January has been a really busy month. Although I have managed to squeeze a lot of new releases into my schedule, unfortunately I’ve not had the time to review them (woe is me). Nevertheless I’ve decided to round up what I saw in the cinema in January.
Texas Chainsaw 3D
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is one of the most iconic horror franchises in cinema. Kicking off with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974, three sequels followed before it was inevitably remade in 2003, the remake then spawning a prequel in 2006. 2013 sees its first foray into 3D and you know it isn’t that bad…for the first 5 minutes at least. Continuing right after where the original left off, a lynch mob burn down the Sawyer family’s farmhouse with all of them inside. Finding a baby has survived, one of the mob adopt it only for her to grow up into Alexandra Daddario suggesting that she may not be a blood relative of her cousin Leatherface. The film goes from incredibly bad to horrendously shit in the space of about 10 minutes. Character development and plot devices are never going to be the focal points of a slasher series, however please treat the audience with more respect than you would a lobotomised cat who would even pick holes in this. Truly dreadful, the final insult is when Leatherface transforms into an anti-hero. Excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for a maniacal chainsaw wielding murderer no matter how antagonising his victims are.
Django’s runtime had me a little concerned. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, I feared I’d be subjected to another of Tarantino’s bloated talk fests where all the characters sound like the writer/director has cloned himself and all the clones are giving each other hand jobs while telling each other how amazing they are. Well, I was delightfully wrong. Django Unchained is outstanding. Brilliant performances, most notably Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, and a script that is arguably the best thing QT has written since Pulp Fiction. Truly exceptional film. Jase’s full review can be found here.
The Wee Man
Ok, first off I have to state that I’m from Glasgow. I grew up hearing the stories of notorious gangster Paul Ferris and have to admit I was excited to seeing my home city up on the big screen. Unfortunately due to pressure from the police and the council, the story of Glasgow’s bloodied past is told with a London backdrop. Not that it takes anything away from the story or performances, The Wee Man is an enjoyable British gangster flick that doesn’t star Danny Dyer. Martin Compston puts in a good shift as usual while John Hannah impresses as Ferris’s rival, Tam ‘the licensee’ McGraw. Granted, a lot of artistic license is not only enforced with it’s literary setting, one key scene actually took place when Ferris was barely a toddler. The film isn’t a documentary though, yet it’s still managed to cause a lot of controversy in Glasgow. Panned by critics; it impressed at the box office. Worth a watch.
The Last Stand
Arnie is back…again. Taking the lead for the first time since 2003’s diabolical Terminator: Rise of the Machines, the former Governator plays a small town Sheriff who must protect his town from an escaped cartel drug lord who plans on taking a short cut to Mexico through the Sheriffnator’s (no?) patch. The big man’s best days may be behind him, but The Last Stand is a good action flick. With over the top set-pieces and a humerous script, it has all the hallmarks of an Arnie film. Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzmán provide the majority of the laughs, and despite a fairly light tone to the film it’s not without its share of violent gore. Peter Stormare hams it up as a villain while Forrest Whittaker appears to be in a different film from everyone else. Arnie is back. And judging by the amount of films he has in post and pre production, he won’t be going anywhere soon.
Zero Dark Thirty
In the same week as I went to see Zero Dark Thirty I watched a film titled Osombie. The films are easily comparable, they both feature the death of Osama Bin Laden and both of them are incredibly dull. Osombie being dire didn’t come as a great shock however I was incredibly disappointed by Kathryn Bigelow’s latest Oscar botherer. Jessica Chastain plays Maya who makes it her personal obsession to track down the world’s most wanted man. We all know how it ends however that shouldn’t have prevented it from being devoid of suspense. I’m a huge fan of Bigelow and found it strange that the tension and thrills she’s famous for were absent here. Even when Bin Laden is taken out it’s done so without any real impact. A little too seeped in realism, Zero Dark Thirty could have done with remembering it was a movie.
I really don’t know where to start with this film. The plot (if you can call it that) has a group of three teenagers searching the net for a mythical film called Movie 43. However that’s if you’re watching it in the UK. The US version has Dennis Quaid as a screenwriter who is pitching a series of segments. What follows are numerous unfunny sketches to hold the film together that have no comedy value at all. That people laughed when I saw this in the cinema made me question the survival of the human race. I don’t meant to sound like a film snob, I just fail to see how anyone can consider this abomination entertainment. What’s upsetting is that this will be arguably the best ensemble cast of the year.
Monsters, Inc 3D
Confession time. I missed Monsters, Inc first time around. My head hung in shame until I rectified it recently. A world where monsters scare children but it’s the monsters that are really afraid. Originally released in 2001, the film by directors Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich and David Silverman has everything we’ve come to expect from Pixar. Warmth, cuteness and enough humour to keep adults and children entertained. The 3D doesn’t really add much however a couple of scenes showcase a beautiful depth to the film that highlights how well the animation stands up to the present day. If you haven’t see it don’t wait as long as I did.