Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: reviews

Film review — The Brood

Forty-two years later and The Brood is still a shocker. Cronenberg’s transgressiveness is all the stronger here for its groundedness; the most thrilling moments are in the realm of the mundane rather than the obviously grotesque body horror. It’s also about more than the maker’s messy divorce, but let’s not get too academic: it is very much about that, too, and the parts where Cronenberg sublimates his anger into imagery are uncomfortable in the worst way. More…

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Film review — Run

Run is far too slowly paced to work as the taut chiller it wants to be. When it most needs to quicken, to ramp up that tension, it shifts down to a jog and begs for the skip-forward button. And by the time it’s ready to sprint for the finish, it’s already chosen the wrong line. Shame…I quite liked Searching and all. More…

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Film review — Raw Deal

The lone ’80s Arnie movie I’d never seen before, and it’s a live one. The plot is a mess but there’s always something going on so there’s no time to worry about it. Suffice it to say, Arnie swaggers around murdering people and dialogue for an hour and 45 minutes. What more do you want? I think my favourite part is near the end, after our man shoots up the bad guy’s holdout and he comes upon a snivelling Frank from Murphy Brown trying to top himself with an empty pistol. It just sums up what a sheer force of nature we had here, crappy one-liners and all. More…

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Film review — Godzilla vs. Kong

I didn’t hate it, but it’s not what I was hoping for. Early response gave me the impression it was monster fights from start to finish, when in reality it’s a Kong movie that occasionally guest-stars Godzilla, and spends the bulk of its time with characters who are less point-of-view than pointless. Then when it does get to the colossal tussles, there’s nothing particularly creative about them — something that would have made up somewhat for the consistently distracting holes in its own logic. I can accept a lot in a movie about giant monsters pounding the stuffing out of each other, but not that much. Anyway. Meh. More…

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Film review — Reborn

Fun fact, trivia fans: this was directed by the same man who helmed the body-under-the-patio arc in Brookside (what a way for Anna Friel to kick-start her career, eh?). Also, the woman who plays the central character here is from Ermelo, where my SO spent three years of her childhood (“It’s a shithole,” she just called out from the other room). Anyway…yeah this is inept, despite the non-standard plot contrivance that’s also a meta-commentary on what Hollywood’s like for women. I presume that’s what appealed to Barbara Crampton…that and the ending you won’t expect in your wildest dreams. More…

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Film review — Ronin

Just a killer action thriller from end to end, with car chases you’d swear were shot on the fly if not for the camera coverage. But marks deducted for those dreadful Ulster accents and the, er, reductive take on the Troubles. More…

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Film review — Skylines

Limitations of budget and the pandemic are writ large in a small, unnecessary third outing. Was anyone really gagging for a backstory? Surely not this rehash of Star Trek’s Borg, at any rate. But hey, the blooper reel (yes) shows the cast had some fun making it so that’s nice. More…

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Film review — Boss Level

I have a lot of time for Frank Grillo, but this…is not the vehicle to showcase his talents. The premise demands relentless action; what we get is dragged down into dullsville by the ‘hero needs a family drama’ mandate. More…

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Film review — Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter gives me similar feelings to what I had with Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, in that I mostly enjoyed my time with it and I’m down for watching a sequel. But for a film with epic promise, it feels very small; the locations are samey (a desert and…another kind of desert) and I counted a total of five monsters, only three of which have any real bearing on the plot. The editing is also odd; some sections feel excessively trimmed, and the cutting of the action scenes leaves much to be desired — it’s Tony Jaa, for fuck’s sake, let him do his thing! Milla Jovovich is acceptable as ever; she’s never really lit the screen alight for me. Jaa does a lot of the heavy lifting in their buddy pairing, all the more impressive as his character doesn’t speak English. Also, Ron Perlman with anime hair (as my SO put it so accurately) scores bonus points. More…

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Film review — Stallone: Frank, That Is

It’s a documentary by numbers until Sly shows up, and the brotherly love just leaps from the screen. Someone should follow them around with a camera for a while and give us that film. More…

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Film review — Pet Sematary

All the jump scares and the grimdark ending are just to distract you from the fact that this one takes the coward’s way out. You know what I mean. More…

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Film review — Deep Impact

There was a time when you and I would’ve blanched at the ‘millions of people died but ¯_(ツ)_/¯’ sentiment at the end of this film, especially since what took place three years after it came out, but then the pandemic happened and now it doesn’t seem so unbelievable. More…

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Film review — Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

I recently picked up the complete Batman: The Animated Series on Blu-ray for a song (€50 for 12 discs!) and this was part of the package; weirdly enough, I’d never seen it before despite being all in on the show back in the day. But I also had a real sense of déjà vu, probably because I’ve seen a review or something that I’ve forgotten. It’s good like everyone says, but there’s absolutely a sense of people being overly impressed that a “kids’ cartoon” can flex such maturity, and it still feels more like a three- or four-episode arc than a film in its own right. More…

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Film review — Moxie

Forty-year-old white cishet male me looks at this movie and thinks, ‘Man, this paints with the broadest of strokes.’ But it’s not for me, is it? More…

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Film review — Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

This is just…not a good documentary. If it’s about the mystery and tragedy of Elisa Lam, then it stretches what’s a two-hour story at best over a painfully meandering four hours. If it’s really supposed to be about the ‘web sleuth’ conspiracy theorists à la Room 237, then it does a piss-poor job of interrogating how their quasi-vigilante actions did and do far more harm than good. Overall, it has a sneering, right-wing slant that builds this false impression of Skid Row as a den of iniquity and a magnet for the morally bankrupt rather than what it really was and is: a manufactured project to ghettoise the underclass. More…

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Film review — The Yin Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

It’s adapted from a game that’s based on a series of novels so clearly has loads of fans, and when things kick off I can see the appeal. But so much of the film is taken up by a sub-Harry Potter mystery plot that’s as tremendously dull as the soppy romance at its core. More…

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Film review — Red Dot

Let me save you the trouble: this I’m-so-clever thriller hangs on the kind of preposterously grandiose twist that renders everything that came before completely nonsensical. It’s almost moot that it’s just cringeworthy calamity after calamity up till that point, and then more or less continues in that fashion. More…

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Film review — What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

The Pauline Kael primer, more or less. Fans of her work will probably be left wanting, despite (or because of) the hagiography. I was left with the impression of someone of whom I can appreciate the enthusiasm, but disagree with the methods. More…

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Film review — A Glitch in the Matrix

Unlike Room 237 — which was all curiosity about its subjects and their wackadoo theories, the topic at hand aside — A Glitch in the Matrix has a thesis. It’s not the strongest (to someone who started his philosophy degree the year The Matrix came out so never really saw what all the fuss was about) but it does the work of contextualising where solipsistic ideas like simulation theory come from, and the dark places they can end up. More…

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Film review — Next

Not only does it squander its premise and render what should be a white-knuckle thriller as a weirdly staid talking piece for long stretches, it also fails to harness Nicolas Cage’s unhinged energy for any sustained results. Oh, and Julianne Moore’s character is a brunette. Why would you…never mind. Next! More…

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Film review — Space Sweepers

Completely derivative and far too long for the substance of its story, but there’s always something happening so there’s no time to get bored. That’s more than can be said for a lot of so-called spectacles of this ilk. More…

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Film review — Moon 44

This one is interesting as the first time Roland Emmerich worked with Dean Devlin (here as a co-star; he wasn’t yet a writer). The aesthetic influence of Blade Runner and Aliens looms large in the production design, but that’s the only suggestion of the potential that would be realised in Stargate four years later. In this case, Emmerich is working with a threadbare plot — mostly boring, occasionally uncomfortable — that simply doesn’t support the vision. More…

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Film review — Roadgames

This one loses an entire star for its absolutely farcical score. It turns a neo-Hitchcockian Ozploitation thriller into a bloody Ealing comedy or something. More…

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Film review — In Search of the Last Action Heroes

A YouTube video essayist makes what’s more or less his dream project and it’s kind of accidentally great? I mean, it’s clear Alex Winter was secured as one of the talking heads as there was no way they were getting Keanu, but his insight lends the sort of depth and gravitas that a relatively dry documentary about an anything-but-dry subject really needs. More…

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Film review — The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

I could be glib about the Brothers Gibb and say ‘They’ll always be Les Tossers to me’ but I can’t deny those harmonies. The biggest downside to this (mostly posthumous) documentary is that it’s far too slight, and skips over much of the pre-superstardom days and records that should be more than footnotes in their story. Give me the four-hour cut with stuff about early albums like Cucumber Castle and whatever possessed them to give a record a title like Cucumber Castle. More…

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Film review — Final Destination 3

It will always bother me about these movies that they start with a premonition that no one wanted, then the person who experiences it and those they influence are targeted by the invisible hand of fate, but the premonition itself somehow doesn’t count as something that was fated to happen. Yes I overthink these things, but that’s just the kind of person I am. More…

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Film review — O Lucky Man!

The blackface (not once, but twice!) really sticks out like a sore thumb in what’s otherwise a film that resonates as much today as it must’ve done back in 1973, with all that seething anger against the system barely concealed by the offbeat mirth. More…

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Film review — Action USA

You know, I didn’t really care for this. More of a ‘couple of beers into film night with the lads’ kind of deal, methinks. Dug the explosions, though. So many explosions. More…

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Film review — Promising Young Woman

It would be so easy to cast this aside as a caricature of toxic masculinity. I mean, it’s practically begging for it. But what you have to realise is that men, the target of its satire and ire, are fucking clichés (being a man, I speak from experience) and this movie gets really, really gets that. More…

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Film review — Contraband

This Lucio Fulci poliziottesco about smugglers in Naples is mostly dull until the ultraviolence ramps ups the sleaze factor halfway through. More…

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Film review — Hell of the Living Dead

An amateurish riff on Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and the cannibal exploitation craze, but it’s weirdly watchable, and contains some real flashes of brilliance, as if the work of a genius obscured by a near total lack of technical skill. More…

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Film review — Morning Glory

So let me get this straight. Rachel McAdams’ morning show producer has no qualms about sacking the sex pest anchor her first day on the job, but is grand about suffering for weeks Harrison Ford’s sanctimonious newscaster? A character, by the way, who moans constantly about the tabloid antics of the format being far beneath his gravitas, but he’s got no problem staining his reputation by going on air sozzled, or bickering like a bratty child with his co-anchor. Right. If this were a funnier comedy none of this would linger in my mind, I wouldn’t overthink it, but as it is it was all I could think about. More…

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Film review — Outside the Wire

The turgid hyperrealism of modern warfare (pun very much intended) in films such as this is just as divorced from the actual consequences of war as the bombastic shoot-em-up spectacles of the Eighties, and between the two I’d rather have the latter. Anthony Mackie’s spot-on Will Smith impression here notwithstanding. More…

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Film review — The Caller

An arch-as-arch-can-be mystery riff that really goes for broke with that ending, almost as if Charles Band was like “OK we’ll make your picture, but how about we do… this?” More…

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Film review — Tenet

Like most of Christopher Nolan’s previous would-be thinking-man’s blockbusters, Tenet reaches for grandiose, highfalutin ideas but is always more concerned with small, personal drama. The conflict between the two — the appeals to the heart while at the same time taking the smug, condescending approach to tricksy storytelling concepts — is why it doesn’t quite work. More…

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Film review — Tag

At some point about half-way through, this film — the witless script, its awful characters, the whole shebang — realises it might be a mean-spirited mess. That could have made for an interesting turn of events. Instead, Tag decides it’s in too deep to back out, so carries on pretending like it never knew. But I couldn’t forget it. More…

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Film review — All About Nina

It’s funny that the first I heard of this movie was when it just popped up on Netflix because at many moments throughout it got me thinking, ‘Hey, this feels like that Netflix show Love.’ Not that Love has the scorched-earth finale we get here, mind you. Brave or foolhardy: that’s the question that comes to mind. But it’s got a tour de force performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead all the same. And I’m not just talking about her impression of Celine Dion. More…

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Film review — Point Blank

I wasn’t really feeling the awkward tonal shift here between gritty action thriller and send-up of the same, at least until Markice Moore’s Friedkin-obsessed gangbanger entered the frame. That’s when it had me. More…

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Film review — Backdraft

This has zero business being nearly two-and-a-half hours long, and commits the terrible crime of casting Jennifer Jason Leigh and giving her virtually nothing to do. It’s also a prime example of a great high concept in search of a plot (they really do try for the ‘fire is eeeeevil’ angle at one point). But the set pieces and stunt work really do hold up. More…

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Film review — Sudden Death

I mean, what other film can you suggest that has Jean Claude Van Damme fighting an ice hockey mascot, Powers Boothe being an utter bastard terrorising children, and the worst helicopter crash in action cinema history? More…

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