Saturday, 30 April 2022
Friday, 29 April 2022
Spiral: From the book of SAW: Neon NZ Film Review
The answer, so Hollywood would have you believe, is engage someone like Chris Rock and start up a new series that has nods to the originals but goes its own way, as a police procedural, mixed with whodunit elements and horror.
Only Spiral: From The Book of Saw is such a stultifyingly awful effort that it would be better if it had succumbed to one of Jigsaw's traps and been killed off immediately.
Rock stars as Detective Zeke Banks, a cop who's angered most of his precinct by doing the right thing in the past, and is alienated from them, and living in the shadow of his father (Jackson) who used to be the department head. When a killer appears during a heatwave (yes, we get the lacklustre nod to the Summer of Sam) who appears to be targeting cops, Zeke is partnered with rookie cop William Schenk (Minghella) despite his protestations.
But as the duo begin to investigate the killer who uses a pig masked doll (Pig-saw, anyone) for his perverted attempts at redemption, Zeke begins to feel the case is a too close to home...
Spiral: From The Book of Saw begins with a decent enough declaration of intent and gore, but quickly follows up with Rock's character delivering what feels like a Chris Rock comedy routine, and which punctures any sense of character or form that's hoping to bubble up. It may be an attempt to puncture the gravity of what's going on, but it heartily distracts from events.
With its mix of NYPD Blue shaky cam, and spiralling circling each time a trap is set and a victim caught within, the movie's ethos takes a bit of adjusting to, and often feels like style over any kind of substance.
It helps little the characters within are largely lightly sketched, that the twist can be seen a mile off, and that the political story of a police department that's corrupt could have been so timely but somehow manages to feel so cliche. Even elements of Se7en rear their head in what could clearly be an homage, if it wasn't surrounded by anything original.
If Spiral: From The Book of Saw deserves to be commended for anything, it's a return to the torture porn genre it patented, as some of the executions are grisly and push it as far as it can go. But there's little else to compliment the film for - its ending is abrupt and feels simply like unwarranted sequel bait.
Sure, there's a nod to the infamous moment from Saw, but thanks to a narrative that's largely full of loathsome characters, this attempt to "play a game with you" is a joke too far on the audience, and a kick in the teeth of any new potential franchise.
Thursday, 28 April 2022
Downton Abbey: A New Era: Movie Review
Director: Simon Curtis
Wednesday, 27 April 2022
Old: Neon NZ Film Review
Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Scream: Blu Ray Review
Part requel, part homage to the original film, and all meta slasher whodunnit, Scream sees Woodsboro under attack again from Ghostface and his trusty knife. But this time, it's a new seemingly more vicious series of attacks and targets that take the killer's fancy, and as the killing spree escalates, it sees the return of the original trio of Dewey, Gale Weathers and Sidney Prescott to the fray...
There are moments within Scream where the meta touches and long discussions about the rules of the series prove to be too much; times when the winking at the audience and overt touches of love to the first film of the series seems about to cripple proceedings.
It does want to riff on toxic films and their fans - one bemoans late in the day that they were "radicalised by movie fans" - and moments where a victim watches another victim being stalked by Ghostface while being stalked by Ghostface themselves are just too close to the edge of anything more than feeling like the film's wanting to do over the first film in its run.
But then there are enough bloody kills, and knifeplay to appall that each stabbing and skewering really does feel more shocking than before. Equally though, it can be levelled that there's enough dumb behaviour by some of the cast to level off the smarts that are usually on display. (One death feels particularly unearned and seems to be more about propelling the emotional narrative than following what the character would do.)
And yet within the legacy cast, there are some moments that truly excel. Scenes between Cox's Gail and Arquette's Dewey are poignant, melancholy and flecked with the PTSD of both time passing, and life colliding in unexpected ways. Weirdly, Campbell's Sidney Prescott, so central to earlier proceedings, feels surplus to requirements this time around - an inclusion more necessitated by the desire to celebrate legacy than anything else.
When it all throws down, this Scream is not as postmodern as it wants to be.
It's a timely update, with mobile phones, discussions of Reddit, skewering of movies via YouTube critics and uncertainty over who the killer could be all falling into a nice mix - but at the end of the day, its rationale for the spree falls short and a final climactic third act feels a little too close to jumping the shark.
Ultimately, if you like scary movies, Scream will do the trick as it continues the legacy while leaving its own bloody mark the franchise. But you may leave feeling that it's time to draw a veil across Woodsboro and look to somewhere new for the thrills and kills - and that Ghostface's legacy needs to end now, before being tarnished in endless directionless sequels.
Monday, 25 April 2022
What's on Neon in May
THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE (May 16)
I LOVE THAT FOR YOU (May 9)
JULIA (May 28)
THE FEAR INDEX (May 24)
WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK EVANS? (May 11)
NAOMI (May 18)
CHUCKY (May 13)
THE INVISIBLE PILOT (May 10)
UNDERCURRENT: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF KIM WALL (May 22)
MADE FOR LOVE (May 20)
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF (MAY 1 )
COMING TO MOVIES
THE SUICIDE SQUAD (MAY 7)
REMINISCENCE (MAY 21)
SOUTH OF HEAVEN (May 28)
12 MIGHTY ORPHANS (May 14)
TONY HAWK: UNTIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF (May 11)
THE CONJURING 3: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT
Sunday, 24 April 2022
In The Heights: Neon NZ Film Review
Saturday, 23 April 2022
Rūrangi: Neon NZ Film Review
Friday, 22 April 2022
What's on DocPlay in May
What's on Disney+ in May
Weird West: PS5 Review
Developed by WolfEye Studios
Published by Devolver Digital
If you've ever thought that what the Wild West needed was a touch of the supernatural, then you'll be positively frothing at the mouth for anthology RPG Weird West.
A top-down game with some odder elements, Weird West puts you into the body of an amnesiac protagonist and then drops you into a world where you have no clue what's going on - so consequently, as the character finds out, so do you. But as if that wasn't enough, through five different stories, you change lead and get different perspectives on the world the developers have created.
A basic artwork covers the game as you move from area to area, encountering townsfolk of the wild west world, and uncovering missions on the side, confrontations and the mysteries within.
From gunslinging combat, which is controlled by twin sticks, and which takes a little time to master, to the ability to throw oil lamps at enemies or within the environment, Weird West uses physics in its gameplay to make it feel more realistic. Experimentation is part of the key of Weird West's gameplay, and given that bullets or weapons aren't easily to hand, a sense of environmental awareness makes survival a lot easier.
Stealth may be the key to getting through Weird West's intricacies and occasional narrative weirdness, but if you give yourself into the rhythms of Weird West, the pleasures of this wild west set of stories may just surprise you.
A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
Thursday, 21 April 2022
What's on in Netflix in May 2022
Non-English Language Netflix Originals Coming in May 2022
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