T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Steve Jobs (2015) Review

Steve Jobs (2015)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

My Opinion:

My husband dragged me to this movie. Are any fun movies going to come out at any point? I hate this time of year! They always drag out all the “worthy” films at this sort of time. I need braindead veg-out movies for the crazy holiday season. Like… Road House! I wrapped some presents last night while watching Road House for the first time. Holy shit that movie is f*%king hilarious. Why did no one tell me how awesomely bad that movie was?! I think it may be my new yearly Christmas-present-wrapping movie. Anyway, Steve Jobs was better than I was expecting for a “biography” film about an unlikeable guy & technology gobbledygook.

This movie was a hard one to get into at first but, by the end, I really liked how they chose the run-up to three big product launches to tell his story. To my satisfaction, any gobbledygook technology talk was kept to a very bare minimum. The movie really doesn’t show you anything of the beginnings of his career, though (or the final years & his biggest products).

If you want a very detailed & in-depth look at the career of Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t say that this movie is the place to start as it only highlights part of his career. I have no problem with this, though – you can read books about all that. This movie focuses much more on his personal life and his behavior toward work colleagues and, especially, his relationship with his daughter. I find this sort of thing much more interesting and was happy that the movie chose this direction and that it had some great performances from everyone involved.

I’ll state the obvious & say that Michael Fassbender looks nothing whatsoever like Steve Jobs. Not that I’m going to complain about getting to look at hottie Fassbender but it was a little distracting & I can’t say that I at all felt like I was watching “Steve Jobs” up on that screen. Maybe it didn’t help that I knew nothing whatsoever about Steve Jobs (and still don’t, I suppose – but I can say that this movie definitely doesn’t try to make you like him). Fassbender did a very good job as always, though – I guess it’s not his fault that he’s just too hot.

The true highlights of this film were Kate Winslet and, surprisingly, Seth Rogen. Oh yeah – and Jeff Daniels was very good too! Nice seeing him again as I can’t think of the last thing I saw him in. Speed?? Which makes me think of Keanu Reeves. Which makes me think of Patrick Swayze in Point Break. Which makes me think of Road House again. Seriously – if any of you haven’t seen Road House, you NEED to. Sam Elliott is such a stud. Anyway, Winslet, Rogen & Daniels are all truly fantastic in Steve Jobs so I certainly can’t fault any of the performances. There’s some damn fine acting in this. Unlike in Road House…. Good lord!

Summary:

Steve Jobs is a very good film but it’s not for everyone. It’s one you should watch if you are a fan of any of the actors as they’re all at the top of their game here. Just be aware that it focuses only on the relationships that Jobs had with the most key people in his life and that you see only a pretty small portion of his years on this Earth.

The direction that the film chose, to have everything revolve around three product launches, may not work for everyone but I thought it was a simple yet very effective way of telling his story. His life DID revolve around his work (so far as I can tell from what very little I know of him) so I think it was a very fitting way to tell his story. The people in his life had to fit around his primary focus, which was his career and his products. I should also point out that this movie very much felt like a play, which some will love & some will hate. I have to say that I liked this film more than Sorkin’s The Social Network and it’s the best thing Danny Boyle has done in a while.

Steve Jobs admittedly deserves a slightly higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to admit that, while it’s good, it’s very unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. Unlike Road House! That’s a multiple-watcher!

My Rating: 7/10

Review written on my iPhone

Trainspotting (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He’s also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE) and The Big Lebowski (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Trainspotting, IMDB rank 151 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: John Hodge.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Shirley Henderson, Pauline Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Keith Allen, Kevin Allen, Dale Winton, Irvine Welsh.

Director Danny Boyle’s marvellous debut “Shallow Grave” was always going to be a hard act to follow but to attempt an adaptation of the ‘unfilmable’ Scottish novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, seemed like lunacy. Boyle, however, captures Welsh’s book brilliantly and despite “Slumdog Millionaire” gathering him a best director Oscar, this still remains his best film.

It follows the lives of a group of friends from Edinburgh as they experience the high’s and low’s of life through heroin use. Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to go clean and rid himself of his affliction and his low-life chums but finds that’s easier said than done. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is too needy, SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller) is too controling, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) has just taken some bad direction and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is just plain pychotic. Renton, however, enters into making a one off drug deal with his old pals, so as to make a new life for himself altogether.

Boyle’s film has often been criticised as glorifying drug use. Glorifying drug use? Really? People who believe this must have been watching a different film. The characters involved all behave despicably. They are responsible for thefts, fights, deaths – including the death of a baby. Get imprisoned. Contract HIV. Ruin their lives and others’, all because of their drug habit. What this film has in depth, vibrancy and fun, is the reason it could be mistaken for being pro-drug use but having these qualities is more of a testament to the filmmakers involved, in making a bleak and depressing subject matter, very entertaining. The characters are extremely well written (kudos to writer Welsh) and acted by an ensemble of excellent actors. It made a star of Ewan McGregor, who’s character, although likeable – and brilliantly played – is essentially the person responsible for the downfall of many of the other characters. Notable other performances are Ewen Bremner as “Spud”, the most endearing of the group and a character too gentle for his lifestyle. The best of the bunch though, is Robert Carlyle as the psychotic “Begbie”, who’s choice of drug isn’t heroin but violence – and he’s just as destructive with it. He’s a dangerous and highly volatile person and Carlyle perfectly captures the on-edge feeling of his terrifying unpredictability. It’s an award worthy performance that was sadly overlooked. Everything about the film reeks of class. From it’s rollicking soundtrack, to the rich, snappy dialogue, with great characters in hilarious situations and kinetic fast paced direction. This film has everything going for it and stands as one of the finest films of the 1990′s.

A relentlessly energetic experience that leaves you craving for more, much like the habit of it’s protaganists.
Pure uncut, Class A.

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Mark Walker

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IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #15 – Slumdog Millionaire

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Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – IMDB Rank #194

Watched 28/4/13 as part of my IMDB Top 250 Challenge.

Directed by Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan

Starring:
Dev Patel
Freida Pinto
Madhur Mittal
Anil Kapoor
Irrfan Khan
Mahesh Manjrekar
Tanay Chheda
Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar
Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar
Rubina Ali
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail

Plot Synopsis (courtesy of IMDB):

A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

I’ll add that this takes place when he’s answered all but the final question. They never expected him to get that far so they interrogate him before he’s able to go back & finish the show. We’re shown his life in a series of flashbacks as they go over each question he’s answered so far & he explains exactly why he knew the answer to each of them.

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My Opinion:

Urgh. Okay. I’ve been putting off reviewing this. There are obviously people who love this film. It won 8 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. AND it’s in the IMDB Top 250 films, which I see as more “real world” and more representative of what people actually like. Well, I think the IMDB voters were swayed by all those Oscars and have given this film a far higher rating than it deserves. Yet another current film in the Top 250 simply because it’s current and lots of people have voted for it.

I posted a little while ago that I’d watched this and didn’t really like it and then waited for the backlash. Turns out I’m not alone in feeling this way about the movie. The main thing people kept saying was “overrated” and, although I think that word sometimes gets used too often when talking about movies, it really is the accurate word to use for this one. I don’t want to start trashing this movie TOO much – it’s not horribly bad, just average. So I’ll divide it up into the Good & the Not-So-Good like I did with Iron Man 3 (also average – Sorry! But at last I enjoyed that one far more than I did Slumdog).

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The Good:

The main character – Jamal. He’s fine. Thank god for that at least – it would have been unwatchable otherwise. I didn’t feel that he was as fully fleshed out as he could have been & I didn’t feel TOO strongly about his character & what would happen to him but I think that was the fault of the script, not the actor. I bought into him a bit more as a young boy than when he’s grown up but I think that’s because the majority of the scenes where he’s older are when he’s on the game show or when he’s being questioned about cheating.

The love story between Jamal & Latika. Although, I have to say, I found it totally unbelievable it was still sweet and you do find yourself rooting for the guy at the end & wanting him to get the girl.

The concept. It’s an excellent idea for a story! I know it’s based on a book so I looked it up & read a bit about it. Looks like they changed A LOT. It’s really just the overall concept that’s stayed the same but, again, it’s a REALLY GOOD concept. Which is why it was all the more disappointing that the movie was so weak! How did they make an exciting story so boring? I’ll go into that more in “The Not-So-Good” below.

The final 20 minutes. It DOES finally get fairly exciting at the end.

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The Not-So-Good:

The shit-covered kid. Jamal jumps down into a huge pile of shit after his brother has locked him in an outhouse & it’s his only way of getting out. This is in order to get some big famous actor’s autograph who happens to show up right at that moment. This actor is the answer to one of the first questions Jamal later answers on the show. I obviously won’t give away any of the other questions but I had to mention that one as it’s SO ridiculously stupid. What is it with Danny Boyle & excrement? Honestly. You know I tried to watch this movie about a year ago? I didn’t make it past that bit the first time around.

Jamal’s brother – Salim. He starts out as your typical prick of a brother when they’re young & then turns into some pathetic & totally unbelievable version of Tony Montana.

Poorly developed characters. Aside from Jamal (who actually isn’t very well-developed either), we really don’t get to know anyone. WHY is his brother a prick? They have a horrible life growing up – all they have is each other so why wouldn’t he treat Jamal better? Latika is slightly more believable as a young girl than when she grows up to be absolutely stunning – I felt they REALLY wasted her character. We know nothing about her! She becomes nothing more than a pretty face for Jamal to want to win a game show for. But you still want things to work out for them as they’re the ONLY likeable characters in a film filled with hateful people. Oh, the game show host – PRICK! And the gangsters… Oh yes, there are bad guys in this. Gangsters. But, like, really shit gangsters – not Scorsese gangsters. Yeah. Honestly – the “baddies” in this were so unbelievable. I didn’t understand their motives or why they even needed to be in the movie AT ALL other than to add a bit of excitement I guess? So unnecessary – the story itself is exciting enough without having to add all the lame one-dimensional bad guys.

The way they took an excellent & exciting concept and managed to make a boring movie. Seriously – How did they make an exciting story so boring? I think one problem is that they made it too unbelievable. Surely the audience (film audience) is meant to be convinced by Jamal’s story of “why” he knew each of the answers. Some of it was just too far fetched, though. And I expected the “feel good” film that was promised. I expected a moving drama. I didn’t expect to keep looking at my watch up until the final 20 minutes when it finally gets exciting. (Okay – I don’t wear a watch. Does anyone wear a watch anymore?).

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Summary: Slumdog Millionaire takes an excellent concept & manages to make a totally unbelievable & shallow film with two underdeveloped main characters that you only slightly care about. The rest of the characters are very one-dimensional, especially the “baddies” who felt totally unnecessary. This supposed “feel good film” just left me cold. And I obviously won’t give away the ending (if you still want to see it?) but if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean when I say: And now what? Honestly, what is going to happen AFTER how this film ends? Luckily I don’t care!

But you probably shouldn’t listen to me – Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars. Including Best Picture. Yeah.

My Rating: 5/10

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Looks sweet, doesn’t he? A wide-eyed dreamer? He’s taking a shit.

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And I thought my review for Danny Boyle’s Trance was a bit harsh… Turns out I enjoyed it more than this one. But I never want to see a kid covered in shit OR Rosario Dawson’s vagina ever again. 😉

I’ve also now watched another IMDB Top 250 film & I’m happy to report it’s MUCH better – Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious.

Danny Boyle Says We’re In Danger of Losing Adult Movies Due to “The Pixarification of Movies”

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Okay. I love movies. All kinds of different movies. Two of my least favorite movies I’ve watched in the last month were Danny Boyle films: Trance & Slumdog Millionaire. So, anyway, here he is trashing Pixar & *gasp* Star Wars.

Lol! It’s not actually as bad as it sounds if you watch the video. He says Pixar & Star Wars ARE good. But “family” films. Well, I’ll take Nemo over Rosario Dawson’s vagina any day! (Wait – not sure that sounded right…)

Link to Danny Boyle video: SlashFilm

IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Slumdog Millionaire

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Well, another one to cross off the list for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. And I think I can safely say it’s my least favorite one of those that I’ve watched so far since starting this in January. Another current film that has ended up in the Top 250 simply because it’s current & lots of people have voted for it at IMDB. What’s worse, though, is that this was actually a Best Picture winner?! (Ohhh… Am I going to be in trouble for saying this?). 🙂

I’ll try to review this over the next few days. It won’t be a glowing review but I sometimes change my mind a little after thinking things over for a few days, which is why I try to never review movies right away.

I’ll try to be nicer than I was when I reviewed Trance. Honestly, at this point I think I enjoyed Trance a bit more. What’s going on Danny Boyle? Trainspotting & 28 Days Later are great. I think I’m not too bothered about still not having seen 127 Hours now…

Initial Rating: 6/10 (we’ll see if I change my mind over the next few days).

Am I alone in feeling this way about this movie?

Trance (2013) Review

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After an art heist gone wrong & a gash on the head resulting in his memory loss, art auctioneer James McAvoy finds himself in a hairy situation with a group of criminals. Rosario Dawson is the hypnotherapist hired to unlock the mystery of a missing painting buried deep in McAvoy’s mind – to lay things bare & help him out of a close shave with the criminals.

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Okay – I’ll try to take this review seriously now…

I like most of Danny Boyle’s films but wouldn’t call myself a huge fan. 28 Days Later is by far my favorite and I also really like Shallow Grave, Sunshine & Trainspotting. I haven’t watched 127 Hours or Slumdog Millionaire (they don’t really appeal to me) but, obviously, Slumdog won lots of Oscars. So… Maybe I went to Trance with expectations that were too high as he’s an Oscar winning director with some films I’ve really enjoyed. What I’m taking ages to say is this: Trance was a huge disappointment.

The movie starts with an art auction & James McAvoy’s art auctioneer telling us in voiceover what you do in the event of an attempted robbery – you get the most valuable painting to a safe place & it’s his job to do this. I thought this movie started out GREAT. The art heist right at the beginning was very exciting and I liked the music and everything was all “slick and cool” and I was like “Yep, this is a Danny Boyle film”. If only the rest of the movie had lived up to the beginning…

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During the heist, McAvoy’s character is getting the main painting (Goya’s “Witches In The Air”, worth £25 million in the film if I remember correctly) to its safe place when he’s confronted by one of the thieves (Vincent Cassel) and, after a brief struggle, gets knocked unconscious and develops amnesia. The painting disappears and only McAvoy’s character knows the truth of what’s happened to it. Unfortunately, he now can’t remember. This is where, as said earlier, Rosario Dawson comes in as the hypnotherapist who tries to help McAvoy to recover the painting.

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Sounds like a great plot, doesn’t it? It is! But then it twists and turns and twists and turns some more and you get the whole “Who’s really the good/bad guy/girl? Who’s on whose side? Who’s being double-crossed? Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? What parts of this movie are real and which bits are just part of a hypnosis-induced trance???”. All of which are fine as long as the many twists & turns are handled well (and, more importantly, you CARE enough to follow all the twists & turns). This is where Trance failed for me. I just didn’t care.

The movie becomes a complicated mess. And I didn’t care enough about any of the characters to try to follow along. It’s like Inception done poorly (no trouble following that one – it was good enough to hold my interest). And the criminals were a bit like if those in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels had been completely uninteresting & humorless. Yeah – good description I think: Trance is like an inferior cross between Inception & Lock Stock.

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As for the actors in this, everyone was “fine”. Vincent Cassel was the only one I really felt was the right fit for the role. James McAvoy was okay but just not QUITE right. I don’t know who may have been better in the role, though – I think the decision to cast him wasn’t a bad one. Rosario Dawson also didn’t feel quite right. She did well enough. Meh. I just don’t care! I don’t think anything is the fault of the actors anyway – I think it’s the script that’s to be blamed.

Before I trash this too much (I’m feeling kind of bad – I really do love 28 Days Later!), here’s the good points:

The Art. I wish I had any sort of knowledge about art. I liked seeing the artwork in this. Obviously Goya’s “Witches In The Air” is the one the whole plot revolves around but there’s a good (trance) scene later on showing some other famous missing paintings. And the overall look of the movie is good (of course – it’s a professionally made Danny Boyle film). The only thing I hated was Rosario Dawson’s ORANGE apartment (at least I think it was her place? Saw this four days ago & already forgetting it – the sign of a not-very-good movie). Seriously, I hate the color orange! What does that say about me? Love green! Someone analyze me. Never mind – I’m sure I can just Google that. 😉

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The Music. Danny Boyle is known for good music in his films. I think the music in both 28 Days Later & Sunshine is especially fantastic. And, of course, Trainspotting! Once again, Boyle worked with Rick Smith of Underworld for Trance. The music in Trance isn’t quite as good or as memorable as in the other Boyle films I mentioned but it’s still pretty good. And there’s an UNKLE song in it! Yay!

Summary: Starts out great but then turns into a complicated mess. Slick, cool and stylish as to be expected from a Danny Boyle movie but it would be nice if that could go along with a good script and characters I care about in any sort of way. So… Meh. I hate saying that about a Danny Boyle movie but, unfortunately, that’s what it is. Other than that one part…

Holy full-frontal female nudity!!!!

Boom! WTF? That suddenly came out of nowhere! I’m not a prude (seriously – look at a couple of my posts over the last couple of weeks). But Bloody hell… Was that really necessary?! And then they gave a really pathetic “reason” for having that in there. Ha! Excuses excuses. So the movie starts with a gash on the head and then… Well. Yeah. Not going there. You want to see it now, though. Don’t you. 😉

My Rating: 6/10

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UNKLE – Hold My Hand