The Human Race (2014)

Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-fi

Director: Paul Hough

Writers: Paul Hough

Starring: Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Eddie McGee, Trista Robinson

Rating: ★½

The Human Race has just entered UK Cinemas and this is something very much to my surprise; after viewing this low-budget mess of a film not so long ago I was very unimpressed and somewhat annoyed at Paul Hough’s creation. A fun and interesting concept is tangled within a very unorganised and unstructured plot, coming across very unentertaining and confusing, whilst performances and direction are again something that isn’t creditable.

The story centres on a group of 80 people, they find themselves standing on an unconventional race track but clueless to how they arrived. They have been plucked out of normal life and routine and now find themselves with those from all walks of life, young and old, homeless and upper-class, athletic and disabled. A voice in their heads speaks, a voice heard by each individual within their own language, it delivers simple clear rules and instructions “If you are lapped twice, you die. If you step off the path, you die. If you touch the grass, you will die. Race… or die.” Panic, terror and humour sets in but as a member falls onto the grass their head explodes ruling out any doubts, it seems that they all have to race till death and there will be only one victor.

The concept itself is something that is very strong and even reading that brief summary the film sounds inviting and action-packed but how the story is approached ruins all creditability. Our first main character in whom we follow for the opening scenes is wiped out, killed and exploded within the first seconds of the race, from then onwards we follow and recap the lives of a few more competitors and a final set of racers seem to emerge. At the forefront are two friends, Justin and Eddie (Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Eddie McGee) one is a likable children’s worker, the other an ex-veteran, alongside them are a deaf French pair who had previously been jogging before being transported to this undisclosed location. However as the voice counts down as another competitor dies our characters stories and plot lines seem to vanish, leading up to an absolute ridiculous ending which is unexplainable, wasteful and annoying to watch due to its confirmation to the fact you’ve wasted over an hour watching this film.

The acting is at times shocking, it comes across very unnatural and robotic somewhat dated too, it really doesn’t shout out 2014. In some respects the criticisms can be swayed to the script and poor writing, something that obviously didn’t give the actors and actresses much to work with. The deaf pair are completely annoying, their previous recap story is believable someone heartfelt however within the race what unfolds is truly horrible with even an unnecessary and slightly weird necrophilia rape scene taking up the screen. To accompany the overall concept on the list of positives the effects weren’t amazing but when heads start exploding in numbers it looked fun and provided some rare (very rare) entertainment.

This although a review of The Human Race is also a warning, I was annoyed I watched and experienced this master-class in being a terrible film but if I had paid to see this in the cinema I would simply… step on the grass. A fun concept and some equally entertaining head explosions and effects don’t unfortunately for Peter Hough balance out a really poorly developed film, one which is neither enjoyable nor easily watchable.

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Delivery Man (2013)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Ken Scott

Writers: Ken Scott, Martin Petit

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders, Chris Pratt

Rating: ★★★½

Delivery Man finds itself with tough competition this January as many “Oscar-tipped” releases take all the headlines however this enjoyable comedy has its own shining elements that shouldn’t be overlooked. Starring Vince Vaughan it follows a funny inventive storyline that evolves into an even funnier and heartfelt comedy that’s easily watchable, fun and entertaining. Delivery Man isn’t anything special but it has enough gags and laughs to make it well worthwhile.

Vince Vaughn is David Wozniak a less than average man who works as a delivery driver at his family’s business the Brooklyn based Wozniak Meat Store. Irresponsible, unreliable and lazy David is wasting away his life and finds himself in over his head with debt and clutching at straws in his struggling relationship with “girlfriend” Emma (Cobie Smulders). However when he comes home to a surprising visitor his life gets turn upside down after being given unimaginable news that he is the biological father to 533 children. David might not be the best at delivering meat or even life itself but as he soon finds out he was very good at delivering quality sperm. As a young man David earned money as a sperm donor and a mix up at the clinic meant that his deposits fathered all 533 children that year, 20 years later 143 children have filed a court-case demanding the true identity of their father to be revealed.

David soon decides that he wants to turn his life around and be there for each and every one of his children. Given a file containing all 143 profiles he randomly one by one starts making up for a lot of last time and acts as their guardian angel. Not telling them he’s their father and the famous “Starbuck” donor he manages to bond special relationships. However as his debt crisis worsens and his relationship is put under more pressure David soon finds himself facing a number of dilemmas that could affect everything.

Delivery Man certainly has an eye-catching and entertaining storyline which meets expectation.  The plot throughout stays Interesting due to a number of twists and turns as David is faced with problem after problem. However the highlight of this comedy is the high maintenance of humour throughout with jokes and gags almost being constant. What is also great and most refreshing is how Delivery Man pauses to become more serious and heartfelt at times providing a great balance between the two. The main catalysts behind the laughs are David himself and his best friend/lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) who together combines to make great comedy from physical to scripted.  Delivery Man also has a lot of heart to balance out that humour, mainly achieved by a well-written script. The relationships formed between David and his kids alongside the different characters and personalities met provide a wide range of emotions from being completely hilarious to quite heart-warming.

Not so many years ago Ken Scott and Martin Petit teamed up to make Starbuck a critic’s choice “hit” which became a popular film but only for a limited audience. Ken Scott’s Delivery Man is his solo effort of an American remake with the hope that it becomes a well-known name. I have to admit I was slightly disappointed to discover this wasn’t a totally original story but knowing that it came from the same brains behind “Starbuck” is some consolation and his second shot should definitely be applauded. The story is great, originally hinted and rumoured to be similarly based on a real life case, however it’s unique and humorous providing great entertainment.

The real downside however to Delivery Man was the trailer and how it included the funniest scenes and gags meaning there was a lack of surprises and laugh-out-loud moments upon viewing leaving us with only a few gut-busting laughs. The combination of the great story, good acting and well written script however saves Delivery Man from falling into that group of failed comedies. Guaranteed laughs and an entertaining enjoyable watch Delivery Man shouldn’t be overlooked this January.