Bonkers western a surprise hit

Niall McCann


Niall McCann

Bonkers western a surprise hit

Bone Tomahawk

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkinsquette, Sid Haig, Sean Young

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 132 min

After last month's Hateful Eight here is yet another revisionist neo-western starring Kurt Russell; S. Craig Zahler’s debut feature is a fresh approach to familiar subject matter. When cannibal savages kidnap a group of settlers from the town of Bright Hope, a team, led by sheriff Hunt played by Russell sets out to rescue them and bring them home. The majority of Bone Tomahawk focuses on the rescue teams as they travel on horseback cross-country through a picturesque United States which recalls John Ford's The Searchers, until the film veers into horror. Utilising elements of the classic Western with visceral horror may sound like an odd approach, but this ended up being far better than this reviewer expected. Like an even more mental and more drunk John Ford and who wouldn't want that. Apart from John Ford.

4 out of 5


Director: Tim Miller

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, TJ Miller, Gina Carano

Genre: Action

Running Time: 107 min

Deadpool is now getting a film to himself he had previously been a cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he’s like the bastard child the X Men don’t want you to know about and a few of the X Men characters show up here to fulfil the necessary brand overlap Marvel practice in all their films (complete with another cameo from Stan Lee).

Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a retired army vet who subsists boozing and brawling until he receives a deadly cancer diagnosis and turns to a shady organisation which offers him a cure but instead results in a mutation which turns Wilson into the titular super anti hero who then seeks bloody revenge on said organisation and their leader, Ajax, played by Game of Thrones Ed Skrein. What follows brings to mind other similar takes on the superhero such as Kick Ass and the same problems with tone remains. While at times funny and undoubtedly exciting, there is an unmistakable whiff of misogyny at times here and the constant smarty pants knowing lines brings us down a postmodern cul de sac that ends up being somewhat frustrating and restrictive. Fans of the superhero genre will no doubt find refreshing elements here but what the film brought to my mind was the Flaming Lips song Waiting on a Superman which tells us: “It’s too heavy for Superman to live”, no one can save us but ourselves, no more costumes, no more masks, no more capes please, even for just one or two months.

2.5 out of 5


Director: Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery.

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 118 min

Tom McCarthy's must see film about the journalists who exposed systematic child abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston. Nothing surprising here for Irish people but essential cinema. A stellar all star cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams. Important and vital cinema drama about journalism at its very best, one of the most important films you will see this year.

4 out of 5


Director: Rob Letterman

Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette.

Genre: Adventure

Running Time: 103 min

Jack Black plays the children's horror writer RL Stine, whose daughter Hannah has mysteriously disappeared. In trying to track her down, her friends Zach and Champ unknowingly unleash Stines horrific creations from his novels on their small town of Madison as our heroes race against the clock to save their friend. What ensues will please any fans of the source novels, any fans of Jack Black and playful frights. An enjoyable rerun of the Goosebumps series.

3 out of 5

Zoolander 2

Director: Ben Stiller

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 102 min

Ben Stiller brings us this sequel to the popular original. Zoolander was the 2001 comedy that lampooned the fashion world as shallow, vain and horrible as it likely is. As with the first film, the sequel struggles to make fun of an industry that is already well beyond parody and already so far up it’s own backsided that it is nearly inside out. But that doesn’t stop Zoolander 2 from giving it a try as Stiller always does. The best joke here is a ridiculous commercial starring Kirsten Wiig: “Do you ever get that feeling when you see a teenage girl and you want to kill her and take her skin? We’ve bottled that feeling.” The laughs don't occur nearly enough but this is distracting and ludicrous enough to be worthwhile for fans.

2.5 out of 5


Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay.

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 117 min

Already one of the most critically acclaimed Irish films of recent memory, Lenny Abrahamson's new film is based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, partly inspired by the Josef Fritzl kidnapping case in Austria. The story centres in two people Jack, a five year old boy played wonderfully by Jacob Tremblay, who has grown up entirely inside a small electronically locked garden shed. Joy, Jack's mother, played by the remarkable Brie Larson was kidnapped 7 years before our film joins them and it was during this imprisonment that she gave birth to Jack. In their tiny living space, Joy has constructed an ontology in order to help Jack make sense of his environment. Room is the only real space in this worldview and their tv set shows them worlds that are “not real”. As Jack once says during the film, “Only you and me are real”.

This is a film of two halves or even four quarters. (Anyone who wants to know nothing more of the plot should stop reading now, though the film's trailer gives more away than I ever could.) The first half of the film details Joy and Jacks existence in “Room” and the second half shows us what happens to them when they finally find freedom. It is this second half, or the second half of the second half, that I found some elements disappointing. After creating a very real and palpable world in the first hour, Abrahamson's film descends into at times, broad, banal cliches for its last quarter. The problem the filmmakers have is in trying to find some universal meaning for their story once their protagonists emerge from their prison. What was previously applicable to any parent/ child relationship when we are locked with them in the room, becomes too specific and extraordinary to hold the same universality when we watch as Joy and Jack struggle at times to readjust to life amongst the living. Rather than maintaining its uniqueness, the film ends up being (nearly) just another Hollywood film. Their struggle is just too singular to offer a bigger meaningful metaphor for life.

For all these minor complaints this film is an exciting and at times extremely moving meditation on motherhood and parenthood, and marks another significant forward step in the career of it’s director, who is arguably the most interesting and talented Irish filmmaker of recent (or any) memory, but the second quarter here shows us that even our most consistently original film director can fall into the trap of banal cliches as much as anyone else. It is the only slight on an impressive piece of work which will be essential viewing for most. This is a significant piece of work and comes recommended.

3 out of 5