Archive | Reviews RSS feed for this section

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: The Raid 2

The Raid 2 | Value for money: $$$$$ Directed, written and edited by Gareth Evans. Starring Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Yayan Ruhian. The Raid 2 is the first Bargain Bin Blues flick to get the coveted five dollar signs of super value. For whatever you shell out for this wherever you find it, you get two and a half […]

Read more
PHIL vs BILL Johan Earl is a better co-director/screenwriter than he is an actor. In this World War I drama, he plays one of three British soldiers pinned down in No Man’s Land ahead of an Allied bombing raid on German lines. His performance as a heroic sergeant major is surprisingly amateurish but the movie’s battleground sequences are tense and powerful, and the wartime themes are adeptly handled. There’s also a parallel storyline involving the hero’s wife at home that has a poignant twist. — Phil Wakefield.

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blu-rays: Forbidden Ground

Forbidden Ground | Value for money: $$  Directed by Adrian Powers, Johan Earl. Written by Johan Earl. Starring Johan Earl, Tim Pocock, Martin Copping. You are about to get the entire plot of Forbidden Ground with all of its attendant twists and turns. This is not just because I am a thoughtless, joy-stealing bastard. It is […]

Read more

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Sabotage

Sabotage | Value for money: $$$ Directed by David Ayer. Written by Skip Woods. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams. Sabotage is when Arnold finally goes all dark. And grizzled. You have to say grizzled with this because he has grey stubble. And he looks worn out and mean. Still, you don’t get to be […]

Read more

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: The Butler

The Butler | Value for money: $$$$ Directed by Lee Daniels. Written by Danny Strong. Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr. America is a bit funny about race. Sort of in the way greyhounds are funny about rabbits. The Butler is a story of being black in America in the 20th century, from the […]

Read more
Despite being British and a woman, the director of this tribute to Muhammad Ali scarcely sheds new light on the king of the ring. It is an affectionate, moving and skilfully etched portrait of his triumphs and trials, as told by his family, friends, other members of his entourage and his own audio recordings. But in glossing over Ali’s darker side, it risks being more hagiography than biography – and the subject and his fans deserve better. However, I Am Ali is still a compelling and intelligent look at the legend, being as much about blows he took outside the ring as inside. Extras are limited to interviews that didn’t make the final cut. -- Phil Wakefield.

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: I Am Ali

I am Ali | Value for money $$$ Written and directed by Clare Lewins. I Am Ali reminds you just how beautiful Muhammad Ali was. In this 2013 doco there’s no sign of the modern version, ravaged by Parkinson’s disease and suffering from old fartism. The person here is the young, cocky, rhyming prince who danced […]

Read more

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: The Spoils of Babylon

The Spoils of Babylon | Value for money: $$$ Created by Matt Piedmont, Andrew Steele. Starring Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell. To work out whether you will enjoy The Spoils of Babylon, imagine a Venn diagram of three information sets. (For the younger, NCEA-era readers, just imagine three circles holding hands in a mutually supportive […]

Read more
PHIL vs BILL Dylan McDermott, the star of TV’s Hostages, finds himself held captive by Russian gangsters in this B-grade Canadian thriller about a seemingly innocent man who wakes up bound hand and foot in an industrial freezer. How he wound up in this predicament and plots to extricate himself makes for surprisingly dull escapism. Other movies about people trapped in claustrophobic or desperate circumstances – Buried, 127 Hours, The Call – cranked up the tension with economy and ingenuity but Freezer, despite its twists, is too one-dimensional to generate suspense.

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Freezer

Freezer | Value for money: $$ Directed by Mikael Salomon. Written by Tom Doganoglu, Shane Weisfeld. Starring Dylan McDermott, Yuliya Snigir, Peter Facinelli. To misquote Brian Fantana, but for a higher purpose, 68 per cent of the time Freezer works all of the time. Almost the entire movie is set in a freezer unit of what looks […]

Read more
PHIL vs BILL The family that slays together stays together in this violent black comedy about a New Jersey mobster trying to live incognito with his wife and teenage kids in France. They’re in the FBI’s witness protection programme, struggling to get to grips with the Gauls and going straight, when their identities and whereabouts are inadvertently revealed to the gangsters they snitched on. When the old gang turns up to exact payback, the tone changes from fish-out-of-water to sleeping with the fishes. An engaging cast and some quirky touches compensate for a fitfully funny script that straitjackets writer/director Luc Besson’s action strengths.

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: The Family

The Family | Value for money: $$ Written and directed by Luc Besson. Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, some kid from Glee,Tommy Lee Jones. When someone is pitching a movie idea to the folks with the money, a really handy idea is for the funders to say: “So where does this get filed in the […]

Read more

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Jobs

Jobs | $$ Directed by Joshua Michael Stern. Written by Matt Whiteley. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, Ahna O’Reilly.  If you like Ashton Kutcher, you will like Jobs. He has a headstart in looking like Jobs in the first place and he does a good imitation of Jobs’ gestures and his voice.  Kutcher is good in most […]

Read more
PHIL vs BILL Jason Statham plays an ex-narcotics agent who’s forced into hiding when the bikie gang he infiltrated targets him for death in this routine, Sylvester Stallone-scripted thriller. Newly widowed with a young daughter, he re-settles under another identity in a small town where a feud with a local family leads to methamphetamine dealer James Franco exposing his secret. The violence and sentimentality are equally gratuitous, and the stock characters tick all the boxes, but Homefront looks terrific, boasts an unexpected turn-against-type by Kate Bosworth and has a great punchline that’s all-but lost in the alternate ending included among the handful of unremarkable extras.

Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Homefront

Homefront | $$$ Directed by Gary Fleder. Written by Sylvester Stallone. Starring Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder. Vengeance, thy name is Statham. One of the best things about Homefront is seeing Jason Statham with a full head of biker drug-gang hair. That alone is worth the price of admission for Jase fans. But it […]

Read more