It’s my all new Quick Flicks! Instead of my usual TLDR reviews I’m killing two birds by offering up more film reviews that are far easier to read. Everybody benefits! Enjoy!
If I could recommend a scary flick to watch and a children’s book to avoid I would say The Babadook.
Amelia (Essie Davis) lives a depressing existence with her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who is unfortunately a solemn reminder of the loss of her husband. As much as she wants to love and nurture him his behaviour is sending her on a downward spiral, while underneath it all there’s a very deep-seated issue standing in the way. It’s a very terrifying and effective thought.
Then enters The Babadook, a horrifying supernatural manifestation of Amelia’s grief that grows stronger the more she avoids confronting her issues. It’s no traditional movie monster, in fact it’s barely seen at all in the film at all, not even during the climax, but that’s what makes it so unique. As The Babadook dominates their lives Amelia succumbs to its influence until she’s nearly consumed and forced to confront and take control of the creature.
In her debut writer / director Jennifer Kent has effortlessly created what is a very distinct psychological horror film. There’s not one jump-scare in it, Kent makes no attempt to hide it’s frightening moments and yet you’re still unsure when or where The Babadook is going to strike. The scariest imagery comes from some late night TV and the children’s book itself – the only time we ever get a decent look at The Babadook. But underneath it all, at its core, is a story of a mother crippled by grief and depression with a son who just doesn’t understand. The way this film was made, from top to bottom, is a stroke of genius.
Essie Davis is absolutely brilliant as the silently grieving widow Amelia. Her transformation into a psychologically unstable woman as The Babadook takes over is flawless and (surprisingly) believable, and seven-year-old Noah Wiseman, though a great pain in the butt in some scenes (“mum!” is easily the catchphrase of the film) does a wonderful job as Samuel.
Jennifer Kent has taken the wheel and given it some new rims to make it look great. I’ve not seen a film quite like this one, and all attempts before it flail in comparison. There’s only so many places to go with horror film but Kent found a way, and with perfect structure and two amazing performances this is definitely one to see.
9 of 10
Hot Tub Time Machine
If you’ve seen my trailer review for the sequel, you’ll know that on the surface I don’t hold Hot Tub Time Machine 2 in high regard. However, this is me judging a book by its cover so I felt it necessary to at least see the original before I question the existence of the second. I can honestly say I was mistaken and surprised.
In order to rejuvenate themselves four friends take a trip to their old hunting ground for a weekend away. While celebrating in a hot tub they accidentally spill a Russian energy drink on the controls and, as is suggested, they travel back to 1986. At first they’re set on making sure nothing changes knowing what could happen, but after realising they have a golden opportunity to do things over they set out to right the wrongs in their previous lives.
The premise is stupid and it really loses focuses in the middle but overall it’s not a bad film, good for a few laughs and entertaining. The main cast (John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke) work well together, even if they look entirely mismatched, and the supporting cast (including Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover) play their roles and help add to the craziness that unfolds. The script is standard for the genre but well-written, offering a sweet side to the friendship of the four main cast as they support each other making changes to their lives.
You won’t go home quoting every line, there are better comedies out there, but Hot Tub Time Machine, though the entire premise is given away in the title, does have its moments, and it’s worth taking a dip.
6 of 10
In need of some inspiration or something that’s meaningful? Want it to be steeped in realism to give it that extra kick of influence? Then look no further than Selma.
Despite having been given legal voting rights the inherent racism that is running rampant through the southern states of the United States sees that no African American is actually allowed to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) makes Selma, Alabama his base of operations to see that real changes are made and that their human rights are up-kept by the big man in D.C, Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson).
The film follows King’s emotional journey as he leads protest marches while having to deal with riots, beatings and even murders, all in the name of inequality. Director Ava DuVernay offers great insight into King, flaws and all, and paints a brilliant portrait of a man who, while in plain view of an entire country, wasn’t always an open book. The overall message of what it takes to influence and change the world is, in contrast to King, clear and on display.
While a bit stiff Oyelowo captures Dr. King in both body and spirit. His mannerism’s are spot-on but his speeches are where he truly shines. He makes light work of showing King’s greatest strengths, including his perseverance and resilience, but also showing flashes of weakness, such as his self-doubt. He’s also supported by an amazing cast, including Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Andre Holland, Stephen James, Wendell Pierce and, in particular, Tim Roth (as the despicable George Wallace).
Selma is very down to earth in its portrayal of events, which at some points does make the film slow down a little, but it easily makes up for all shortcomings. It conveys the enormity and magnitude of Martin Luther King and his efforts as all the losses hit that much closer to home, which is even more a stark reminder that these events actually happened. But not just the bad, the good that came too. We’ve come a long way since and Selma is an ode to those tireless efforts.
8 of 10