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


Tag: reviews

Film review — Predestination

Un-dynamic direction lends this already talkative character-study-with-sci-fi-trappings a decided stagey vibe. However, its drama is far more the ‘let this simmer in your head for a while’ variety, rather than in bearing witness to something important in the moment. I liked it more than I didn’t. But that’s damning with faint praise, isn’t it? More…

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Film review — Jurassic World Dominion

First off, half a star alone for the inclusion of practical effects, which make a world of difference. This seems a lot less silly when it’s being Indiana Jones with dinosaurs. It’s much less effective when it’s James Bond with dinosaurs, or wishing it were a kaiju flick. More…

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Film review — Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I’m not ready to see Prey just yet; needed to ramp myself up with something I could watch on 1.33x without losing a hint of thrill, and this one fit the bill quite nicely. As for actual critical thoughts? The lopsided plot really smacks of filmmaking by committee. You can have an escape-the-volcano heart-racer or a spooky mansion jump-scare-a-thon; you can’t have both and make it work. More…

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Film review — Deadly Friend

Wes Craven wanted Short Circuit, the studio wanted Re-Animator and the MPAA balked at the basketball to the face so we got…whatever this is. More…

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Film review — Fallen

Take a by-the-numbers police procedural mystery, slap the Dave McKean Sandman font all over the titles and suddenly you’ve got an edgy occult thriller, I guess. More…

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Film review — Doctor Mordrid

I suppose after putting all that money and effort into the production design only to lose the rights to the actual Doctor Strange, one can understand Charles Band going “fuck it” and slapping this half-hearted knock-off together to justify the sunk cost. Jeffrey Combs is not in his element here, alas, but that’s more to do with the fact that Band is no Stuart Gordon. More…

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Film review — This Is GWAR

I figured there’d be hidden depths here, but I’m still surprised at how affected I was. It’s not shy about the unhealthier aspects of the dynamic within this performance art project turned OTT metal act. But I have to weigh that in my head with the weirder omissions, like not even mentioning the Kramer connection with their debut album. It’s not so much This Is GWAR as This Is What GWAR Wants You to Know About GWAR. More…

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Film review — The Storms of Jeremy Thomas

The title suggests tumult when in actual fact it’s more like a soft day. Mark Cousins directs this docu based on his short time in the company of the arthouse-inclined film producer, someone he’s clearly enamoured with to the degree that he fails to get much out of him beyond confirming his own hagiographic biases. Thomas has an interesting story, and a remarkable oeuvre, yet Cousins seems more interested in inserting himself into the narrative and trying to dress it all up with an air of faux-profundity. “Pseudo-intellectual” isn’t the right term for it as Cousins knows his stuff, but the feeling that term provokes of being rubbed up the wrong way seems applicable here. More…

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Film review — Seve

The infomercial-like presentation may be too much to stomach for a few revealing morsels of substance. The story of Seve Ballesteros deserves a more fitting treatment than this. More…

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Film review — I Am Burt Reynolds

It’s paced as leisurely as its subject’s demeanour, and in this case that works to its credit. To me, as a child of the ’80s, he’ll always be the Bandit. But this film does an engaging job of sketching Burt Reynolds warts and all: as the man, the craft-minded actor, the intellectual, the bad partner and flawed father. There was no one else quite like him. More…

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Film review — Mr Saturday Night

An arid oral history of an entertainment impresario who’s described within the first few minutes as an introvert so they probably should have packed it in right there. More…

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Film review — Men

Alex Garland’s faux folk horror fails hard at attempting to graft its unsubtle text (“This is what men are like…but not me”) onto unsettling, even stomach-churning but insubstantial imagery. More…

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Film review — The Kid Stays in the Picture

Saw this in the cinema on its original release, and I rate it now (20 years later, what?!) about the same as I did then. Robert Evans is every bit the charming raconteur you’d expect from a movie producer who straddled the dying studio system and New Hollywood eras. And he drops in just enough self-reflection to make the hagiography go down sweeter. More…

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Film review — Escape from the Bronx

Someone might’ve had a word with the producers about all the Nazi iconography in the original as this sequel to 1990: The Bronx Warriors dispenses with all that and near everything else for a plot that’s lean to the point of barely existing. Essentially an extrapolation of the previous film’s blitzkrieg climax, our beefcake hero Trash tries to, well, Escape from the Bronx as Henry Silva and his silver-suited goons scorch the earth. And that’s it. It’s grand, I guess? More…

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Film review — Day of the Animals

Thankfully we banned CFCs in the late ’80s so the animal revolt will never happen, right? Anyway, for what’s essentially a creature-feature/disaster-movie mashup, this is surprisingly artful and understated — until the final act when Leslie Nielsen goes feral and leaves you under no illusions as to what kind of picture you’re watching. More…

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Film review — Cannibal Corpse: Centuries of Torment

Yes I watched a three-hour “documentary” (if that’s the right term for stitching together a bunch of home movies and talking-head reminiscences) about the scary death metal band Cannibal Corpse. They all seem like lovely fellas, especially in the footage of their earliest years where they’re so earnest and goofy. But the failure here to self-examine the increasingly misogynistic lyrical content as they matured musically in the early ’90s is a sticking point for me. More…

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Film review — Slave to the Grind

Hands up, I went through my AxCx phase, and I still have the CDs somewhere. I even won a competition with Chunklet where the prize was that Seth Putnam would write an AxCx song about me. But then he died, so that didn’t happen. More…

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Film review — RRR

In the context of such OTT action set pieces, if anything the depictions of the British establishment here are underplayed; colonialists were every bit the callous sadists they’re made out to be and then some (the irony of one of them being portrayed by an Irish woman is not lost on me). More…

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Film review — Evolution

It’s hard to know what dates this aggressively unfunny movie more. Is it the rampant, creepy misogyny? The witless scatological fixation? Stifler? Putting Samantha Mumba on the soundtrack? More…

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Film review — Pulse

Does a frankly pathetic job of establishing the haunting absence that the film’s concept requires. I can only presume the Japanese original gets it right in the same way that Ringu is among the best of its kind while its US remake as The Ring is a bloated, melodramatic mess. More…

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Film review — 1990: The Bronx Warriors

The details here are, well, really something. I don’t mean that it’s a cheap mash-up riff on The Warriors and Escape From New York. I’m not even talking about the fact it’s clearly shot in Brooklyn (all those exterior scenes in pre-development DUMBO). What I’m asking is, why are the supposed ‘good guys’ adorned in Nazi regalia? What exactly is the relationship between the beefcake lead and the runaway princess-type? Why does the whole thing fall apart when an ending is called for? I’m sure the answers are all lost to time… More…

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Film review — Anthropophagous

I get, say, holding off showing too much of your horror villain to conjure a fearsome air of mystery while attempting to hide your paucity of budget for decent make-up effects. But even five seconds of aul’ porridge face here makes it impossible to take seriously. Let alone that notorious (and notoriously silly) “He eats a baby!” scene. More…

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Film review — The Heroin Busters

The main protagonist of this dirtbag drug-bust cop thriller spends what must be several days — between a Hong Kong junk and a turboprop dogfight over the outskirts of Rome via multiple chases and shootouts — wearing a ratty Canadian tuxedo with a rope belt. Does that sell it for you? More…

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Film review — The Art of Self-Defense

I admit I’m inclined to give this one a favourable hearing for the inclusion of not only Full of Hell but also Asterisk* on the soundtrack. But no, this extended absurdist sketch-comedy riff on Fight Club is very much Not For Me. More…

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Film review — Octopussy

I didn’t figure out what the plot of this one actually is until the final act. Much like its predecessor was fighting against itself on a core, philosophical level, Octopussy still has an incapacitating hangover from the Seventies even though it came out in 1983. The title alone is testament to that. More…

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Film review — For Your Eyes Only

This is supposed to be the “back to basics” Bond but it’s really fighting against itself, especially Carole Bouquet’s Melina who is believable in context as a vengeful badass but has to exist in a bizarro universe of prat falls and sight gags and Roger Moore’s geriatric charm, or approximation thereof. I would totally watch a movie of Melina and her gang hunting down the people who murdered her family without 007 ruining everything. More…

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Film review — Moonraker

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the premise ‘Bond in space’ but they went too far, too silly with Moonraker (I can’t help saying it in my head in Shirley Bassey voice: “Mooooon-RAY-KAH!”). I’ve only watched two of these Roger Moore Bonds this week (the first two available on Prime Video, anyway) and it’s already depressingly apparent that self-parody is baked into their DNA (that fucking pigeon double-take, come on!). Cut that out, and trim it down by half an hour while you’re at it, and you might actually have something to work with here. I mean that about Bond in general, not just this one. More…

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Film review — The Spy Who Loved Me

Utter dullsville, apart from the frankly fantastic stunt work – though that’s juxtaposed with some of the most laughable cuts, whether to shoddy rear projections or scale models with faceless dolls, that it feels like a grave insult to everyone who risked their lives to get the shot. More…

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Film review — The Sadness

If you’re going to be this kind of Category-3-on-overdrive calculatedly tasteless, maybe don’t try to be so grim and self-serious, yeah? More…

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Film review — Rocky V

It’s coming from a place of good ideas — too many of them, even — but it’s executed like a ham-fisted sitcom. Imagine if they’d let things mature for another few years, and Sly gave us the same energy as Copland. Anyway. He busts out a sweet drop toe hold here that he probably picked up from Terry Funk so it’s not all bad. More…

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Film review — Jaws: The Revenge

The premise is absolutely preposterous but its technical proficiency is light years ahead of its predecessor just four years prior and it just looks really nice, except for that soundstage swimming pool reshoot ending for international markets. It’s an insult to the original, don’t get me wrong, but hardly the nadir of the franchise when Jaws III is sitting right there. More…

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Film review — Jaws III

The FBI warnings betray that Universal sent the literal Blu-ray files to Amazon for streaming, so I feel sorry for anyone who paid for the physical media as the transfer is piss-poor at best. Besides that, it boggles the mind that the SeaWorld people would see this as any kind of advertisement for their theme park; it’s the equivalent of Mickey gone rogue and slashing people the length of Main Street USA. More…

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Film review — Jaws

The series just got added to Prime Video so I had to, really…. I’d always aligned myself with the ‘Jaws is a horror movie’ camp but on revision, only the first half feels like a horror to me; the rest is an old-timey adventure that doesn’t quite match those thrills, but remains satisfying nonetheless. More…

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Film review — Moonfall

An aggressively artificial un-spectacle, with added knob-polishing at the feet of Elon Musk and some suspiciously conspicuous product placement for that Russian anti-virus brand that was cool 20 years ago. But at least the pacing was half-decent. More…

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Film review — Sundown

Ironically enough, for a meandering film with such a threadbare story, it goes deeper as an essay on social class than the shock and awe of the writer/director’s prior, much-maligned New Order. More…

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Film review — Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is such an icon that his story deserves to be told without glossing over the failures that make his career trajectory that much more interesting and compelling. So let’s have another run at this one some time; we’ll need more than two-and-a-half hours, but so be it. More…

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Film review — Beware: Children at Play

Craven remade Bergman’s The Virgin Spring as The Last House on the Left, so why not reboot Beowulf in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens… with cannibal children? Okay, I was sold on the killer-kids premise already but there really is a lot more going on here. I mean, it’s an enthusiastic yet amateurish backwoods slasher — from Troma, naturally — so I did not expect a meta-commentary on the aesthetics and function of fantastical fiction. Nor that brutally unforgiving denouement. If you go down to the woods today… actually on second thought, best not. More…

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