Monday, 31 December 2012

Ten Worst Films Of 2012

I don’t necessarily enjoy highlighting the bad stuff. I do like to give every film a chance, in spite of possible preconceptions. As such, I try to see as much as possible of what’s released and as a consequence I inevitably end up watching films that aren’t very good.

These rank as the worst films I saw in 2012 through either paucity of ambition, cynical laziness or just plain misjudgement of themes and execution. The list includes feature films that received a UK general release between January 1st and December 31st 2012, on any format, but doesn’t include festival-only showings.

It also includes the 11-20 spots, for context:

20. Where Do We Go Now? (dir: Nadine Labaki)
19. What To Expect When You’re Expecting (dir: Kirk Jones)
18. Offender (dir: Ron Scalpello)
17. Jack And Jill (dir: Dennis Dugan)
16. Lovely Molly (dir: Eduardo Sánchez)
15. To Rome With Love (dir: Woody Allen)
14. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (dirs: Kyle Balda, Chris Renaud)
13. The Wedding Video (dir: Nigel Cole)
12. 360 (dir: Fernando Meirelles)
11. The Devil Inside (dir: William Brent Bell)

10. W.E. (dir: Madonna)

There’s arguably the scope for one interesting story here. There’s certainly not room for the offensive modern-day tale weaved throughout this.

9. Piranha 3DD (dir: John Gulager)

It’s not meant to be serious but that doesn’t mean it needs to be this bad. Woefully unfunny and over-reliant on a misfiring star cameo. Makes the first installment look like Jaws.

8. Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! (dir: Debbie Isitt)

Cynical, with a suffocating improvvy script and reliance on thinking children 'acting naturally' is grounds enough to neglect just how chronic every element of it is.

7. A Few Best Men (dir: Stephan Elliott)

Filled with the very worst elements of farce and uniformly grim performances from a cast playing a coterie of laddish pricks and female characters who are either insipid or punchlines.

6. This Means War (dir: McG)

A charmless, sloppily edited mess that takes a weak joke and stretches it to breaking point, further proving action and romcoms rarely mix. It's a love story where all parties concerned are thoroughly unlikeable and completely dishonest with each other throughout.

5. Project X (dir: Nima Nourizadeh)

Absolutely deplorable, mindless found footage comedy which takes a scene which might pad out a flabby midsection of another teen comedy and stretches it to feature length – with added casual homophobia, disablism and misogyny.

4. Love Bite (dir: Andy De Emmony)

An abysmal, cynical stab at marrying a comedy-horror model with a queasily obvious attempt to ape the success of The Inbetweeners. Fails on all counts, making you look back on the golden era of Horne and Corden's Lesbian Vampire Killers with a warm glow of fond nostalgia.

3. Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy (dir: Rob Heydon)

An abominable druggy drama with an awful script and even worse performances. The riffing on Trainspotting is so broad that at times it borders on parody - only minus any of the wit, charm or flair of its progenitor. The Scottish accents on display make Mike Myers sound born-and-bred.

2. Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (dirs: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim)

It attempts to break down the mystery of comedy and deconstruct the film through dry examinations of jokes and parodies of movie tropes but they fall completely flat at every turn. Not clever enough to succeed as a satire or outrageous enough to succeed in the gross out stakes, it is one thing to parody awful movies but that doesn’t make it exempt from being an awful movie itself.

1. Keith Lemon: The Film (dir: Paul Angunawela)

An ITV2 vision of cinema.

Top Ten Films Of 2012

This list represents the best new films I saw throughout the year and includes feature films that received a UK general release between January 1st and December 31st 2012, on any format, but doesn’t include festival-only showings.

It also includes the 11-20 spots, for context:

20. The Hunter (dir: Daniel Nettheim)
19. Skyfall (dir: Sam Mendes)
18. War Horse (dir: Steven Spielberg)
17. Life Of Pi (dir: Ang Lee)
16. Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (dir: Matthew Akers)
15. Moonrise Kingdom (dir: Wes Anderson)
14. A Royal Affair (dir: Nikolaj Arcel)
13. Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir: Sean Durkin)
12. Jeff, Who Lives At Home (dirs: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass)
11. 21 Jump Street (dirs: Phil Lord, Chris Miller)

The Dark Knight Rises (dir: Christopher Nolan)

Christopher Nolan rounds off one of the greatest blockbuster trilogies of our time with a film that’s grander in scope than either of the previous entries. It’s a rousing finale that provides resolution to every aspect of the series with epic finality. Tom Hardy’s Bane belies his lesser status in the canon of Batman villains with unexpected eloquence and baffling vocal gymnastics while Anne Hathaway remodels Catwoman as a technologically advanced noir femme fatale. Christian Bale imbues the eight-years-older Bruce Wayne with a sense of emotional and physical damage that’s rarely seen in this genre. More often than not it’s when Wayne is onscreen, rather than Batman, that the most profound moments play out. It’s not entirely cohesive but the spirit is there and Nolan’s anchoring of potentially silly aspects in a heightened form of reality is satisfyingly handled.

The Imposter (dir: Bart Layton)

This documentary with the qualities of a whodunnit skilfully weaves a tale of true-life intrigue with genuine cinematic flair. It tells the most fantastically preposterous story of identity theft - if only it weren’t for the fact it all actually happened. As revelation is heaped upon revelation it twists and turns, leaving your heart pounding and breathing shallow. Frédéric Bourdin’s recounting of events makes for chillingly compelling viewing and forms an equally fascinating psychological study that’s never overplayed in the narrative. There’s artistry in the way the film has been assembled with such precision in its balance of reconstructions, talking heads and archive footage. Director Bart Layton offers the opportunity to question the sources and accuracy of the words and story as they are presented on screen and ultimately leaves you to form your own conclusions.

Dredd (dir: Pete Travis)

Dredd’s strongest suit comes as a result of its limitations. With a low budget, in relative terms, for a comic book movie it takes an approach which doesn’t see it make a hash of doing grand scale on-the-cheap, but instead limits the action to one superbly realised location. That allows the film to focus on creating richer characters with a truer sense of purpose. It features not only two genre-defying, well rounded female characters in rookie Judge Anderson and the villain, Ma-Ma, but also allows for some nuance in the Judge Dredd character himself. Mega-City One is given a grounded aesthetic and a visually revolutionary use of slow motion imagery which has rarely looked as good, or made as much sense, as it does here. With a lean running time that fits its story perfectly it is brutal, confident and streamlined.

About Elly... (dir: Asghar Farhadi)

What begins relatively sedately, following a group of Iranian friends visiting a remote villa, gradually shifts to something more uneasy as the eponymous Elly disappears. Simmering tensions and questions of honour are brought to the surface. It never comes to a head in the way that might be expected but the power of the film comes from the sense of dread created through characterisation alone. As blame is apportioned and human frailty is exposed, the ratcheting tension is palpable. The dynamics between the different couples which make up the party are enthralling. It has more to say about domestic life in Iran than it does about the missing person and so while not a thriller in a traditional sense, it has enough textured elements to make it thrilling. Emotionally mature and occasionally agonising, it's a work of quiet tragedy that rarely sets a foot wrong.

Magic Mike (dir: Steven Soderbergh)

Among the chiselled abs, glistening buns and thrusting phalluses there's a fantastic central performance from Channing Tatum that manages to convey the internal struggle of reconciling his career as a stripper against his artistic ambition. The sense of a look behind the scenes at an interesting industry works well. In that respect it is most reminiscent of The Wrestler and the backroom scenes of oiled-up badinage are a lot of fun. It manages to be both moving and funny when required and individual performances have a naturalism that includes fluffed lines and awkward silences. Alongside Tatum’s central role, Matthew McConaughey is particularly impressive as the club frontman. There's a real sense of location both interior and exterior and it’s a sodium yellow joy to look at, with some fascinatingly structured shots. The choreography is great and, regardless of your views on male nudity, captivatingly handled. It’s an excellent character piece from Steven Soderbergh that sits alongside, and completely outclasses, his thematically similar The Girlfriend Experience.

Barbara (dir: Christian Petzold)

Set in East Germany in 1980, it beguiles as it unravels with emotion conveyed through unspoken interactions rather than overtly dramatic exchanges. Intrigue and untold stories lie at the heart of this tale and it mesmerises and captivates with every frame. Barbara is a character at odds with her surroundings; a flash of sultry glamour among the drab surroundings of the rural GDR, where she’s been forcefully relocated. The entire atmosphere of the film, from windswept landscape to costume, is so precisely handled that every element feels like a piece of Barbara’s psyche, adding to her outsider status. While dealing with a political situation it’s not a political film as much as it is a human story about an individual and her own inner turmoil. At its heart it’s a relationship drama where the air is thick with mistrust. Nina Hoss gives a central performance which is a wonder of silent intensity culminating in a quietly devastating final scene.

The Kid With A Bike (dirs: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne)

Featuring one of the finest ever performances by a child actor, the Dardennes paint a picture of the underclass of Belgian society with an air of grim authenticity and eminent humanity. They place the perspective of the film with that of the kid of the title, Cyril (Thomas Doret), who is a mess of emotions, not least of which is stoicism in the face of abandonment by his father. Cécile de France gives an equally impressive performance as the hairdresser who takes him under her wing at the expense of her own comfort and struggles to adapt to his problematic behaviour. It never quite plays out in expected ways and doesn’t offer easy solutions to societal problems. The characters might not always be likeable but they’re never less than fully formed human beings. Functioning as both a hard-edged social realist drama and verging on pulse-quickening thriller at times, the sense of balance it maintains is masterful. Uplifting without being saccharine and with enough sociological bite to keep it focused.

The Avengers (dir: Joss Whedon)

The Avengers is quite simply a heroic feat that pulls together the disparate elements of four other franchises and fashions them into a coherent, delirious whole. Not only does it work in its own right but it serves as an excellent punctuation point and umbrella third act for each film that lead up to it. It gets as close as cinema has come to capturing the spirit of comic books on the big screen. Every character is given a moment to shine so no one part feels bigger than the ensemble. Joss Whedon’s script is smart enough to know exactly what elements are required to make a film as ridiculous as this fly and that characterisation is the most important of the lot. No concessions are made to grounding this in reality as to do that would be unnecessary padding in this universe. In spite of the film’s greatest successes occurring in the dialogue scenes it doesn’t forget that spectacle counts. The maxim ‘the bigger the better’ is clearly at the forefront and the visually stunning tour de force finale exemplifies that completely.

The Master (dir: Paul Thomas Anderson)

More demanding than any of his previous films and certainly more discordant, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is Hollywood filmmaking which takes delight in confounding. This is not a film which concerns itself with grandiose character arcs so much as it prefers to linger on the shifting sands of the relationship and power struggle between not only Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, but also Amy Adams as Dodd’s wife, Peggy. The question of the nascent religion which the film is centred around is only a defining factor inasmuch as it raises the question of just how key the positions of master and follower are in these characters’ lives. There is a real sense of development in the characters and they feel lived-in. Quell is petulant and infuriating but there’s a depth to him that cements this as a frankly remarkable performance from Phoenix. From the avant-garde editing and stunning cinematography from Mihai Malaimare Jr to Jonny Greenwood’s dissonant score, it’s a visual and aural joy. It’s a rich, heady mix which simultaneously invigorates and numbs the senses, exuding a sense of otherness in every frame and requiring that you invest in the world and its minutiae.

Young Adult (dir: Jason Reitman)

As bland as the film’s hook sounds this pitch black comedy about facing up to your past and whether it should, or could, be recaptured is a dark delight with a smart script from Diablo Cody. Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, an author of young adult fiction who returns to her hometown not as local hero but just another relic of the past for people whose lives have moved on. It’s that dynamic that makes her mission to rekindle a relationship with her high school sweetheart all the more depressingly tasteless. It's in the Grosse Pointe Blank vein but it doesn't ask us to accept that she’s seeking redemption of some sort. It's an exposé of just how venal and shallow people can be and that no matter how much water passes under the bridge, people rarely change. At its core is a refreshingly brave performance from Theron who's not afraid of looking unflattering and playing an emotionally ugly character. Its beauty hinges on the fact it’s a psychological drama masquerading as comedy. From the subtlety of Cody’s characterisation of Mavis (not least in the things left unsaid like her owning one dog named Dolce), it’s a career best from both her and director Jason Reitman. At an absolutely lean 95 minutes of thoroughly unrepentant behaviour it pitches everything perfectly, right down to the unexpected, but thoroughly fitting, ending.

Monday, 24 December 2012


A loose cannon. A firebrand. A maverick, if you will. That’s how the character of Jack Reacher might have been described in the past. That said he’s still described in similarly hoary terms in this film; as the eponymous character himself puts it, he’s a “drifter with nothing to lose”. He certainly doesn’t play by the rules, or the law. He has no fixed home and moves from town to town wherever he’s needed.

It begins with a near silent ten minute opening as we watch a sniper coldly dispatch civilians. As an audience we’re positioned as the shooter and it makes for an uncomfortable watch. We see his point of view through his telescopic sight and the only sounds to accompany it are his measured breaths and isolated cracks of gunfire.

A potted history of Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) reveals he’s a former military policeman who lives off-grid without any documentation or means of contact. He is called for by the supposed perpetrator and hooks up with his defence attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) to investigate the situation surrounding the shooting, much to the chagrin of Helen’s father and local DA (Richard Jenkins) and dogged cop, Emerson (David Oyelowo).

Based on the ninth novel in Lee Child’s series of phenomenally successful Jack Reacher thrillers and adapted and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, best known for writing The Usual Suspects, the film has some pedigree behind it. Fans of the novels might be forgiven for doubting the casting of Cruise as a character known for being a man mountain but his hard-bitten performance, coupled with no mean amount of low-angle shots, gives him the presence required if not the stature.

Considering the hot button topic of gun control at the film’s core and the serious investigative elements that drive the plot, there’s still a place for blasts of humour – though some of it works better than others. While Cruise’s witty put downs to local hoods come with the twinkly charm we would expect from such a polished Hollywood presence, other moments offer a jarring change of tone just when things are getting going. It’s undeniably funny but there’s no rhyme or reason behind featuring a three-way fight scene with choreography that wouldn’t look out of place in a Three Stooges short. It sticks out like an appendage with an anvil-based injury among all the muscular, calculated set pieces of the rest of the film.

The film’s comedic ace comes in the inclusion of Robert Duvall as Cash, a rifle range owner who becomes the focus of part of the investigation. His presence paves the way for a double act of sorts with Cruise. Duvall’s no-nonsense, grizzled charm and laid back approach is the perfect foil for Cruise’s always-thinking Reacher.

The arrival of film director Werner Herzog playing the film’s chief villain, The Zec, marks a distinct uptick. He gives an icy performance as the milky-eyed mastermind but as soon as you hear that mellifluous Teutonic lilt it’s difficult not to bring to mind the weight of Herzog’s own personality, which does slightly overshadow the role. He’s given an opening monologue involving a Siberian prison and a “dead man’s coat” which certainly has all the hallmarks of one of his own voiceovers. His unflinching granite countenance makes a memorable impact each time he appears on screen but the real problem is that there’s just not enough of him.

Reacher aside, most of the characters are given short shrift. There isn't often a clarity to their motivations and many, particularly Pike's, are given little in the way of development. As if it weren't already clear from the above-title opening credits, where it declares this is 'A Tom Cruise Production' and stars Tom Cruise, by the end you are in no doubt this is unreservedly Tom Cruise's film.

While Reacher displays the unstoppable tendencies of a master tactician for most of the duration, it’s a welcome change when it comes to a bone-rattling car chase where he’s refreshingly rubbish; constantly clipping other vehicles and pinballing off sidings. It gives him a human side and shows he’s skilled but not prone to perfection. The rest of the action has the cool distance of being relatively long range and doesn’t feel a million miles away from watching someone play a first-person shooter game like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. It lacks immediacy and, as a result, often feels anticlimactic.

As a throwback to the crime thrillers of a bygone era it's a success but it suffers slightly from being just too long. It’s some time before it really gets going and even by the end it’s not entirely clear just how some elements fit together. McQuarrie has a streamlined narrative in place but with the added burden of having to introduce Reacher for a presumed future franchise it buckles slightly under the pressure. Fewer characters – particularly of the disposable variety – and the removal of clearly telegraphed character shifts would have made for a tighter, tenser ride.

It’s a film of two halves and invariably the quieter dialogue scenes work far better than the protracted forays into action. There’s plenty mileage in Reacher as a character, even though it isn’t fully explored here, but the fact he isn’t motivated by financial gain, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time, makes him interesting in the canon of big screen heroes. While inevitable elements of the White Knight trope creep in, there is darkness to him rarely witnessed in his contemporaries.


Thursday, 6 December 2012


Where to start with Seven Psychopaths? It’s so scrappy and sprawling that it is hard to quite get a handle on. Employing meta techniques it’s ostensibly the tale of struggling scriptwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell), trying to flesh out a screenplay he’s writing called Seven Psychopaths. It’s also a caper about a bungled dog kidnapping with which Marty is tangentially involved through Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken). Things get confusing when the writing and ‘real’ life get intertwined and urban legends reveal their roots in reality. All the while, characters pass comment on how the film-within-a-film, as well the one we’re watching, should play out.

Director Martin McDonagh’s last film, In Bruges, was a resounding success; managing to be scurrilously entertaining with endless ribaldry and enough heart to make sensitive leads of a couple of hitmen on the run in unfamiliar territory. On paper Seven Psychopaths looked to be playing to McDonagh’s strengths with another tale of gangsters and Colin Farrell playing someone lovably out of his depth.

On a dialogue level, it’s very funny indeed. Farrell plays against type as a pacifist boozehound who prefers to be sidelined. The badinage between him and Rockwell’s motormouthed showboater is the spark that keeps the film alight under the weight of the smothering postmodernism. That’s not to say Rockwell isn’t also intensely irritating; given to shouting at random and wearing silly animal hats. Thank heavens for the calming presence of Christopher Walken whose typically languid delivery cuts through every scene he’s in, elevating it with just the intensity burning in his eyes and the size of his hair.

It’s when listing the performances that you might notice no mention of any women. It’s not that there aren’t any, although that might as well be the case. While the characters point out the short shrift that women receive in film in general, this is carried over into this film. The only female characters are shrewish (Abbie Cornish), sex objects (Olga Kurylenko) or the butt of a joke (Gabourey Sidibe). One female character gets a brief moment to shine as Hans’ wife, Myra (Linda Bright Clay), has a tense standoff with Woody Harrelson’s Mafioso villain Charlie Costello but as a result of the script playing so fast and loose with relevance, even the impact of that is lost and quietly forgotten. Comically referencing poor treatment of women in offhand fashion isn’t enough to make us forget it’s happening here.

Fortunately it never slows to a pace where you’re afforded the time to think about the myriad problems it has on a structural level. It survives scene to scene if you can take them in relative seclusion and enjoy the dynamics of it. By attempting to piece it all together, that’s where it begins to fray at the edges. A barrage of cameos including Michaels, Pitt and Stuhlbarg, keeps things breezy but the appearance of Tom Waits proves one of the highlights when he appears as a rabbit-carrying consulting psycho whose back-story provides the film’s crowning glory.

These parts of the film are astonishing in just how well directed they are. There are flashes of the sparkling brilliance McDonagh displayed with In Bruges but they are fleeting and oddly at cross purposes with their intention. It’s a cruel irony that the cutaway scenes, such as Waits’ tale, which are used to take the piss out of the quality of the script being written, are so well handled and genuinely captivating that they make you wish they were the film you were actually watching.

It has a vibe oh-so reminiscent of any number of late-Nineties, post-Tarantino indie movies that often dealt with a heist gone wrong or Hollywood satire, but with a post-Adaptation sensibility. Both are strong reference points which, in theory, should sit nicely together but the juxtaposition proves that they work far better in isolation.

There’s enough fine work in the dialogue to allow a degree of forgiveness for some of the meta baggage the film is saddled with. While the interconnected tissues of some of the sinuous elements are stitched together by a steady hand, there’s the distinct feeling as it plays out that other ruptures are bleeding away under the surface. As you’re watching it becomes aware it can only hold for so long and will take some spectacular field surgery in the last act to save it.

One of the key themes throughout the film is how it should end. Billy is convinced it should end in a spectacular gung-ho bloodbath. That kind of unifying display might just have pulled all the elements together – it certainly needed something big and assured - but there’s the feeling by the end that Billy might have been disappointed with the outcome.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Anna Kendrick, in her first leading role, is Beca; a retiring alternative type. We know this because she has Daddy issues and she's into DJing. She feels completely at ease dropping knowledge of David Guetta into a conversation and produces mashups, such as the Proclaimers one she drops early on to clue the audience into her cred.

She reluctantly joins the Bellas, one of her new college's four a cappella singing groups (including one populated by, unbelievably, a group of stoners), because apparently these students haven't heard of partying or studying. We don't even find out what any of the characters are actually studying or see them attend a class throughout the entire duration of the film. Instead there’s a regional singing competition as the familiar hook the film’s structure is hung upon.

In what seems like a taken-as-read romantic subplot rather than any kind of natural character development, Beca becomes suddenly entangled with Jesse (Skylar Astin) from a rival a cappella team with whom we see little semblance of any kind of romantic ritual develop. It just happens because we're expected to expect it to. He's another sensitive soul and we know this because he can list his favourite film scores to clue the audience into his cred. He’s the type of dreamer who doesn't mind showing a potential amour the last two minutes of The Breakfast Club, rather than the entire film, to woo her.

The film unfolds in typically predictable fashion but that’s alright because they ironically acknowledge this predictability in the dialogue. Tensions arise within the singing group and a battle for dominance takes place among the ragtag bunch of girls who are hilariously fat/psycho/lesbian/prissy/slutty. The musical numbers which pepper the film are a welcome diversion from the stuttering plot dynamics and themes of acceptance which it tries hard to point out aren’t like Glee, while being exactly like Glee.

Puns on a cappella are grating at first when used earnestly but become head-punchingly annoying when they’re later used frequently and ironically. Non sequiturs and funny voices are threaded throughout in place of anything truly remarkable. When hitting a comedic dry spot, a pratfall or grope will paper over any cracks and if running really low, unnecessary cameos from Elizabeth Banks (who also serves as producer), Har Mar Superstar and Christopher Mintz-Plasse will momentarily divert your attention.

Rebel Wilson as another member of the Bellas gets most of heavy lifting to do when it comes to the comedy. She’s a talented comic actress but she’s not allowed to display anything beyond the unhinged act she’s displayed in all her most recent films. It’s an irony that her character adopts the moniker ‘Fat Amy’ to undercut the jibe being used against her by others when it’s the same trick she’s being forced to use as an actress; play the one-note, big kooky girl who embraces her image in everything and continue to get cast in supporting roles. It’s a shame because she’s clearly capable of more.

It’s no surprise that Wilson was also in Bridesmaids because that’s exactly what they’re pitching at here. It’s a female-led comedy that deals with relationships between women but there’s not an ounce of the nuance shown there. Most pleasingly it doesn’t resort to having an out-and-out bitch character – at least not among the girls – but there is a misjudged running gag about bodily functions that seeks to rival Bridesmaids in the gross out stakes. It wants to be raunchy but even that is dialled down. The most you’ll get is a few “bitches” and a performance of Rihanna’s S&M.

In a film that seems to place prominence on accepting people for who they are, there’s a strangely distasteful thread of meanness towards Asian women which crops up in two distinct circumstances. Firstly, Beca’s inexplicably cold and aggressive roommate who is only afforded one cursory off-screen moment to break stereotype and, secondly, a spooky member of the Bellas who speaks in hushed whispers and betrays a dark past of arson and a “dead body”.

It has all the hallmarks of a post-Mean Girls teen flick with bite but it’s lacking in a sense of identity. It’s never quite sure exactly whether it wants to be a satirical exploration of teen movie tropes in that vein, a celebration of harmony of both voice and disparate personalities coming together or something more dramatic as expressed in the way which it attempts to deal with Beca’s sense of isolation. It tries to be all but never comes close to pulling it off.

The characters just don’t connect. There’s nothing to root for in the romantic subplot and the entire cast of characters, aside from Beca, are so underdeveloped beyond a signifying quirk that they can’t hold your interest. While there is a joy to watching impressive vocal stylings among the various groups, the rest of it is the equivalent of watching the other bits of The X Factor.

Far from perfect.