disturbing as those horror greats.

Unfortunately, he isn’t.

In fact, Charlie barely features in the film and there’s no real menace about the character when he does. The film had me questioning a lot of things and not all of my questions were answered in the typical twist ending. Of course, there was the obvious “why are they splitting up?” and the less obvious “is knocking over a fake tree really going to get the show cancelled?” but there were so many other dubious decisions on behalf of the characters that in the end, I stopped questioning and started wondering how much longer I was going to have to endure this boring, derivative piece of drivel.

One of the big things about Jason’s machete and Freddy’s glove is that you know there’s going to be blood involved when they come out. A noose simply doesn’t have the same kind of menace, even though it kills just as effectively.

In short, it just wasn’t scary, although judging by the discussions of my fellow audience members afterwards, I was in the minority opinion.

2 out of 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this, you’ll also enjoy The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity

Ant Man

In contrast, I loved Ant Man!

OK, it didn’t bring anything really new to the superhero table, but anything with Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in is going to get my vote and the film was funny, the characters (mainly) well drawn beyond the usual caricatures and the little references to other Marvel films, as well as the encounter with the Falcon were nicely done in such a way that if this was your first Marvel film (where have you been??) it wouldn’t really have mattered.

Fast paced and with enough plot to entertain while explaining the origins of Ant Man, the casting was almost perfect, although I wasn’t convinced by Judy Greer as Maggie Lang, Scott/Ant Man (Paul Rudd)’s ex.

I wasn’t able to see it in 3D, which is my usual preference, but I didn’t feel that I was missing out on anything – with a good 3D film, you can see where it would have been amazing. I’m not sure that paying for the privilege of a little psychedelia during the subatomic scenes would have been worth it.

Still, seeing this immediately after The Gallows was a real pick me up and this is one of those films I’ll happily watch again and again.

4 out of 5 stars

If you liked this, you’ll also like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron