Seeing that Hick starred both Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), and knowing that these two were new favourites of mine, was enough to make me watch. What I didn't realise is that Hick was going to turn out to be one of those films that made me really really mad. I guess I better explain...
Moretz plays Lulli McCullen, a girl who is trapped in a home with alcoholic parents. A girl who dreams of something better, and a girl who one day decides to chase that dream by running away to Las Vegas.The film's start is basically this premise stretched out beyond believe and despite meeting the characters of the two named stars within fifteen minutes, it's edges along at a dreary pace.
Redmayne's character, Eddie Keezer picks Lulli up while she is trying to hitchhike her way to the bright lights and then subsequently leaves her two minutes later. This brief appearance isn't enough to have much of an impact but boy does Redmayne change that later. More on that in a bit though because we need to talk about the person who dominates much of the first act and that is Blake Lively, from TV's Gossip Girl.
Was I expecting anything at all from Lively's characterisation of Glenda, the girl who eventually finds Lulli and takes her along for the ride? Probably not if I am honest but in fairness I warmed to her straight away. I liked her sass and the fact that she was more hardened to the world than Lulli.Don't get me wrong here, Moretz wasn't bad as such. I got that Lulli was ultimately a nice girl from a tough place in life but if there was outshining to be done, Lively did it. I kinda wanted Glenda to be my big sister, if my big sister encouraged me to try cocaine that is.
Anyway, this was point one of my contention with Hick as a film. Although Lively did something to make it watchable, the entire first act (and most of the second) ambled along like a typical road trip movie. At times it felt excruciatingly slow with pockets of movement that were never explained or developed. It felt like I watching the clock and waiting for something to either happen or for the film to end. When I say this film was slow, that really is an understatement.
It isn't until the end of the third act when the film takes a complete different route and pace. It's also when Redmayne becomes the absolute saviour of the whole thing and is bloody marvellous! Okay, maybe that's going a little too far but he outshines both Moretz and Lively with his twisted characterisation of Eddie. He has this air of 'something not quite right', which of course manifests itself in the lead up to the film's conclusion, and he made me feel uneasy. Also, have you ever noticed just how contorted Redmayne's face can get? I did while watching this and it's quite special. In all seriousness though, the acting isn't the problem with this film and although Redmayne's character was definitely the most developed there was believability coming from all three stars.
What gave me a major headache was after all that waiting around for the bulk of the film to go somewhere, the change of pace was so fast it felt scrambled. EVERYTHING flung itself together over the last twenty minutes making it disjoint itself from the ambling road trip to feel like two separate films. I just wish there would of been a little bit more cohesion and the action was dripped in slowly because by the conclusion I was missing the steadiness of the first two acts. I know right?! Hick could of been a film full of drama had it been tweaked a little. The bits that were undeveloped at the beginning could of been drawn out a little more to break up the monotony. The action at the end could of been introduced earlier allowing the viewer more time to make sense of it all... I realise that I am completely rewriting the film here of course but this is why I got so mad. What could of been a fab film instead fell mediocre.
I don't know how to start this review without sounding like I'm bashing British thriller films but risking sounding unpatriotic, I do struggle with them if I am honest. The last film that even remotely fitted into the genre that I enjoyed was back in 2011 with The Innkeepers but I'm always on the look out for something to change my mind and that is why Containment entered the ring. The writer David Lemon and director Neil Mcenery-West were both completely new to me so I went in with no expectations. Having seen the trailer, all I really knew was that it was a British thriller with a sci-fi vibe.
The story starts with Mark, Lee Ross (Dawn of the planet of the Apes), waking up in his apartment and finding himself sealed off from the rest of the world. His windows don't open, his door has been glued shut and he has no power inside his home. After the expected confusion he realises that everyone else in the block are experiencing the same thing and wonders why and of course, how to get out.
This initial build up is promising. The direction is slow and lofty with brooding shots that I actually enjoy.The whole situation is played as bewildered rather than frantic and really helps with understanding Mark as a character. Ross does him well and he becomes one of the few people to care about as the film progresses, this is definite testament to the opening scenes.
As other characters are introduced and the plot tries to thicken the film becomes messy. It's worth pointing out that although Andrew Leung (Lilting) is believable as passionate Sergei, the good cop/bad cop routine between him and Mark comes across as boring and predictable. Another performance worthy of mention is Sheila Reid as Mark's next door neighbour Enid. I only know Reid from playing mad cap Madge in UK series Benidorm and in this more serious role she was heart warming while still adding a comedic touch.
It's fair to say then that on a whole the acting wasn't terrible but somewhere this film truly lacked. For almost 45 mins it tries suspense but never really gets there, instead the scenes become drawn out and tedious. By the time any real action starts it's easy to have lost interest and although there is a couple of touching scenes within the third act, they get lost.
The third act and conclusion is a strange one because the film doesn't seem to have a secure point to end on. What happens is a return to the lull viewed before the ten minutes of drama and action. It's a lull that just drips by until the credits roll and we realise it's all over. Containment was saved slightly for me by good British actors but I didn't really care enough about where the plot was taking them and breathed a sigh of relief when I could up and leave. It's a shame.
A teaser trailer hit this week for the live action adaptation of Walt Disney's The Jungle Book and boy oh boy it looks like it's going to be a blinder.
The project has been pretty hush hush up until now but the trailer gives us more clues as to what to expect from the new film directed by Jon Favreau. For a start, the film isn't going to be a straight forward live action extravaganza. In fact, there's heavy elements of CG involved too in both the animals and environment of the much loved classic, and you know what... it looks flawless.
There are loads of big names involved too including Ben Kingsley (Ghandhi) and Bill Murray (Ghostbusters) but it's Scarlett Johansson (Lucy), who voices Kaa the snake who features heavily in the less than two minute clip. Of course, I am excited about Mowgli because I love the little blighter and he is played by newcomer Neel Sethi who looks absolutely adorable!
In a previous post I exclaimed my excitement for this to hit Netflix and today I finally found the time to be able to sit down and give it the attention, I feel, it richly deserves. What I was hoping for was a dark, taut thrill ride full of suspense and uncomfortable weirdness. Did I get it? Read on and find out...
Released exclusively for Netflix on July 14th Creep is billed as a found footage horror film and is the brain child of Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass who between them wrote, directed and starred in it. It seems to follow a simple plot and tags quite nicely onto the queue of films within the found footage genre but (and here's the good part) it has one massive thing going for it that I feel helps it stand alone.
Brice plays videographer Aaron who answers an advert on craigslist to do a days work for Duplass's character Josef. He drives out to a remote location without much information about the job at hand, meets up with his new 'boss' and the story follows from there.
That really is it, it's all very simple, and for me this is where the film's pros start coming. There is no mass set up or drawn out introduction process in order to give either character a back story; instead the film jumps straight in and continues to tick along at a solid pace. I loved this because it kept my interest and started the run on that massive thing this film has (that I talked about earlier).. piles and piles of tension. The tension gets to build right off the bat because like Aaron the viewer is stepping into complete unknown territory. The found footage element allows us to see the plot through his eyes and the characters develop right in front of ours.
Both Duplass's acting and the characterisation of Josef is brilliant. Through the first act of the film I felt real sympathy for him. Don't get me wrong there was always that wisp of weird hanging in the air but if I hadn't read the synopsis first, I would've thought this film was going in a whole different direction. There are elements of dark comedy in Creep too and most of that comes from Duplass. It wasn't laugh out loud funny but then I don't believe it's meant to be. Instead it left me feeling uncomfortable and quite heavily so. There were moments when I caught myself trying to get my head around this paradoxical character Duplass was playing. He really confused me in a bad way that became good as I felt a lump in my throat more than once. I thought back to another of Duplass's writing credits Cyrus and realised that I was becoming wrapped in the same shroud of odd I was the first time I saw that and as Cyrus still makes me shudder that has to be testament to Duplass.
Brice is great too. Alex is played more straight than Josef but if you think that this film is a simple case of good vs bad you'll be mistaken. There's something definitely not quite right about this character either and Brice plays it with such conviction that it's almost too late before you realise. I love little things like this films, the bits that make your head swim and question what you have just been watching. The second act is quite twisty but as that tension is always an under current none of it is in your face, instead it's subtle mirroring Brice's depiction of Alex. Fab!
The plot itself burns slow making parts of it almost unwatchable. Not because it's bad mind you, it's the intensity of it all. That tension I keep mentioning is there right to the very end and is in absolutely everything. It's in the acting, the direction and the plot and at times it's completely overbearing. It's been a while since a film has been able to do that to me and I absolutely loved it. More please!