Double Review! : Coherence (2014) and Starred Up (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.1
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%
Amazon Instant Watch

Directed By – James Ward Byrkit
Starring – Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Hugo Armstrong, Alex Manugian, and Lauren Maher

Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

This is going to be one of my shortest reviews. Why? I am not going to ruin the privilege of seeing this film as blind as I did. All I knew going in to the film was the IMDB plot summary above and that it was a sci-fi film. That is all you’re going to get too. I didn’t add the trailer. Don’t watch it. It gives too much away. The film is currently on Amazon Instant so if you have Prime you can watch it for free. If you don’t have prime, find it on VOD and pay for it. You won’t be disappointed if you love sci-fi and mindbending movies.

I’m pretty much going to end it after this. This certainly isn’t a masterpiece. It is however a film with a completely unique story and consists mostly of improvised dialogue and low budget film making that is both impressive and promising. The acting splits between amateur and really good. Baldini and Brendan are the standouts here. I hope they do more things.

See the film. See it.

4.5/5

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 98%
Amazon Instant Watch

Directed By – David Mackenzie
Starring – Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell, Anthony Welsh, David Ajala, and Peter Ferdinando

A troubled and explosively violent teenager is transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match – a man who also happens to be his father.

Well, Jack O’Connell is going to be a fucking star. He’s already breached into the public eye with his role in “unbroken” but this is the film that he shines. He’s a powerhouse. He’s a wrecking ball. Think Tom Hardy in Bronson. It’s that good of a performance.

Starred Up isn’t a pretty film. It’s ugly. The brutality behind the violence is troubling to watch at times. It’s a hard look into the British prison system. For those who grew up with Oz and Shawshank Redemption, this is going to be different for you. Guards aren’t always right around the corner and when they are, they don’t usually have the upper hand. There were many moments in this film that made me confused as to who was really running the prison. Fights break out and are left unattended for minutes. Assaults on guards don’t really end too bad for the inmate. In fact, it’s like getting the shit kicked out of you is almost a daily hassle, for both the inmates and for the guards. Enter Eric Love, a 19 year old kid who is as explosive as they come. Right from the get go he is rubbing oil on his body in preparation for guards bursting through his cell door. I told you it’s like Bronson. Starred up however is a bit less theatrical than Bronson. It’s a realistic view at just how fucked up it can be in prison. It sheds light on how far prison officials are willing to go or how blinded they can be that there are people in those cells that need help. Its eye opening.

A lot of the film is a bit hard to understand. I don’t mean story. I mean I had problems getting through the mumble mouth cockney jargon that these prisoner conversed in. It really is a whole other language but I got through it without the subtitles. I’m proud of that. Ben Mendelsohn, who is fantastic in this by the way, plays the father of Eric and at times is completely non-understandable. That Mendelsohn though. He’s been acting like that since Animal Kingdom. I don’t want him to change. He’s always a menace whenever he’s on screen and I love it. The relationship between father and son is interesting in prison. You can’t always take peoples shit, including your fathers in fear of looking weak, but you also need to look out for your son. I think this is the main focal point of the film for me. The relationship between father and son here is handled beautifully and comes full circle by the films end. There is also a great sub theme by which a young anger management counselor, played by Rupert Friend, tries to get some of the more violent and angry inmates to calm the fuck down. Those scene were like Dead Poets Society except instead of poetry we’re dealing with pure insanity filled rage.

The film is a wonderful look at a different kind of prison system. It is brutally violent at just the right times and features powerhouse performances by O’Connell and Mendelsohn. Watch out for Jack O’Connell. He’s looking like the next Michael Fassbender or Tom Hardy.

4.5/5




My Experience with The Raid 2

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Okay, so I had a disappointing night. If you regularly read my work then you’ll notice something is off. My usual set up of details regarding the movie is absent and I titled this in a very odd way. There is a reason for that. Tonight was honestly one of the most disappointing and frustrating nights of movie watching I have ever had. I’m going to start off by getting this out of the way…

I didn’t finish the movie. I walked out. I have only ever walked out of a movie once before (The Informant) and I am still in disbelief that I did. I don’t understand what went wrong. I’m going to try to figure it out in this post but I give you all fare warning, I’m going to spoil, in small ways, the first half of the film. I do however have a favor to ask of you…

IF YOU HAVE SEEN THIS FILM IN IT’S ENTIRETY AND DISAGREE WITH ME THEN PLEASE…PLEASE…COMMENT AND CHANGE MY MIND.

I honestly need you guys to convince me to go back and see the end of the film because I wanted to love this movie so much but I just couldn’t sit in the theater any longer. I left with about an hour left in the film and I need you guys to tell me it becomes badass in that last hour. There just has to be more but I honestly couldn’t take how bored I was any longer. I looked at my phone and realized that I had another hour and change left and I just couldn’t sit there any longer. Now, let me preface the following words by saying I did not think that this is a bad film. There is a huge difference between a bad film and a boring disappointment and “The Raid 2” was that of the latter. Now, let’s get into this so I can flush out the sadness…

So, like many of you, I loved The Raid. I think it is the best action movie since “The Matrix” and is my top five favorite action movies of all time. I didn’t care that the story was lacking or that the acting was amateur at best. I loved the fact that somebody made a balls to the wall fighting film that rarely let up and didn’t bow its head to Hollywood tropes and actually let the villains get away with some evil shit. I loved the fact that one of the main cops dies. I loved that I was rooting for one of the villains during most of the fights. I just couldn’t get enough of the film. So, naturally, when I heard the sequel was finished and that it was two and a half hours long, I salivated. I thought, if this is anything like the first film, but longer, that I would lose my shit. I refrained from seeing trailers in an attempt to go into the film totally blind and get my face rocked off. The podcasts that I listen to praised the film and the small lot of you guys that have seen the film gave positive reviews. I was ready. I just can’t believe I ended up walking out.

So the film starts off about two hours after the first film ended. This is deceiving because it really only takes place in that time period for about ten minutes before we’re thrown into a plot that is so boring and confusing that I honestly didn’t know what the hell I was watching. Our hero, Rama, has now been persuaded into an undercover position in order to protect his family so he spends two years in a prison getting to know the younger son our a local politician/crime boss. What follows plot wise, and takes up most of the film, is a boring and horribly written story that is trying very hard to be compelling but I could honestly give a shit. Where are my fight scenes? Where are my adrenaline filled, blood pumping, boner inducing fight scenes that I was given in the first Raid? I just didn’t get it. By the time I left there were three fight scenes that had moments of glory but ultimately left me unsatisfied in a way that some people experience blue balls. I was being prodded with glorious fight scenes for five minutes only to be left with talking for another twenty. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of tease. I just couldn’t handle it. I had to leave. I was going to fall asleep or worse, completely punch out of the film, so I folded. There wasn’t even any music in the film. Mike Shinoda contributed a hell of a lot to the first film by giving an intense and fun techno score that added to the fun. There was so much silence in this film that I almost fell asleep. The final straw was the fact that the man who played my favorite character in the first film, Mad Dog, was in this movie, as a completely different person. Let me rephrase the fact that this movie takes place in the same universe and directly after the events of the first film. Having the same actor, and having it be obvious, be in the sequel after he fucking dies, is just stupid. I had enough. I left.

Now, the management staff was kind enough to give me a pass to return and I do plan on revisiting and finishing the film. I ask you though to please help me get back there sooner. Does the film get better? Is the last half hour an incredible display of fighting badassery that I missed because I’m a snobby asshole? Please let me know in the comments because my disappointment was just too much to handle tonight.

I will post a full review if I ever return to this film. Please help me do so.