Have you seen that Netflix now has a recommend to a friend function? Ooh if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you are in for a treat…

This week’s releases of note are as follows:

Chris Pine as Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2013)

Try as they might, they just can’t seem to get the Jack Ryan franchise right can they? Chris Pine stars in the latest attempt directed by Kenneth Branagh. Pine is the 4th actor to play the character over only 5 films spanning 24 years. This time around they have ignored some of the more interesting political angles of previous films in favour of an all action more specifically Bond like reboot with Ryan’s background as a soldier coming to the fore with a lot of mysterious phone calls and meet ups in master bedrooms that end in violence.

The problem is it’s not very engaging, Branagh is ill suited to this material and the producers clearly had too much of an eye on a new franchise and forgot to tell an engaging story. The script really is all over the place and unsure what to do with many of the supporting characters, Keira Knightley in particular as the girlfriend/future wife character comes off worse and ridiculously ends up getting involved True Lies style which pushes things just a bit too far. Jack Ryan is a character who flourished in the 90’s if at all and was better suited to the glossier mid budget thriller films they produced back then as opposed to the cynical gritty cinema of today. It seems to me that there should now be a move to television with this character, at least then there is a bigger canvas and the franchise can be all things to all people which they tried and failed here.

Never mind, expect another reboot in 6 years with Adam Driver or someone else who gets cast in everything.

Available on Now TV



Homefront (2013)

Jason Statham, love him or hate him, you have to admit he does give good value for money most of the time. Homefront is a film penned by his Expendables buddy Sylvester Stallone and it has elements of First Blood except in comparison the relatively friendly Sheriff station in that film is replaced by some awful, vile meth dealers led by James Franco who don’t take kindly to Statham’s new guy in town when he punches a guy for mouthing off.

What I really enjoyed about Homefront is the way it feels like a situation escalating and spiralling out of all control with harsh words leading to vandalism and then eventually more savage acts of violence. Perhaps because of its lead, Homefront does tend to focus on the macho posturing and action violence rather too much and of course there is a background featuring some kind of shady military past. With a little more nuance and care Homefront could have been something really memorable but it’s enjoyable on a pure entertainment level nonetheless.

Available on Netflix from 30th September


Prisoners (2013)

This time last year Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners was in cinemas and was embraced by the same audiences that are currently going to see Liam Neeson in A Walk Among The Tombstones. Prisoners is a strange film in that all the ingredients are there and much of it is absolutely superb with a real moral conundrum at its centre, but puzzlingly it leaves a slight feeling of being underwhelmed like there is something missing. It could be the length, Villeneuve is in no hurry to tell his story and maybe shaving off fifteen or twenty minutes would have made it more impactful.

With a truly bleak washed out colour palette, Prisoners is essentially all about two performances. Hugh Jackman plays the father of a missing girl, driven mad with worry and concern and gives a stunning performance that only once goes slightly overboard. Jake Gyllenhaal as the cop on the case of the missing girls is just as good, he plays concerned very well with some genuine madness teetering just under the surface indicating a background that is never explored but is obvious from his weird haircut and tattoos (undercover?).

As I write this I remember a lot of the best parts of Prisoners, it is a solid intelligent thriller but does it deserve to be counted amongst 2013’s best like some have claimed? That will really be down to you.

Available on Amazon Prime


Oldboy (2013)

When it was announced that the inevitable remake of Park Chan Wook’s masterpiece was on the way, it was heartening to hear they were going with Spike Lee as a director and Josh Brolin was an inspired choice for the lead. Approaching the film’s release there were whispers of a 3 hour cut that was wrestled away from Lee by the producers and then there was barely any publicity for the film which was worrying. The American version of Oldboy gets a few things right but what it gets wrong, it gets really wrong.

The often surreal and visually impressive vision of Park Chan Wook’s film is gone in favour of something in love with its own brutality. The key difference is in the celebrated hammer fight scene in both films. In the original it happens organically like it’s the next phase in a scene, in this version there is a guitar strum and Brolin is suddenly standing at the start of a corridor like he’s a cypher in some kind of 2D side scrolling beat em up video game, and of course he decks more people across a couple of levels more than the original because that’s the kind of film this is.

The horrifying secret at the heart of the story is also possibly more horrifying but any impact this might have is assassinated by Sharlto Copley’s ridiculous villain. It’s hard to see how an extended version of this may have solved any of the problems but truthfully this version isn’t a total loss, it’s entertaining enough and I did like the ending, it’s probably best if you view it as a majorly flawed cover version rather than something to ever rival the original.

Available on Now TV

Horror Willow Creek

Willow Creek (2013)

Over the past year I have had multiple arguments and disagreements over this film. Willow Creek is God Bless America director Bobcat Goldthwait’s attempt at a found footage horror film, and this time around it involves a possible Bigfoot creature.

So a young couple head into the woods despite numerous warnings from the locals and of course are then plagued by strange noises and rustles. Considering who was directing and the subject matter, I expected some kind of sharp, blackly comic take down of the found footage sub-genre. Apart from one throwaway line at the start, there isn’t anything to distinguish this from the hundreds of found footage horrors that go straight to VOD every week although there is a bravo one take nearly twenty minute long sequence which is rightly lauded.

Willow Creek is a solid watch for Halloween this year but I expected more.

Available on Now TV


Nymphomaniac parts 1 and 2 (2013)

Love him or hate him, Lars Von Trier isn’t going anywhere any time soon and he will continue to attempt to shock and depress you whether you bother with him or not. The truth is its going to get more difficult if places like Netflix add films called ‘Nymphomaniac’ then what do you think is going to happen? These films will now suddenly become some 14 year olds exposure to a larger film world that includes Europe and for all the wrong reasons.

The truth is I only made it through the first part of this two part adventure into the life of a troubled woman. I was never bored but I don’t think there is much to it the way that Von Trier seems to think there is with his bizarre fly fishing metaphor spouting character played by Stellan Skarsgaard, the metaphors don’t work the way they did in Melancholia or Anti-Christ. The first part is a collection of good moments and solid performances from the likes of Uma Thurman and Christian Slater rather than telling an overall compelling story because a sort of romance with Shia LeBeouf fails to engage despite the explicit sex.

The second part is apparently the more brutal as it follows Charlotte Gainsbourg’s titular character into adulthood, can’t wait.

Available on Netflix from 30th September

Hell Baby (2013)

Hell Baby (2013)

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon are funny guys as evidenced by multiple seasons of Cops spoof Reno 911 which managed to be consistently funny even with an increasing reliance on nudity as comedy. With Hell Baby they have directed as well as written the film and it seems like perhaps the directing job should have been given to someone else.

The script is funny, there is no two ways about that, its spot on and has something of a satirical edge to it too, skewering the housing market and social statuses, but it’s all delivered so poorly and at such a rapid fire pace that you barely get time to register. A lot of very funny stuff falls completely flat because the comic timing is so off. Out of the talented ensemble including Rob Corddry, Paul Scheer and Garant and Lennon themselves, only Keegan Michael Key acquits himself well and seems to be operating on his own level of quality.

There are one or two moments where the lunatic pace gives way to a great laugh but otherwise this is probably something to stick on mid-week when you are tired and looking for something distracting and nothing more.

Available on Netflix

Premium Rush 1

Premium Rush (2012)

Despite penning some of the biggest blockbusters of modern times, writer turned director David Koepp has never really broken through with his directorial efforts despite playing with some fascinating ideas. The Trigger Effect and Stir of Echoes are two of the most underrated films of the late 90’s and even Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais has its moments although Koepp is ill suited to that material. His most recent film also went by fairly unnoticed and its perhaps too low key and old fashioned for these cynical modern times.

The premise is Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bicycle courier in New York who picks up an envelope that Michael Shannon’s corrupt cop desperately wants, and that’s pretty much it. Where Premium Rush scores is in its style, obviously it has a central theme about racing and some kind of chase and Koepp never lets the pace flag with the camera following these speed freaks as they hurtle recklessly through the city with no breaks and the effect is exhilarating.

This film would have been huge if released in 1994 or something but in the here and now it remains under seen and underrated and a return to form for Koepp after a couple of disappointments.

Available on Amazon Prime

Sound Of My Voice 3

Sound of My Voice (2011)

Zal Batmanglij’s debut feature surfed a wave of critical praise and hyperbole into its release in this country and at the end I scratched my head and wondered why? The premise is fascinating, two documentary filmmakers infiltrate a cult where the mysterious leader claims to be from the future and for most of its run time this is gripping, intriguing stuff.

Now word is that this film was intended as the first in a trilogy which the writer and director now doubt will ever happen, and boy does it show. There are little moments and lines of dialogue that hint at a larger mystery and an ending that just kind of appears out of nowhere and leaves you hanging. This is a film with absolutely no pay off and because of this and the doubt about any future instalments it renders all of the good work mute.

By all means watch it if you want just be prepared, Batmanglij would go on to perfect this framework with his next film The East which is available over on Now TV if you are interested.

Available on Amazon Prime

Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Ah Clash of the Titans, thousands of fond childhood memories ruined by thousands of men worldwide who now shout ‘Release the Kraken!’ every time they go number twos…sigh. Impact on pop culture aside, it’s hard to imagine how Louis Leterrier’s 2010 remake of the 1981 original could be as fondly remembered in years to come. It lacks any of the originals charm and the effects work will date it rather quickly although the actual Kraken is hugely impressive.

This is one of those rare occasions where a sequel is actually a better film because Wrath of the Titans has tons more character and charm and Sam Worthington actually gives a performance. At the end of the day Clash of the Titans 2010 style is one the few times I have fallen asleep during a film in the cinema, make of that what you will.

Available on Amazon Prime


If you want to catch up on the latest releases here’s what is available to stream this week for a fee:

The Art of 300 (2)

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

Let’s face it, Zack Snyder’s 2006 interpretation of Frank Miller’s 300 isn’t a film that needed a sequel but there again 300 made a lot of money and where there is money there is a sequel. So as I understands it there were actually not just 300 Spartans against the Persian army after all and there was this other lot led by Sullivan Stapleton.

There was also some evil mad warrior queen played by Eva Green who is on the side of the Persians and again Green walks away with the film with another mad performance. Reviews for this were largely negative with the more light hearted critic claiming that it was actually good fun and for once praising the 3D. Either way it’s probably good eye candy if nothing more.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Filmflex/Blinkbox/Amazon


Blended (2014)

If nothing else, summer 2014 will probably be memorable for the amount of comedies that died at the box office. More puzzling is the fact that this dumb ass reunion of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, this time on holiday in Africa absolutely died on its ass at the cinema, clearly The Wedding Singer hasn’t been shown on Channel 5 enough times just yet.

Could people finally be tiring of the Sandler shtick? Anything is possible I suppose. I suspect there are still some kids out there under 16 who think Sandler is great, I was one of you once, but this is probably more Grown Ups than the relatively fun That’s My Boy or Mr Deeds.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Filmflex/Blinkbox/Amazon