Tag Archives: Drew Pontikis

Guest Review: Up

Director: Pete Docter
Year: 2009
Score: 9.9/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Meth – not even once.

Meth – not even once.

My two boys are now at an age where they remain enthralled throughout a film, which has given me an excuse to work my way through the Pixar back catalogue again. First name on the list, without a moment’s hesitation, was Up, as it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

Following the death of his wife, elderly widower Carl decides to live their unfulfilled dream and move to Paradise Falls. Along the way we are treated to an odyssey of emotion, one which at various points has the potential to render you a blubbering wreck. This is the beauty of Up; it offers some of the most emotive performances ever committed to film, and all through the medium of animation.

The first few minutes of the film show the life of Carl and Ellie; from childhood, to joyful love-filled marriage, to the tragedy of not having children of their own, through to rising above this and living loving and happy lives. From there we feel the heart-wrenching sadness as Ellie passes away, and we see Carl become moulded into an angry and embittered old man.

The film thunders on with the irrepressible enthusiasm of Russell, who’s still filled with joy despite the tragedy of his home life. We see the parental warmth blossom within Carl as he tries to maintain his vision of getting his house to the falls. We see the single minded exuberance of Dug the dog, and in Charles Muntz the neuroticism of a life spent unrelentingly chasing a dream.

With one of the most touching endings of all of Pixar’s many many success stories, Up is a spectacular triumph. The depth of the characters is almost endless, and with bitter sadness entangled around the child-like dream unfurling in front of the viewer offers something quite profound.

My two year old son, however, was unconcerned by this. He wanted a balloon (a blue one), and then decided that he wanted a dog.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Dredd

Director: Pete Travis
Year: 2012
Score: 7.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Dammit I ALWAYS cry at the end of Titanic!

Dammit I ALWAYS cry at the end of Titanic!

I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Dredd. Tainted as the character was by the horrendous iteration that could best be described as Sylvester Stallone with a saucepan on his head, the only reason I actually watched it was because my wife fancied a film before she went to bed and we needed one of a specific length of time. With a sigh, I fired up the 95 minute long Dredd and sat back, preparing myself for what would no doubt be 45 minutes of being bored before falling asleep. As it turns out, Dredd turned out to be much better than I dared hope it would be.

In the violent near future, Judges dish out harsh and instant punishment to criminals on the street. The story follows Judge Dredd and a trainee as they find themselves trapped in a tower block, locked down by ruthless drug lord Ma-Ma. Rather than traditional coke or heroin, the drug of choice is called Slo-Mo; a futuristic reality altering psychedelic that slows down the user’s perception of time. This is cleverly utilised in a plot that builds to a crescendo as wave after wave are thrown at Dredd to try and stop him reaching the summit.

Karl Urban’s Dredd is very different to Stallone’s as there is little to no effort to try and create depth of character; he’s all about justice and PAIN. Cold and abrupt, Dredd is everything that he should be and his relentless progress through the tower block keeps you gripped and filled with suspense throughout.

Dredd feels like it could quite easily accommodate a sequel if the right plot was found; in the same way that The Raid and The Raid 2 build on each other I imagine the same could be applied here. It’s worth a gamble on if you fancy an action film, as it’s solid and it does what it says on the tin.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Director: Drew Goddard
Year: 2012
Score: 7.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"Wow, my hair looks a lot more ginger than I thought it did. Probably due a cut as well."

“Wow, my hair looks a lot more ginger than I thought it did. Probably due a cut as well.”

This is a very intriguing film because the horror is underlying rather than in your face, and so you find yourself almost overlooking the action that’s going on in front of you. As it happens, that’s a testament to how well the film is shot.

As a group of five friends head out to a cabin in the woods (duh), they are watched by what appears to be a team of government officials in some large complex. Once there, they find themselves set upon by zombies and, in a bid to escape, stumble across the real story that they are playing out.

The Cabin in the Woods has a very clever premise and, as mentioned above, is extremely well executed. What may have been a ten-a-penny zombie horror film is wrapped around something much darker, showing the indifference of man towards suffering when it is perceived as necessary. It’s poignant as it’s actually believable; it doesn’t feel like were the governments of the world given a similar situation this would be too far from what might happen (of course I realise this is nonsense but you know what I mean).

At no point does The Cabin in the Woods feel like a horror film, as the horror is incidental to the story. It’s absorbing and it keeps hold of you as it turns from zombie slasher to over the top government conspiracy almost seamlessly, and offers an alternative to a genre that too often becomes lazy and repetitive.

The only comment I have on it though is the clips of Japan; having finished watching it and spent some time thinking about how the plot works, not only does it not make any sense it is completely at odds with the whole premise of the plot. Why roughly 14 seconds of film incidental to the story bothered me isn’t clear, but it did. Just thought I’d mention it.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: The Borderlands

Director: Elliot Goldner
Year: 2013
Score: 7.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"Dammit Mike, I warned you about listening to One Direction! I told you this would happen!"

“Dammit Mike, I warned you about listening to One Direction! I told you this would happen!”

Unlike many proper film people, I’m a fan of ‘found footage’ horror films. The criticism levelled at them is that the shaky handheld aspect of the footage negates the need to have any real cinematic craft, and in many cases this is true. Sometimes however, when they hit the sweet spot, they can throw out something a bit good. And that rather neatly brings me on to The Borderlands, one of the more intriguing found footage horror films that I’ve come across.

The film follows a team of Vatican investigators sent to debunk an apparent miracle that occurred in a small West Country church. All footage is courtesy of head cams and fixed point cameras that are positioned around the church in an attempt to capture/catch out the potential miracle. As they begin to experience paranormal activity occurring throughout the church they desperately search for a rational explanation, and there are some genuinely scary moments generated through a skilful use of the found footage medium.

What is particularly notable about The Borderlands is the ending. Where many films stoop to a lazy jump scare to get their kicks, this has a beautiful crescendo building up over the course of about half an hour that is one of the best I’ve seen in a horror film. You’re built up to a point where you think you’re going to jump, but then it just carries on building and building to the point where you find yourself ready to scream ‘I can’t take it just scare me now!’, and when it actually happens you’re genuinely shocked by the twist that they come up with.

The characters are realistic and easy to identify with, and aside from the horror elements the plot is actually quite deep and absorbing. If you are the kind of person who would normally dismiss a Paranormal Activity style found footage film as not for you, I would urge you to give this a whirl; it may just surprise you.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Predator

Director: John McTiernan
Year: 1987
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"No seriously guys, who’s got the keys? I've been bursting since that last village and I am not in the mood to muck around!"

“No seriously guys, who’s got the keys? I’ve been bursting since that last village and I am not in the mood to muck around!”

Before the hate, let me put this score into context. Predator is an action film. Action films are not known for intense emotional dialogue, heartfelt sentiments or character evolution. They are known for blowing stuff up and beating people up. That’s it; nothing else is particularly relevant. In this regard Predator is the best action film, as it delivers all that you could possibly need from the genre.

I could waste your time and mine by explaining the plot, but you know the score; Arnold Schwarzenegger et al. are dropped into a jungle and picked off one by one by the ominous be-dreadlocked alien Predator, until a final showdown. It’s not Tolstoy, but who cares? For its time the CGI is quite advanced, and although some of the effects are starting to look a little tired the majority is achieved through live action; something that looks as good now as it did then. What Predator does surprisingly well is generate a sense of isolation, a feeling of being stranded and preyed upon that plenty of films since have tried and failed to do.

Containing iconic pearls of wisdom such as ‘Get to da choppah!’, ‘Cause some damn fool accused you of being the best’ and ‘What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be someone I could trust’, there are enough clichés to make Shakespeare spin in his grave and almost enough testosterone to fill a swimming pool (gross), but you can’t help but enjoy what’s going on.

Many will disagree on this, but to me this should be the go-to action film as far as anyone is concerned. Compare it to later contenders for example; Transformers or Predator? Independence Day or Predator? It’s no contest really. Sometimes I want to be moved by a film, sometimes I just want to be entertained. For that, there really is only one choice.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: The Woman in Black

Director: James Watkins
Year: 2012
Score: 5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Note the pictures on the wall – they were stolen from the walls of Hogwarts to act as a comforter to Daniel Radcliffe in the hope that his acting would improve. Didn’t work, but worth a go.

Note the pictures on the wall – they were stolen from the walls of Hogwarts to act as a comforter to Daniel Radcliffe in the hope that his acting would improve. Didn’t work, but worth a go.

I’m a huge fan of The Woman in Black. I’ve been scared by the theatre production and chilled by the book, so I was over the moon to hear that it was coming to film. As I expectantly sat down with my popcorn and my bottle of cider, I was hoping to see the story taken to terrifying new levels. Unfortunately, the only frightening thing about this film is Daniel Radcliffe’s acting.

It follows the story of Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer mourning the death of his wife and caring for his son who takes up the job of sorting through the effects of the recently deceased Mrs Drablow at the dark and overbearing Eel Marsh House. Whilst there he finds himself pursued by the film’s namesake, and embarks on a journey to try and solve her mystery before she tears him and the village apart. The story, whilst not true to Susan Hill’s original, is still reasonably strong, and there are a couple of occasional strong horror moments which do capture the isolated terror for which the plot is renowned. Sadly however these moments are few and far between, instead opting for the lazy and disappointing jumpiness that horror films resort to when they run out of inspiration. It’s a shame as there’s nothing worse than building to a crescendo of uneasiness and dread, only to have it spoiled by the boogie man jumping out and shrieking at you in a jumpy but ultimately unsatisfying manner.

The real disappointment however is Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as Arthur Kipps. He turns in a display which could be described as wooden at best and distracting at worst. You know that thing where you’re watching a film and all of a sudden Christopher Walken comes on and you go “oh look! It’s Christopher Walken”? It’s a bit like that, but you’re thinking “Oh look! It’s Daniel Radcliffe and he’s really not doing a very good job is he?” It’s one of those distractingly bad performances usually reserved for Nicolas Cage.

I would wholeheartedly encourage you to take a trip to the theatre and see The Woman in Black; it’s bloody brilliant. The film sadly does not live up to expectations, and is as forgettable as it is disappointing.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Pompeii

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Year: 2014
Score: 6/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Rock paper scissors for the sword? Are you serious?!

Rock paper scissors for the sword? Are you serious?!

Woo historical accuracy! As a proud member of the Archaeological Pedantry Society, there are moments in this film which are absolutely laughable. I would be prepared to bet that, given enough time, I could go through the entire film and not find a single fact beyond the limerick-esque ‘there once was a town called Pompeii’.

To paraphrase Futurama’s Robot Devil, however: this movie is as lousy as it is brilliant.

The special effects are as grand and spectacular as you would imagine a volcanic eruption to be and the gladiator battles are so glorious that you understand why the Romans loved them so much. The plot itself is quite weird; the story follows this guy who gets captured by the Romans, but who happens to be an unbelievably good gladiator who can talk to horses. That second fact is strangely incidental to the plot, but is enough to make a rather pretty girl fall in love with him. Sadly Jack Bauer is there, accompanied by the worryingly named Proculus (allegedly played by Sasha Roiz but is quite obviously Bear Grylls), and he decides that he’s going to marry her instead. Then a volcano goes off. It’s hardly Hamlet, but as an action film it’s quite entertaining. Drenched in bravado and testosterone-fuelled fight scenes it’s easy to enjoy, even if it is found wanting for things like substance, subtlety, character development, plot, historical accuracy, originality and suspense. It does however have a volcano, which makes up for a lot of those shortcomings.

Is it as good as Gladiator? No. Not even close. Does it have the epic story of Ben-Hur? No. Even so, it’s hard not to like Pompeii; it’s a good old fashioned historical action thriller that delivers on what it promises: a volcano.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Director: J. J. Abrams
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

This is where Nick Frost should be standing! It's written in my contract that Nick Frost would be here!

This is where Nick Frost should be standing! It’s written in my contract that Nick Frost would be here!

Whilst I’m not a fan of Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, this really is an excellent run out for one of television’s most revered sci-fi franchises. What this and its predecessor do so well is pure adrenalin-fuelled action, at the expense of sticking character development on the back burner; Zachary Quinto continues to do an excellent job of playing Spock; with Abrams less dependent on the character in Into Darkness than his first attempt.

Benedict Cumberbatch proves once again that he can’t be type-cast by taking up the role of Khan, a super villain with far superior strength and mental abilities who wears a long coat. This is a touch unfair as he does a very good job; both actor and role feed off each other and he provides an impassioned performance despite his character’s cold and clinical nature.

There comes a point (that I won’t spoil for you) in the plot that is so very out of touch with the rest of the film that it borders on the tedious, but the action recovers to a thrilling climax that reeks of Abrams and could be transposed into anything that’s gone before and sadly will probably remain the template when Star Wars VII: Milking The Cash Cow comes around. Don’t get me wrong – it works and it’s really good so it’s a bit churlish of me to complain, it’s more of a warm blanket of familiarity than the cold tedium of inevitability.

In summary: watch it, enjoy it.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Sinister

Director: Scott Derrickson
Year: 2012
Score: 6.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Still from Sinister

Suddenly Mrs. Wilson regretted her decision to answer the ‘Homeschool Substitute Teacher Wanted’ ad.

Sinister is a strange film, as it doesn’t really sit right as a horror film. As you might imagine, a horror film’s most pressing aim is to be scary; some are really bad at it admittedly, but that is the ultimate aim that it should be striving for. Sinister on the other hand doesn’t feel scary, nor does it feel at any point that it is trying to be scary. This sounds like a criticism and a sure sign that this film is a failure, but in practice it’s actually quite an interesting film. The best way I can describe it is if you imagine a version of Kiss the Girls in which the serial killer is a ghost.

Quick summary: writer moves to a house where some murdering occurred, and whilst unpacking finds a projector and box of home films in the attic; writer watches them and finds that they’re snuff films, continues to watch them anyway, then spooky stuff occurs. It’s quite an odd sensation watching this film; you’re waiting for the horror and it just never happens, but at the same time it tows you along in a relatively interesting plot. It’s almost like it’s a failed horror film that’s fluked its way into being a thriller.

Compared to its peers (Paranormal Activity and Insidious), Sinister fails. It doesn’t make the cut as a horror film, and those (like me) who were expecting to be scared will find their nerves intact and trousers unsoiled. So much does it fail in fact, by rights I would have scored this perhaps a three out of ten were it being judged purely as a horror. In isolation however, Sinister is interesting and rather than a good plot poorly executed, it would fall into the category ‘Not what we were looking for but we’ll take it’.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Director: Christopher B. Landon
Year: 2014
Score: 1/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

I too experienced this desire to sew my eyelids shut during his movie.

I too experienced this desire to sew my eyelids shut during his movie.

Having enjoyed Paranormal Activity 4, I thought I’d give this a chance. It was a serious mistake, and I feel cheated out of an hour and a half of my life. I could have gone for a lovely walk. I could have written a poem. Hell, I could have played with my kids. But no – I watched this tidal wave of drivel for 84 minutes.

If anybody cares (you don’t), it follows the story of three teenage friends, one of whom finds a bite mark on his arm. He experiences some cool superhuman powers like being able to lean over a bit, then becomes possessed. The plot is laboured and pointless; it’s like it exists only to justify the daft ending of the previous film. It doesn’t make sense as the events only tie together if you take wild leaps of assumption, and even then it’s still fairly incoherent; it has the feel of a horror film put together by a committee of really bad media studies students. The only moment of enjoyment to be had in this film is when the fat kid falls on his arse.

It bears no resemblance to the preceding Paranormal Activity films, with only token links to the previous ones in order to justify its title. It is a thoroughly pointless film which at no point ventures above its own personal zenith of dreadful.

I was once told that the words ‘explosive diarrhoea’ were considered an example of onomatopoeia as your lips make the same movements saying it as your arse does when you experience it. I would imagine the same could be said of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones as I imagine your lips make the same movements saying it as whatever sphincter it was that ejected this nonsense into a script did.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: V/H/S/2

Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans & Jason Eisener
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

The child version of Doom did not prove a huge success.

The child version of Doom did not prove a huge success.

A couple of things – I love found footage horror films, and I haven’t seen the original V/H/S. All good? Right. This film is unbelievable, and is by a clear margin the best horror film I’ve seen in a long time. For those unfamiliar with the premise, V/H/S/2 follows the found footage of two reporters who get into the house of a missing teenager, and then sit and watch a collection of found footage videos.

It just has everything. Ghosts, crazy cults, monsters, zombies… it just goes on and on. There’s several different short films, and although each is only about fifteen minutes long I found myself completely absorbed and at points genuinely frightened by what was going on. Particularly the cult one. Part of me would like to meet the people who dreamt this up, but the other part of me thinks that if I did it would be my civic duty to beat them to death and prevent them inflicting any more of their unfettered madness upon the world.

I know there’s divided opinion on found footage films. Many don’t like them, arguing that they’re lazy, unrealistic and difficult to lose yourself in. There are instances where this is true, and there is some absolute dross out there. You do, however, get some real gems. The Last Exorcism is fantastic, Paranormal Activity created a whole new genre and The Blair Witch Project (deal with it), whether you like it or not, will go down as a film that truly changed the horror landscape. As unusual as it is to say this about a sequel, V/H/S/2 deserves to sit alongside if not above all of them. Genuinely frightening, cleverly tied together footage wrapped around the most important quality a film of this nature needs: a reason for the protagonists to be holding a camera the whole damn time.

If you like horror films, you HAVE to see this one.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Monsters University

Director: Dan Scanlon
Year: 2013
Score: 6.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Note: this film was previously reviewed by Movies and Bacon here.

"And we're just about done! I won't use these obviously but just to finish off the film, why don't you pop your clothes off?"

“And we’re just about done! I won’t use these obviously but just to finish off the film, why don’t you pop your clothes off?”

Oh, Pixar, what have you done?!

Pixar are one of my favourite companies in the whole wide world. The way that they take any situation, however benign and insignificant it may be, and just dream about what story might become simply staggers me. And they do it over and over – A Bug’s Life, Toy Story and its sequels, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., and let’s not even get on to the masterpiece that is Up. Every single one shares something in common; good triumphs over adversity. Now however we have Monsters University, and the message is as stark as it is cold – no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want it, no matter how dedicated; sometimes, you will never be good enough. And that, to me, is very very sad.

As the title suggests, the plot follows Mike and Sulley through university life, long before they’re working for Monsters Inc. Sulley’s character has been very cleverly reverse engineered from the original; an overly confident slacker relying on hereditary talent to get by, eventually learning the value of good work ethic, strength of character and morality. Mike on the other hand shares no resemblance to his original form; hardworking and calculating, and filled with burning ambition. A likeable character of course, but not connected to the original.

Goodman and Crystal turn in excellent performances, as does a surprisingly impressive Helen Mirren (voicing Dean Hardscrabble), and all add depth to a plot desperately trying to distract you from an inevitable ending of disappointment. It also contains some surprisingly epic lines (“When you lose, no one will remember you” “Maybe, but when YOU lose, everyone will remember you”) and the relationship between Mike and Sulley grows and develops in a charming way. But you just can’t get away from the disappointment of cold cutting reality that rings through the whole film like the dull toll of a lone funeral bell; no matter how hard you try, you will never be good enough.

I don’t want this from a Pixar film! I don’t care how hard you try and sugar coat the ending, it’s failure. If I wanted to think about a world of failure and misery and cold crushing reality, I don’t need a film for that, I have reality. I want to believe a goldfish can swim halfway across the world to find his disabled son. I want to believe that an old man can fly his house to South America using balloons and a fat kid. I want to dream! And shame on you Pixar for pissing on my chips.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: World Trade Center

Director: Oliver Stone
Year: 2006
Score: 4.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Note: this film was previously reviewed by Movies and Bacon, and given a more generous score of 7.5/10, here.

Get used to this expression, it's the only one you'll see during the whole film.

Get used to this expression, it’s the only one you’ll see during the whole film.

This film makes me angry, and I’ll tell you why: it’s ruined by an absolutely appalling performance from Nicolas Cage. Leaving aside that even on a good day Cage would be outperformed by a scotch egg, Oliver Stone has taken a deeply personal story that is inextricably intertwined in a horrific national tragedy and dumped a massive overacting turd in the middle of it.

The film is actually quite original; following the story of the men trapped beneath the collapsing/collapsed Trade Center towers is a clever angle on an event the world has replayed hundreds of times. The confusion that surrounded NYPD as the news broke heightens the tension, the sense of frightening bewilderment at the sound of the jumpers is disturbing, and the scene where the towers come down viewed from the inside is epic. This makes it all the more frustrating when a moustachioed Cage clomps heavy-handedly all over his character, never once letting you immerse in the plot or ever get beyond ‘oh look, it’s Nicolas Cage doing a really bad job of acting’. His performance is similar to the one given in Kick-Ass, just to give you an idea of scale.

The events of 9/11 evoke many different emotions and reactions in a person’s soul and many will be drawn to this movie, as I was. Some will come for morbid curiosity, some will come looking for a story of humanity triumphing over tragedy, and some will come just to hear a new account on one of the darkest days in history. Sadly, whatever you come looking for, you’re unlikely to find it. And that’s the real tragedy being played out here; you don’t see the wonderful heartening true story of the men involved, all you see is frustration and the overwhelming desire for it just to be over.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Predators

Director: Nimród Antal
Year: 2010
Score: 7/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"I'm flying, Jack! I'm flying!"

“I’m flying, Jack! I’m flying!”

The Predator franchise has taken a bit of a pounding during its lifetime; the lowest point for both the series and anyone who chose to watch it being AvP: Requiem. Happily, Predators gives it a nice warming shot of adrenalin, despite some very ropey casting and even ropier dialogue.

Having been dropped into a jungle, a collection of planet Earth’s most baddest asses group together and, having initially taken shelter under Adrien Brody’s nose, find themselves being hunted by a group of Predators on a jolly to their local planetary game reserve. The character roster is taken from The Children’s Book of Stereotypical Bad Guys; ranging from the Black Ops guy, through Yakuza, all the way to Machete (yes, the actual Machete; nope, I don’t know why either), and some of the dialogue is just awful. Of particular note is Adrien Brody’s character; it’s like he got the part at short notice, panicked, googled ‘how to look hard’, watched 25 seconds of Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry and thought ‘yep I’ve got this, let’s shoot us a movie!’. It’s so dreadful it reminds me of a badly dubbed ’70s kung fu movie.

Ignoring the dialogue and focussing on the action for a moment, Predators is in my opinion the best in the franchise since Arnie was directing people towards a helicopter. The action is clever, and whilst there’s rarely anything surprising it isn’t as predictable as the dialogue suggests it might be. You don’t build empathy with the characters, you’re only marginally interested in the plot, but it doesn’t matter; it does what an action film is supposed to do. Even Lawrence Fishburne’s bizarre 15 minute appearance doesn’t detract from the enjoyment, and it’s hard not be pleased that the Predators finally have a half decent film again.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Paranormal Activity 4

Directors: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Year: 2012
Score: 7/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Re-enacting the chest buster scene from Alien, but with less successful results.

Re-enacting the chestburster scene from Alien, but with less successful results.

Whilst the original was polarising between those who thought it was scary and those that thought it was dross, the second and third instalments were pretty much filed unanimously under dross. Why they bothered with a fourth (and fifth) was a bit beyond me, however I was pleasantly and terrifiedly surprised at how reinvigorated the franchise had become.

Breaking from the norm by starring a family outside of the cursed genealogical pool for the first time, there’s little to no effort made this time out to generate empathy in the characters. It is purely like watching CCTV footage of a family, and you don’t really bond with them at any point. That said, that’s part of what makes this one scary; it induces the sort of raw fear that you’d actually get from watching something real. There were moments (oh God were there moments) that you can see coming, you know they’re coming, and they’re toe curlingly frightening to watch unfold.

I would liken this much more to The Last Exorcism, one of the best horror films in recent times, than I would its Paranormal predecessors. It’s frightening, fresh and clever (especially the scenes with the Xbox Kinect), and well worth your time if you love a good horror film.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Alex Cross

Director: Rob Cohen
Year: 2012
Score: 5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Seriously, don't look – there's a really tiny guy standing behind you!

Seriously, don’t look – there’s a really tiny guy standing behind you!

Where Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls bravely went first, Alex Cross stumbles clumsily behind. Gone are the days of Morgan Freeman’s deep and atmosphere-creating character as the piercing sunlight of Tyler Perry’s new hard-man character glares painfully into the hungover eyes of the detective thriller genre.

This is a reasonably entertaining thriller, rescued from the depths of cinematic obscurity by a frankly superb performance from a steroid-pumped former Lost cry baby Matthew Fox as the crazed bad guy Picasso. There is actually a fairly strong roster of acting talent; John C. McGinley (of Scrubs’ Dr. Cox fame) and Jean Reno both take reasonably large roles but unfortunately both fail to sparkle to the extent that we’ve seen so many times before.

The problem for Alex Cross is the film’s namesake’s association with the character’s previous outings, and not least because of the change of actor. There’s a change of pace to the film from its predecessors, leaving behind clinical and calculating detective work and embracing a new world of cage fighting and rocket launchers. Were this film called Tommy Knox: Detective Badass then it would be enjoyable in its own right, however sadly for most it will be forever cast into the bargain bin labelled ‘difficult third album’.

As with all ‘film of the books’, Alex Cross is at the behest of the plot laid out before in another medium. Sadly it hasn’t made the transition as effortlessly as many others have, but Rob Cohen’s new vision of the character is still worth a watch.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: The Great Gatsby

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Welcome to a brand new feature on Movies and Bacon: guest reviews! Today’s guest reviewer is Drew Pontikis from Obscene Gaming. Here’s his take on The Great Gatsby, a film previously reviewed by Movies and Bacon here.

You sit there and think about the terrible film you've made!

You sit there and think about the terrible film you’ve made!

A Baz Luhrmann film is the girl equivalent of a Michael Bay film, and The Great Gatsby follows this format as much as Moulin Rouge does. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, sporting the ropiest accent this side of Janet Street-Porter, the story is told through the eyes of Spider-Man Toby Maguire; a man so infatuated with Gatsby it is hard to build any rapport or empathy with the characters without feeling just a little bit sick.

The set and scenery are overly decadent and grandiose, buried elbow deep in the art deco styling of the time the film is set. Unfortunately after the first five minutes this becomes blinding, and as the film goes on it lacks the ability to impact you in the way it is apparently intended.

From start to finish the film lacks any suspense, clarity of plot, and the twist at the end is so telegraphed that it could have been dreamed up by the World Wrestling Federation. It strikes me as the sort of film that is targeted specifically at girls in their early teens whose mothers have let them watch Titanic as an example of what love looks like, and who now need a further hit. Like I said, the girl equivalent of a Michael Bay film.

I’ve never read the book, so I may be doing Baz Luhrmann a great disservice. This is, however, the film that ‘they said could never be made’ – frankly, I wish they hadn’t bothered.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.