Thursday, 20 September 2012

Trailer Park: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

One ring, two trilogies, three dimensions (oh well, as Meatloaf sang: "two out of three ain't bad"...)

Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, returns to the franchise that both put him on the map and won him an Oscar. This time he finally turns his hand to J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel novel with The Hobbit; a film experience that fans have been waiting almost ten years for. The famous fantasy adventure, originally published in 1937, sees Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) taken on, well, An Unexpected Journey by his dear wizard friend Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a small (no pun intended) group of dwarfs. Along their journey through the mystical world of Middle-Earth the group will encounter many creatures, adversaries and challenges in their quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug - not to mention an encounter with Gollum and a certain ring that will change Bilbo's destiny forever.

Of course after the tremendous success of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy there is a lot riding on this series of films that fans have been eagerly waiting for; will it live up to the hype or disappoint? Time will tell, but from the looks of the brand new trailer (that you can watch below) it certainly looks like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will recapture the epic scale and beauty of the original trilogy. And if you're not a Lord of the Rings fan there is more than just that to look forward to with the interesting news that the film has actually been shot at 48 frames per second as opposed to the industry standard of 24 frames per second (meaning that you will see double the amount of frames/tiny-images every second, leading to a much crisper image with smoother movement); it'll be very interesting to see if this takes off or not and how people will take to this innovation, with mixed early responses linking watching it to watching live TV. Of course the obvious downside of this digital revolution is that the film has also been shot in 3D, something that I doubt will hold any benefit to the films - just like it fails to do for any other film either...

Alongside this there is also the recent news that Jackson will shoot extra footage and turn what was originally going to be two Hobbit films into three (with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug being released a year later on December 13th 2013 and The Hobbit: There and Back Again being released the following summer on July 18th 2014). As Jackson himself has reportedly requested this personally it does give me some hope, although there is always the doubt that this is purely a financial operation. Of course for fans of The Lord of the Rings - especially those crazy ones who have the money and time to buy and watch the extended editions - surely the news of more films can't be a bad thing, can it?...

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is set for release in cinemas across the UK on December 14th 2012.

Are you looking forward to The Hobbit Trilogy, or are you starting to get Bored of the Rings!? Will it be a blockbuster or lacklustre? Leave your comments below!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Review: The Watch

The original title for this film was 'Neighbourhood Watch' before it became 'The Watch' - the most appropriate title however would have been 'The Do Not Watch'...

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade star in this science-fiction comedy as the members of a very unusual neighbourhood watch group in a small American town. After forming to try and make a difference to the town the group are instantly mocked for being an utter joke, but when an alien invasion strikes the area; are the team able to finally prove their worth by defeating the alien invaders, or will their foolish antics lead to the potential end of the world!?

For a film about the possible end of the world it sure as hell did a good job of convincingly portraying that feeling, as sitting in the cinema viewing The Watch did make me feel like I and the entire world surrounding me was very slowly and painfully dying, as my will to live slowly and steadily slipped away.

There genuinely isn't very much that I can positively say about the film, so let's get the good stuff out of the way straight off. Yes there were a couple of times that I did chuckle during the film (note that I said chuckle, not laugh out loud), although most of the film's gags are examples of extreme humour (turning it up to 11 in an attempt to make something unfunny, funny) or simply not funny at all, and you can almost certainly see the best moments in any of the trailers that have been playing in front of every film for the last few months. Watch the trailer - it's free and it's short - and then go and have a nice day. Admittedly the design of the alien's was pretty good, even if they are taken from Alien, Predator and District 9 (let's think positively; an inspired by homage, not a blatant rip-off...), and the ridiculous green gooey 'semen-texture joke' blood completely let it down. Oh and there are some pretty good songs in there too, but you have to credit those artists and not the film for those. So that's three good things then... well two... maybe just one... actually, zero - even the good bits in this film are bad!

Vince Vaughn's facial expression - not too different to my own throughout The Watch

So speaking of the bad bits in this film, where do I begin? Well let's start with the cast as clearly judging by the poster that's what the studio are selling this film on (despite half of them being past their best days, one being just a small TV actor who has the potential to become something more, and the other being the only one of the four who's actually popular at the moment). Ben Stiller is completely wasted in the straight man role - the guy who has to remain serious to maintain the plot whilst the others all idiotically goof off - and as a man with great comedy potential, he is not funny. Vince Vaughn ultimately comes across annoying as a man trying to be funny, but is not. Jonah Hill (an actor nominated for an Oscar earlier this year for his brilliant performance in Moneyball) tries to be funny and popular by doing his best impression of Zach Galifianakis' character in The Hangover (and every other Galifianakis film come to think of it), and ultimately is irritatingly stupid and not funny. Richard Ayoade is the best actor in the cast, but ultimately gets put in the corner for most of the film whilst the 'real Hollywood stars' do all the work, and is therefore forced into being unmemorable and not funny. I'm not sure if I'm making my point clear enough here, but the same two words keep appearing: 'not funny.' This is a comedy that is just mind-numbingly painful and simply put: Not Funny! I wasn't a huge fan of Ted earlier this year, but this makes Ted look like a masterpiece in comparison. There were a number of uncomfortable moments throughout the film where small pauses of awkward silence filled the cinema as the actors were almost pausing for the audience to laugh - which no-one did. At all! It was almost like you could see it in each of the actors' eyes; a look of complete embarrassment and a lack of any motivation - and you know what? I guarantee that not one member of that cast is proud of this film in the slightest.

Zach Galifianakis Jonah Hill does his best at trying my patience to be funny in The Watch

There is another big problem with The Watch, and it is that it doesn't even feel like a film; instead it feels like the following. Firstly, it feels like a star vehicle to give Stiller and Vaughn some work and to try and get them into the public consciousness again, and the boost Hill and Ayoade's profiles - to which the film has completely failed. Secondly, it feels like a half complete script, which apparently it actually is (supposedly it was put on the shelf mid way through writing, and then picked up by the studio who said "this'll do!"), explaining why the film is so inherently unfunny, uninteresting and underdeveloped. Thirdly, it feels like you're watching a studio balance sheet - a film that makes you aware that the studio is just taking that well earned money out of your pocket even if it's not worth it. Now I know that most films exist to make profit, and that's not the point - when you watch most films you don't sit and think about this fact, you're usually invested in it enough that you either don't think about it or appreciate that there's actually some thought, work, care and craftsmanship going into it regardless. When watching The Watch all I could think of (except how much I was hating the experience) was 'how the hell did a film this bad get made!?' Simply put, no-one - I repeat, NO-ONE - making this film thought it was a good idea, or that it would be enjoyable or funny - it is merely a large, greedy corporate vehicle of a film designed to completely exploit a gap in the cinema calendar and its audience. The problem isn't the fact that this is what it is, the problem is when you sit there feeling like this is what it is rather than experiencing an involving, entertaining, and in this case funny emotional response to the film and its characters.

I can sympathise with the alien who's just had its brains blown out in this picture...

The Watch is - simply put - a film so horribly bad that it genuinely gave me a headache just watching it. It is a comedy that isn't funny. It is a star vehicle that won't turn its cast into bigger stars. It is a studio balance sheet that won't make much money. It is a genre film whose target audience won't even enjoy that much if at all, and anyone who has paid to watch it will feel that they are being robbed. It is a film that fails on every level, so much so that I genuinely loathed watching it. It is a dull, uninvolving, and worst of all unfunny comedy film that made me feel bored, angry and robbed of my time and money - and who in their right mind would want to go to the cinema for that? If you want a science-fiction comedy with a similar story; it may not be perfect and for any flaws that it may have, choose 2011's Attack the Block - or anything else, just please do not give your money to this poor excuse of a film that fails to do anything right.

Verdict: 1/5

The Watch (certificate 15) is now showing in cinemas across the UK.

Have you seen The Watch? Agree or disagree with my review? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

...And the Oscar goes to... - Predicting the 2013 Oscar Nominees

So the summer blockbuster season is coming to a close now, and soon we'll be seeing the wave of 'Oscar-bait' films being released as we enter awards season. Now we may be a long way away from the actual Oscars ceremony yet - with nominations due to be announced on January 15th, and the ceremony itself to be held on February 24th - and it may be too soon to accurately predict what will be nominated and what will win; but that doesn't mean I can't give it a try right!? So here's my little experiment; I've drawn up a list of nominees for next year's 85th Academy Awards that I believe are likely to be chosen based on what has been released so far this year and what is due for release in the awards season, as well as looking at the trends and controversies of past Oscar results. Of course this could all be likely to change, as some relatively unknown film could come out of no-where at the last minute and take all the big awards (and if the last two years' big winners The Artist and The King's Speech are anything to go by, this could very well happen); however if I'm even relatively close to getting this right, then that will say a hell of a lot more about the predictability and politics of the Academy and could provide an interesting debate next February...

So who will be 2013's big winner then!? Well if my predictions are accurate next year's awards ceremony will be a two horse race (similar to this year's with Scorsese's Hugo and Hazanavicius' The Artist) between Christopher Nolan's epic BatFinale The Dark Knight Rises and the Wachowski brothers' (The Matrix) upcoming film Cloud Atlas. Now some of you may be thinking "hang on, those are two big budget Hollywood films - doesn't the Academy only like small budget art-house stuff?" Well no actually, the Academy has been known to nominate and praise a lot of big budget Hollywood films (mega-budget Avatar was nominated for best picture in 2010), and in fact a lot of them have actually won the Best Picture award (including Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King). Besides that, what both of these films have in common is that they both to some extent actually bridge this divide by being big budget Hollywood art house films - both sporting an Oscar worthy cast of actors who have won in the past. Just from watching its trailer you can see how that logic applies to Cloud Atlas, which with its large and ambitious scale focuses on a story of humanity and life - and judging by some early reviews that have surfaced this morning after last night's première, it looks like it's got the potential to be a big hit (although one that will potentially divide a lot of audiences), and it certainly will be when the Academy give it their seal of approval.

As for The Dark Knight Rises, not only is this a brilliant piece of filmmaking that well and truly deserves the recognition, I also think that there is more to it than that - enter the Oscar politics! For this case I'm going to bring in two examples; The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and The Departed. Both of these films won the best picture for two very different reasons, and in each case arguably for not being the best film of the year! It is widely believed that Return of the King did so well at the Oscars as recognition for the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy - and I don't think that I need to point out how this is a similar scenario to Christopher Nolan's brilliant Dark Knight Trilogy do I!? As for The Departed, most people will agree that the Oscar was awarded to this as recognition for Martin Scorsese's entire career after not having won any Oscars for any of his previous films - which the majority of people will agree are better and more original than English language re-make The Departed. Now there was a small bit of controversy back in 2011 when Christopher Nolan was not nominated for the Directing category for his brilliant film Inception - and that there is a strong chance that the Academy will see this as 'Nolan's turn'. If you take all of these factors into account, I think that The Dark Knight Rises does stand a pretty good chance of doing very well at the Oscars next February and possibly taking the big prize.

As for the other big contenders, I think the main ones in the running for a lot of categories but mainly Best Picture will be the following: Tarantino's Django Unchained, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (the dark horse that could be this years The King's Speech/The Artist if Harvey Weinstein has his way as he so often does), Tom Hooper's Les Misérables (which almost certainly won't win Best Picture or Direction after Director Tom Hooper won just two years ago for The King's Speech), Spielberg's Lincoln (not to be confused with the one about his fighting vampires...), and possibly Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Ben Affleck's Argo, and the Coen Bros. Gambit - and it is likely that other films will join this list over the next few months. Some of these are very likely to scoop some awards in a couple of categories, and some of them are very likely to win nothing at all - I do still feel that the night will belong to Cloud Atlas or The Dark Knight Rises or both though - of course, only time will tell...

So without further ado - exclusively on Beyond Infinity Film a whole 4 months and 6 days before the academy will announce it themselves - the nominee's for the 85th Academy Awards:

(Nominees in bold represent who I predict will stand a good chance of winning.) 

Best Picture:
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Django Unchained; The Master; Les Misérables; Lincoln; Life of Pi; Argo, Gambit. (Possibly more...)

Actor In a Leading Role:
Tom Hanks - Cloud Atlas; Joaquin Phoenix - The Master; Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln; Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables; Jamie Foxx - Django Unchained. (Possible nominee: Christian Bale - The Dark Knight Rises).

Actress In a Leading Role:
Halle Berry - Cloud Atlas; Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables; Keira Knightley - Anna Karenina; other two nominees to be confirmed.

Actor In a Supporting Role:
Michael Caine - The Dark Knight Rises (a small role that brought an extraordinary emotional weight to the film); Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master; Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained; either Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman - The Dark Knight Rises or two actors from Cloud Atlas (or one from each). 

Actress In a Supporting Role:
Anne Hathaway - The Dark Knight Rises (if not nominated for Leading Actress - either category the nomination would be for both roles); Amy Adams - The Master; other three nominees to be confirmed.

Animated Feature Film:

Brave; The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (titled in America: The Pirates! Band of Misfits); Wreck-It Ralph; Frankenweenie; other nominee to be confirmed.

Wally Pfister - The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Django Unchained; Les Misérables; Lincoln. 

Art Direction:
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Django Unchained; Les Misérables; Life of Pi. 

Costume Design:
Cloud Atlas; Lincoln; Les Misérables; Django Unchained; The Dark Knight Rises.

Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight Rises; Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master; Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski - Cloud Atlas; Tom Hooper - Les Misérables; Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained; Steven Spielberg - Lincoln. Note: only five directors will be nominated in this category - I can't decide which one of these won't though!

Documentary Feature:
Into the Abyss: a Tale of Death, a Tale of Life; The Imposter; other three nominees to be confirmed. 

Documentary Short:
To be confirmed.

Film Editing:
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Django Unchained; Les Misérables; Lincoln.

Foreign Language Film:
To be confirmed.

Lincoln; Les Misérables; Cloud Atlas. 

Music (Original Score):
The Dark Knight Rises; Les Misérables; Cloud Atlas; Lincoln; Django Unchained. Note: I'm not entirely sure if The Dark Knight Rises or Les Misérables are allowed to be nominated here if their score are not entirely original (based on music from the previous films and the stage show respectively).

Music (Original Song):
Les Misérables (one song has been written for the film); other four nominees to be confirmed (the Academy has announced that this will be the first year that five songs will be nominated for the award, after last year only two being nominated).

Short Film (Animated):
To be confirmed.

Short Film (Live Action):
To be confirmed.

Sound Editing:
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Les Misérables; Avengers Assemble (titled in America: The Avengers); Berberian Sound Studio.

Sound Mixing:
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Les Misérables; Avengers Assemble (titled in America: The Avengers); Berberian Sound Studio. 

Visual Effects: 
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Skyfall; Avengers Assemble (titled in America: The Avengers); Berberian Sound Studio. 

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):
The Dark Knight Rises; Cloud Atlas; Django Unchained; Les Misérables; Life of Pi. 

Writing (Original Screenplay):
Lincoln; The Master; other three nominees to be confirmed. 

So there you have it folks! Of course it's still very early days, and all of this could change completely within the space of a week or so, but let's just wait and see how this little experiment pans out. Of course it says a lot about how predictable the Academy is if these predictions are even remotely accurate, especially considering that most of these films haven't even been released yet! It'll certainly be interesting when the nominees are announced on January 15th - and it'll be even more interesting when the BAFTA nominees are released too as forerunner Cloud Atlas isn't released in the UK until March, making it inapplicable for any nominations...

So what do you think of my prediction? Wrong or Right? Who do you think will win on the night? Have I missed anything off, or is it just too soon to make a prediction like this? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Review: The Bourne Legacy

How far could this possibly go? Just how many Legacy's can we get? "Next Summer experience 'The Bourne Legacy Legacy'!?..."*

As the events surrounding Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) transpire chaotically around him (in the original three films), the US government sectors running other projects operating alongside Operation Treadstone must take action to cover their own backs in case Bourne's actions and the government's secrets hit the media and blow up in a big way. Retired Col. Eric Byer, USAF (Edward Norton) - the man in charge of Operation Outcome - is forced by Bourne's actions into closing down their own superhuman programme by killing off all of their agents. However one agent by the name of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) manages to avoid death, and is now on the run from the forces out to kill him whilst trying to obtain the drugs that he needs to maintain his superhuman abilities...

Imagine going into your local Marks & Spencer shop and buying a sandwich from their food section (stay with me, there is a point!). You pick up one of their sandwiches in that fancy looking packaging that promises a better quality meal. You purchase it, open it up and take a bite. But what's this, the sandwich that was packaged with that high quality M&S brand in fact just tastes like a low quality Tesco value sandwich instead!? It's not necessarily a bad sandwich, and if you were expecting it you might have even enjoyed it, it's just that you were anticipating that well made M&S sandwich instead! I know, I know; not the most imaginative metaphor in the world, and probably one that you could see coming from a mile off, but this sandwich was The Bourne Legacy: a film packaged in the brand of a high quality blockbuster film franchise, but ultimately delivers a fairly average spy action thriller instead of what you were hoping for, albeit one that might have been more enjoyable if you were expecting just that... (No sandwiches were harmed in the making of this metaphor. They just cringed a little when reading this. Just like you and everyone else.)

Hands up, who wants to play the next Jason Bourne?

Going into The Bourne Legacy there is one thing that is absolutely vital that you need to take in with you and to be aware of: despite its title, this is not a Bourne film. Whilst the title is technically accurate as the events of this film are the legacy of Jason Bourne's actions in the original three films, Bourne himself does not appear in the film other than in the occasional photograph or in the countless references. Apart from this and the occasional familiar face, there is nothing substantial enough to make this a Bourne film. It'd be the equivalent of a Harry Potter film with no Harry in it, or an Indiana Jones film with Shia Labeouf instead of Harrison Ford (it's best to not even think about that one!), but to still have their character names in the titles. It is essentially misleading, and ultimately what lets the film down.

The real problem - aside from it not being an actual Bourne film - is that even if you accept it as the spin-off that it actually is, the film is rather ironically unable to actually live up to The Bourne Legacy! When the first three Bourne's were released, they were instantly heralded for being game-changers for the spy genre, with their ultra-realistic approach, shaky camera shots and intelligent plots based around US government corruption and a man of incredible abilities; so much so that they actually caused the iconic Bond series to reboot into a grittier form with Casino Royale. By including 'Bourne' in the title we are merely reminded of just how good these films were, and by how this film is clearly not as good. In fact the film feels very much like a film trying to be a Bourne film as opposed to actually being one! With a slow start that results in the film taking around an hour to fully get going, and a lot of dialogue heavy exposition, The Bourne Legacy lacks the slickness and the appeal that made the other films so good. As an average spy thriller this could actually have been pretty good film, however that's the problem; watching a film with the Bourne name in the title you naturally expect a lot more.

Action man Jeremy Renner in the role he was 'Bourne' to play...

Having said all of that the film is still not all that bad. Despite the slow start and heavy dialogue, the film does boast some impressive action set pieces when it really gets into the swing of things. These scenes provide much excitement and are not far from those of the originals; and with Edward Norton providing the great screen presence that he always has, Jeremy Renner doing a good enough job as the Bourne figure (albeit not quite one that fully fills Damon's shoes), and Rachel Weisz playing the female accomplice Dr. Marta Shearing, the well cast foray of acting talent is also just as equally enjoyable to watch. I do also like how the film does tie into the previous Bourne films, with the events of Legacy happening alongside those of The Bourne Ultimatum, providing an interesting and clever storyline that deals with the idea of exploring the consequences of Ultimatum's events. It's just unfortunate that the film as a whole narrowly falls short of the mark.

When all was done and the film came to a close, Moby's fantastic song 'Extreme Ways' that iconically closes all of the Bourne films started to play through the cinema. Yet the feeling of having seen a Bourne film didn't resonate with it, instead it just acted as unfortunate reminder of just how good the others were, and by comparison how much The Bourne Legacy lives within the franchise's overpowering shadow. With its new cast and director, this Bourne-free Bourne film misses what made the other films so special. That's not to say it's a completely bad film; as an average spy action thriller it's a pretty good one, but when you go to see a film with 'Bourne' in the title you expect a great film rather than an okay one. I don't know exactly what this film's Legacy will be; it's clear that this will lead to more sequels with this film almost acting as a bridge between two franchises, but it's difficult to understand just how many more Bourne-less Bourne films can be made...

(* Although 'The Bourne Legacy Legacy' was actually the very long pee that I had after the very long film!)

Verdict: 3/5

The Bourne Legacy (certificate 12A) is now showing in cinemas across the UK.

Have you seen The Bourne Legacy? Agree or disagree with my review? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Review: Killer Joe

'Sick', or 'Sick'?

Killer Joe - the new black comedy by legendary filmmaker William Friedkin (who is still making films at the ripe age of 77!) - revolves around a dysfunctional lower class American trailer park family as they struggle through a series of dark events that soon spin dangerously and morally out of control. When drug dealer Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) ends up out of his depth in debt and with those who are owed the money after him, he concocts a plan with his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) to get his mother murdered so that they can claim the insurance money on her life. To carry out the job, Chris calls upon Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a policeman who also moonlights as a hit-man. However when Joe requests that Chris' younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple) acts as his 'retainer' for the money (an object that Joe owns until the money is given to him), events unfold and things all start to go horribly wrong...

Killer Joe is a film that is at times very difficult to watch, and unfortunately for me it's even more difficult to review. My overall opinion on the film is genuinely split and has been for the last week since seeing it, and I still genuinely don't know which side of the fence to be on. Part of me sees it as a very effective piece of filmmaking, the other part sees an incredibly perverted and morally questionable piece of filmmaking; and I don't quite know which one Killer Joe is.

If looks could kill- oh, wait...

I'll be blunt (as is much of the film!); I found Killer Joe to be an intensely perverted piece of filmmaking, on almost all levels. The film and its story lust over women, the human body, violence, crime and social class' in a way that I found incredibly uncomfortable to watch. The film features a lot of very adult visual content (in the form of violence and sexual content) even if only within a few scenes. One particular scene - which has become quite infamously known as 'the chicken scene' amongst those who know about the film - is a clear example of this, and simultaneously one of the most repugnant things that I have ever had to sit through!

However it is difficult to call this is an entirely bad thing as it is a film that should ultimately shock and horrify its audiences. To Friedkin's merit he has shot and edited the film in a very impressive style that does cause every scene to feel uneasy as an extension of the film's story and characters. The camera itself lingers over female bodies in graphic detail and the violence does not hold back, and the occasional moments of discontinuity editing help to disorientated the audience further. This is a film where even the simplest and least difficult of scenes evoke a distinct feeling of discomfort when watching. It is however difficult to establish whether this is an effective piece of filmmaking, or an unwelcome perverted vision from Friedkin.

'Dysfunctional family' would be an understatement...

Perhaps the film raises many more moral questions than just that though - perhaps it's equally to do with what the audience takes away from it. Whilst watching the film we absorb the director's vision, but simultaneously we put just as much of ourselves into the film as we take away from it. Killer Joe's depiction of society is questionable to say the least, with the film seemingly looking down upon the suffering and poor trailer park family; however we also do the same thing as a member of the audience, the question is how much are we putting in and how much are we being forced into that view? The director leads what we see, but ultimately it is us who makes the final conclusion. So is it fair to criticise the film's morally questionable themes and direction, or is Friedkin merely laying out the pathway for us to discuss and deliberate our own interpretations and opinions?

Tying into this, the film has been labelled in a lot of sources as a black comedy, although there isn't an awful lot to laugh at from that respect. Having said that there were a few laughs heardfrom other people in the screening that I was in, mainly at the stereotypical depictions of the less intelligent social classes that the film presents. I'd be lying if I said I didn't chuckle a few times myself, arguably a few of these were more along the lines of awkward laughter that come as a result of the film's uncomfortable content though. Yet if some people are watching this as a form of comedy, does that not reflect the viewer more than the director? I guess it depends on how you respond to it, but I certainly wouldn't label the film as a comedy by any stretch, even if it does contain a few chuckles; most films do! However if Friedkin has made this film to be seen as a black comedy, I think that ties back into the moral questioning of the film's perverse view upon society.

Temple and McConaughey - not your average double act...

The question remains to be answered though: is Killer Joe a skilful piece of filmmaking from William Friedkin, or a morally questionable piece of perverted cinema? Does the film's uncomforting and difficult direction and themes come as a result of an intentional crime horror, or does the black comedy genre title that it's received instead reflect what is perhaps a much more disturbing piece of film from the minds of the film's writers and director? It's still hard to say, I'm slightly more inclined towards saying that it is a good piece of film, but at the end of the day it is still quite difficult to say that I enjoyed watching such a uncomfortable and questionably corrupt film on any level, or if I could wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. All of that aside, the film's cast certainly deserves a nod of the hat for some exceptional performances, McConaughey and Temple in particular.

With all films you need to see them yourself to make up your own opinion - you can never take the opinion of a critic as fact (kinda shooting myself in the foot here aren't I!?) - but for Killer Joe more than any film, this is one that you will have to make your own mind up about. Bear in mind this is not a film for the faint of heart with its difficult visual depictions of violence and its perverted nature, Killer Joe is the film equivalent of Marmite: you'll either love it or you'll hate it!

Verdict: 3/5

Killer Joe (certificate 18) is now showing in cinemas across the UK.

Have you seen Killer Joe? Agree or disagree with my review? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!