Unpopped Kernels: The Last Witch Hunter – Review

There needs to be a better appreciation for crap movies, I reckon. Too often we expect far too much from our movies that we don’t give them a chance to breathe; suffocating the creation with our neediness to pump out lucrativeness that satisfies us right to our very loins. To be fair to ourselves, as we grow older and we become more aware of the sheer exhausting amount of films that our churned on a weekly basis. It’s natural to feel barraged by movies, as though we’re going round in circles of dramas, romantics, and action type romps that feel hauntingly similar. From the brilliant “Oh my god, you have to see it” films, to the deceptive “wow, this should’ve been a whole lot better,” there’s an ebbing river of films that know exactly how cheesy they are and they relish in the shittiness of it all – enjoying  moderate audience that meets their creations with furore.

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On that last option, there are a list of movies that regularly make our list and most of them are fantastical – Beautiful Creatures, Underworld, and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, to name but a few. Talking about Witch Hunters (excellent segue, Cookie), the titular last of them is well-accepted into this group as it is the kind of movie that people will remark “it looks shit..”

And your response will be, gloriously, “Yes. And that’s why I need to watch it.”

The Last Witch Hunters revolves around Coulder – a warrior who was cursed a long time ago and has lived 800 years battling all types of creepy magical types like a motherfucking boss (but sadly, losing his hair.) After defeating the Witch Queen who gave him his immortality powers, Coulder has helped the monk led Axe and Cross group defeat all who dares to try and take over the world – rude! Anyway, after his confidant Dolan dies suspiciously, Coulder enlists Dolan’s next in line and a bar owning Witch to help stop the Queen from rising again.


The Last Witch Hunter is one of those films where you can recognise that it is bad but I can’t actually pinpoint elements I thoroughly hated. Ok, so let’s start with the story; this is basically a set-up to a bigger franchise and that filling lingers throughout the whole film. Much like Captain America: The First Avenger, this feels like an introduction to characters rather than a vital film to embrace and therefore is dull in many different places. There is that clear sense that the studio has already sold its soul for sequels which, I’ll happily welcome, but that means that characters here suffer. For example, it’s hard to imagine Elijah Wood having fallen so far into the pits of acting Mordor after his success of Lord of The Rings yet it is clear here. His character is in about five scenes and all of them are pointless to the overall arc of the story and his twist is so insanely predictable that it’s almost a waste of a pay-check. Also, The Witch Queen, though creepy and certainly how I end up looking at the end of my nights’ out, is a wasted villain who never really commands the fear and tension she should…again adding to that somewhat tedium at dully rings throughout the film.


In similar respects, I can’t really point out the excellent parts of The Last Witch Hunter, or why I even chose it as an Unpopped Kernel, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not saying Vin Diesel is an amazing actor but his best performance is three words in Guardians of the Galaxy, showing emotions through different inflictions and the like. That being said, his stoic and almost feeling free portrayal of Coulder here works and he is able to grasp the plight of Coulder. He also looks badass as a Danish Viking Witch Killer from the past WITH HAIR and that all comes together seamlessly. But the biggest highlight is Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie as Chloe who is rambunctious, daring, fun, and magical to watch. Plus their chemistry is action-packed that will leave you wanting them to fuck and not all at once (though it is nice that they leave as best friends forever rather than do the smoochy smooch).

The Last Witch Hunter is brilliant for those who want to lose themselves on a world where magic is rampant and a bulky Vin Diesel stomps around trying stop evil. The movie feels more like a set up for a series that hopefully has already been announced because you will leave with the gleeful in the promise that the stunning and eloquent Leslie and the tough Diesel are totally BFFs trying to snuff the bad people before they set the world on fire. Not going to lie, that’s something I would watch the shit out of.

Babes


The Last Witch Hunter is available on Netflix! 

The Bleeder – Review

1975. On the mean streets of New Jersey, a liquor salesman and sometime boxer tries to make a living and keep his self respect, and win the love of his girl. But when he’s pitted against the great boxer Muhammad Ali, he has the chance of the lifetime to prove himself… Sounds like an underdog, rags to riches story that would make a great movie, right? Well, Sylvester Stallone sure thought so. This is the story of Chuck Wepner, the real man who was the inspiration for the film Rocky. This movie tells his story from the cocaine highs to the crushing lows.

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But Chuck is a little different than Rocky Balboa, even though he highly identified with the movie version of himself. Wepner (Schreiber) is a charming man who can’t seem to get out of his own way. He’s a man who loves the spotlight, but some part of him craves something that’s missing within himself. Something that drives him to cheat on his loving wife, let down his daughter and ultimately do time for dealing cocaine. It’s not until he finds that thing, that centre and self love, that he can really love a woman (Watts) and accept the love of his estranged family. Sound like an Oprah special? What I really love about this film is that even though that material could make for a really sappy, cheesey film, it does something beautiful and simple with it’s material. It has heart.

In some sense, watching this I felt like this was almost an anti-boxing film. It hits all the beats of boxing films as a genre but almost in an ironic way, often skewering the glamour and machismo of those films. It has a more colourful palette than most boxing films, not the usual grey, gritty tones, but rather a 70’s glam. Wepner cheats on his loyal wife, but it’s not made to look sexy or pretty, and in losing her, he loses something precious and a serious support network that he needs badly. It’s a sad moment. When he does cocaine, it’s funny, but also ugly, not glamourised. It seems a little tawdry and sad. And when he meets the man who made a movie out of his life, Stallone wants to be a friend but Chuck can’t help but sabotage himself and his chances to further his career.

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Maybe that makes it sound depressing, but on the flipside, it’s a film with humour and colour. It’s vibrant. Wepner might be hapless, but Schreiber manages to show him as a man who is ultimately very likable, who has a warmth that draws people in. So many little moments in this film made me feel compassion for him, as he muddles his way through. You get the sense that he’s very human, he’s real. And while real life isn’t all glamour like a movie, sometimes that can make it a interesting story.

The supporting cast also do a fine turn in this film. Elizabeth Moss as his wife feels like a natural fit. She’s a woman who loves her husband, loves to see him shine, but ultimately won’t take being treated badly. She’s nobody’s fool, but she loves her husband and her pain is real. Ron Perlman is, well, there’s just something about a Perlman performance, isn’t there? He’s a colourful man, here made to look like a greasy boxing promoter and manager. And of course, Watts is wonderful as a kind of glamorous and tough bar tender, a brash and brassy red head with long fake nails and too much makeup who you can’t help but love, and who Wepner doesn’t stand a chance with. Everyone brings their own little something to this film, their own humour, toughness and vulnerability.

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Personally, I’m a fan of a good ol’ boxing film. And I loved what this film did with the genre.

It’s a warm film, full of the colour and charm of Wepner’s personality, as channeled through Schreiber. It has that 70’s glamour and tone.  It’s often funny and bright, but there’s darkness here handled without descending into melodrama. There is genuine great moments  that journey into the character, hitting bottom and struggling with real world problems. There are some little wobbly bits in this film, the casting of Ali and Stallone felt kind of off and a bit cheesey, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the success of the film at all. If you’re a Rocky or sports film fan, this should be on your watch list for sure. And for those of you who feel like it all sounds a bit emotional, Chuck Wepner is a man who fights a bear in the boxing ring as a publicity stunt. Great viewing.


The Bleeder is out DVD & Blu-Ray on Monday! 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Brand New Trailer!

Yorgos Lanthimos is a director with clout. His work includes the brilliant and bizarre Dogtooth and The Lobster! 

The film revolves around a surgeon who adopts a teen into his family  but finds tensions and events spiral with his addition.

I’ve never seen an Ellie Goulding song sound so…sinister.  The cast of Nicole Kidman, COlin Farrell, and newcomer Barry Keoghan is such a tantalising possibility.
What do you think?


The Killing of a Sacred Deer is out 17th November! 

Molly’s Game – Brand New Trailer!

We love Jessica Chastain here at We Make Movies on Weekend.  The impeccable actress has brought us some genius movies such as Zero Dark Thirty and A Most Violent Year (this was very disrespectful still gives us chills.) Even this year she has gifted us alarmingly good performances in

Directed by sccreenwriter Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game revolves around the real-life Olympian skier Molly Bloom who was also a high-stakes poker game. Being caught with Hollywood royalty, sports stars, and the Russian mob, Molly has merely a defense lawyer to help her.

Interesting, this could be a powerful thrilling drama.

What do you think?


Molly’s Game

Napping Princess – Review

Sleep is one of those most glorious beautiful things that, as adults, we don’t get enough of. But when we do, oh is it wonderful. Sleep is one of those artful ways your brain can create reverie that blends with our own reality, taking us on adventures without every leaving our homes (although, sometimes we get unlucky dreams about posters and all those types of shenanigans.)

Anime can feel like a dream too , a colourful mix of the fantastical and the real. So it is fitting that the latest venture would be Napping Princess.

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Directed by Kenji Kamiyama, Napping Princess, otherwise known as Ancien and the Magical Tablet, revolves around Kokone who is prepping for her exams. It would be a lot easier if she didn’t fall asleep as often as she did! However, when she closes her eyes, she escapes into a dream world where cars rule the world and the ruthless manufacturer uses it to keep them in line. As a similar seedy plot unfolds in her real life, the magical world she has concocted seems to dissolve into reality…is there something more behind her imagined world?

With the success of movies such as Your Name (which returns to cinemas next week in IMAX,) there was hope that Napping Princess would meet these stellar heights. As sweet and lovely Napping Princess is, it is also very convoluted, which is a shame. The plot is complex and the tone unable . This is matched by obvious plot points that would veer into the predictability when it wasn’t being being so damn confusing. So caught between familiarity and the surreal, Napping Princess is baffling. Even the end credits are weird with a subtitled version of Daydream Believer that doesn’t match the music. It’s just a wild ride that doesn’t

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That being said, though it does lack coherency it has plenty of heart. It is hard not to warm to Kokone and her sweet sleepy behaviour as it progresses. There are messages underneath the layers. There is a two-sided look at our over-reliance with technology. It equally helps our heroine here and is a detriment to those around her. Maybe a lesson on how we could wield it for good and, in the wrong hands, it is terrible.  There’s also a grander look at pollution and the production of cars that not developed enough but is certainly there.  Added to this, there are personal moments that keep the emotional going; looking at how our careers can really impact our families and the sad loss of one parent.

Napping Princess is a sweet film but it misses the mark on many occasions. The film has good moments but is just a tad bit perplexing to be wholly brilliant. Ambitious, certainly, and admirable too. However, ultimately, it lacks the development for it to be a superb film.


Napping Princess screens tonight! 
Watch it at The Ritzy!