Film Reviews by LC

Welcome to LC's film reviews page. LC has written 33 reviews and rated 225 films.

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Nightbreed

Supremely silly monster movie

(Edit) 08/02/2020

Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser' is a classic, and I enjoyed the 'Cabal' novel on which this film was based - unfortuantely 'Nightbreed' is a bit of a mess, and has dated badly. This fantasy/horror mix works on the page, but Barker clearly didn't have the money, actors or budget to make it work on screen. The lead actor has all the charisma of a piece of wood, and most of the cast are just as inept (only David Cronenberg comes out with his dignity intact), though none of them are helped by the crass dialogue. It's ambitious in scope, but ultimately comes across as a very silly monster movie. That said, it can be reasonably entertaining in a ludicrous 'so bad it's good' kind of way, especially when the local police suddenly turn into a gung-ho military outfit and start blowing people up for no good reason. With armies of rubbery monsters, cheesy dialogue, and enough 80's hairspray to rip a hole in the ozone layer, this is closer to the ludicrous 'Rawhead Rex' than 'Hellraiser', and is best enjoyed in the same spirit.

[NB - I have only seen the 'Directors Cut' of this film - maybe the Theatrical Cut is a vast improvement, though I kinda doubt it. ]

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Midsommar

Great visuals, predictable storyline

(Edit) 24/01/2020

'Midsommar' clearly owes a huge debt to 'The Wicker Man', only this time it's wierd goings on involving an isolated pagan community in Sweden, rather than the Scottish isles. However, where that movie was anchored by an interesting hook of the investigation into a missing child, this feels almost devoid of any plot, and as a result feels slightly aimless at times. It looks great, has nice cinematography and performances, but the storyline is highly predictable - as soon as the group of American teenagers arrive in the community we all know what's going to happen to them - it's just a case of waiting to see exactly how it plays out. Still, this is an improvement on 'Hereditary', in that it doesn't fall to pieces in the final act. Ari Aster clearly is a talented director - it would just be nice to see him teamed up with a more inventive scriptwriter. 3.5 / 5

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The Dead Don't Die

'Shaun of the Dead' on tranquilisers, and minus the jokes

(Edit) 14/01/2020

The only thing of note in this film are the huge number of big-name character actors - how they agreed to do this project, God only knows, as the script is a boring mess. For the first half of the film, I was willing to forgive the pace as a slow-burn build up, but even when the zombie apocalypse breaks out in full, everything remains sedate. The two main characters drift through events as though sedated on tranquilisers, raising a mildly ironic eyebrow at the events that occur around them, so thre's no real drama here. The postmodern idea that the characters are aware that they are in a film seems potentially interesting, but, like much else in this film, it doesn't really go anywhere. Characters are introduced, and then discarded in flat and uninteresting zombie attacks, or off-screen in some cases (and what was the point with the strand of kids in the detention facility? The storyline literally goes nowhere). There is no new slant on the zombie genre (the final tacked on linking of zombies with consumerism is lifted straight out of Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead'), and the cheap CGI effects mean there isn't any entertaining gore either.

None of this would matter if the script was funny, or clever, but it isn't - and all the great actors in the world can't help that. Stick to 'Shaun of the Dead', or 'Zombieland', and avoid this mess.

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Rabid

A decent Cronenberg tribute

(Edit) 22/12/2019

Whilst essentially a loose remake of 1977's 'Rabid', this film actually has echoes of several Cronenberg films, with moments harking back to the likes of 'Shivers', 'The Brood' and even 'Dead Ringers'. Some of the lead actors, and indeed several entire scenes, feel unconvincing and a bit on the amateur dramatic side - but there is a partial out given in that we are not sure exactly which scenes are 'real' and hallucinations, plus kooky , over the top and downright weird performances and moments were part and parcel of most of Cronenberg's best films, so it's hardly bad form. The full-on tentacle waving body horror of the climax is both slightly ludicrous and entirely in keeping with the source material.

It's by no means perfect, and it goes without saying that ultimately as a remake this isn't an improvement on Cronenberg's original - but it does come across as a well-meaning and solid tribute to the director's unique brand of body horror. [3.5 out of 5]

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American Horror Story: Series 6

The worst season so far

(Edit) 06/12/2019

Ultimately, this is another 'haunted house' story - something the first series already did to better effect - only this time with a sprinkling of cannibal hillbillies. Conceptually, there are some interesting aspects here, with the series riffing on reality TV, and people affected by real-life tragedies interacting with the actors who portrayed them in 'dramatic reconstructions'. Sadly things fall to pieces during the second half of the series when things go into 'found footage' territory - characters start illogically filming everything and each other on their phones - even whilst in mortal peril, and we get endless scenes of people running around the the same two locations screaming 'oh my God!', with some of the worst English accents you'll ever hear. Previous seasons of 'American Horror Story' have been wildly inconsistent in terms of quality, but they've usually had enough crazy performances and over-the-top moments to at least be fun - this series seems to try to play things straighter, but the 'reality' footage never looks anything but fake, so it just doesn't connect, and ends up a pretty dreary bore.

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Suspiria

Ambitious but ultimately inferior remake

(Edit) 12/11/2019

Fair play to this film for its artistic ambition and willingness to set out on its own path, but ultimately this remake just doesn't come close to the power of Argento's original classic. The garish 70's colours and soundtrack of the original have been deliberately inverted, so this time round everything feels bleak, muted and wintery. The first three quarters of the film, with the menace at the heart of the dance school being slowly uncovered are reasonably effective - slow, but with a certain hypnotic charm. Unfortunately the explicit horror climax (complete with rubber monster prosthetics and CGI gore) is a complete mess, and derails much of the tone of what went before. The film is stuffed with allusions to contemporary political events but doesn't seem to quite know what to do with them, whilst the constant intrusion of the story of an old man (played by Tilda Swinton under layers of prosthetics, for some unknown reason) and his long-lost wartime love keeps derailing the focus from the main heroine. Ultimately, this feels both overstuffed and unfocused - some rigorous editing and hacking down the 2.5 hour running time might have resulted in a tighter and more coherent film. Sometimes less really is more.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Vox Lux

Hollow showbiz drama, with some artistic pretentions

(Edit) 06/11/2019

This was ultimately a frustrating viewing experience, as this film seemed to offer so much more. It starts with a bang (quite literally), and the first half (starring Raffey Cassidy as the young lead) points towards an interesting take on the nature of fame, celebrity and the exploitation of tragic events. Despite a portentious voice-over from Willem Dafoe hinting at earth-shattering events to come, however, the film ultimately goes nowhere. Natlie Portman takes over as the older version of the lead character, and the film keeps threatening to explore interesting avenues (copycat violence, the pop star as religion), only to ultimately ignore them. Instead we get a final ten minute scene of a mind-numbingly dull arena show performance, with Portman very unconvincing in the role of Madonna/Lady Gaga-esque pop diva, some instantly forgettable songs and generic light show and backing dancers....and that's it. The film doesn't come to any kind of dramatic climax, it just stops. There are enough arty flourishes that it makes you feel like something deeper must be being explored, but ultimately it's the same bog-standard 'showbiz can f*** people up' story that's been told a million times before. Not entirely awful - a great opening, and I pretty much enjoyed most of the first half - but ultimately this story just fizzles out.

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Alita: Battle Angel

Infantile, expensive trash - I struggled several times to get through this without turning off

(Edit) 17/10/2019

Visually this looks OK, although every frame is dripping in so much CGI (including the main character), that at times it becomes difficult to tell why they didn't just animate the entire thing, especially when the human actors give such hammy and cartoonish performances. All the characters are ludicrous stock types spouting generic cliches, and the entire tone of the film seems to be aimed at a very young age group, but the strange inclusion of a couple of swear words needlessly pushes this into a 12 rating (which I would argue should be an upper age limit). The script is a mess, being both overstuffed (it jumps around numerous plot points without ever really developing most of them, leaving the main villain and his motivation a complete enigma) and ultimately too thin, as the lack of conclusion makes it clear this isn't so much a self-contained film, but just what the studio hopes will be the first part in an ongoing franchise. Young children will find the visual noise and large characters entertaining, but this is otherwise irredemable and empty-headed nonsense.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Mary Poppins Returns

Practically pointless in every way

(Edit) 01/07/2019

This is well-shot, and looks good, but the storyline sticks so close to the original film that by the end you are wondering why they didn't just do a straight remake. Another tale of childhood wonder vs. the stifling evil bank; Cockney chimneysweep replaced by a lamplighter (complete with group dance routine); a trip to cartoon-land; a visit to a relative who floats on the ceiling replaced by a scene with a relative whose house turns upside down, etc etc. None of this would matter so much if these scenes were an improvement on the originals, but they just feel like hollow repetitions. This film is so busy trying to be a homage to the first film, it forgets to bring anything new to the table, which makes the whole thing feel like a pointless exercise. Like watching colourful but ultimately boring wallpaper. 2.5 out of 5

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The Possessed

Great atmospheric thriller

(Edit) 17/06/2019

Not expecting much, I was pretty blown away by this film. Give another treatment, this could have been a fairly standard thriller/murder mystery, but the direction and black and white cinematography is gorgeous, and the whole thing is dripping in atmosphere. The plot doesn't so much progress from standard investigative procedure, as by a series of intuitive flashbacks and hallucinatory fever-dreams, which gives everything a strange dreamlike feel. The only reason I'm not giving this the full 5 out of 5, is that when the final explanation comes it is perhaps not quite as fulfilling as the lead up has been, but this is still a hugely impressive work. If you like 'Psycho', or the better Dario Argento films, this is definately one to watch.

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Mortal Engines

Great visuals, shame about everything else

(Edit) 13/06/2019

This film looks a million dollars (well, several million), and on high-definition format on a big TV it's just about worth watching for the visuals alone. Unfortunately, despite the interesting concept of mobile cities preying on each other, the characters and and storyline here are nothing but obvious genre cliché and the dialogue is frequently ripe with cheese. Would recommend for children, who are too young or innocent to spot the clichés piling up (and apparently this is based on a Young Adult novel, so maybe a 'kids' film' is all it was ever intended to be) - anyone else, and you're just going to have to try to switch your brain off and enjoy the pretty pictures.

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Girls' Last Tour

A sedate post-apocalytic road trip

(Edit) 31/05/2019

Two girls travel through a post-apocalyptic city, occasionally encountering other survivors, robots or life-forms, and uncovering scraps of information about how their world became this way. In terms of pacing, this is very sedate, with little in the way of action or even incident for large sections, but it does have a certain hypnotic appeal. Ultimately, equally charming and boring, but if you are looking for something a bit different and more relaxed, this is not without appeal.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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This Time

Good, but not great

(Edit) 02/05/2019

For me, Alan peaked with 'I'm Alan Partridge' - particularly the first season, where every character was amazing and pretty much every line was a quotable classic. This latest outing is pretty much in line with every Partridge-related outing since then - it's decent, and there are enough great moments to make it worthwhile (Alan practicing corporal punishment on a model schoolboy is a particular standout), but as a whole it's just too patchy and uneven to stand up to that all-time classic. Still, some decent laughs, so it's definitely good - it's just not great.

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Human Desire

Decent

(Edit) 17/04/2019

A solid film noir thriller, though the resolution feels very rushed and not particularly satisfying.

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Climax

A film of two halves

(Edit) 17/04/2019

This is a difficult film to rate - I found the first half pretty enjoyable viewing, but the second half mostly lost me. Nothing much happens in the first half (other than some wild dancing), but there are lots of inventive camera moves, long takes, colour and sound, and I found it interesting in an 'arty' way. For the second half of the film, things shift more into horror mode as the spiked drink kicks in, but I couldn't really buy into the reality of the situation, and endless scenes of people wandering around screaming hysterically ultimately felt slightly boring. Despite that, there's enough visual invention here that I'd say this is still worth a watch if you appreciate more off-beat and arty films, it's just a shame the largely improvised narrative isn't stronger. (3.5 out of 5)

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
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