Okay, as soon as I saw reference to this movie at the Galway Film Fleadh, I was hooked. This movie has been described as a B-movie comedy. “B-movie” does not mean bad, just that it does not have studio millions behind it. This is a comedy and as you probably know by now, I like my comedy to be properly constructed, following ancient rules, this movie does that, indeed following rules and convention is something director Jon Wright (Tormented, 2009) and newcomer to feature length work, writer Kevin Lehane do throughout the movie.

I’m going to get the obvious connections out of the way; Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990); this is very much in the same style but probably more funny.  It is probably more in line with Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) with the community feel to the ongoing story. I mentioned rules earlier and Wright seems to follow very closely some Irish rules of thumb when it comes to comedy. 1) an outside in the village, usually a slightly eccentric Englishman or German such as the character of the General (Sam Harris) in John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) or Major Yates himself (Peter Bowles) in The Irish RM (1983). The Irish RM brings us to the second necessary character – the town drunk who also happens to be quite smart and more than capable of coming out well from any situation, we see this with the Character of Slipper, played by Niall Tobin is the series. Such a  character might be described (using the Hiberno-English vernacular) as a “cute whore” which is a cunning but good natured person.  Another movie which comes to mind is The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973) given the sense of isolation.

Being so formulaic can often destroy a movie as the team concentrate on the formulae and not the heart and soul of the movie, here however they capture the comic essence needed, indeed the casting was perfect as soon as you saw the actors in a number of cases you knew what you were in for.

Headed by Richard Coyle (Going Postal 2010) playing Garda Ciarán O’Shea with Ruth Bradley (Love/Hate, 2011) playing the Garda sent in to support O’Shea while the sergeant is on vacation. The pair seem totally mismatched and polar opposites. As strange things begin to happen such as whales washing up on shore, they meet up with the English marine biologist working on the island, Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey, Being Human, 2008) who brilliantly plays the reserved and very proper scientist trying to do things the right way. SO here is the village outside needed by the “rules”. The team deserve credit for knowing just how far to take a character such as Smith, stopping short of cliché.  Pretty soon people start to go missing and alien  creatures start to appear.

One is captured by the town drunk/small time fisherman and general smart-arse (again using the H-E vernacular) played brilliantly by Lalor Roddy (Game of Thrones, 2011). An experienced stage and screen actor he know exactly what was needed. I could continue with the rest of the support cast , but sufficient to say they were all first class. I should also give a mention to the excellent CGI, evidence of the work that can be done on a budget.

The plot, in short is; alien creatures crash in to the sea just off the island and quickly make their way ashore. Strange things start to happen and people begin disappearing. Eventually one of the octopus like alien creatures is captured and killed (possibly). This bring more trouble in the shape of the alien’s (far, far larger female partner). Ultimately our heroes and the rest of the village have to make a stand in the village pub (probably another rule there) for reasons most enjoyably left to the movie to explain. Here they battle to save the community, the island and of course all mankind. The battle tactics make the movie.

I’ve avoid reference to The Guard (John-Michael McDonagh, 2011) so far, so it is about time I did the inevitable. I enjoyed The Guard, I really enjoyed Grabbers. Wright has placed the McDonagh brothers on notice. In short this movie is Father Ted (Channel 4, 1995-98) meets Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) and as good as either of them.

A lesser effort would have been wholly predicable, this was not. This is The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963) as a full comedy.

Rating 9/10, I look forward to more work from this team.


The trouble with being a Disney/Pixar creation is that a lot is expected of the output.  Some critics have said this movie is light on plot while others have said some of the background animation is too good…too good! well that’s all as may be. The truth in my opinion, is that they have again produced a kids’ movie suitable for adults. The story line will appeal to kids while keeping adults entertained, the script will appeal to adults while keeping kids entertained.  I saw this movie with two friends, both admitted to watery eyes at various stages during the movie, me, I laughed a lot.

So what about the movie? It is based on a Scottish king Fergus (Billy Connolly, Mrs. Brown, 1997) with a proud and correct queen; Elinor (Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day, 1993) , a rather willful 16 princess; Merida (Kelly MacDonald, Intermission, 2003). The opening scenes are of the family picnicking celebrating a young Merida’s birthday, only to have an infamous bear attack.  The movie then moves to about 10 years later, the King as it turns out, lost a leg in the attack, burt has gained many years of story telling embellishing what happened on that day. There are also the three young princes. These are a interesting plot tool, providing some of the best humour and convenient plot devices when needed.  Merida is now 16 and must have a husband found for her from amoung the clans, the clans arive at the castle to win her hand, she chooses an archery competition, which she then enters and well wins. All kinds of chaos ensue and ultimately Merida runs away after arquing with her mother and ends up in the cottage of a wood-turning witch (Julie Walters, Mo 2010) who gives the girl a spell to change here mother. THe spell is administered and it does change her mother; into a bear.

What follows is a voyage of Merida finding a solution, growing closer to her mother and ultimately saving the day (it is Disney after all). There are some excellent comedic moments scattered throughout. Was the plot suitable for adults? Yes, it was not overly taxing but highly entertaining. The overall movie works with some speed and manages not to sag in the middle, end result we were kept entertained till the end. The soundtrack is also quite good, I might have to look into a CD

This is a cartoon aimed at kids but with adults firmly in mind.  There are a couple of kilt jokes which while predicted were well executed.  The scenes in the great hall firstly where the suitors are introduced and later when all are fighting are both excellently executed and quite funny, little things like the characterisation of Fergus’ hounds were much appreciated.

Rating 8/10, nothing is perfect – for the first few minutes every time I heard the princess’s name being called I was put in mind of a certain piece of French but; C’est la vie!

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

We’ve learned from all too many examples that the first of the franchise was the best of the set, with the sequels being poor imitations of feeble attempts to regain the position of the first. This has not been the case. Although I thought the second of the three to be Christopher Nolan’s (Inception, 2010) best, this is still a good movie. There were some raised eyebrows when Nolan announced he was hanging up his lenses in relation to the Batman movies, at the time I was also surprised, but after seeing the movie, I can see his point.  Rather than the franchise going on mindlessly he has chosen to build a character, or indeed a set of them, with a fixed story arc over the three movies.  The reappearance of so many characters through the movies shows the strength of linkage between each movie, these were more a series than a franchise.

This was a closing movie; a number of plot threads were closed and neatly dealt with, while some new ones were introduced, more on that later.  Although it is Nolan’s last offering here I don’t think it is the end of Batman…and Robin.  There have been some criticisms that somebody coming fresh to the movie would not fully understand some of the plot elements and characters.  Possibly but it is  bit like the Bourne franchise.  I had not seen the first when I saw the second.  I then went out and bought the first for all of the parts to fit together. If you by a book you do not start at chapter 8, likewise if you are going to watch a franchise movie, see the earlier offerings first to know what you are watching….

Christian Bale (The Flowers of War, Yimou Zhang, 2012)is the brooding billionaire drawn back to the role of Batman, I say “brooding” more like sulking in places, but as ever his character manages to work. Michael Caine (Harry Brown, 2009) was as ever the paternal Alfred always having a wise and careful word of advice.  Doubling with Cane was Morgan Freeman (Red 2010) who also co-paternally looked after Wayne’s interests, but this time from the technology side, again he manages to pull a few gadgets out of the armoury without ever giving us the impression he was a re-imagined “Q”. Marion Cotillard (Big Fish, 2003) as Mirranda Tate added a nice touch of class. Tom Hardy (This means War, 2012) played the necessary bad guy.  What is interesting here was that it took me some time to recognise him.  The acting was stunted, as the character possibly needed, but you have to hand it to Hardy for his ability to constantly change his physical appearance. Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006) has certainly matured and was exactly what we expected as Catwoman, not all bad, with tough of a good streak to win us over. Some of the supporting cast like Nestor Cabonell (Lost 2007-2010) and Matthew Modine (The Browning Version, 1994) I felt did not quite work. That said Cillian Murphy (In Time, 2011) back as Dr Jonathan Crane, gave a performance which reminded me of the beggars’ court in Fritz Lang’s (The Blue Gardenia, 1953) “M” (1931). This was one of the few parts where the dystophic atmosphere  created by Nolan actually worked.  The use of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50, 2011) was certainly a bright part. That said is appearance and possible development became obvious very quickly, sadly it took to the closing scenes to confirm what we thought, and so the possible re-launch of the franchise. I can’t not mention Gary Odlman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 2011) as Commissioner Gordon who delivered the fighting character we’ve come to expect, a far improvement on the original quasi-comedic characterisation.

The plot is if course; bad guy tries to take over and/or destroy Gotham and Batman has to save the day…all fairly standard really. Overall a good piece of entertainment, even if it did sag a little just past the middle. It will be interesting to see how the Batman and Robin story develops. All in all not a bad effort; not a perfect film, long in places but well worth watching

Rating 7/10