Action, Andrew Asper, Antoine Fuqua, Ben-Hur, Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Drama, Elizabeth Mitchell, Fantasy, Florence Foster Jenkins, Frank Grillo, George Montgomery, Ghostbusters (2016), Glenn R. Miller, Historical drama, Horror, Hugh Grant, Ione Butler, Jack Huston, James DeMonaco, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Meryl Streep, Paul Feig, Review, Richard Boone, Robbers' Roost, Sidney Salkow, Stephen Frears, The Magnificent Seven (2016), The Purge: Election Year, Thriller, Timur Bekmambetov, Toby Kebbell, Western, Zoombies
The Purge: Election Year (2016) / D: James DeMonaco / 109m
Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor
Rating: 6/10 – several years after the events in The Purge: Anarchy (2014), ex-cop Leo Barnes (Grillo) is now head of security for Presidential candidate Senator Charlie Roan (Mitchell) – whose anti-Purge stance has made her a significant target come the latest Purge night; more of the same from writer/director DeMonaco, with the villainous Founding Fathers coming in for more grief thanks to the series’ need to avoid repeating itself, but without it actually finding a solution to the problem, all of which leads to The Purge: Election Year sounding good on paper, but proving instead that it’s an idea that’s already running out of steam.
Ben-Hur (2016) / D: Timur Bekmambetov / 125m
Cast: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Pilou Asbæk, Morgan Freeman, Sofia Black-D’Elia
Rating: 3/10 – meh; a waste of time, money, resources, the cast, the crew, and another unwanted remake which ruins the one thing it should have moved Heaven and Earth to ensure it got right: yes, the chariot race, a sequence that’s assembled and edited so badly that you won’t have any idea what happens to Messala (Kebbell) other than that he loses.
Robbers’ Roost (1955) / D: Sidney Salkow / 83m
Cast: George Montgomery, Richard Boone, Sylvia Findley, Bruce Bennett, Peter Graves, Tony Romano, Warren Stevens
Rating: 6/10 – revenge is on the mind of cowboy Jim Wall (Montgomery) as he tries to track down the killers of his wife, some of whom he suspects may be part of a notorious gang of cattle rustlers led by Hank Hays (Boone); an average Western bolstered by a strong cast, Robbers’ Roost is rough and tough and bristling with repressed macho energy, all of which is channelled – eventually – into a less than exciting showdown, and an about-face by Hays that undermines both the character, and Boone’s enjoyable portrayal of him.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) / D: Stephen Frears / 111m
Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Allan Corduner, Christian McKay, David Haig, John Sessions, Brid Brennan
Rating: 7/10 – the true story of musically misguided socialite Florence Foster Jenkins (Streep) as she determines to bring her less than gifted voice to the unsuspecting ears of the public; as light and fluffy as a soufflé (and as enjoyable), Florence Foster Jenkins tries to be serious from time to time, but nothing can detract from Florence’s whimsical nature or the script’s determination to be nicer than nice, even when it needs to be a tad dramatic, such as when Florence’s husband (a terrific Hugh Grant) is shown to be having an affair, or Florence faces jeers rather than cheers from her audience.
The Magnificent Seven (2016) / D: Antoine Fuqua / 133m
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Peter Sarsgaard, Haley Bennett, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer
Rating: 4/10 – a land-grabbing, thieving, murdering businessman (Sarsgaard) plays nasty with the small town of Rose Creek and threatens to ruin them all, leaving them with only one choice: to hire a band of mercenaries who’ll save the town and defeat the evil land baron; leaden and uninspired, Fuqua’s remake features characters you don’t care about, a huge body count that quickly becomes tedious to watch, and a cast that move about like they’re wading in treacle searching for some much needed motivation (not that they’re likely to find any, as it’s something the script isn’t interested in exploring in any real depth).
Zoombies (2016) / D: Glenn R. Miller / 87m
Cast: Ione Butler, Andrew Asper, LaLa Nestor, Kim Nielsen, Marcus Anderson, Brianna Joy Chomer, Ivan Djurovic, Aaron Groben, Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau
Rating: 3/10 – somehow monkeys become infected with a virus that brings on zombie-like symptoms, and before you can shout “No, don’t open the door!”, they’re loose in the grounds of a massive zoo just days before it opens to the public; rubbish on a bargain basement level, Zoombies is lame in so many ways you’d need more time than the movie plays for to go through it all – and that’s if you can at least stomach the movie’s incessant inanity, and it’s seriously worst-ever gorilla suit.
Ghostbusters (2016) / D: Paul Feig / 116m
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong, Ed Begley Jr, Charles Dance
Rating: 3/10 – more meh; a perfect example of just how out of tune some movie makers are when it comes to remakes, Ghostbusters is so lame it makes Ghostbusters II (1989) look like a masterpiece of comic horror fantasy, and labours consistently under the impression that if you put four comediennes together in the same room, instant hilarity will be the result – an idea that this farrago lays to rest speedily thanks to Feig and Katie Dippold’s creatively moribund screenplay (and let’s try to forget the awful cameos from Murray, Weaver, Ackroyd, and Hudson).