Bad Neighbours - Online Review

'A catalogue of unfunny neglectful parenting by Mac and Kelly, initially played for laughs but eventually not even acknowledged'

Released simply as Neighbors in the US, initially I assumed that Bad Neighbours had been retitled for its international release to avoid any confusion with a certain long-running Australian soap opera. Having now seen the film, however, I can only assume that the additional adjective is some sort of confession on the part of all involved in making this film, in desperate hope of driving as many unwitting potential viewers away from the cinematic abomination they have concocted.

If indeed the "bad" in the film's title does describe one faction of the warring neighbours featured (although there is ample evidence for it to refer to both), then perhaps surprisingly it feels more applicable to suburbanite Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) than to the college fraternity who move in next door to them. Mac and Kelly are perhaps the most unsympathetic couple seen in cinema for some time. Director Nicholas Stoller introduces us to the Radners during the opening moments of his film attempting to have sex in their dining room whilst their infant daughter watches a few feet away. From this point onwards, Bad Neighbours presents a catalogue of unfunny neglectful parenting by Mac and Kelly, initially played for laughs but eventually not even acknowledged, Stoller apparently content that he's established the pair don't give two shits about their baby.

Aside from this, the central couple are increasingly objectionable and irritating to the point that, more often than not, you'll find yourself siding with the members of Delta Psi Beta. Led by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), the frat boys are also largely obnoxious and selfish, but there's no question that the central duo are considerably more engaging than their opposite numbers. That said, one of Bad Neighbours' most heinous crimes is the way it wastes its young talent in poorly written, clichéd roles. Whilst Christopher Mintz-Plasse in a one-penis-joke part is somewhat forgivable, Franco both deserves and is capable of more, and Efron much, much more. Perhaps most painful of all, however, is watching the wonderfully talented Craig Roberts, of 2010's Submarine, both humiliated and squandered in a peripheral role only ever named as "Assjuice".

In their screenwriting feature debut, co-writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien forego any coherent plotting, clumsily introducing the central idea within the first ten minutes and then spending the remaining eighty blundering around from one unfunny episode to another, filling any remaining time with repetitive party sequences. There's a suggestion towards the end that the whole film is intended to have a message about growing up and facing responsibilities, but there's incredibly little within what comes before to back this up. Whilst there are maybe one or two moments of relatively successful comedy here, Bad Neighbours lives up to the pejorative attribute in its title in every possible way.




Bad Neighbours is currently playing on Sky Movies.


By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

The Zero Theorem - Blu-ray Review

'marks the zenith of Gilliam's obfuscation cinema'

'We live in a chaotic, confusing world' booms a trailer for an organisation at the heart of Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem. It may as well be describing Gilliam's film itself. Not renowned for making things easy (on himself, audiences, any stakeholder whatsoever really), this film marks the zenith of Gilliam's obfuscation cinema.

As per a typical Gilliam film, The Zero Theorem's frames are peopled by as much 'stuff' as the director can throw at them. No surface is left uncovered, no chance to include something else is wasted. It is a cross between the hyper-stylised worlds of Wes Anderson and the anti-minimalism of Howard Hawks, fused together in a bright pink neon jumper that doesn't quite fit anyone. It's confusing, bleary-eyed and uncomfortable. Gilliam is not interested in leading your eye, more so with exploding it.

Personally I'm not a fan, though I can see why some enjoy the challenge. Even they though, have a job on here. This may be the film with the greatest amount of wishy-washy 'what is the point in, like, humans man?' warbling ever to be forced in front of us. Christoph Waltz's protagonist, Qohen Leth, has existential crisis after existential crisis, sometimes in the company of Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry), who Gilliam dresses in a variety of revealing outfits, for purposes generally unknown. Meanwhile, the director seems most interested in watching a banal dramatisation of Qohen grappling with computer code, which appears too often to wave away as 'filler': this is plot and content and it is dull.

I like that Terry Gilliam makes original films. I like that he has big ideas and bold visuals. None of those things however are any guarantee of quality, a fact proven out by The Zero Theorem, which is a mess.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Puss In Boots - TV Review

'Where Shrek skilfully flipped stereotypes from both traditional stories and mainstream cinema to excellent effect, Puss In Boots just takes different ideas and mashes them together whether it works or not'.

A spin-off prequel to the Shrek franchise, Puss In Boots perhaps unfairly has some considerable ground to make up before it even starts thanks to the comprehensively horrible third and fourth installments of the ogre-centric series. DreamWorks clearly went into this film hoping to rejuvenate one of their flagship franchises after pummeling it into the ground and discarding the grumpy green one unceremoniously back to his swamp. The problem is, the studio goes too far: Puss In Boots constantly feels like it is overly desperate to emerge as the new Shrek, which ultimately ends up biting it on its furry feline backside much more often than not.

Director Chris Miller (previously responsible for Shrek The Third, one of the most putrid animated films ever made) basically throws every familiar element of the Shrek series into Puss In Boots and hopes it works. And, purely thanks to the law of averages, some of it does. There are frenetic, colourful action sequences aplenty that are likely to keep the younger members of the audience perfectly happy. Antonio Banderas too makes a satisfying return as the galoshed grimalkin, and partnering him with Salma Hayek's shadowy outlaw Kitty Softpaws offers some pleasing moments throughout. There are also a few satisfying stylistic nods to Spaghetti Westerns and Latin American cinema early on in the film, something which Miller would have done well to continue throughout.

But for every idea that happens to fall into the right place, there are usually two or three others which misfire considerably. Where the original Shrek film skilfully flipped stereotypes from both traditional stories and mainstream cinema to excellent effect, Puss In Boots just takes different ideas and mashes them together whether it works or not. The fairytale elements here constantly jar with each other, with no effort to try and piece anything together meaningfully. The narrative is the most obvious and most damaging example: a disorderly jumble of half-baked elements from the story of Jack And The Beanstalk, with twisted versions of nursery rhyme characters Jack And Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) and Humpty Dumpty (Zack Galifianakis) thrown in without much thought. The intention to work the same magic as was achieved with Shrek fourteen years ago is clear, but Miller obviously has no understanding of how or why the method worked back then, resulting in his film largely feeling like a woefully misjudged mess.

Miller's film sadly stands for much of DreamWorks' animated output of late: at times nice to look at, and a few good ideas scattered throughout, but with absolutely nothing of substance or heart underneath. Puss In Boots ultimately gives you no reason to care about it at any point, something which is becoming increasingly true of everything the studio puts out that isn't instructing you on disciplining mythical flying lizards.





By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

The Railway Man - Blu-ray Review

'Firth's ability to quietly control his performances is under-rated in its power, on show for all here.'

Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man might be a bit buttoned down for some (though not to the degree of, say, Unbroken), but its story wins out in the end as a well-poised and interesting portrayal of post-war mental anguish, forgiveness and more.

Colin Firth's Eric Lomax is a 'train enthusiast, not a train spotter', struggling to overcome his experiences in a Japanese labour camp during World War Two. Eric's mental anguish is brought to the fore when a Brief Encounters-esque meeting sets him on a romance with Patti (Nicole Kidman), who enlists Eric's old comrade 'Uncle' (Stellan Skarsgård) for help.

There are few surprises in store from then on out, though Skarsgård's impact on the narrative is unexpected, but that doesn't mean there is no worth in the ideas Teplitzky and screenwriters Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson bring to Lomax's autobiography. Lomax's war is one spent almost entirely away from the fighting. Present at the surrender of Singapore, a young Eric (an impressive Jeremy Irvine) is transported to a prison camp where his work is more mental than physical. Though Teplitzky lingers little on the consideration, there is a juxtaposition process happening here with Lomax's pride at and interest in his creation and the shame and brutality of the camp.

The clash of all of the film's ideas takes place during the final third, which finally sees Firth externalise his internal tumult, to supreme effect. Firth's ability to quietly control his performances is under-rated in its power, on show for all here.

The let down is perhaps the relationship between Teplitzky's dramatisation of the past and his presentation of the future. The balance is here, but somehow there seems a great detachment between the two times. Lomax in the present, for example, hardly ever refers to any part of the past; nothing about the railway building, or his comrades. Each works individually, but The Railway Man as a whole is somewhat muted by both its reservedness and the lack of coherence and communication between its stories.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Cuban Fury - Blu-ray Review

'Director James Griffiths wants Bruce (Nick Frost) to be his hero, but the temptation is to call for his arrest.'

The oafishly mis-judged Cuban Fury exists in a strange parallel universe where people recognisably work in modern office hives and drive Prius cars, yet still make one another cassette tapes, which they play in their presumably retro-fitted automobiles. This may not be amongst James Griffiths' film's biggest crimes, but it is evidence of its broken, ill-planned thinking.

From minor crimes which don't make sense to larger ones: Bruce's (Nick Frost) pursuit of Julia (Rashida Jones) is so poorly introduced and later realised that it occasionally comes across as creepy. 'I just wanted to rush in and hold her in my arms', Bruce says, here talking about a lady he has only met once and has observed taking part in a dance class by spying through a doorway. Griffiths wants Bruce to be his hero, but the temptation is to call for his arrest.

The film's successes rest almost entirely at the feet of Kayvan Novak, who someone somewhere must surely be considering for something bigger than this at this very moment. In Bejan, a dance friend/partner of Bruce, Novak is given a typically thankless task by Jon Brown's script: making a predictably flamboyant and camp character anything other than that. He succeeds, with some aplomb and it is telling that it is Bejan this film leaves you with rather than either lead or Chris O'Dowd's atrociously written antagonist. Drew (O'Dowd) is a mess of cringe and tired office jokes, who builds up to a master plan only to have it ripped away from him by poor writing that puts him in his underwear as a punchline.

Elsewhere, Ian McShane is given a role that, in a film with a script that's anywhere near decent, should have been a gift of an ageing sweary mentor: here, everything he does falls flat. The finale, full of razzle-dazzle, does provide elevation but the film needed much more of that throughout, rather than a mere fifteen minutes at the conclusion. When you can't get laughs, life or anything really out of a cast this talented, something is very wrong indeed.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

The Equalizer - Online Review

'It's at best disappointing and at worst downright depressing that a previously promising Action/Thriller practitioner, who promised to take the genre in a better direction, is now stuck doing fairly cookie-cutter fayre.'

The impossibly long, passably satisfying The Equalizer is not the film you are looking for should you be pining for a return to the likes of Man On Fire for Denzel Washington. Whilst Liam Neeson may be mining a relatively rich (or at least popular) vein of form as both an ageing action star and various ageing action men of fiction, Denzel here does not improve on his Action heyday. The Equalizer may have some of the familiar welcome beats, but the star looks less convinced with this material than he did ten years ago and, more importantly, director Antoine Fuqua is no Tony Scott on top form.

Fuqua is an interesting case worth considering. Like a smattering of contemporaries whose past films have been lauded to high levels (Jason Reitman springs to mind), Fuqua is now officially in something of a rut. The Equalizer may not be all bad, but it is certainly a world away from Oscar-winning Training Day, which whilst not an absolute classic itself is at least more ambitious than this, or previous recent Fuqua offerings Brooklyn's Finest and Shooter. It's at best disappointing and at worst downright depressing that a previously promising Action/Thriller practitioner, who promised to take the genre in a better direction, is now stuck doing fairly cookie-cutter fayre.

In this particular offering, Washington populates the familiar role of irritated old man with 'a particular set of skills', a conceit passed down from at least the height of the Western genre on to, perhaps for a time, Mel Gibson. It now resides with Washington, Neeson and a smattering of others, with Gibson waiting in the wings for any chance at having another go. Robert McCall (Washington) has nothing to offer beyond any of the previous role incumbents, apart from perhaps a bizarrely outlandish background tale which invites late cameos from Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. The stock bad guys are Russian. The stock girl in distress: Chloë Grace Moretz, a prostitute who frequents McCall's favourite late night cafe.

Predictably enough from here, Washington gets to show off some of his skills, which in the latter half of the film involve an outstanding knowledge of DIY paraphernalia and what it can do to the human body. McCall is disappointingly like every Washington action hero going; articulate, quiet, and as likeable as he is detached. Marton Csokas is a fairly useless villainous foil.

It would be nice to give the film a pass for Denzel doing what he does, and there are far worse ways to spend a Friday night, but in all honesty there's simultaneously not enough about it and too much of it to recommend it. It's a cut below even Shooter and Brooklyn's Finest, which is saying something.




The Equalizer was playing on Blinkbox.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Classic Intel: Archangel - DVD Review

'It's not Bond, but it may do until he gets here.'

Those searching for a Bond fix pre-SPECTRE could do a whole lot worse than searching out BBC mini-series/film Archangel, a Daniel Craig-fronted 2005 offering that plays broadly (and fairly cheaply) like an informal cross between Indiana Jones and Britain's favourite secret agent.

Perhaps those claims do not bear up to close scrutiny but, nevertheless, Craig's impossibly monikered Fluke Kelso is a professor on a bit of rampaging journey (through Russia) and his trek does take in elements such as the secret police, suspicious murders and a state up to no good. It's perhaps not Goldeneye, but it has been to the same dam-based military installations, looked over the top and decided it doesn't have the inclination (or budget) to jump.

The good includes the same sort of fish-out-of-water-who-secretly-loves-the-water feeling you get with Jones and the same smoothness you get with Bond. Kelso walking away from a potential love interest in a lift, in order to drop a tail, is pure bastard Bond, his righteous indignation at all and sundry, close to Jones. It's lacking humour, something that would certainly elevate it, but it attains charm, which is at least something. The occasionally uncertain plot is largely well-handled by director Jon Jones, who makes the two hour-plus runtime fly by. If you're looking for further comparisons then there is a distinct feeling of Scandi Noir here, in amongst the chilly Russian on-location filming, especially once the bodies start to pile up.

The bad pulls Archangel down a bit too much to truly say this is ultra-worthy of your time. The supporting cast around Craig, for one, are dubious. Gabriel Macht, probably the most recognisable name there, is dubiously broad. The picture the film paints of contemporary Russia too is a very Westernised one, though not necessarily any less true. Jones' Russia is one at war with itself, uncertain of its ideals, ideas and, more than anything, of its history. The first two 'episodes', watching this as originally aired on TV, are also much stronger than the third, which pulls out some starkly unbelievable conclusions, including Macht and Craig partaking in a bit of forced waltzing around a wilderness log cabin.

On the whole though, this is more fun than that sounds, supremely watchable and at least in possession of an idea or too. It's not Bond, but it may do until he gets here.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.