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Review: Ghostbusters (2016) — Too Obsessed With the Past to Make a Decent Movie

At the risk of being labelled a ‘GhostBro’, Luke Miksa has feelings about the controversial Ghostbusters reboot.

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A reboot of the beloved sci-fi comedy blockbuster of 1984, director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) presents a Ghostbusters for a new generation. When strange apparitions being appearing in New York, Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) joins her old colleague Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and her quirky new partner Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), along with historical New York City expert Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Dubbed the Ghostbusters by the media, together the four women — plus their new space cadet assistant Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) — set about to foil a plot which will bring about the apocalypse, right on their doorstep.

"Ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts"

“Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts”

Surprisingly, Ghostbusters has become one of the most controversial films in recent years, and it’s mainly due to loyal fans of the original two films. A second sequel to Ghostbusters with the original cast has been in development hell for over twenty years, but with the death of Harold Ramis, the decision was made to completely reboot the series; a bitter pill to swallow for some die-hards. Things got worse when word came out that the busting of ghosts will now be done exclusively by a team of (gulp) women! This resulted in a veritable shit-show of online misogyny, including the first trailer being one of the most down-voted trailers in YouTube history (Look, it wasn’t a good trailer, but a quick look at the comment section will tell you the whole story).

But now the film has been released, which means it’s finally time to judge it on its merits, and not just prejudice and tears. And what’s the verdict? Unfortunately it’s not good.

Recent history has shown that the best way to reboot a franchise is to tie it in to the existing films, in whats known as a legacyquel; a cross between a distant sequel and a soft reboot (examples: Jurassic World, The Force Awakens, and Creed). This method seems to work, as it remains in the same universe that people are fond of, often with the older characters passing the torch to the new upstarts. But Ghostbusters bucks the recent — successful — trend, and we find ourselves with a hard reboot; a completely new universe where the events of the previous films don’t exist.

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Review: Trainwreck (2015) — Amy Schumer’s Breakthrough in Judd Apatow’s Return to Form

Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Schumer. Luke Miksa reviews her new film Trainwreck:

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“Monogamy isn’t realistic” is the quote a very young Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) repeatedly has drilled into her head by her womanising father (Colin Quinn) in the opening flashback of romantic comedy Trainwreck. As an adult, Amy works at a popular men’s magazine, and her personal life is filled with heavy drinking, carefree sex, and partying — clearly adopting her father’s advice all those years earlier. Amy is assigned to write an article on successful sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), mainly because she has absolutely no interest in the subject. As they spend time together, Amy and Aaron develop a romantic relationship, which can only survive if Amy can overcome her pre-existing conceptions on monogamy.

Ah, the look of regret.

Ah, the look of regret.

Trainwreck was written by star Amy Schumer, and is her feature debut both in screen-writing and in a leading role. Schumer’s success thus far has been relegated to stand-up comedy and her very successful sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer. Here, Schumer shows that not only can she write a strong, realistic, and hilariously outrageous female character, on-screen she can carry the whole film to boot! Schumer was a breath of fresh air that has been needed, and she brings a feminist voice to mainstream comedy which has been sorely lacking.

Director Judd Apatow has been in somewhat of a rut for his last few films, with Funny People and This is 40 receiving mixed reviews and mediocre responses. Trainwreck is the first feature directed by Apatow that he hasn’t written himself and it is quite obviously reflected in the final product, as Apatow hasn’t directed something so fresh since 2007’s Knocked Up. Gone is the free-wheeling style of filmmaking, replaced with a fairly tighter script. Although the runtime of Trainwreck still clocks in at over two hours, it moves briskly and is nowhere near as over-long as his previous efforts.

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MIFF 2014 Review: Life After Beth (2014) — Disappointing Zom-Com That Lacks Bite

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Life After Beth opens with Zach (Dane DeHaan) mourning the recent death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza). He takes solace in the companionship of Beth’s parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), until they suddenly break contact with the confused Zach. While desperately attempting to re-ignite contact, he realises that Beth has mysteriously reappeared and her parents have been hiding her. Zach takes this opportunity to re-establish their romantic relationship, but over time the resurrected Beth begins to grow increasingly aggressive and unpredictable, and a level of physical decomposition begins to set in. But Zach soon realises that his zombie girlfriend is not alone as more and more of the undead begin to appear in town.

Somebody's cranky...

Somebody’s cranky…

From first-time writer/director Jeff Baena, Life After Beth suffers from a lack of inspiration. It fails as a zombie film, it fails as a comedy, and it fails as a relationship film; but it’s not terrible — it’s just unbelievably mediocre. After the gimmick of ‘zombie girlfriend’ is played out after the first 30 minutes, the movie plods along without any major developments until it ultimately fizzles out at the climax. It’s an idea that would have worked in a smaller time-frame, but the feature-length hurts it.

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Review: This Is the End (2013) — Apocalypse is the Perfect Occasion for Improv Comedy

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What we have here is possibly the most brilliant high-concept pitch ever conceived for a comedy: What would happen if a ragtag collection of popular comedians — all playing themselves — were trapped together in James Franco‘s mansion as the apocalypse rages outside? This is exactly what you get with This Is The End, from the writing and, for the first time, directing combination of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up, The Green Hornet).

This Is The End does a fantastic job of taking the personalities of these real-life stars and either embellishing or subverting them. The

Pants-Off-A-Clypse! (sorry)

Pants-Off-A-Clypse! (sorry)

relationship of Jay Baruchel (She’s Out Of My League, Goon) and Seth Rogen takes centre stage as Baruchel, well-known for eschewing the Hollywood lifestyle in favour of a permanent residence in Canada, comes down to visit his buddy Rogen. The pair’s chemistry is, as you would expect, natural; as are the relationships of all the core cast. It makes it easier for the audience to relate to the film when the actors are clearly at ease with one-another and obviously had a blast filming it.

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Review: Zombieland (2009)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m Late.com on 02/11/09.

From the moment I first saw the trailer to Zombieland, I knew that this horror/comedy hybrid road picture would be right up my alley. But as we all know, trailers can be deceiving – they can make a bad movie look interesting and vice versa. I’m pleased to say that not only is Zombieland an awesome flick, but it’s one of my favourites this year. Booya!

The film starts with Columbus (Eisenberg), seemingly a rare surviving human in post-apocalyptic Earth – now dubbed ‘Zombieland’. Although being on the Woody Allen side of neurotic, Columbus explains that these neuroses are what have kept him alive all this time, written as a list of rules for survival (Rule #1 – Cardio: ‘When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go were the fatties’). On his journeys he meets up with Tallahassee (Harrelson), a gun toting redneck whose one mission is to find a Twinkie in Zombieland before they all expire. They then stumble across charlatan sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Stone, Breslin), whom after they con the two men out of their truck and guns join together in their journey west to theme park Pacific Playland.

A standard evening at Coles.

Running at a brisk 81 minutes, Zombieland is non-stop entertainment juggernaut and although it is more on the comedy side than horror, there is plenty is violence and gore at hand but it is more slapstick than gross-out. Director Fleischer does a wonderful job in pacing the film so that we get equal amounts of character development in between the hilarity. After watching this I could say that his style is a cross between Zack Snyder and Greg Mottola (through obvious and not-so-obvious comparisons).

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Review: Adventureland (2009)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m Late.com on 14/07/09.

Adventureland

Adventureland opens in the summer of 1987, where recent college grad James Brennan (an excellent Jesse Eisenberg), unable to fund his planned European trip and a future tenure at the prestigious Columbia University on the horizon, must now endure a summer slogging it out in the titular theme park – home to an assortment of rejects, outcasts and stoners. There he meets the mysterious Em (an also excellent Kristen Stewart), of whom James falls for despite her involvement with the married park maintenance man Mike (Ryan Reynolds, sans the sass talk), a serial lothario with the annual influx of younger girls at the park.

Despite being Greg Mottola’s follow up to the side-splitting Superbad – and in spite of the misleading trailer – Adventureland is not the Apatow-esque comedy that you may have been expecting, but a surprisingly charming and tender dramatic character study. This one will definitely be a crowd divider, as we have seen many a coming-of-age story before, but not one with as much heart and devotion to the confusion and inner frustrations that we all get at this age. Although being genuinely funny – all without the need to resort to cheap jokes and potty humour – Adventureland does in fact have some very dark and understated thematic elements mixed in with all the comical moments that you would expect from working at a low-rent theme park.

Don’t get me wrong, though – the movie is funny. James and Em first meet when Em saves James from getting knifed by an irate park-goer during a dispute over a Giant Ass Panda, and shenanigans ensue when angry jock-douche customers uncover one of the Adventureland’s many dubiously rigged games. Then there’s Frigo, with an affinity for punching dicks, and a fair share of boner jokes to please the masses.

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