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the-hateful-eight-banner-poster-The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone

The Hateful Eight: a bounty hunter and his prisoner get snowed-in at a cabin stop with six strangers, but “one of them fellas is not what he says he is”. Most of the actors get to do what they do best: grouchy Kurt grumbles magnificently; magnetic Goggins spits out redneck ramblings; Sam J does his shouty-preaching; Roth ponses around; in fact, Madsen is the only actor that doesn’t really get any good screentime. Despite the huge names, Señor Bob (Demián Bichir) steals the show for me with a ridiculously terrific comedy performance and accent. There’s some absolutely stunning exploitation gore, blood sprays, head explosions, etc, etc – all electrifying for even the most hardened splatter aficionados. As you’ll have read everywhere; the main issue with H.E. is that it’s simply far, far, far too long. It takes over 45 minutes to get to the cabin setting; an hour ‘til we get to the crux of the movie; and even with 2hr40min of dialogue heavy scenes, a narrator (voiced by QT, obvz) is still required to throw in more details – how sloppy and empty can the writing get? In fact, most people’s issues with Django seem to be applicable here too: it’s almost as if Tarantino is intentionally trolling his own audience (too many n-bombs, too long, no censorship…). Finally, a massive deal was made about resurrecting the ultra-Panavision 70mm format: but exterior shots are pretty much whiteouts, and the last two hours are confined to a cabin interior – which leaves you yearning for epic vistas. With his last few films, Tarantino is starting to come across as a ‘brat’ director (surrounded by ‘yes men’); refusing to cut out flabby parts, censor himself, or make any changes to his precious baby. Boiled down: The Hateful Eight is simply a decadent, elaborate, and extremely self-indulgent Reservoir Dogs remake: and a very testing setup for what’s essentially a room full of people shooting each other… again.

Score: 6/10

The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone

Human Centipede 2 - Martin - Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (Not for the faint hearted): A car park security guard becomes obsessed with his Human Centipede DVD, and sets about creating his own pet with 12 people instead of 3 – and no medical knowledge, or tools… The premise is interesting, very post-modern and ‘meta’. But getting down to business: on a shock/gore/filth level, director Tom Six promised to make the first Human Centipede film look like “My Little Pony” when held up against this – and much to my disbelief, it genuinely does. Unlike the first one, where the horror is all off-screen and in your mind, in THC2 everything is laid out on the table, in glorious HD: torture, mutilation, teeth bashing, skin slicing, stapling, hacking and shitting – it’s hyper-graphic and positively gut-wrenchingly, toe-curlingly, vomit-inducing. The final 30 minute gory climax is absolutely beyond excessive, beyond boundaries, beyond taste, and beyond the thinkable – and that’s with 2mins 30secs of cuts. Gore and controversy aside, there are actually some things to like about this film. The main guy Martin – Laurence R. Harvey’s feature debut – is an outstanding genre-defining bad guy. His bug-eyed physicality is amazing, coming across as a truly deranged, demented, creepy and repulsive person, without saying a single word. Between the killings, kidnappings and gore, the film’s tone and direction are jaw-droppingly arthouse – as opposed to the cliche’d run-of-the-mill horror/B-movie cheapness & lazy non-efforts you’re used to. Filming in black and white make sense given all of the physical SFX – and even gives Tom Six the chance to insert an absolutely ridiculous Schindler’s List joke with dark orange projectile diarrhea. In the end, The Human Centipede 2 it’s made by someone who clearly knows and loves everything about the horror/extreme/torture genre, and most surprisingly, knows how to direct, well. I’ve not seen “A Serbian Film”, nor do I particularly want to – but I would still bet that this is one of the nastiest and most extreme pieces of ‘film’ anyone could legally get their hands on. As with the first one, this is absolutely not for everyone, but if it’s even possible to like the sound of it, or you fancy an endurance test, give it a spin.

Score: 4.5/10
B-Movie: 7/10

Human Centipede 2 - Centipede - Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

NSFW/TASTELESS/EXPLICIT DETAIL WARNING: According to Wikipedia: the stuff that didn’t make it in to the UK cut “Martin masturbating with sandpaper around his penis; graphic sight of a man’s teeth being removed with a hammer; graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks; graphic sight of forced defaecation into and around other victims’ mouths; Martin with barbed wire wrapped around his penis violently raping a woman; a newborn baby being killed; and the graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals’ mouths and buttocks.”

Human Centipede 2 - Tools- Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

Chocolate: a retired loan shark falls ill, and her daughter goes out to get the money back to pay for the medical bills. Even though it’s clearly just an excuse for the action, the story is pretty bad, and was in the front seat for too long. Also the sooner Thailand realise that emotional scenes don’t have to feature slow motion filming and hammy cheap pop music, the better. What sets this film apart is the amazing action choreography, stunts and creative fighting. There’s five full-blown fights – Ice / Warehouse / Meat Factory / Showdown and Building – crammed with jaw dropping tricks and set pieces that most countries wouldn’t think about letting you try. As shown in the end credits the heroic (dumb) stuntmen here go through hell to get the perfect shot, and it pays off big time. Despite essentially having to play an autistic ninja, the lead girl does a stellar job and her stuntwork / fighting skills are immense – you can’t believe half of the things she’s doing. If you want to see a good story of vengeance and justice, Chocolate probably isn’t the best example, but if it’s insane stunts and action choreography a la Tony Jaa films, this hits the target.

Score: 6.5/10

22 Bullets (aka The Immortal): A retired mobster-turned-family-man gets left for dead with 22 bullets in him; once recovered, he’s out for revenge, and nothing’s going to stop it. Instantly, you realise that technically, this film is the definition of slick: camerawork, direction, editing, music, and acting – all fantastic. After the initial 30 minutes of set-up and character introductions the rest is all plot progression and action, of a high standard; car chase, bike chase, shootouts, assassinations etc. Reno‘s still got it, most evidently in a couple of high-intensity scenes where he succeeds in sucking you straight into the film, and gets you rooting for the antihero. The female police officer (Foïs) also stands above the bar, although there are no duds in the cast. The publicity material plays off of Leon/The Professional, but this is as good a stand-alone film. While it may not be one of the most original revenge stories, it sticks to the tried formula and comes out way above average. Recommended.

Score: 7/10

The Girl Who Played with Fire: Lisbeth heads back to Sweden after becoming the number one suspect in a treble murder – she tries to get to the bottom of the set-up while Mikael is out to prove her innocence. The writing is a lot sloppier than Dragon Tattoo with a few cheap characters written in for no reason other than making the story a bit more interesting – particularly the real-life boxer guy and two biker goons. In saying this, the story is still decent, even if it is all geared at backgrounding Lisbeth. Once again the two leads carry the story with enviable ease, Rapace in particular gets a lot of time to shine; the smaller presence of Nyqvist lets the film down a little. It also feels a lot more fictitious, with Mikael main guy out-foxing the police at every turn and Salander’s espionage / fighting super-skills. With a different director behind the camera the tone of the second film is worlds apart from the Dragon Tattoo; couple this with the weaker story and it’s nowhere near as gripping or memorable, as it unfolds somewhat predictably. As a stand alone film this would have been a good effort but after Dragon Tattoo this just seems so much more tamer and safer. Despite this review sounding hella negative Played with Fire is a good film, and does a solid job of keeping the trilogy going, while setting up the third installment.

Score: 6/10

Gamer: (Blu Ray) it is the future (!) and computer games have reached the next level with humans controlling prisoners in a live PPV bloodsport called Slayers. The film opens with such a WTF battle – guns, explosions, slow mo, blood and teabagging. More generally the action’s scenes feel totally anarchic – good for conveying confusion, bad for having any idea of what’s going on. It takes sci-fi to the next level of ridiculousness with 1980s pseudo science; Butler being mind-controled in a game by some Justin Bieber lookalike through a fake brains… So many parts of the film reek of “This scene / character would be totally LOL” – let’s have the fattest, ugliest, stereotype computer geek – LOL; let’s have butler get drunk, then piss and puke – LOL; let’s get a rapper in it, LOL; Dexter as a baddie would be so LOL…  by the end it’s trying way too hard, especially that ridiculous dance number. The story’s a carbon copy of films like Running Man / Condemned / Death Race – and it has a vibe somewhere between cyberpunk and goth S&M freaks The BD picture’s very good throughout (camerawork and cinematography are great) but the soundtrack is on a whole other level – much like War this works the entire system… would be a great demo, if your shop was for over 18s. All-in, Gamer’s a pretty broad genre-spanning punky type film that doesn’t taking itself too seriously. There’s a good punt at a story, and enough action to keep everyone interested. I got the feeling that Gamer was just a really fun project for the people involved to be working on. Made by video gamers for gamers, while stereotyping their culture and the media… bizarre.

Score: 6/10