Sunday, 27 December 2015

60 Second Film Reviews #24

Quick movie reviews, without the waffle. 60 Second Film Reviews is a regular feature where I compile together brief reviews of recent films I've watched at home or at the movies - and generally couldn't be arsed didn't find time to write a proper review for.

On the slate this month, we have a fresh take on a super sleuth in Mr Holmes, sexy home invaders in Knock Knock and spooky ghouls and monsters for the kiddies to enjoy in Hotel Transylvania 2.

Mr Holmes (2015)

Sherlock Holmes is a character we've seen on screen a zillion times (maybe even a squillion), from the classic Basil Rathbone films to more recent adaptations like the BBC's hugely-popular series and Guy Ritchie's rather derivative action-orientated movies. With so many differing versions of the same character, how can anyone possibly do anything new?

Well, that's where director Bill Condon comes into the picture. He may be best known for his work behind the camera on the final two Twilight films, but earlier this year Condon also helmed Mr Holmes, a rather low-key take that attempted to put a fresh spin on the iconic deer-stalker clad detective.

Set much later than the Victorian era with which the iconic character is synonymous (1947 to be exact), the film follows 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes as he concludes a trip to Japan in search of a special herb that will help extend his life. Faced with the horrors of nuclear war, Holmes returns to his remote Sussex farmhouse in a state much worse than when he left; with his caring housemaid Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (Milo Parker) to look after him, Sherlock has one elusive mystery to solve before his story closes for good.

The direction and cinematography in this movie are gorgeous, especially during the flashbacks to one of Sherlock's more perplexing cases. Similarly, McKellan's central performance is one of his best in years - he plays both an old, wise Sherlock and a decrepit, bedridden Sherlock at different points in the film. Showcasing amazing range and physical acting, McKellan instantly feels like a definitive version of the character that we've seen so many times before. Laura Linney and Milo Parker are also great in this more reflective and delicate spin on the Holmes myth. Definitely recommended.

I give Mr Holmes: 8/10

Mr Holmes is available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD now

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) 

The original Hotel Transylvania was so invisible and inessential to this reviewer that when I saw a trailer for the sequel, I genuinely did a double take and thought to myself - "wait, when was there a first one of these?" Well, a quick IMDB search reveals that it came out in 2012 and it completely passed me by, but I was able to give it a watch before the second one hit cinemas last month. Both it and this new one are completely passable kid-friendly fare with little substance underneath.

The sequel has a returning cast that includes Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi and David Spade, as well as new actors such as Nick Offerman, Keegan Michael-Key and Megan Mullally. The story sees Dracula (Sandler) grapple with the realisation that his grandson, Dennis, may not actually be a vampire. When his daughter Mavis (Gomez) and son-in-law Johnny (Samberg) head overseas and leave Dennis in the care of Drac, the ancient vampire decides to spook his grandson into growing fangs, along with the help of his buddies Frank (James), Wayne (Buscemi), Griffin (Spade) and Murray (Key). 

With colourful characters, silly storylines and wacky antics, this is the kind of film that the kids will lap up. It lacks the heart of a Pixar or the smoothness of a high-quality Dreamworks, but this series isn't just churning out movies for the sake of it (in the same way that say, Alvin and the Chipmunks are). No, there is a lot of genuinely good ideas at work here, even though the central messaging is a little muddled (it's okay to be different, it just so happens that we like you better when you're the same as us). Plus, the need to crowbar Sony products and Selena Gomez songs into the film at every possible opportunity left a bitter taste in my mouth. Complaints aside, Hotel Transylvania 2 does enough to keep kids occupied for a couple of hours - but don't expect them to learn or feel anything special like they would with something Pixar.

I give Hotel Transylvania 2: 5.5/10

Hotel Transylvania 2 is in cinemas now

Knock Knock (2015)

Knock Knock is an erotic horror/thriller starring Keanu Reeves, Lorenzo Izzo and Ana De Armas; it sees Reeves play Evan, a dutiful husband and father of two who is tempted to sleep with two seductive young women on a rainy night when his family are out of town. The next morning, after the deed is done and guilt begins to set in, Evan discovers that the two women, Genesis and Bel, are refusing to leave his stylish home. Instead, they claim to be underage, threaten to call the police and reveal their affair to his wife.

Director Eli Roth has a lot of fun with the raunchy premise - the night on which the two sirens seduce Reeves is stormy and filled with sparks of lightning and cracks of thunder. It's very hammy and deliciously overplayed and overacted by the entire trio. The third act becomes increasingly hard to believe as the two girls move into straight-up psychopath territory.

My main issue with the film (aside from the bad acting and the plot that runs of steam, quite literally, after about 40 minutes) is how nonchalantly the film treats the notion of rape (which does occur, unfortunately) and how the . I know the purpose of horror films such as this is to make you feel sick inside, but the ending to this film is just damn sad and depressing. Plus, we're given very little in the way of reasoning for why the two girls single out Evan, or anyone for that matter, and perform the numerous crimes they carry out.

At the end of the day, Knock Knock is a trashy B-grade thriller that uses the erotic premise to entice an audience, followed by an ultimately unsatisfying and rather bitter ending.

I give Knock Knock - 4/10

Knock Knock is available on DVD and VOD now.


  1. Mr Holmes was a good movie, Ian McKellen was great. I didn't enjoy Hotel Transylvania 2 that much, but I liked it slightly better than the first one. Knock Knock is the worst movie I have seen this year. Everything about it was so terrible. After John Wick, I was expecting more from Keanu Reeve's movie choices.

    1. I couldn't have put it better myself! I really shouldn't have wasted my time with Knock Knock...



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