Category Archives: On The Big Screen

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Bad Neighbours 2 – Review

by Jo Johnstone

Bad Neighbours was the surprise hit of 2014. The film followed a young newlywed couple as they brought their first house and had to contend with a fraternity of boys moving in next door. The film featured all-out war between the two and was destined to have a sequel.

For Bad Neighbours 2, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron all return for this comedy sequel with the addition of Chloë Grace Moretz as the sorority sister from hell. Sticking to the already successful formula of the first film, Bad Neighbours 2 is a gross out comedy that is sure to please fans of the original.

The film picks up a few years after the first. Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) are raising their young daughter when they realise they are expecting a second child. While selling their house to move to a bigger one. a sorority of young girls, led by Shelby (Grace Moretz), move in next door. The girls are being mentored by their former student neighbour Teddy (Efron), who resents the couple for his criminal record gained in the previous film. Yet when Teddy decides to switch sides and help the family, it is all-out war with the girls.

The sequel sees Nicholas Stoller, known for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, back in the directing chair with Rogen again serving as producer to the film.

In terms of narrative and concept, the sequel has stayed true to the original film. It’s the young married couple fighting a group of crazed partying students accept this time, the students are girls. The film has three joining plots which all get equal attention in the film. There is the couple vs the students. The female students desire to create a sorority that is allowed to hold their own parties and, finally, Teddy’s reluctance to move on past his college days. Each narrative offers its own jocularity and paces this comedy well.

The bulk of the humour comes from the war between the two houses and the pranks they play on one another. As the film progresses, the pranks become more elaborate, even sending one character on a wild goose chase around the world.

As with all Seth Rogen comedies there is a fair share of gross humour. From a scene where Kelly vomits on Mac’s face during sex to the scene where the students throw used tampons at the couple’s window, its grim viewing and not for the easily offended.

A lot of the films appeal is thanks to the comedy and charm of the original cast. For the sequel, the three now must work together and the results are absurd and excellent. Again, small cameos are done well and add to the humour of the film from Lisa Kudrow’s straight talking Dean to Kelsey Grammer’s overly emotional father to Shelby. The only missed mark is in character Shelby. Grace Moretz is a great actress but she is awkward in this role. It is easy to believe her as strong and rebellious but the street smart attitude and gang sign references feel very over done for such a talented young actress.

The new additions of the sorority house match the crazed antics of the previous all male group and then some, proving once and for all that girls can be just as bad as the guys.

Bad Neighbours 2 is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now! 

Florence Foster Jenkins – Review

by Georgia Sanders 

Based on the true story of the woman dubbed ‘the worst singer in the world’, Florence Foster Jenkins is an emotional immersion into the very real problems of a woman with an unwavering determination to become a part of the musical world for which she had such intense affection.

Unable to play the piano since contracting syphilis and damaging the nerves in her hands, Florence – played by the ever-perfect Meryl Streep – takes to singing as an outlet for her musical passions; despite her lack of skill in the area. A combination of her wealth, large entourage of friends, and tirelessly devoted husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), ensure that she never receives an honest word’s feedback – that is, until her ambition gets the better of her, and she books herself in to perform at Carnegie Hall.

St Clair’s blatant love for his wife is so tangible that, even upon seeing their relationship’s complications, one has the utmost faith that their connection is a deep one – and that there must be more to the situation than at first appears.


It seems almost a waste of breath to attempt to explain how flawless Streep is in this role – for she is eternally flawless – but to do the film justice, I truly must. She fully embodies the human layers of Florence; her real talent, her passion, the seriousness with which she takes her craft – as well as her naiveté, her aging wounds and their result in her striking need to attempt projects way out of her depths in an almost bipolar surge of positivity.

Accompanied by polite, timid, pianist, Cosme McMoon, formidably portrayed by The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg – whom, it seems, is much more capable an actor than Chuck Lorre gives him credit for – Florence pours her soul into her painfully screeching performance through a combination of confidence and obliviousness.

Meanwhile, even side characters such as McMoon develop their own depth, bonding with the audience and bringing you in to their select group of unlikely companions.

Rarely does one come across a film that is filled with such overwhelming joy and yet such devastating sadness. The quippy and soulful script leaves us both laughing and ugly-crying within moments of each other, with classy comedy – sometimes in as little as a masterful look from Grant.


Enveloped in all of the glamour and wonder of the era, Florence Foster Jenkins beams with laughter, tears, new friends and inherent solidarity. It is an utter joy to witness – and like the very real quote from both Streep, and the real Florence herself states – “they may say (she) couldn’t sing, but they’ll never say (she) didn’t sing.”

And with that; I’m off to see it again.

Florence Foster Jenkins is out 6th May 

Green Room – Review

There are movies out there that refuse to let go. As you appear from the shadowy room, the credit sequences rolling through the names and pounding out a feverish song, you peel yourself from the seat and shakily make your way down the stairs. Your wobbly legs threaten to topple you over as you gather your belongings and are shuffled out with an equally bemused crowd. Tired, sweaty, and utterly exhilarated, you know that whatever you’ve witnessed on the big screen has viscerally gripped you and changed your entire being.

Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin is that type of film. The story of a revenge plot put the director and his leading actor Macon Blair on the map. It also altered your complete DNA and made you a better person and film watcher in the process. Now Saulnier is back with Green Room and yet again, we’ve had to change our name, passports, and entire make-up because we’re a whole new person right now.

Green Room
 is certainly May’s must-see gory thriller. Scratch that, it’s the one of the year’s greatest movies and one that you need to witness on the big screen.

Starring Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Imogen Poots, and Callum Turner, Green Room revolves around a down and out punk band named The Ain’t Rights who stop for a last minute gig in Oregon, only to find out that it’s filled with racist violent skinheads. After stumbling upon a murder, they are locked in their dressing room while the rabid masses try to dispose of their witnesses….

Like the crunching wail of a guitar that scratches down your back in agonising pleasure, Green Room is not for the faint-hearted. Even before the blood cascades on the screen, the tension that mounts is devilishly palpable and throws you to the edge of your seat almost immediately. Grim and unrelenting, the torturous titular cell that The Aint Right’s have been trapped in echoes the terror to the audience who feel the claustrophobia and terror almost similarly to the characters. The atmosphere catches you breathless as you yearn for the prisoners to escape. Bloody and vicious, the punches that Green Room delivers leave indelible bruises on your skin and soul, etched in brilliant brutality.

That’s not to say that Saulnier has drenched this movie with gritty and gruesome gore. Instead, his skilled writing keeps you invested because the band – Sam, Reece, Tiger, and Pat – as well as their captive friend Amber are likeable characters. Without an abundance of exposition, Saulnier keeps us in the moment and we immediately empathise with a struggling band thrown into a pit of awful purely because of circumstance.

It helps that the casting is spot on. Yelchin uses his boyish charms to develop this panicky troubled guitar player into the hero of the piece, and greatly so. Yelchin has certainly moved beyond being a mere Star Trek alum and his furore into independent movies has been stellar. He also spouts this amazing monologue that is one of the most emotional moments of the film. Though somewhat underused, Patrick Stewart’s menacing club owner Darcy is this brutal character that captures the worst of humanity in these tenderly spoken threats, making him completely petrifying. The addition of British actors such as Imogen Poots, Callum Turner, and upcoming favourite actor Joe Cole add different elements to this ferociously grisly film. American actors Marc Webber and Saulnier’s muse Macon Blair add a conflicting component to the pursuing skinheads, making the enemy force multi-faceted, human, and, therefore, even more chilling.

Green Room, in a small way, is not a slick as Blue Ruin. Some obstacles such as the runaway storyline are too underdeveloped to feel right. Also, some may hate the way the film carries on so quickly after a death but in many ways, it adds to the sicking, remorseless, assault. Saulnier curves into the fear and relishes the thick unease, juxtaposing the quick attacks against the slow and agnosing wait the survivors have to take which enhances the experience completely. Pulsating with fear and glorious revulsion, Green Room is this year’s ultimate thriller.

Green Room is out 13th May 

God’s Not Dead 2 – Review

Faith. We all have it in different forms. Whether you are an atheist or a devote Christian, it’s OK to believe in something (or not) bigger than the human species and the world we know. Dig deep into the most ancient of religions, you’ll find that what beats all of them is hope and love – the kind of sense that all the bad stuff happens for a reason and there is a life beyond death has kept us warm in many ways.

It’s OK to explore your faith in films and art. What it is not ok to do is to use a film to shove your own thesis down the throats of everyone who’ll listen.

Following on from the wildly awful God’s Not Dead (which saw a Christian and an Athiest science man fight it out until Christianity won,) God’s Not Dead 2 revolves around Grace (because that’s the most obvious name she can be called beyond Faith), a schoolteacher who quotes biblical verses during an innocuous class. The big bad men on the schoolboard tell her that it is against the law to do so but Grace refuses to apologise, taking this all the way to court where a big bad lawyer tries to tell her she’s in the wrong. It’s up to Melissa Joan Hart’s quivering chin and pout to save the day!

The film’s premise could’ve opened up a deep theological debate about the separation of church and state. It could’ve kindly put forward the idea that despite different faiths, denominations, and religions, the core message is of love and acceptance. It could’ve used the Christian Faith as it should’ve be: To open up dialogue about generosity, care, and that having faith is actually OK, if you use it for the benefit of the world and humanity. You know. The kind of Christianity that isn’t based off Trump’s electoral speeches.

Instead, this insipid drama that really belongs on a Lifetime Channel for bible-bashers shoves the idea that Christians in the US of A are the most persecuted people on this planet. By demonising the lawyer and the school board who try to abide by the law “state and religion should be separate,” God’s Not Dead 2 feels like a sucker-punch of overzealous religious propaganda to your face rather than an inspiration message of love and kindness. It is much more detrimental to Christianity than anything and makes Melissa Joan Hart’s Grace an even more insufferable Kim Davies, fighting for the right to say and do all kinds of shit. They are people every day, dying for no good reasons but apparently, this stuff is good enough for Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Jesse Metcalfe to take to court.

The fact of the matter that God’s Not Dead 2 doesn’t get is that the separation of church and state makes a lot of sense and challenging that because a teacher hammers her Christianity to her students is a big bag of Jesus dicks in the face of science and forward thinking progress as well as people from other religious backgrounds. No one is saying that you cannot spout your beliefs but when you are in a position of influence and change historical figures to support your religion (for example, Gandhi was Hindu against Britain’s colonisation of India) then you are being a bit of a douche and not exerting your rights as a Christian…


The Boy – Review

When you attend a movie, you have to pick the right people to go with. You have those closest to you who are regular cinema goers and you couldn’t fault them if you tried. You have certain folks you trot out for special occasions: The I’m With Geek crew are a must when it comes to superhero blockbusters or Star Wars and I also watch horror movies with my sister as I cower in the mess in my trousers. My point is that you chose who you go with the cinema and, in turn, you get a particular experience. Sure, there is something so superb about the solitude of cinema, but damn, sometimes, you just have to go with a bunch of friends.

I’m saying this now because if I had seen The Boy by myself, grumping furrowing my brow out of displeasure, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much. But at a private midnight screening with myself and some mates, all making quips about the ridiculousness on display, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

The Boy is part of the latest trend of cheesy horror movies with nothing scary at the centre of it. The film revolves around a young American girl named Greta who travels all the way to England to escape her abusive partner. In her extensive job hunt, she finds the only one going is a Nanny position in an isolated mansion in the middle of the country. Though clearly not reading the job specs on, Greta finds that she isn’t actually babysitting a child, she is looking after a doll named Brahms.

Yes. Brahms.

Anyway, the real Brahms is supposedly dead and the grieving parents have been tending to this porcelain prince ever since. Greta laughs it off as a joke but when she is left alone with the doll, strange things start to occur….

Why is it Bad?

For film that professes frights and ghoulie antics, The Boy is suffering from a lack thereof. There’s perhaps one jumpy moment and it turns out to be a dream. The film becomes ridiculous. You never seen the doll move or grimace or do anything out of the ordinary and yet the filmmakers will focus squarely on his expressionless face, expecting you to be chilled to the bone. Hint: You’re not. In fact, it will provoke the biggest ripples of laughter throughout as Lauren Cohen, bless her, grimaces at a doll that steals her clothes.

That’s it, by the way, that’s the biggest thing this doll does – steals her clothes. Oh, and makes her a PB & J sandwich. That’s the terrifying spooky doll climax…He can’t even kill her shitty ex-boyfriend right… It’s awful and sloppy, especially as it relies too heavily on horror tropes such as fantastical dreaming that is the only time frights are conjured up. It is also highly illogical too with studied character flows that sink the narrative like one rock in a coat as you wade out to sea.

Why is it Good?

Cohen is good as is Rupert “You Deserve A Better Film Career” Evans. While there is something unnerving about a bright young woman being suckered into really care for the boy and the twist was a little unexpected, the reason The Boy was so good was because of the company I kept watching it. Without them pointing out flaws and logic in a most of the film in such a comedic manner, The Boy would’ve flailed, failed, and gone up in flames like the original Brahms.

So this is why audience and cinema matters, in a way, and why quote-along screenings and singalongs are so valid because they can alter your performance in a better way. Why I am not sat here commanding you all speak to one another during a film (because it is 90% unacceptable), I guess I’m celebrating the folks who made The Boy an interesting and enjoyable experience. When it comes to bad movies, you have to watch them with folk able to throw a few moments of hilarity into the moment.