Because making a straight-up Robinson Crusoe movie would have been too easy, director Robert Zemeckis went for Cast Away instead: a modern-day retelling of the familiar tale of a man stuck on a desert island.

With only the love of FedEx to keep him warm at night.

Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is the put-upon castaway whose FedEx plane crashes in the sea in one of the film's best, most effective sequences. We then follow him as he slowly but surely comes to terms with his new life alone on the deserted island he randomly found himself on. With only coconuts and the odd (raw) fish to eat, he struggles at first but eventually starts to learn some key survival skills which end up saving his life in the four years he ends up spending on the island. That and the company of a personalised volleyball he calls Wilson, one of the film's biggest characters and most genius product placement ideas.

Hanks' very own physical transformation during the making of the film certainly adds some realism to his character's decreasing diet and the actor's performance is altogether definitely strong enough to hold the whole film together. While the film could have very easily capsized into the melodramatic and gone for a happy Hollywood ending, there's a genuine attempt here to not overdo the schmaltz. Hanks' relationship with Helen Hunt's character on (he keeps a picture of her inside an old watch) and off the island is heartfelt but never too romanticised and it never gets in the way of some valid character development. There's also a darker revelation and some bloodier moments on the island which really don't help sugarcoat our protagonist's adventure at all.

It's a simple story told very well yet it falls just short of making for a great movie. The FedEx-themed plot just comes off as gimmicky and corny and the film itself drags a little in its first and final acts. I for one would have gladly sat through more island-based discoveries or challenges than waiting for a package to be delivered or a Christmas dinner where everybody is talking at the same time with a mouthful of ham.

Cast Away is well worth seeing, if only for Hanks' performance and dedication to the role, just don't expect to be completely blown away.



After sitting through the controversial new Fantastic Four film and revisiting Marvel's 2005 attempt at bringing Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's beloved, (and ever-so slightly) wacky superheroes to life cinematically, I thought I'd finally look back at the sequel, a film I did not care for upon its release and did not watch after that.

Until now.

Is it as bad as a remember it?

Luckily no. Much like the first Fantastic Four movie, I had more fun with this effort than I expected. The cast (except, of course, Jessica Alba) once again does a pretty decent job, Chris Evans particularly, and the addition of iconic character The Silver Surfer was an inspired choice. A mixture of (now dated) CGI and practical effects (with good old Doug Jones once again buried head to toe in make-up) plus Laurence Fishburne's booming voice, the Surfer is such an interesting character he almost fully overshadows the Fantastic Four here, making us wish we were watching his movie instead of theirs. While the Four's story is cartoony, small and a little clumsy, the Surfer's is tragic, epic and dark, the two never merging all that convincingly together. Incidentally, even John Ottman's big Silver Surfer theme is so good it makes you forget about the Fantastic Four's.

The plot, this time around, is much more padded and convoluted. The script could have definitely done with some heavy trimming. The wedding of Mr Fantastic and Invisible Girl makes up a big part of the movie and one couldn't imagine a more boring aspect for kids and even adults looking to see an action-packed comic-book movie: this could have been cut altogether. As could have Doctor Doom's criminally shoehorned-in comeback which is more distracting than anything and makes very little to no sense. He's forgotten about almost entirely every time we cut back to another character. The sight of him riding that surfboard also adding some unintentional lols to the whole thing.

Action-wise, there are some respectable sequences in the film which make it entertaining as a whole. The scenes in which The Human Torch is pursuing the Silver Surfer are really enjoyable, and the Surfer's systematic destruction of Earth brings a more appropriate amount of threat to the story than in the first film. This time, you really do feel like the whole world is at stake rather than just the three blocks this one cloaked metal guy could have potentially destroyed. Unfortunately, another distraction is the humour in the film which works even less than it did the first time around. Yes seeing Johnny Storm switch powers with The Thing is amusing, as is Stan Lee being refused entry to the wedding due to not being on the guest list in his cameo. There's just way too much powers-related goofiness and marriage-themed jokes (we all love 'em) in a film where some potentially really cool things are going on!

Overall, Rise Of The Silver Surfer is no full-blown disaster but it's definitely not great. Messier and ultimately worse than its predecessor, it still delivers The Silver Surfer's first big-screen outing since... ever and it has its genuinely fun moments so it remains infinitely better than the dull-fest we were offered this year.

Surfer spin-off movie pleeeeeease.



During the late 80's/early 90's, Kevin Costner could do no wrong. So it's no surprise he was cast as Robin Hood in this 1991 blockbuster despite the actor not having an English accent in the slightest or having any interest in even attempting one.

I guess this was only a few years after we all accepted Sean Connery as an Egyptian from Spain in Highlander so an American Robin Hood probably didn't sound like too crazy of an idea.

Incidentally, Sean Connery does cameo in this movie as King Richard the Lionheart.

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves is one of those movies that really should not work and yet does mostly thanks to the fact it's a shameless, mindless blockbuster with enough cheese and ham to entertain even the most stubborn viewer. The familiar tale of Robin Of Loxley and his gang of misfits is told without many surprises but what it lacks in unpredictability it makes up for in gusto. Kevin Reynolds' movie follows Robin's journey from prisoner to outlaw and, ultimately, legend including all the ingredients which make up a very watchable swashbuckling adventure: sword fights, romance, over-the-top villains, arrows on fire... the works.

Speaking of over-the-top villains, Alan Rickman is this film's Sheriff Of Nottingham and he ranks up the ham to 11 which, in itself, is far more entertaining than anything you'll find in that criminally dull Ridley Scott Robin Hood movie. His performance is almost indistinguishable from Roger Rees's in Mel Brooks' famous spoof Robin Hood: Men In Tights, to give you an idea. Add to that a goofy witch, Christian Slater trying out a wholly unconvincing English twang and Michael Wincott sporting a medieval goth bad guy look and you've got yourself what's basically a live-action cartoon. Luckily, you've also got the ever-reliable Morgan Freeman as Hood's Moorish friend Azeem there to bring some form of a sensible voice plus Costner doesn't overdo it (does he ever?) so even though he doesn't exactly have the natural charm of an Errol Flynn, he gives a solid performance.

The film itself looks good and is never dull even when Robin's Merry Men are just chilling in the woods. It's a silly, way too American blockbuster so don't expect any kind of realism but as basic 90's popcorn entertainment, it works. Even with that corny Bryan Adams song.

Guilty pleasure.



One of those big 90's flops which rarely gets talked about is Bruce Willis-starring action comedy Hudson Hawk, a film which not only lost a bomb at the box-office upon its release but pretty much universally confounded audiences.

Misunderstood cult classic or deserved failure?

The answer, funnily enough, seems to be both!

Yes Hudson Hawk is indeed something of a cult gem in that there aren't many other films quite like it and its rather unique approach remains fascinating to this day. It's one of those oddities like The Adventures Of Pluto Nash or that Rocky and Bullwinkle movie where you "get" what they're trying to do and appreciate some of what they're trying to do yet still acknowledge it doesn't work. These are action comedies with cartoonish, old-fashioned vibes and they are admittedly fun in parts but these are also quite niche meaning that spending bazillions of dollars on them was and is folly.

It doesn't help that Hudson Hawk was marketed as a Die Hard-style actioner either.

The core plot of this movie is a promising one: some baddies are trying to kickstart a doomsday alchemy machine created by Leonardo Da Vinci a while back by using a super-talented cat burglar to steal the crystals required to activate it. It's absurd, granted, but it could work in an Indiana Jones-lite kind of way. Or, rather, a Romancing The Stone-lite kind of way. Incidentally, the opening scene, which is set in Da Vinci's time, is exciting and looks more expensive than anything going on in the movie after that: it's a perfect build-up and a criminally wasted one.

The film has its share of problems, so much so that it's hard to know where to start. For one thing, there are far too many characters. You've got Hawk (a respectably good Bruce Willis) and his pal (an overused Danny Aiello), you've got Andie MacDowell's nun, James Coburn and his gang of CIA operatives (all hilariously (?) named after candy bars), some generic mobsters led by Frank Stallone, a knife-wielding butler, Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard's ridiculously over-the-top megalomaniac couple. Keeping track of who's doing what and why is a chore especially when all the plot boils down to is Hudson Hawk doing the same thing three times. Not to mention that each set of characters feels like they belong in a different movie yet everyone is trying very/too hard to belong and be funny.

Which brings me to the film's main issue: the humour. Tonally, this is a pretty consistent flick but the script just drags and struggles to get laughs constantly. There are some stand-out lols, luckily: MacDowell's dolphin speak, the Mona Lisa's cameo, whatever the hell Richard E. Grant thinks he's doing, the surprisingly brutal way in which some characters are disposed of. It's just more amusing than it is a laugh riot and the needlessly convoluted plot is distracting, as are the bizarrely-placed musical numbers.

Clearly Hudson Hawk needed a full rewrite with a less repetitive, messy and plodding storyline, better jokes and altogether more sensible direction. As it stands you can tell there's a really fun, inventive movie in there but it's so sloppy you're left wondering what the hell you just watched.

Worth seeing for curiosity's sake, just don't expect Da Vinci's gold.



When Pixar announced Inside Out, a film mostly taking place inside a kid's head, it sounded insane but promising in that it's something that hadn't been done before and it had the potential to be the animation studio's most affecting film since Up.

The film's big concept is explained to us little by little as we see young Riley's early years develop from a single emotion, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), to several including Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). When Riley and her parents move to San Francisco, this jumbles up her emotions to the point where Joy and Sadness find themselves out of the loop completely. The film follows the latter two as they desperately try to get back into Riley's head through any means possible.

This is arguably the most surreal Pixar adventure since Monsters Inc., which was also directed by Pete Docter, and the gimmicky concept once again doesn't distract from the actual story which hooks you in from the get-go. The world of the mind the film creates is so fascinating you buy it instantly and all the characters are so likeable you'll fear for their well-being whenever danger nears. This is a colourful, intricate, alien yet familiar setting we're thrown into here and it's one that's constantly bursting with creativity, always surprising us with new, brilliantly put together ideas. Being a Pixar film it also looks great, obviously, and has some genuinely moving moments.

Also look out for a show-stealing Richard Kind as imaginary friend Bing Bong, who is part elephant, part cat, part... dolphin.

To say that Inside Out is one of the smartest, most original, bittersweet coming-of-age stories out there should be an overstatement but it isn't. It also happens to be one of Pixar's very best. Missing it would definitely be a mistake.




Born out of an episode of Kevin Smith's Smodcast podcast, Tusk was a story inspired by a fake ad on Gumtree in which a man was looking for someone to come and spend time with him while acting like and being dressed up as a walrus. The ad would turn out to be a prank but a truly insane/genius horror movie idea was born, an idea you can hear in the episode of Smodcast entitled "The Walrus And The Carpenter".

The film, which was released a year ago today, was not a big hit at the box-office but it helped give birth to Smith's promising Canada-set horror comedy trilogy which will include the upcoming Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws, along with the belated sequel to Mallrats around the same time. Plus the idea that some goofy joke conversation two friends one day have in a podcast can turn into a proper movie is inspiring. The film's cast would include Justin Long, Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez and a surprise appearance by Johnny Depp, whose portrayal of Canadian detective Guy Lapointe is worth the ticket of admission alone.

Tusk follows podcaster Wallace (Long) who travels to Canada to meet someone (viral sensation The Kill Bill Kid) to interview on his "Not See Party" podcast. Unfortunately, this plan quickly backfires and, after he finds a live-in walrus man ad in a bar bathroom, he goes to meet Howard Howe (Parks), a wheelchair-bound kook with one unbelievable story to tell, to say the least. The build-up to the main twist is genuinely unsettling despite some clever (and silly) in-jokes thrown in for lols. The good thing about all this is that Kevin Smith proves himself to be a worthy horror movie director here, as Tusk remains pretty messed-up throughout and stays with you long after you've watched it. Add to that a Michael Parks on top form delivering a typically brilliant, creepy-as-f*** performance and you've got yourself enough to give you nightmares for a week.

Unfortunately, the horror elements don't always merge with the jokes that well which gives the film a bit of a confusing tone only true Smodcast and View Askew fans will appreciate, hence the box-office results. Having said that, you've got some very amusing scenes in there as the Canadians portrayed and the genre contrasts within the story help give the film a Fargo-esque vibe. Lily-Rose Melody Depp (Depp's daughter) and Harley Quinn Smith (Smith's daughter) cameo as moody clerks and Johnny Depp's inspired Guy Lapointe (another classic Smodcast character) appears in a few scenes, all of which give him the chance to exercise a hilarious, if not wholly convincing Canadian twang. The good news is the film is funny, it's just a shame that detracts from the tension from time to time. The two sequels, which seem to be embracing their cartoonish nature even more, should manage that a little better.

All in all, it's good to have Smith back on good form delivering new, original, hard-to-forget work and giving podcasting another level altogether, not to mention giving fans one big present indeed. The uninitiated won't be sold by Tusk, which'll likely leave them dumbstruck but everyone else should have a good time with it.

Walrus YES.



Here's a movie which, on paper, sounds like the worst thing you'll ever see: an Adam Sandler rom-com starring Drew Barrymore as a girl with no short term memory, a girl Sandler has to woo every single day.

The Hawaii-set romantic comedy, as expected, is a pretty cheesy affair with more than its share of infuriating moments. For one thing, Rob Schneider cameos as Sandler's slobby pal so expect loads of bad jokes and borderline racist stereotyping, plus awful child actors speaking loudly around him as a bonus. Then there's the plot which is about as believable as whatever happened in The Adventures Of Pluto Nash and the earnest way in which it's handled often clashes with the usual mostly low-brow Happy Madison brand of humour.

Walrus vomit jokes, anyone?

Then there's Drew Barrymore who really does her utmost to hammer in how adorable she is, often to irritating effect. Though one scene sees her hitting Schneider repeatedly with a baseball bat, something I personally support wholeheartedly. There are other unexpectedly fun moments in the film including Sean Astin popping up as a moron addicted to steroids, Dan Aykroyd cameoing as a straight-talking doctor and Sandler picking up his ukulele for a tune just like in the old days. In terms of the romance at hand, the film is admittedly kind of cute at times and the way in which it handles the ending is, at least, not too predictable.

All in all, while 50 First Dates isn't exactly vintage Sandler, it's not a complete stinker either. A few omissions here and there joke-wise could have helped the script's well-meaning key thoughts stand out a little more but, in the end, this one's pretty harmless. Some will no doubt find it too corny to enjoy but I could see most people sitting through it without too many complaints.

Watchable cheddar.



If The Lone Ranger taught us one thing it's that movie adaptations of really old TV shows starring Armie Hammer just aren't worth it.

Now here comes The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in an attempt to correct this assumption.

The classic Robert Vaughn-starring series, out of which a few TV movies were born back in the day, gets a full makeover courtesy of director Guy Ritchie who recently enough gave us a couple of action-packed, surprisingly fun Sherlock Holmes movies.

The appropriately retro opening titles sequence along with a thrilling car chase quickly sell us on the idea that this Man From U.N.C.L.E. is in safe hands. Indeed, the film continues to look slick and stay smooth throughout with its fancy split-screens and its classily kitsch 60's costumes. Plus the two leads are competent, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer both giving reliably solid performances, and the same can be said for Alicia Vikander, who plays a central component of the U.S. and the Soviet Union's big mission. Even the plot is promising: Cavill and Hammer are rivals having to work together against a common enemy.

So why is this not a better film than it is?

And why does one feel that it soon will be completely forgotten if it hasn't already?

Here we have a film that looks good, is well put together by a reliable director and stars a lot of competent people and yet it falls just short. Part of the problem could just be that most people don't remember the series that well but then again, it's not like Ritchie goes out of his way to make the film just like the show. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to make The Man From U.N.C.L.E. into a Quentin Tarantino movie! Nearly every scene seems to begin or end with an Ennio Morricone-style Western theme playing loudly over some kind of montage, something which frankly gets quickly tiring. With the exception of, obviously, Swept Away, this is quite probably the least Guy Ritchie Guy Ritchie film out there because of that.

Another problem is the plot which hooks you in then lets you dangle for a long while before popping up again near the end. There's a good portion of time when characters are investigating, interacting or just trying to be cute that's nowhere near as involving as it should be. The film definitely stagnates in between action sequences. Luckily, the latter are pretty darn cool. One sequence is particularly inspired as Henry Cavill purposely sits out the action to have a picnic as Armie Hammer is boat-chased by a bunch of bad guys right outside the door. Otherwise you've got some fun chases in there and a tense encounter between Cavill and a main villain which ends with a truly brilliant sight gag. Unfortunately, the film stumbles in its third act delivering not one but several endings and not in a loveable, clever Wayne's World way, more like in a tedious Return Of The King type of deal.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is not a bad film. In fact, it has a lot going for it and it can be a lot of fun when it gets going. Its uneven pacing, sadly, gives it an overall sluggish feel while Ritchie's full-on "Tarantinian" over-stylisation and those silly accents the cast is stuck with go for charming but don't convince. The script needed to be tighter, funnier and less predictable for this to stand up as a franchise worth reviving.

Decent yet forgettable.




Where to start with this one?

What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said?

Indeed, this new Fantastic Four did not do well at all with the critics upon its release, nor did it do very well financially due to poor word-of-mouth. But was the film written off too quickly? Were critics much too harsh on it?


I'd love to say yes but this is one hard movie to defend.

For one thing, the casting is tough to get behind.

As brilliant as newcomer Miles Teller was in last year's mini-masterpiece Whiplash, he finds himself miscast here and, about halfway through the film, possibly due to increasing on-set shambles, soon stops giving a f***. As do we. House Of Cards' Kate Mara is also miscast as our new Invisible Girl as she delivers no charisma or personality, something for which the script, I should point out, is entirely to blame. Jessica Alba may have been pretty dire as Sue Storm in the 2005 Fantastic Four but at least she seemed awake and said things! Casting Jamie Bell as The Thing was perplexing seeing as he seemed much too young (much like Teller as Mr Fantastic) and much too little to portray such a larger-than-life character but Bell, being a (forgive the pun) solid actor, could have pulled it off had his character not been shunned away early on and seemingly robbed of an entire subplot. Finally, Michael B. Jordan looked like he would have made a fine Johnny Storm but, again, the actor is let down by a script which makes him come across as surprisingly dislikable.

Say what you will about the 2005 movie, Chris Evans got it right.

The main problem with the movie seems to be a combination of awful, lazy writing and a fatally chaotic production. The film's first half hour is serviceable enough but the whole thing quickly devolves into a criminally dull, nonsensical hodgepodge of bad B-movie sci-fi and failed Avengers ripoffery, right down to the last line of the film being cut short on purpose Age Of Ultron-style. The tone appears to aim for dark and gritty but, ultimately, what we get is confused and uninterested. The film's main plot is all over the place with poor old Dr. Doom being thrown into the film near the beginning, then being taken out soon after and brought back at the end without rhyme or reason. Again, it feels as though there was a whole other movie there with an expanded Victor Von Doom storyline but it was mostly scrapped at the last minute, that or Doom was just shoehorned in by the producers for fear of a villain-less action movie.

Fantastic Four isn't bad in the way that, say, Catwoman is a bad comic-book adaptation. The latter being such a trainwreck from the get-go that it becomes an almost hypnotising misfire. This one had potential, had enough going for it to wind up as something at least passable, borderline decent. Unfortunately, in the end, it's just an extremely dull movie with a lot of obvious issues which could have only really been resolved thanks to a complete rewrite. The film just doesn't capture the spirit of the Fantastic Four who don't feel like a team at all by the final scene, and as far as making a faithful adaptation of the Ultimate Universe goes, it's a washout.

You may not like the 2005 Fantastic Four film but, at the very least, it "got" what was cool about Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's characters and it made sitting through 2 hours of some of their superheroic shenanigans fun enough. Josh Trank's snoozefest is so forgettable and lifeless it makes you wonder why you even cared about these particular Marvel heroes in the first place.

A flop for a reason: avoid.



What's that, Hollywood?

You wanna make a movie about retro games which would include the likes of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong? I'm in! As long as you don't turn it into a dopey, half-assed Adam Sandler comedy or something! Hahaha.


Yes, just when you thought your memories of Jack and Jill were finally fading forever, Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison troupe are back in cinemas (minus Rob Schneider, mercifully). This time, Sandler plays the ex-best Donkey Kong player around who is called upon to help stop some hugely unconvincing alien invasion with the help of some old friends. We're told the reason the aliens have taken the shape of old video games is because we once sent out game footage into space but the film leaves so many plot-holes wide open that pretty much everything past the first minute mark will make little to no logical sense so you might as well give up on that front straight away. And if that wasn't enough nonsense to buy, we're then told the President of the United States is Kevin James.

I'll let that sink in.

I guess the idea of Kevin "Paul Blart" James as President could have been humorous had they played it for laughs like Robert Rodriguez did in Machete Kills when Charlie Sheen (under his real name Carlos Estevez) was cast in that role but Pixels seems to willingly ignore any joke potential throughout. The script is not only underwritten but also devoid of laughs which, I think you'll agree, is a pretty fatal flaw for a comedy. That's really the main thing that drags this movie down. That and the fact that Sandler seems to be mostly uninterested in anything going on in the movie. He's not really trying to be funny or even act. It's almost like someone else was given the part and pulled out at the last second leaving him to take over reluctantly.

The casting seems to range from people who clearly don't give a s*** to people who are obviously too good to be in this movie. In the latter category you'll find Dan Aykroyd, who pops up for a cameo appearance, the lovely, talented, miscast Michelle Monaghan, the ever-entertaining Sean Bean, good old Brian Cox and poor old Josh Gad, who genuinely tries his best to bring some laughs to the table. Gad really should be given better roles than this and The Wedding Ringer. Peter Dinklage is, of course, also much too good for this movie but he also qualifies for the "don't give a s***" category since his performance as Sandler's old mullet-wearing gaming foe is bizarre at best. Not really sure what he was going for there at all but feel free to venture any guesses.

Now to the good stuff: the action sequences, the special effects, the retro game characters and references are all admittedly pretty cool. The Pac-Man chase sequence is genuinely exciting, as is the all-out battle and Donkey Kong fight in the film's third act. Director Chris Columbus may have dropped the ball when picking a decent script to work with and getting the best out of a solid cast but he does manage to put together some fun action scenes in this movie. Could have done without the disturbing sight of Q*Bert pissing himself but, otherwise, it's definitely enjoyable to see the likes of Paperboy, Space Invaders, Mario and Centipede on the big screen.

All in all, though, you might want to give this one a miss and re-watch Wreck-It Ralph instead: while Pixels does have its likeable mindless moments, it's altogether a wasted opportunity with a sluggish lead, awful writing and uneven performances aplenty.


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