Film review round-up – September 2015

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STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Biopic of west coast rap group NWA.

Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E and the gang that grew into the infamous 80s hip hop outfit, Niggaz With Attitude (NWA), are all here in a somewhat fluffy version of events that avoids many of the real controversies surrounding these talented, visionary but deeply flawed characters. Given that the band themselves sanctioned the movie and produced it themselves, it’s no wonder this is a sanitized story, focusing on the genius production of Dre, the prolific lyrical ability of Cube and the incendiary business nous of E.
There’s little in the way of character development for anyone not in the band apart from their manager, Jerry Heller, played with just the right balance of industry experience and fear of what he’s getting into by Paul Giamatti and there’s not a single female in the movie who isn’t a biatch or a ho … but then this is a film about NWA. 
Fans of the group will lap it up and the gig shows along with some of the studio and recording session scenes are very well done, but ultimately this is just like so many other bland bio’s. To make it worse, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the opening to their hit single, Express Yourself: “Yo man there’s a lot of brothers out there flakin’ and perpatratin’ who scared to kick reality …” 
It would’ve been a much better and way more involving movie had they gone for the warts and all approach taken with the James Brown film, Get On Up, which is infinitely superior to this sugar-coated confection.

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THE VISIT
M. Night Shyamalan comedy-horror about two estranged children meeting their grandparents for the very first time.

Brother and sister Becca and Tyler are packed off to visit their grandparents for a week having never previously met them due to a falling out their mum had with them following her decision to marry her teacher as a teenager. Something happened the day she left and the kids don’t know what because the mother won’t say. 
Undaunted, Becca – a keen videographer – and Tyler – the oddest child rapper you’ll ever see – decided to enjoy the week with Nana and Pop Pop while mom goes on a short cruise with her new boyfriend, who they both approve of .. so far, so lovely, eh ?
A large chunk of the movie is filmed on handheld cameras by the two kids, which lends a sense of urgency the more the story unfolds and it slowly becomes clear that everything is not quite what it seems on their grandparents’ farm. 
This is one of the funniest, weirdest, grossest and psychologically disturbing horror films I’ve seen for a while but above all else it’s nothing but relentlessly entertaining for the duration. The boy – played by Ed Oxenbould – is going to be a superstar in the not-too-distant future, maybe on a par with DiCaprio, such is his ability to steal every scene he’s in.
I can’t really say anything more about the plot without spoilers so I won’t.
Shyalaman has had a patchy record down the years but on occasion has produced some top notch horror, albeit usually on the commercial side of the street, but with The Visit he appears to have had a return to form, so what I can say is GO AND SEE THIS !

It’s great fun.
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HITMAN AGENT 47
Near future sci-fi assassin shenanigans based loosely on the video game series.

This would appear to be neither related to the first film – now ten years old – nor in any particular way a reboot of any kind of franchise. It’s just another take on the character himself and another action movie with a preposterous plot.
The “agents” all have barcodes on the backs of their necks and have been genetically engineered for one job : to kill a target then move on to the next one.
They show no emotions, feel no remorse and function as much like a robot as it’s possible for any human to do .. and they get the job done.
With heightened senses and extremely well-tuned brains, they anticipate moves well in advance of normal people, allowing them to move unseen for the most part, even in hostile territory riddled with cameras.
The movie focuses on one agent’s attempt to bring down a rogue entrepreneur looking to set up an army of his “brothers” before it’s too late. Along the way, he finds out he has a “sister” and together they take on the corporation to stop the world destroying itself.
Despite the cheesy storyline, this is actually a decent action thriller with a dose of sci-fi nonsense thrown in for good measure. The tech is believable, the stunts well crafted, the graphics are excellent throughout and all in all it makes for an entertaining popcorn movie.

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THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED
Fourth movie in Luc Besson’s action series, and the first not to star Jason Statham, featuring fellow Brit Ed Screin in the lead role.

From the promising opening scenes to the ridiculously staged finale this is nothing but a plummet into despair. The dialogue, the characters, the lack of any kind of back story, the shallow, hollow attempts at any kind of real life interaction of any kind whatsoever, be it verbal, visual, interpersonal or physical .. there’s simply nothing there other than an insanely improbable lurch from one set piece to the next. 
It’s cliché upon cliché upon stereotype upon rip off upon product placement upon conveniently placed objects upon flawless hair and makeup upon choreographed fight scene upon implausible sex scene upon stupid security guard upon stinky old crap .. 
I can’t even be bothered to write any more. 
I didn’t pay to see this. Neither should you. 
The only reason we stayed till the end was to see how much more ludicrous it could get. 
This is hilarious. One of the funniest films of the year, but for all the wrong reasons.
Buy it on DVD then give it to someone you hate for Christmas. It’ll be like a slow-burning insult … which is precisely how I saw it. 

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