Review: Fifty Shades Of Grey by Jamie

I entered the booking number into the automated ticket dispensary, fingers trembling with apprehension and a sense of growing dread despite the alcohol coursing through my system, the result of a couple of hastily downed pints at the bowling alley opposite in order to try and steady my nerves. The kind of nerves that anyone would experience when willingly putting themselves through a masochistic experience such as this. My mind was a blur as I waited in line for refreshments, a large coke on my mind, something large enough to try and help me endure the two hour torture session I was about to submit myself to. Finally it was my turn. I ordered, fingers fumbling with my money as I handed it over. Could the person behind the counter sense my fear? Did they know what it was that I was here to do?

“I LOST A BET!” I yelled, slightly drunkenly, at the man who was taking tickets. “Ok…” He replied, a confused look upon his face until he saw the name of the movie on the ticket that I handed him and he chuckled knowingly, tearing it and informing me that I would be in screen one, seat M17. Of all the lies I had thought up to try and save face in front of the ticket collector, I lost a bet was the one that had suddenly come to me in my moment of panic. He bought it, I thought to myself, smiling and safe in the knowledge that this perfect stranger who I would almost certainly never have another social interaction with knew that I was not here of my own choice. I entered the screening room, the doorway decorated with a number of black, grey, lighter grey and white balloons. Apparently the party industry never anticipated a day when they would actually need balloons in a massive variety of shades of grey.

The screening room was packed, a few couple sprinkled through here and there and frankly a lot more men than I’d anticipated but the majority of the crowd were older women, the kind that apparently didn’t realise that porn was widely and freely available on the internet.Perhaps it was my imagination but I could almost swear that the scent of ancient vaginas lubricating themselves for the first time in years out of anticipation for what was to come permeated the room. Pity the poor bastard who had to clean this place afterwards. I tried to keep my head down and was distraught to find that my seat, seat M17 which I had chosen thanks to it’s position next to the aisle, was currently occupied by a creature that I could best describe as Jabba the Hutt in a sundress. Best not to disturb this beast, I thought, and took the seat opposite, still on the aisle, and hoped that no one would claim it for themselves. Eventually four teenage girls came and sat in the four empty seats next to me and it looked like I was safe from having to move or attempt to meet the sundress wearing Hutt in hand to hand combat. And so I settled in to watch Fifty Shades of Grey…

What can really be said about E.L. James novel Fifty Shades of Grey that hasn’t already been said? We’ve heard all the criticism, that it’s domestic abuse tarted up as kinky sex, that it has as much to do with realistic BDSM as The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (Not the first Care Bears movie, the BDSM scenes of which were extensively researched and portrayed in as realistic a way as possible) and that it’s poorly written with characters being little more than cardboard cut-outs with the internal monologue of pasta. Some of us, myself included, know these criticisms to be just because we’ve actually read the damnable thing. I read it because I’m a glutton for the worst entertainment has to offer and wondered if reading a bad book could be as enjoyable as watching a bad movie. Spoiler alert, it isn’t. It’s a lot longer and good luck trying to get a bunch of friends round for a drunken reading of Fifty Shades of Grey. Anyway, with the way that this book has been slammed by critics, laypeople and kink enthusiasts (And I mean slammed as in criticised not as in, you know, a good way) alike, the world was left wondering if a movie adaptation could be any better. Well it is.

Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey: The Motion Picture is better than Kinky Twilight Fanfic Fifty Shades of Grey: The Novel but please, don’t get your hopes up that this is the great BDSM work of fiction that the world has been clamouring for. Saying this movie is better than the source material it is based on isn’t much different that saying a rhinoceros with two legs has a better chance of survival than a rhinoceros with no legs. I mean, it’s technically probably true but the difference is negligible at best. The story is still largely the same story which means that it’s weak though it does have the advantage of not being narrated by it’s main character Anastasia Steele and her fucking “inner goddess” so we’re at least saved from that indignity.

The film tells the story of the aforementioned Miss Steele who ends up interviewing handsome young billionaire Christian Grey in place of her room mate who has fallen ill. There is an immediate attraction between the two (apparently) and he is soon stalking her, tracking her phone using GPS and picking her up while she’s drunk and bringing her back to strange hotel rooms and changing her clothes while she is passed out. You know, love. It is as the plot, well, progresses I guess that Anna learns that Christian has special tastes when it comes to the bedroom. He sleeps hanging upside down and often leaves the bed in the middle of the night. Could it be that Christian Grey is in fact the mysterious Batman who stalks Gotham’s criminals at night? I kid of course. Christian is actually in to kinky sex which could only really be shocking to post-menopausal grandmothers and people who’ve never heard of the internet in this day and age. A few bland sex scenes later and we’re left with Anna wondering if she can really go down this sexy path and also knowing that if she doesn’t she might just lose Christian forever! Whatever will she do? Will you care? No. No you won’t.

Ugh. Ok, let’s get in to the meat of this thing. Why is Fifty Shades of Grey the movie better than the book even if it is only marginally so? That, as near as I can tell, rest on the shoulders of two people. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and Anastasia Steele actress Dakota Johnson. Taylor-Johnson, it seems, didn’t take the material as seriously as the author did and so she thankfully injects it with a slight camp, tongue-in-cheek tone the story sorely, sorely needed. She knows that she’s making a movie based on trash and so she’s going to have a little fun with it and that is much appreciated by those of us who have forced ourselves to see it.

Dakota Johnson is the real highlight of the movie though. She takes what was a weak-willed, personality-less character in Anastasia Steele and actually gives her some agency and, most importantly, a sense of humour. She’s quick witted and smart and Johnson has a real sense of comedic timing which really works to her advantage. Whereas the Anastasia Steele in the book feels as though she’s being manipulated and cajoled into doing things that she doesn’t really want to do through some stupidly blind love for an abusive partner, this Anastasia Steele actually feels as though she’s in control and is allowing things to proceed as she wants and at her pace. It’s a stark contrast and one that’s really important if you’re going to bring this story to the big screen.

As for the bad, well, there’s Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey himself. Well, perhaps bad isn’t the right word just kind of left without much to do beyond say fuck a few times and fret about Anna. Oh, and I guess he broods a few times too. What I’m saying is that he isn’t really giving much to work with here and that which he is given leaves him feeling much more like a charicature than a character, especially when placed up against the much more wilful Anna that inhabits the screen version of this story. All his assertions that he wants to make her his come of as silly rather than sexy or steamy. And he ends up just seeming like a complete tool, perhaps even moreso than if he had the love-blind, meek, enabling Anna opposite him. Perfect example is a scene where Christian is explaining his sexual inclinations. Anna asks if they can still go on dates, watch movies and such to which he replies “That’s not really my thing.” There is a moment’s silence in which Anna looks a little upset prompting Christian to ask her to keep an open mind. Excuse me? Did your character just say that he’s absolutely not interested in what the other character wants and then accuse the other character of being closed minded because they weren’t interested in what he wanted? Wow.

As for the other characters, ummm, yeah. They don’t really matter. As for plot, well, it’s a slight improvement over the original but it’s still the same basic thing. Nothing actually happens in this movie. Why would it need to? Our main character begins a relationship with a billionaire. Anytime the plot needs to move forward, he throws money at it. Job done. And when the movie wasn’t being tongue in cheek or the romance was trying to be taken seriously, well, let’s just say I spent a lot of time checking the time and figuring out just how much time I had left and as I already mentioned, the sex scenes were just kind of bland and it wasn’t helped by the fact that one of the girls in my row couldn’t stop giggling through each and every one.

So in the long run, this movie was not as bad as it could have been but that by no means makes it good. I’ll say that, since it’s fair to compare this to Twilight due to it’s fanfic roots, it is better than all but one of the Twilight movies (that one being the last one. Thanks Michael Sheen!) and that is largely because Dakota Johnson > Kristen Stewart. Hell, this movie even managed to get a couple of laughs out of me. Still I can’t recommend this to anyone . If you want romance with a hint of sexiness then… well, fine. I guess there isn’t a dearth out there particularly for female audiences. But if you want porn, then the internet is out there and those things can have some pretty deep story lines sometimes I hear. One and a half pints out of five. Laterz.


Review: Mrs Brown’s Boys D’ Movie by Jamie

If you want me to relay to you what watching Mrs Brown’s Boys D’ Movie is like then imagine a boot stamping on a pair of testicles forever. Full disclosure, I have never seen the series that this movie is based on so I went into this knowing pretty much next to nothing apart from what the trailer told me. And that trailer left quite an impression. What stuck out to me most was the fact that there was an outtake, an actual outtake, in the trailer. This, of course, makes absolutely no sense but fine, I thought, it’s some stupid little joke for the trailer. Put it out of your mind and try and judge this movie fairly.

Then part way through an HILARIOUS scene where blind people are being taught ninjitsu and the man who plays Mrs Brown is playing another character, Mr Wang (“But he’s not even Chinese!” Complains one of the characters, which is fine since neither is ninjitsu.), the actors start cracking up. Holy shit. An outtake in the actual movie itself. Not during the credits, not as some DVD extra but during the actual plot of the actual movie. Then there were two more outtakes, just there in the movie as well. Who thinks this is a good idea? Were they so worried that people wouldn’t laugh at the film so they’d have to laugh at it themselves?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate breaking the fourth wall but there are ways to go about it that work. For example, the Wayne’s World movies break the fourth wall regularly and to hilarious effect. That is carefully crafted, well done comedy. Outtakes are literally the opposite of that and leaving them in the actual movie is the laziest choice a filmmaker can make.

Still, they needn’t have worried about people not finding it funny because people in my screening were pissing themselves laughing. Laughing at the fact that blind people can’t see. Laughing at the Asian character who can’t pronounce Ls properly. Laughing at all this tired, ancient bullshit.

This is definitely a call back to British sitcoms of the past. The problem is that I can’t figure out what. Every sitcom from back in the day that I try to compare it to is much, much better than it. ‘Allo ‘Allo? Better. Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em? Better. Steptoe and Son? Better. I mean, I think we’re literally in the territory of Heil Honey, I’m Home in terms of being just relentlessly, offensively unfunny. This is a throwback to the lowest form of humour, the basest, crassest form that I thought we as a society had moved beyond. I thought things like Seinfeld and The Office had revolutionised the sitcom. How have we found ourselves back here? It’s literally like someone saw the parody of bad sitcoms, When The Whistle Blows, from Extras and thought “Let’s make our show like that.”

I could write a long list of everything that’s wrong with this film. I could tell you about it’s tired plot (Evil people want to buy up Mrs Brown’s stall), I could tell you about it’s offensive stereotypes (The gay guys seem to have no character beyond shrill queens) I could tell you about all that and more, but you know what?. It’s too nice a Sunday to sit here writing a review of this “movie”. Everyone who wants to see it will see it. People who know that they don’t want to see it won’t see it with the possible exception of myself. Roasts are being cooked, pints are being served and actual, real movies are being screened. And as a douche bag played by a murderer once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 0 pints out of 5. Laterz.

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie

31 Days Of Horror 15: ParaNorman (2012) by Jamie

So it seems as though I’m still on my nice little animated break from the blood, guts and gore of your more traditional horror fare but this one at least has something more Halloweeny about it than Monsters University what with it’s Zombies and ghosts and witches and such.

ParaNorman is the tale of a young boy named Norman who is obsessed with zombie movie and, it just so happens, can see and speak to the spirits of the dead. He lives in a town that’s only claim to fame is a witch trial some three hundred years prior. The witch it seems placed a curse on those who tried her that would mean that they would rise from their graves, doomed to have their souls trapped in undead bodies for all eternity. Norman comes to learn that this legend actually has a basis in fact and, due to his special ability, it will soon be his responsibility to see that the curse goes unfulfilled for another year. Will he succeed or will the accursed undead rise from their rest?

Well, I should think the answer to that is pretty obvious or else there wouldn’t be a movie. and a movie there is. A rather enjoyable movie as it turns out and one that I’m happy to see doesn’t feel the need to talk down to kids. It’s a movie that realises that you don’t have to talk down to kids. You can make jokes about sex and violence because kids are already making the same jokes on the playground. One character whilst getting Norman to keep a promise by asking him to swear to which Norman responds “You mean like the F word?” These are the kinds of jokes that I can appreciate. Jokes that remind me of my childhood when I heard kids say shit in The Goonies or Elliot call his brother penis-breath in E.T. It’s stuff kids don’t need to be sheltered from because they already know it. It’s honest.

There’s also a pretty good message at the heart of this film, the message of acceptance. Yes, that you should always be accepting of others no matter your own prejudices or fears but also acceptance of the fact that some people just won’t like you, they’ll be dicks to you but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a dick back.

All in all this was a pretty funny and thoroughly enjoyable film. If I have a complaint it’s that it kinda lags a touch in the middle where the talking to ghosts conceit seems to be all but abandoned for a while but it makes up for it with a pretty strong beginning and ending, some nice horror references to things like Halloween and Friday the 13th and by being one of the best looking stop-motion films I’ve ever seen. Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.


Review: The Purge by Jamie

One of the problems with being a film fan in the 21st Century is that I often find myself unable to avoid knowing everything about a movie before it’s released. Twitter, Facebook and the internet in general have all left me with knowing perhaps a little too much about something before I see it. There are still, however, movies that slip through the cracks. The Purge was one such movie. I think I saw one trailer for it which I obviously didn’t really take much away from and then largely ignored its existence until it’s release.

On a week that I thought was pretty light on releases, I checked the Cineworld website on Friday and noticed that once again I had overlooked The Purge. I booked my ticket and decided to watch the trailer again. It was an interesting concept, I’ll admit, but nothing I was particularly excited about. Maybe something from a sub-par episode of Charlie Brooker’s brilliant ‘Black Mirror’ series. So it was with pretty much no expectations that I headed off to the cinema.

Now for those of you that don’t know, the premise of the movie is thus: It is 2022 and America has become a practically crime free utopia. The reason behind this is The Purge, one night of the year when all crime is legal. It’s a night which people look forward to with a mixture of excitement and fear, some relishing the chance to give in to their baser animal desires whilst others choose to lock themselves away behind state of the art security systems until the night has passed. The film follows the Sandin family who have made their fortune through selling said security systems. They have a normal night of waiting it out ahead but things go awry when their son lets a man who was being attacked into their home. Will they be safe with the man in the house and what will happen when those who had been hunting him show up to finish the job?

So what did I think of it? Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. Things are perhaps a little too slow to start off with but once the plot really gets underway, the movie becomes increasingly tense to a degree that I don’t think I’ve really felt since the first ‘Rec’ movie. And while that first act of the movie is slow, it does set the characters up as a believable family which serves the movie well during those tense scenes later.

Now the film is not perfect by any means. There are aspects which have no real explanation. The son, for example has a watch with which he monitors his heartbeat but no reason is given for this and it seems as though it’s only there to serve as a prop for something which happens later during the scene. I get the feeling that the movie is trying to say something about society as well. The man who is attacked is homeless and wears dogtags around his neck, something which I thought would be addressed, like a kind of “Oh, isn’t it ironic that this veteran is being hunted after fighting to preserve the freedom these people enjoy” kind of thing, but it never is. The people hunting him are privileged kids just looking for a thrill and hoping to purge, an act which they see as their right as American citizens. So the message of the movie is something about the rich using the poor as an expendable resource and whilst the film certainly hammers at this message, pretty much saying that outright at points, it’s never one which really feels as hard-hitting as I’m sure the film makers intended.

Another problem with the film is that it’s overly predictable. Without wanting to give too much away, as soon as certain characters reappear during towards the end of the film, you know exactly what direction it’s going to go in. Still, to the film makers ‘credit, the ending plays out well and with a good deal of humour, particularly regarding just how awkward things would be once the night is over.

Still, over all this a strong thriller with a somewhat original concept and even in a crowded theatre filled with loud, noisy teens, the tension came through the screen. God, I feel old having just typed that last sentence… Anyway, I really recommend this film, though perhaps give it a little while or try and see it in a cinema which you know will be a little closer to empty. Three pints out of five. Laterz.

The Purge.

Review: Fast And Furious 6 by Jamie

I’m not a car guy. Never have been, never will be. Because of this fact I pretty much ignored the Fast and Furious franchise for quite some time until pretty much earlier this year, or maybe late last, when I began listening to a podcast called “How Did This Get Made“. It has quickly become not just one of my favourite podcasts but one of my favourite things. Anyway, one episode they delved into Fast 5 and, being somewhat obsessively compulsive when it comes to film, I decided to watch all five entries in the series. Back to back. To say it was something of an endurance test would be understating it.

The first four films are terrible. At least I think they are. I remember literally nothing from part 4. Nothing. Then I watched the fifth one and it was, well, it was stupid but it was fun. Ridiculously fun. Yes, it was still a pretty bad film but it was unashamedly so. It was pure, high-octane insanity and the thing that made it beautiful was how little it relied on CGI. Things actually happened. Cars were wrecked, things exploded and stunts were pulled. It was also greatly improved by the inclusion of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who, it could be argued, is literally impossible to hate.

So what then of the 6th installment of this series? Does the insanity continue? Well, I’m happy to say that it does. Not only that but, and I realise that I risk losing some credibility here but fuck it, it’s a legitimately good movie. I mean that wholeheartedly. I didn’t like this film ironically or sarcastically. I enjoyed it pretty much from beginning to end, an end which literally had me on the edge of my seat. I understand that the trailer somewhat spoils the last scene though so it’s a good thing I managed to avoid it.

That’s not to say that the film isn’t stupid in places. It is but it revels in it’s stupidity in such an endearing and enjoyable way that you can’t fault it for it and the bits of the film that are great are genuinely great.

Once again the stunt work here is amazing. You can tell that the film makers love cars and want to try and get them to do crazy shit you haven’t seen before. There may be a little more reliance on CG here than in, say, part five but the basic skeleton of it is all practical stunts and just seeing it all unfold is wonderful.

I will say that this is the first Fast and Furious film that I’ve actually seen at the cinema and it’s entirely possible that seeing the stunt work on the big screen with surround sound is part of why I loved it so much. In fact I’m sure it is. It’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that my opinion will change when revisiting this film on Blu-ray. But that’s all in the future, for now I’ll just say see this movie where it will be most effective.

As for the plot well, and this is very rare for me to say this, the plot isn’t that important. Still what is here is a perfectly serviceable means to get from point A from point B. In this episode of the series, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are approached by special agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to help him take down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his crew who are robbing and wreaking havoc all across Europe. Hobbs offers them a full pardon for their past transgression and sweetens the deal even more by informing the crew that the formerly thought dead Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Toretto’s past love, is working with Shaw. The mission laid out, the crew head to London to stop Shaw and get Ortiz back.

So yeah, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. There are countless times that retired criminals are offered a pardon in exchange for helping law enforcement catch someone who are just like them. In movies, I mean. Not in real life. That’d be awesome though…

Still, the movie points out the ridiculous in the plot even going so far as having the comic relief Roman (Tyrese Gibson) point out that the villains are essentially the crew’s evil twins. It’s as if the movie is saying “Look, we’re on the same wavelength here. We know that you’re not really here for a deep, involved story. You want stunts and explosions. Trust us, so do we. Just stick with us while we get this out of the way and we’ll return you to that.”

Adding to this is the fact that Hobbs is referred to three times as different Marvel superheroes. Captain America, The Hulk and Thor. Again it’s almost like the film is referencing them directly as if to say “Look, those superhero movies you all like are equally as ridiculous as this and you love them. Love us.” I may be overthinking that one, I’ll admit. It may just be that The Rock is ridiculously muscled.

Still, the story moments are enjoyable because the characters are all, in some way or another, likeable. Are they all somewhat cliches that serve to fulfill certain cliched roles? Yes, to an extent but they’re all just having so much fun with it and sometimes you just need something simple and uncomplicated with pretty cars even when you didn’t know that’s what you needed. Seriously guys, I loved this fucking movie.

My biggest problem with it? Probably Vin Diesel. I just kinda don’t like the guy. He’s aweome in Pitch Black and, to hi credit, he does exactly what he needs to here but there’s just something about the guy that rubs me the wrong way. My fault not the movies.

So yeah, the plot’s paper thin and it’s all something you’ve seen before but you’ve never seen it this way before. And it’ eminently enjoyable. Four pints out of five. Laterz.


2011 in Film: Number 3 : The Dilemma by Jamie

Oh, Kevin James. Kevin James, Kevin James, Kevin James. Those two words strike fear into my heart. I have never seen a film that starred Kevin James that was in anyway worth watching. It’s not fair to say I hate the man, though he certainly doesn’t make it any easier on himself by releasing shit like Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper.

So it is with no small amount of trepidation that I watched The Dilemma, a film starring James, Vince Vaughan, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder. It’s a relatively good cast, aside from James, to be fair though Vince Vaughan certainly has his off days. The basic premise of the story is that Nick (James) and Ronny (Vaughan) are two best friends and partners in an automobile engineering company. They’ve developed a new type of electrical engine which makes the noise of the muscle car engines of the past. They need to get all of the kinks out before a big meeting with Dodge that could make or break their company.

At the same time, Ronny is planning on proposing to his girlfriend Beth(Connelly) and whilst checking out the botanical gardens that he thinks will be the perfect place in which to do that, he spies Nick’s wife Geneva (Ryder) making out with a different man, Skip (Channing Tatum). This understandably shocks the fuck out of Ronny and he finds himself in the titular dilemma. Should he tell his best friend? Confront his cheating spouse? Would telling him bring more stress to a friendship that is already strained by the importance of the deal with Dodge? Yes, it certainly is a dilemma indeed.

Anyway, the rest of the film is filled with the kind of wacky misadventures that you’d probably expect from this kind of film, many of them ending with Ronny getting injured in some manner. I suppose the moral is if you don’t do the right thing then really you’re only hurting yourself. His sneaking around trying to catch Geneva out also has the unintended consequence of making all of his friends and family think that he has fallen back into an old gambling addiction that he apparently had. Still, this is a pretty formulaic film and I’m sure you can guess how the whole thing ends.

Along with all of these shenanigans, the movie seems to throw in dramatic and emotional scenes, creating tonal shifts that could cause whiplash. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about movies in January it’s that they are generally released at this time because the studios don’t seem to have much faith in them and it seems to me as though the number one reason that they lack that faith is because the movies don’t seem to know what they want to be. I guarantee you that if this had just been a straight up comedy featuring James and Vaughan, it would have received a later release date. I’m not saying it would have been any good, it just would have been released later.

Perhaps the part of this movie that I enjoyed most was Channing Tatum. He is actually a genuinely funny guy and his few scenes in this film actually made me laugh more often than not. Good for him. He’s made me really kinda wanna go and see 21 Jump Street. Other than him though, the film, whilst not particularly terrible, isn’t in anyway recommendable either. On the whole, it was a little better than I thought it would be but not by a lot. There are major problems with the plot such as it being too formulaic, too predictable and it also doesn’t really address the fact that Beth’s infidelity isn’t her fault alone with Nick clearly having some part in the break down of the relationship. Maybe if you catch it on TV it might be worth a watch but that’s the only time I’d bother. Two pints out of five. Laterz.

Review: Devil by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead!

I’ve been trying to write about this film for almost a week now. The reason being that I don’t want to come of as just another Shyamalan hater just because I didn’t like this film. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike the films of Mr. M. Night Shyamalan but I don’t want to seem like one of those people who are just jumping on the bandwagon without any particular reason and yet I’m sure writing a negative review of ‘Devil’ will attract exactly those kinds of accusations. Balls to it. I can’t help feeling the way that I do.

I had a small glimmer of hope for this film. Lately I’d come to regard Shyamalan a bit as I see George Lucas these days, as a man who can come up with really quite good ideas but when it comes to the execution of those ideas he just can’t quite pull it off. With ‘Devil’ the basic idea was that the idea for the story had come from Shyamalan but everything else such as the screenplay writing and directing at duties would be handled by other people. Perfect, I thought to myself, this is exactly the way that he should do things for the time being. Maybe watching other directors put his ideas on the screen would give him some pointers on how he could do it better himself.

Of course, now I think of it, similar thoughts were running through my head when I heard that he was directing ‘The Last Airbender’. Great, I thought to myself, this is exactly the that he should do things for the time being. Maybe focusing on directing rather than the story will enable him to perfect his craft. Well, I think we all know how that turned out.

So, yeah, I was willing to give Devil a chance. That was my mistake. The basic premise of the film is that there are five people with questionable backgrounds who are all trapped in a lift (elevator for my American readers) and they are slowly killed off one by one. The reason? Why, the Devil’s in the lift as well of course! Why? Well, apparently it’s just something he does from time to time for no discernable reason.

Meanwhile there’s a couple of cops and security guards on the outside watching them through the CCTV cameras in the lift and trying to find out who each person is because, whilst the people in the lift can hear them, they can‘t hear the people in the lift so they can‘t just tell them who they are. Their time may be better spent trying to focus on just getting the people the hell out of their because the efforts of the emergency services to do just that are pretty fucking poor. Like one guy with a saw. How about you get two guys with saws, cutting from both sides and meeting in the middle? Seriously. Whilst this piss poor rescue attempt is going on and the cops are running around trying to find out who each person is, more and more people are getting killed. Killed to death!

Oh, also one of the cops has a back story wherein his family wife and son were killed in a hit and run accident with the driver of the other vehicle leaving a note behind at the scene simply saying “I’m so sorry”. I wonder if that will play any part in this film later on? In the interest of full disclosure I didn’t wonder if that would play any part in the film later. I don’t know why. It was such an obvious twist looking back on it and this is an M. Night film so a twist should always be at least kinda expected. The only thing I can think is that I was so bored watching this film that I honestly didn’t want to think too deeply about it. Still, I feel stupid at not figuring out. On the other hand I did work out the other twist in the film pretty early on, that being who the Devil actually was so I guess I win at that. Go Team!

So yeah, that’s pretty much the plot. Some people are trapped in a lift. Other people aren’t. Sometimes the people in the lift die. The main problem with the film was just how insanely boring it was. Imagine watching five people trapped in a lift and occasionally sometimes watching other people watching five people trapped in a lift. It would be far more interesting than this film because at least that wouldn’t try to build up faux tension without any kind of pay off. Seriously, anytime it seems like something is about to happen in this film, the lights go out, the screen goes dark, you hear a few weird noises and bam! The lights go on and there’s a corpse! It’s like fucking someone right up until you’re close to the point of climaxing and then just stopping. What’s the fucking point?

To top it all off, there’s no sense of mystery to the film. The film’s advertising and even the title give away exactly what the plot is. There are five people trapped in a lift and one of them is the Devil. Well, thanks very much. Hell, you could tell who the Devil was from watching the trailer alone so the only thing you’re left with is the hope that there will be some interesting death scenes. I’m not talking about bullshit Saw/Hostel torture scenes but something. I mean, this is the motherfucking Devil we’re talking about. He should be able to pull something interesting off. But no, what we’re treated to is darkness and an increasing body count. Well, whoop-de-fuck. Maybe I’m jaded or desensitized to violence to such an extent that I need to see something but come on, who isn’t in this day and age?

it would have also been nice if maybe, just maybe there was an element that hinted that maybe it wasn’t the Devil, at least until the big reveal at the end. Maybe it was someone who was just going mad and had based their killing spree on old tales of what the Devil supposedly did but no. It’s pretty much shown that there’s no way that anyone in that lift could have pulled off the killings without being some ancient malevolent force so that’s lame also.

I suppose the acting wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particularly great either. I didn’t really care about any of the characters because they never really developed to any kind of stage where you could. Perhaps the oddest thing about the film is that the opening five minutes is just a weird shot flying through the city but upside down. It made me feel physically sick. Thanks movie.

So yeah at the end of the day, the film was just boring beyond belief and whilst the film was apparently just M. Night’s idea I have a hard time believing that was his only input. It just felt too much like a film that he would have made otherwise. I don’t know the exact level of his involvement but I think it was probably a little more than advertised. I still feel the need to give Shyamalan one last chance, something I feel every time I’m burned by him, because I do think there’s still a good film maker in there somewhere but I’m starting to think that it may have died, suffocated beneath the layers of whatever the hell he has become. Still, I do love ‘The Happening’. Sure it fails on every level of being a good film but it is fucking hilarious. Sadly Devil is not The Happening and so it gets one pint out of five. Satan deserved so much better. Laterz.

%d bloggers like this: