Archive for June, 2010

Should I stay or should I go…

June 26, 2010

MacGruber was so bad got me thinking of all the other films I should have walked out on and saved myself…lets take a look

King Arthur

Historical epic on a budget = 2004’s King Arthur. I’ve seen BBC dramas more lavish than this! Without a single memorable scene, character or event King Arthur is just pointless and forgetable. Apparently the aim was to make a historically accurate film. Evidently King Arthur lived a life no more interesting than you or I.

Oh and Ms Knightley’s figure needed to be ”enhanced” for the US poster. Whole thing fell…flat….it seems

Serenity

Joss Whedon should perhaps recieve credit for temporarily relaunching mainstream sci fi in a way free of Star Trek’s taint. Instead I’m going to slate his hapless attempt to make a western sci fi. Boring characters, a baffling solar system that featured dozens of habitable planets (despite some of those planets being a fair distance from the sun?) and some really tame fight sequences was all that was needed to derail this. Danjo got out before the end, should have followed his lead.

Bad Lieutenant

Curiously two hours wasn’t enough time for me to realise this film was going nowhere. One random scene after another with a total lack of humour. I just kept watching believing it had to raise its game. More fool me! Why was it played so straight up?

The Gift

I didn’t really get into film serioulsy untill Uni. Up untill then I’d just dabbled in cinema, picking carefully. Not the ‘anything goes’ approach I have now. Sam Raimi’s ‘The Gift’ was one of the first awful films I saw at the cinema. Saw this during a spell in which Keanu Reeves seemed to appear in everything. As with every film I saw in 2000, this was cheap and tacky. 2000 was a really bad year for film. Anyway, Sam Raimi involved in a bad film? Thank god that never happened again….hmmm

Street Kings

Ohh, renegade cops doing ‘what needed to be done’. How original! Well, if it had stuck to that it would have atleast been cool. Film resolves with a guy living in a house literally made of money. Of money. For cripes sake! This was a straight to dvd film released at the cinema soley to screw with me. How I was tricked into seeing it….I blame you!

V for Vendetta

Ranks among the worst films I’ve ever endured. Thinks its ever so clever but doesn’t actually realise what ”totalitarian” means. To be fair it is the only film I’ve seen where a man in a mask is able to order thousands of costumes of a wanted criminal and then post thousands of boxes containing said costumes. Just how would you manage such a feat in a free and fair democracy – let alone a regime that was actively looking for this type of shenanigan? Truly terrible.

MacGruber – the film that broke me

June 23, 2010

Never walked out on a film…god how I’ve wanted to over the years. The crapfest of 2010 Hollywood finally broke me and I walked out of this.

Is it a comedy? Action film? Buddy pic? Hadn’t a clue. No one was laughing and without a plot I saw no reason to continue.

Apparently this is based on a genuinely good series of SNL skits, oh well.

1/10 – totally pointless

Review: The Losers

June 15, 2010

It happens from time to time. Two films appear that are about the same thing but otherwise totally unconnected.

Deep Impact/Armageddon, A Bugs Life/Antz – I’m sure you can think of more.

Here it’s The Losers and The A Team. 

5 guys (not 4!) led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan are framed (I think they were?) for a crime they didn’t commit. Again, not clear what ‘’crime’’ this was. Anyway, they want revenge. Trouble is ‘’Max’’ (Jason Patric as ‘’the villain’’) is in America and they are in Bolivia. Little known fact – it’s impossible to get to America from this mythical country without doing some ultra risky high paying job. Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek) just so happens to have such a job, and a bottomless pit of money. And looks. Some girls have all the luck. If they take out Max they’ll get a trip back to America (are you kidding me?). Meanwhile Max has a handful of nukes and works for the CIA in their ‘world domination’ department. Suffice to say via every city on earth they get from Bolivia to Florida, shoot bad guys and save the day.

The Losers is very much trying to be, okay yes – The A Team, but what I want to say is amusing and light-hearted. It is. Score! This isn’t a film that’s trying to be clever – bullets always miss good guys and a rocket launcher has virtually no recoil. Plot is pretty much a luxury here. When the film is focussing on our characters it’s doing well. Chris Evans plays – well, think Chandler from Friends. He’s very funny and every scene he’s in immediately succeeds. In one, with a sniper covering him, he pretends to be telekinetic ‘shooting’ bad guys with his bar hands – ‘momma didn’t raise no foo’’.  Just about everyone gives a likeable enough performance with their paper thin characters. Zoe Saldana never seems to wear much more than her underwear so another plus – she is very, ahem, attractive.

The Losers is pretty much your run of the mill comedy action hybrid, you’ve seen it before, you’ve seen it better but its entertaining, it’s not dull and Chris Evans is great. It doesn’t try to be particularly dynamic and it certainly doesn’t achieve anything in particular. For throwaway cinema this is perfectly acceptable.

Oh, it has Journey’s ‘Don’t stop believing’ three times in the soundtrack. How come that song is everywhere? So, yet another +1.

It’s mindless, I won’t even remember seeing it come tomorrow and it cost me £5, but The Losers is a great starter act for The A Team,

6/10

Transformers 3 – Bay promises it won’t suck

June 12, 2010

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen wasn’t quite as bad as it seems – but it did seem pretty bad. Shia LaBoeuf rounded on the film some months back, Megan Fox walked out on TF3 and now even Michael Bay owns up that even he wasn’t proud of it…

With shooting underway on a third movie and plans to debut next summer, Michael Bay and Co. acknowledge missteps with the last one and aim to upgrade the shape-shifting robot franchise with a more coherent story, less goofball humor and a pledge that characters who die will stay dead. It will also be in 3-D.

Revenge of the Fallen was the No. 2 movie of 2009 (behind only Avatar), earning $836 million worldwide — clearly very popular, though complaints from some moviegoers and a negative fusillade from critics made the filmmakers take notice.

“I’ll take some of the criticism,” says Bay, standing at a set built to resemble a dilapidated nuclear reactor. “It was very hard to put (the sequel) together that quickly after the writers’ strike (of 2007-08).”

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura says the rush strained the plot: “We tried to do too many things in the second movie, which didn’t give enough time in any one of them. We were constantly jumping to the next piece of information, the next place.”

Bay is not one for mea culpas, but he says he can do better. “This one really builds to a final crescendo. It’s not three multiple endings,” the director says.

Bay calls the second film’s villain, The Fallen, “kind of a (expletive) character.” The new movie’s foe is certain to make fans of the original ’80s incarnation smile: Shockwave, the robot cyclops-turned-laser-cannon, who became dictator of their home world of Cybertron after the other Autobots and Decepticons journeyed to Earth.

“One thing we’re getting rid of is what I call the dorky comedy,” Bay adds. So the twins, the two bumbling, slang-spewing robots? “They’re basically gone,” he says, though John Turturro returns for comic relief.

The new film features Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) taking his first tenuous steps into adulthood while remaining a reluctant human ally of Optimus Prime. “Shia has this great line: ‘You know, I’ve saved the world twice, but I can’t get a job,’ ” di Bonaventura says.

Megan Fox, who played Mikaela, was dropped just before shooting, so LaBeouf’s character also has a new love interest, played by Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

“I love Megan and I miss the girl,” LaBeouf says, flecked with fake blood and dirt during a break between shooting. “But Sam and Mikaela became one character, and here … you have discovery again from a new perspective.”

Plot details are under wraps, but it delves into the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, suggesting there was a hidden Transformers role in it all that remains one of the planet’s most dangerous secrets. “The movie is more of a mystery,” Bay says. “It ties in what we know as history growing up as kids with what really happened.”

While Optimus Prime, Megatron and even Sam all have died and been resurrected, di Bonaventura says this film will have no do-overs: Die, and that’s it.

Bay hints that there may be a lot of that. “As a trilogy, it really ends,” he says. “It could be rebooted again, but I think it has a really killer ending.”

http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2010-06-11-Transformers11_ST_N.htm?csp=usat.me

They’ve hired a model with no acting experience. Guess they really do want to make a good film…

Prince of Persia: A Response

June 8, 2010

My word, James was very easy-going on this one…

You know a movie is as mediocre as they come when you walk out thinking – “Man! I actually enjoyed Clash of the Titans more than that!!?”

I personally find a mediocre movie far more offensive than a bad one. Nothing screams laziness and soulless filmmaking more to me than mediocrity. I therefore found Prince of Persia to be – lets just say – awkward viewing.

The action was incoherent and badly edited, the characters were dull and unconvincing (just like the CGI) and it`s lead Jake Gyllenhaal was just bloody awful!

Jake, obviously concentrating more on keeping-up his stiff-as-a board British accent than actually emoting, has the persona of a slightly dim 10 year boy. A 10-year-old mind in a $2000 a month, gym-sculpted body. Jakes acting is terrible and projects only two identifiable emotions through out – confused and smiley.

Yes, it appears the world has found its first mentally challenged super hero with Prince of Perisa; what an open-minded world we live in!

His co-star, and generic love interest Gemma Arterton is a little more spunky, but looks as though she has mistakenly wandered from the set Clash of the Titans and just decided to stay there and make a go of it, seeing as she already dressed for the occasion. Is it just me? Or was Gemma playing EXACTLY the same character that she played in Titans!?

Hell, she even ends up being given away as a prize to her leading man at the end of both movies! Talk about type casting, not to mention sexist!

As for the plot; again, like its lead – simple sums it up quite nicely. But simple in that annoyingly whimsical and floaty way that gets so silly I just couldn’t summarise it even at gun point!

From what I can remember, it basically consists of our rag tag team of chemistry-free protagonists darting from one set to other, searching for a mystical dagger (and yes, it is referred to as mystical in the movie too) A dagger that rarely gets used, and whose true potential and origin is never clarified.

One of the most suprising (by which I mean weird) aspects of Prince of Persia, is that it is attempts to be an odd satire on the Iraqi war. The main thrust of the movie concerns the Persian army being tricked into invading a peaceful city under the false pretense of there being concealed weapons of mass destruction hidden there. Hum, that sounds very familiar.

The movie even ends with Jake essentially apologizing to the entire town for his army’s actions. If Avatar was subconsciously a white-guilt movie; it appears Prince of Persia is an invasion-guilt movie.

How very on the nose – not to mention inappropriate for a Disney/Bruckheimer summer fun extravaganza!

A very odd, and very un-exciting adventure movie that is more The Mummy Returns than Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A very generous – 5/10

Review: REC 2

June 2, 2010

I really wanted to like this one…

Being a huge fan of the original movie, I strided into REC 2 with my head and expectations held high – only to shuffle out with my head slumped low and feeling more soulless than the zombies of the picture.

Such a shame, because the first REC movie did something truly special. It managed to not only use the already tired shaky-cam gimmick to great effect, but also made the  equally tired zombie genre frightening again!

REC`s expertly staged set pieces and pure ferocious energy grabbed you by the balls so hard that it actually tore them off and then ate them in front of you. Truly intense, creatively shot and filled with images and moments that chilled me to the bone.

A modern horror masterpiece some might say. 

The sequel? …meh… not so much.  

Some sequels have the annoying habit of diminishing your affection for its predecessor. Unfortunately, this is one of them.

The movie picks up the second the first movie ends. Before I go on, if you havent seen the original, don’t bother reading anymore of this review. Just go out, rent it, buy it – hell, even bloody steal it if you have to. Its great, and makes this movie entirely redundant. Now, if you have seen it (and presumably liked it) continue reading and heed my warning.

Adopting the same fly-on-the-wall directorial style of the first, we are introduced to our (surprisingly) small SWAT team of protagonist’s – lead by a mysterious government official (aren’t they always)- as they prepare to enter the zombie-infested apartment building in which the events of the first movie took place.

The teams naturalistic dialogue and blase attitude to the job at hand helps establish a real world feel to the events we are seeing. This is important because the authenticity and believability of its characters was a key part of the first movies success. I was therefore pleased to see that REC2`s opening moments successfully recapture that tone.

Sadly, as soon as our team steps foot inside the dreaded house of horror, the movies quality drastically diminishes.

There is no point outlining too much of the movies paper-thin plot because even a single sentence could spoil entire sections of the movie. All I will say is that realism (and therefore investment in the fate of our heros) goes completely out of the window, very quickly.

The combination of Rec 2`s ridiculasly stupid plotting, logic defying character decisions and some horribly hammy and OTT performances leave you cringing rather than cowering. From start to finish, not one moment in this film makes any real sense, and at no point do you buy that you are watching real people, reacting in a realistic way. A major problem for a movie like this.

On top of that, REC 2 completely lacks any sense of narrative  focus. It just clumsily stumbles from one moment to the next without any sense of drive or  purpose. Stuff just happens, only ever coming to life during its fleeting moments of action. Not that there is much of that either. It did dawn on me quite quickly that movie was not going to win me over with its lame characters and clunky staging. My only hope was that movie was really going to blow me away with its heart pounding action sequences. Let me tell you now, it didn’t. Never exciting, frequent or coherent – the action fails to deliver.

Sadly, that isn’t even my biggest problem with the film. No that honour goes to the simple fact it just isn’t scary!

One thing I loved about the first REC was its creative and frightening set pieces. Here, we get nothing more than the same shot of a zombie/demon quickly lunging at the camera over and over again. Very disappointing. The movie lacks the creeps and Oh shit were in trouble moments the first one revelled in. There is nothing on show here that wasnt done more effectively in the first.

The only original aspect the sequels throws into the mix is that it whacks the supernatural aspects of its premise up a few thousand notches. The ambiguous nature of the cause of the outbreak is (wisely) only hinted at in the first – here it thrust into your face so hard that it actually gave me a black eye! You see the zombies here aren’t just infected with a virus, they have been infected by evil itself! Que a lot of Exorcist-lite religious mumbo jumbo, bog standard exorcism scenes and an incredibly silly climax involving the magical properties of a infra-red camera. I’m not kidding either – the climax of the movie does involve a mystical infa-red camera!

To be fair, I was more than willing to go with the whole religious angle – but I couldn’t help but feel that the ghost and ghoulies aspects of the sequel clashed with its real-world setting, and ultimately worked against the movie as a whole.

Oh, I forgot to mention that midway through, a new cast of expendable (and down-right irritating) younger characters get awkwardly shoe-horned into mix. Their inclusion adds nothing more to the movie than an extension on its body count, and forcing us to re-tread moments we have already seen. 

If I had to say one good thing about REC2, I would say that I appreciated the work that went into pulling-off almost all of its special effects practically and in-camera. The odd use of CGI doest jar – and if nothing else – the movie does look visually impressive; if not a little too similar to your average first person shooter. Video games have clearly been a strong influence on directors  Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza
visual pallet. So much so that you often find yourself recollecting more effective moments from your computer game library.

To summarise, REC 2 is basically just the first movie with guns – minus the scares, realism and intensity. Never boring, but never engaging – there are far worse ways for zombie fans to get their fix this summer, but a re-watch of the original is certainly be more advisable.

4/10