God awful

Sometimes, this job… I tell ya…


Title: The Shack
Cert: 12A

WHEN confronted by angry Christian rednecks after a blasphemous stand-up set, the great Bill Hicks famously shrugged: “Then forgive me.”

What a shame Hicks isn’t around to lambaste this cringefully self-righteous spiritual drama whose only achievement may ultimately be to put the noses of some US evangelical types out of joint.

Based on William P Young’s 2008 self-publishing hit, it finds Sam Worthington (a sort of nice-price Hugh Jackman) playing Mack. Mack is in a depressive, god-hating stupor after the murder of his youngest daughter during a camping holiday. A mysterious note beckons him to revisit the woodland shack where her body was found. There, he finds an oven-mitted God (Octavia Spencer) baking, a hipster Jesus (Aviv Alush) doing woodwork and the Holy Ghost of winsome gardening know-how (Japanese star Sumire).

How long will Mack resist the three-way charm offensive and trite platitudes of the cheery Trinity? When will the next plot hole open? Will Worthington’s shaky US accent collapse entirely? Which way is the exit?



First published in the Sunday Independent


Waiting for Gadot

A Good Superhero Film (rather than “a good superhero film compared it to the other tosh DC/Warners have put out”). Here’s the Sunday Indo review…


Wonder Woman
Cert: 12A

THE critical mauling of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice somehow penetrated the din of its huge box-office take, as if many went along to witness how bad DC Comics’ attempts to build its own Marvel-style cinematic universe could actually be.

A scant mercy however was Israeli actress/model Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Ever since, the promise of the whip-wielding icon getting her own outing seemed far more interesting than muscle-bound mummy’s boys wearing bat ears or hair pomade. Wonder Woman, the archetypal superheroine, had the guts, power and beauty of a demigoddess, precisely what creator and feminist psychologist William Moulton Marston intended back in the early 1940s. Lynda Carter fitted the bill for the 1970s TV show. Ever since, those knee-high boots have been waiting for Gadot.

It’s a relief to find her so at home as Amazonia princess Diana, being trained in battle by auntie Robin Wright. Although their matriarchal¬† paradise is cloaked from the world, a plane carrying a US spy (Chris Pine) crashes one day. After hauling him ashore, Diana beholds the handsome Pine visage adorning the first man she’s ever laid eyes on. He, in turn, must contend with coming to on a sandy cove to find Gal Gadot smiling back at him. Talk of WWI and his mission to foil a chemical weapon attack by Danny Huston’s German general twig Diana’s thirst for justice, and off they go.

Why this succeeds: Top action choreography, a fine cast (bolstered by David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner and a hilarious Lucy Davis) and a side order of fish-out-of-water camp that director Patty Jenkins serves next to wartime derring-do and Diana’s gritty grace.

Batman and Superman need to shape up.


First published in the Sunday Independent