REVIEW: Dog Days (2018)

Directed by: Ken Marino
Starring: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Finn Wolfhard

Written by Elena Morgan

Set in sunny Los Angeles, we follow the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals. When these human and canine paths start to intertwine, their lives begin changing in ways they never expected…

Dog Days is in the same vein as Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Mother’s Day. However, it doesn’t have quite the A-List cast those three films have, and instead of being set around one day, dogs are what connect all the characters and their stories. All the characters have dogs in their lives, and a lot of them find romance and friendship thanks to their furry friends. There’s Nina Dobrev’s TV host who meets a former NBA player and Vanessa Hudgens’ barista Tara who fancies the sexy vet who works across the street, while Finn Wolfhard’s pizza boy helps an elderly professor find his lost dog. There’s a lot more characters and plots than that but if I listed them that’d take up this whole review.

Contrary to what the film’s title might suggest, the focus of Dog Days is on the humans rather than their canine counterparts. The cast all give decent performances and those whose character’s stories involve a romance, generally they have good chemistry with their love interest. The characters themselves are all pretty cliché and there’s no characters that stand out, for good or bad reasons. The various character’s stories are incredibly predictable but sometimes it’s nice to watch a film that’s nice and fluffy – in more ways than one!

Dog Days is a rom-com with dogs. The romance can be sickly sweet, and the comedy is a bit hit or miss with most jokes merely raising a smile rather than a proper laugh, but all in all it is satisfyingly sentimental. I’m a soppy dog lover so naturally there were a few moments that made me tear up, and there was one moment in particular that made me cry like a baby. In amongst the romance and friendship drama, these characters all love dogs and the relationships they build with their four-legged friends does tug on the heartstrings.

Elena’s Verdict:

3

 

We’re currently running a competition to win a Blu-ray copy of the film!

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Flatliners

Year: 2017
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Ellen Page, James Norton, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons

Written by Jo Craig

The premise of quizzical Med students prepared to temporarily stop their hearts in order to obtain scientific and spiritual research from the afterlife, is a fascinating subject to explore even twenty-seven years after Joel Schumacher’s first encounter with the intriguing idea. The uncertainty of death is a relentless “big question” and a timeless topic for debate between the man of science and the man of faith that can translate into a gripping story… if executed carefully. This fall, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev is on call embarking on his endeavour with the great beyond, uniting with an alternative cast primed with adrenaline that ultimately become smothered under the weight of an unrefined rehash.

2017’s ‘Flatliners’ introduces medical student Courtney (Ellen Page) who is deeply distracted from her studies by a festering side project; an experiment to stop her heart or “flatline” in order to gain enlightenment and provide documentation of how our brains respond after death. After recruiting a team of four colleagues who gradually partake in her growing obsession, Courtney soon realises that tempting death comes with a price that alters the lives of all who tamper with it.

Schumacher’s original nineties production became somewhat of a cult success in the later years of its existence, combining eighties stars Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon with rising star Julia Roberts in a thought-provoking plot for the start of an action-packed decade that eventually succeeded in its obscurity, much like ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. On the grounds that cult treasures should remain untouched, the news of a redo was met with catatonic dismay from the general public, as zero interest was shown towards another steroid-induced horror with overactive big kids and their inflated ego’s looking to get their jollies from breaking the rules while using the phrase “hashtag flatline”. While hashtag’s thankfully remained silent, the outcome of Oplev’s modernisation was far from a trending phenomenon.

Breaking down what initially and conclusively was a disjointed cast, indie-comedy favourite Ellen Page spends a majority of ‘Flatliners’ holding the trembling hands of her supporting cast, while by no means creating a solid performance herself. Page has been under fire for accepting a role out with her usual genre, suspecting the part of lead flatliner as nothing more than a bonus pay check. ‘Grantchester’ alum James Norton and ‘The Vampire Diaries’ sweetheart Nina Dobrev appear unsettled in their roles as hot-shot Jamie and headstrong Margo, showing uncertainty against the material they’ve been given to recreate. ‘Rogue One’’s Diego Luna provides some grounding acting opposing newcomer Kiersey Clemons who has been named “a star on the rise” that regrettably failed to shine during any point of the production. This perplexing party of five failed to push the experience or summon the compatibility to make their rebellious bond believable, jilting Page to grind the plot forward while Luna remained shackled by a smaller role.

‘Flatliners’ grasps the main concept of its predecessor, but loses all momentum in deciding where its priorities lie and what genre provides the best platform to export those morals. In 1990 we were watching a classic sci-fi horror designed to last the test of time, however our present day rendition delivers a puzzling concoction of teen drama with cheap psych thriller in a lab of glossy sci-fi tainted with hand-me-down horror; a smorgasbord of careless niche crowd-pleasing. By the third act, we as an audience are feeling alienated after a shock conclusion to the second act, winding down with a wild surge towards time of death being called and body bag filled with abolished investment.  

With only the minor works of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Dead Man Down’ under his belt, Oplev struggles to deliver the gravitas or originality to make this remake worthy of being reborn, igniting a small injection of tactful imagery and ideas that loses its novelty rather quickly. A middling script penned by ‘Source Code’’s Ben Ripley and aided by original screenwriter, Peter Filardi hindered the films progress from fully exploring the girth of such a morbid practice and the impulse that pushes each character to engage our primal need to find answers. Key scenes involving the students “flatlining” episodes could have been the window to explore the distinctive psyche of each individual, building a robust connection with our protagonists instead of being teased with an informal introduction and a limp handshake.

All in all, ‘Flatliners’ was one ceaseless beep with no thrill and zero depth, doing its cliché rounds while the audience delved further and further into a vegetative state, only showing signs of life when Ellen Page cracked a smile or when the CPR got a bit hairy. While many predict this to be the bomb of the October box office, fans of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ will probably enjoy a Sunday evening tickle, while fans of Schumacher’s midnight movie will be eager to pronounce this nineties itch dead on arrival.

An unofficial warning from JUMPCUT: Epinephrine should be administered before viewing.

Jo’s Rating: 4 out of 10

Ellen Page And Diego Luna Star In Flatliners Remake – First Trailer And Poster Have Arrived!

“Five medical students, hoping to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring and dangerous experiment. By stopping their hearts for short periods of time, each triggers a near-death experience. As the investigation becomes more and more perilous, they are forced to confront the sins of their pasts, as well as contend with the paranormal consequences of trespassing to the other side.”

Now I’m going to hold my hands up right away and admit I haven’t seen the original 1990 ‘Flatliners’, which starred Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts and William Baldwin, so I watched this trailer without being able to compare against it. Having confessed on Twitter to this, the numerous replies I had telling me to watch it has swayed me to give it a shot.

The trailer gives us a good idea of who we’ll be spending most of our time with in the film, and towards the end of the trailer we get a real feel for what kind of tone to expect for the film as the repercussions of the gangs experiments start to to come to light.

This remake sports a strong cast, featuring the likes of Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, and Kiefer Sutherland is even listed to make an appearance! 

‘Flatliners’ hits UK cinemas 29th September!