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This will be short, mainly because a review is essentially pointless. 'Under The Skin' is possibly the most divisive movie Iv'e ever come across. It's central theme (I think) is what it means to be human all through the lens of someone who is not. You're either going to like it or hate it, it's certainly that kind of movie.
There's very little dialogue, particularly in the second half. Large long sequences of silence, ambiguity in it's story, strange visuals and an arresting soundtrack. But I loved it, that's all that I can say. Some may see it has trying to hard to be arty, pretentious and terrible. And they're right I can't argue to someone who doesn't like it. It's not everyone - a truer statement has never been said.
If you want to see a film that comes with answers steer clear. So Recommending it hard to do, but I will just to see the reaction.
I hate Christmas films. A nice way to open it also begs the question "Why the hell did you bother watching this then?!" (the exclamation is vital here I feel). Well the answer is despite my dislike of Christmas films I'm all about giving them a chance - if, if and only if I see some good press towards it. Yeah I know reviews don't mean anything to the individual - that's something I wholeheartedly subscribe too. But the glimmer of hope that'll I enjoy is always there indeed the same can be said of; Slashers, Found Footage and Musicals. none of these I like as a genre but I'll give them a chance (and with 'My Bloody Valentine, Troll Hunter and The Nightmare Before Christmas as proof that there's some out there for me).
I say all that because it need to be taken into account with my scoring, as by film standards this was watchable, ok but by my separate Christmas films standards it was good. Arbitrary I know but that's how I feel.
Anyway, 'Get Santa' has more to it than the trailer suggest, they suggest a typical Christmas film - full of farting Reindeer and overly sweet sentiment. And while it contains those things and more the rest of it is actually quite enjoyable. It follows a father and son team (the atypical dead beat dad relationship) as they try and 'Get Santa' out of jail and save Christmas. Not all too different from previous save Christmas movies but this differentiates itself slightly with it's surprisingly witty script and a great performance from 'Jim Broadbent' as the not all there 'Santa'. it involves jail break, some Christmas hokyness and a Dad who sways between believing 'Santa' and not. There's a familiar UK cast with 'Raph Spall', 'Warwick Davis' and 'Stephen Graham'.
I think the thing I actually liked the most about the film was some of the strangely inventive ways it shows with 'Santa' - a giant mailbox that the letters to Santa go into for one. Which also fly towards Santa like a magnet. it become a mini-mystery adventure as the father-son duo go around the country looking for the reindeer, the sleigh and a way to the North Pole. Moving the story forward at a nice pace, the humour tending to be the thing that kept me interested, It's not brilliant but certainly has enough - a surprising amount if you ask me.
As far as Christmas films go 'Get Santa' is certainly one of the better ones, containing plenty of jokes and a great performance from 'Jim Broadbent' as the clueless 'Santa'. Everything else is serviceable, even if the story isn't the worst Christmas spirit offender it has too much of it for my liking (yes I know it would do). It ends a bit abruptly too and the principle villains seems to be attempting a '101 Dalmatians' type approach but it doesn't work. Still Iv'e spent worst times at the cinema and if in the future it was on TV and I had nothing to do I'd certainly watch it again
Bringing another 'Tolkein' trilogy to an end 'Peter Jackson' has tackled the world of Mordor once again. It was never going to get the plaudits the 'Lord Of The Rings' got (not only because of the previous two films quality) even before a sing scene was seen by the general public It would have been nigh on impossible to reach the same acclaim twice. Still he gave it a good go and ended on a good note if not spectacular.
Taking off where the 'Desolation of Smaug' ended, 'Smaug' has finally awoken from his slumber in the mountains and wreaks havoc on the nearby sea town. While the 'Dwarves' await it's death so they can reclaim their land back. The first issue the film runs into is after spoiler - Smaug's demise. Is that there is no story left. The point of the adventure was to claim back their home and while there are moments of character development there's nothing really driving he film forward. And that's the films biggest weakness. Character are the life blood of any film but beyond the corruption of the gold on 'Thorin' (Ironic given the film's budget) it treads water. Everything's in one spot, the title describes exactly what this film is (and its best parts) a huge battle between - well what I counted as 4 but who's counting.
Where 'LOTR' trilogy made full use of its running time none of the Hobbit films have. Smaug's screen-time is criminally short and could have easily been put on the end of the last film or at least extended. The best parts of teh entire run of films is gone within 20 minutes - and with a whimper at that. Don't get me wrong there's plenty to like but this out of all the films feels like the biggest missed opportunity, It's saviour being an excellent clash between the armies - 'Peter' still has a great eye for large scale wars. Swooping cameras and energetic action sequences are aplenty in the second half of the film. This is certainly a film of two halves a first lacklustre one and an excellent second.
The one thing missing from the large scale battle was a real villain an Orc commander feels very underwhelming - even if he's a tough one. For all my complaints though the battle between him and 'Thorin' is a good one complete with ice, bats and a 'Legolas' with a flurry of arrows. Someone who gets very little screen time (the same can be said for 'Gandalf' although more pointless than anything). It makes sense to minimize them given they're not the focus but the film would have been no different without them (mainly 'Gandalf'). The only story beat I pointed to earlier is an interesting one, with the wealth clouding his vision and is the only interesting aspect from the first half of the film - it's just a shame it isn't dealt with in a natural manner (it comes off as forced to me).
You'll notice I complained aaaaa lot but that's only down to my wanting this to be as good as the 'LOTR' trilogy and not to be a slog. Unfortunately it was , it's definitely more good than bad but it's potential will be forever an annoyance. Starting by killing off the biggest reason to watch the 'Hobbit' trilogy in the first 20 minutes was a big disappointment and frankly not needed. Sure there's following the book but this had already been extended beyond belief and cutting some of the aftermath of 'Smaug' to include a little more 'Smaug' would have helped a lifeless first half. Luckily the second half brings it all back in rousing fashion, with an epic battle on the fields and on the frozen mountains. A worthy if not spectacular end to a solid trilogy.
I've never been that big a fan of the 'Madagascar' series and while most seem to believe they get the better with each film I'm in the opposite camp. The first one was ok, the second was bad and the same for the third. It's just not for me (clearly) but I always enjoyed seeing the penguins, the tended to get the biggest laugh out of me and always managed to raise a smile. So a film centred on that team of scrappy penguins? I was in.
'Dreamworks' have the honour of being the most inconsistent film makers. Whether they like it or not, it seems a lottery on whether I'll like it or not. It's incredibly frustrating when it can produce wonders such as 'How To Train Your Dragon' and then make 'The Croods' ugh. But despite this I was feeling pretty confident in this, after all for three films the penguins have been thoroughly consistent and with their personalities they fit perfectly for an adventure. it turns out my enthusiasm was rewarded as 'Penguin's of Madagascar' is easily the high point in the series. Starting almost as an origin story as the penguins from new born, instantly noticing there difference to the other mindless penguins, and telling the story of how 'Private' came into the fold. One of the stories buttons is 'Private' and his relationship to the team.
The story isn't particularly engaging but it hops about the world 'Venice', 'Shanghai' and it's full to the brim with jokes - where the penguins shine naturally. It's their ridiculous banter and hierarchy that keep the film interesting - as well as a good back-up cast. It's just a fun film, plain and simple. It's there to please the most basic aspect and it succeeds. There's 'something' more substantial but it's brief and rightly so. 'Private' gets a greater look in than he has in the the 'Madagascar' and it's nice to see someone other than 'Skipper' get the focus. The villain 'Dave' is an atypical 'revenge' archetype but it works thanks to the writing of the character and Malkovich's performance. The Penguins are also backed up 'North Wind' a team of 'professional' secret agents - consisting of an Arctic Wolf, Polar Bear, Owl and Seal naturally becoming a thing of tension between them and the penguins ultimately working together at the end.
Full of charm and energy 'Penguins Of Madagascar' is as much fun as I expected it to be. Visually nice with plenty of different locations and great character designs. The story may be there to just facilitate the rest of teh movie but that's fine by me. I never expected it to be up there with the classic animations but it comfortably fits in the good-great area. Kids will certainly love it and adults might too. Worth a chance those penguins never disappoint.
Being trapped in a submarine should instantaneously breed tension. It's no-brainer, Submarine - enclosed, claustrophobic. Say for example the engine breaks down on a sea bed? should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But yet somehow 'Black Sea' lacks the level I'd expect. There's 'some' tension but it's as fleeting as you can get. Promising moments of greatness, momentarily delivering them and then back to the rudimentary.
That's not to say this is a bad film but it's plot and setting are severely underused especially when it hints at it's intentions. It tells the story of 'Robinson' (Jude Law) who recently lost his job as a sub captain. After learning through a friend that the company he worked for has discovered an old U-boat that's suppose to be filled with millions worth of gold - he decides to go after it himself along with a crew. With a crew that's stated as being half Russian speakers and half English speakers there's an inevitability to what will happen at some point. With all the people on board also out of the work there urgency to earn money is believable - and that they'd be willing to go into Russia/Georgia waters where at any minute they could be blown to bits. It basics are all there but for (mostly the first half) there's very little of anything all that interesting.
The second half does bring new things into light delivering a potential - but it's never realised. Things ramp up with great pacing and Robinson's obsession to get the money (seemingly to win his ex back) is visibly seen - thanks to Jude Law's fantastic performance. Speaking of which the performances can't be faulted I really felt like they were in a submarine the stress of being in an enclosed space came through loud and clear - also thanks to the work on the set. But all that can't save it from being just ok. People get killed off as per usual and the survivors are to be expected. it had something missing whenever something escalated it was as if they didn't know what to do next with it. At times (particularly with the meddling of 'Daniels' (Scoot McNairy).) it worked but more often than not it fizzled out.
'Black Sea' is interesting, with buckets of potential thanks to a divided crew, the submarine setting desperation and of course the greed of people. But it never reaches that and can be added to the pile of ok thrillers. Aside from a few moments the small enclosed space of the submarine is never utilised as well as I expected. The actors do a great job and in particular 'Jude Law' but I couldn't help but feel it was a missed opportunity.