Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

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.

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…

Reviews: Bad Lieutenant and Prince of Persia

May 28, 2010

Bad Lieutenant

Quirky, stylistic, funny, insane.

That’s what the myriad of reviewers think of Bad Lieutenant (Directed by Werner Herzog, starring Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendez).

Cop injures his back and turns to drugs to cope with the pain. Addiction spirals out of control and he abuses his power to get his fix. Ultimately everything works out for him.

When you can summarise a film so easily you know it’s not got much of a story to tell. Bad Lieutenant doesn’t try to be a story but a style.

Trouble is – I didn’t notice any style. Occasionally the camera zooms in on a reptile’s eye and a dead body dances, once. Apparently that’s the ‘drugs’, every now and again Cage will go all Castor Troy from Face/Off and shout a bit. Where reviewers have seen this as a descent into drug fuelled madness it basically comes across as a fairly toned down performance. If anything Cage is remarkably calm for a man heavily in debt, being investigated by IA and pursued by gangsters – oh, and addicted to heroin and in constant, agonising pain. This conservative showing keeps you off balance throughout – if it’s about dug fuelled excess – why is there so little? If it’s not about drug fuelled excess – why is there so much?

It’s open to conjecture whether we’re supposed to care about the characters or the story or just get lost in the style. Certainly we are given no reason to care whether the murder Cage is investigating gets resolved. When it ultimately is you struggle to remember what was even being investigated.

Cage gives a workmanlike performance – complete with ever changing accent. He’s not a likeable character and learns nothing throughout; actually he’s the one who doesn’t change. I found his performance far too understated.

All told Bad Lieutenant is played fairly straight up as a cliché tale of a bent cop – and why would anyone want to see that again?

(A generous) 4/10

Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time

Jerry Bruckheimer’s name doesn’t appear in the opening credits of Prince of Persia. Perhaps his infamous lightning strike graphic is all that’s required – maybe he’s too famous to need to be named.

Or maybe he didn’t want his name up there.

Prince of Persia would support either or both of those conclusions.

Yes, the man who produced everything from 80’s camp classic Top Gun to Pirates of the Caribbean, Pearl Harbour and those awful, awful Bad Boys films is back. Jerry has made a lot of money making a certain type of film – simple plot, big name lead, unconvincing love angle and SFX everywhere. Mr Bruckheimer has done more for the negative view of blockbusters than any man alive.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the big name lead, Gemma Arterton the unconvincing love angle and director x provided the deluge of SFX. The formula doesn’t change.

A magic dagger can turn back time and evil Ben Kingsley is after it for some reason (does it matter?). Prince Daston must battle the Persian army to ensure – again, who cares? You know it will end with a couple in love, world saved and a glorious summers day. The dagger can reverse time – but this plot device is rarely used which is inexplicable because it could clearly have provided some excellent sequences. The highlight of the film is Ms Arterton’s midriff which is far more effective against men than the infamous Sands of Time!

All told this is a serviceable offering. Acting is solid throughout and Alfred Molina’s rebel leader is always amusing. Ben Kingsley plays…well, Ben Kingsley. If there is an actor more typecast please let me know. Mr Gylenhal’s attempt at an English accent isn’t poor – but it is bewildering (they are in Persia and no one else bothers with an accent…). Where the film really struggles is some horrendous CGI, it’s overused and of a very poor quality. Perhaps there were budget constraints, maybe it was rushed or maybe no one actually cared. Certainly the film suffers as a result.

The script is poor but the endless exposition seems more a homage to the computer game style than a genuine attempt to insult the audience. Most of what happens is suitably baffling that I for one was grateful for some explanation – but just how did the King cross his empire so quickly by camel? The film is littered with absurdities (sleeping in the middle of the desert? Tracking people’s footprints across a desert?) but this isn’t a film that cares about such things and just wants to see a guy jump about on buildings while brandishing swords.

Probably intended for a younger audience it’s about as average as a film can be.

5/10

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

May 9, 2010

Star Wars just doesn’t work. Welcome to a new series of articles where we shine a light on Lucas’s nonsense!

Darth Vader, believing Luke won’t come quietly, feels the need to freeze him in carbonite for his ‘trip to the Emperor’

Why this doesn’t work:

  • Well, for a start – travel across the universe is instantaneous – thus Luke’s trip would take about 20 mins door to door. Turning someone into space concrete for a the equiv of a round trip to the cornershops is bizarre.
  • Carbon freezing is not for people transport – did Vader just pick a method at random. Perhaps it was that or storing him in a blender.
  • Luke could have been subdued with something as simple as an anesthetic. I presume they have those. Or how about a pair of handcuffs. Or one of those stun guns (remember those, they zapped Leia with one?). Was Luke really so dangerous a padded cell wasn’t enough?
  • The Emperor could have come to them (remember travel is instantaneous) and didn’t they have a 19,000 km base parked in orbit anyway?
  • Vader could have just used Han and Leia as hostages to ensure Luke behaves himself
  • Vader could have used the ray shields from Revenge of the Sith or the ‘spinning blue energy’ from Attack of the Clones to keep Luke quiet

Is there a counter argument? Go on, tell me why Star Wars works!

Nobody does it better – 007 of the best

May 5, 2010

Bond 23 is shelved indefinitely due to ”studio issues” – to fill that void lets take a look at one of the most uneven series of films going…

7.  The Spy Who Loved Me

Roger Moore’s had featured in 2 Bond films already, but they were fairly turgid affairs. 1977’s TSWLM was going all out – Bond was getting an adrenaline shot. Story wise it’s identical to ‘You only live twice’ with subs being stolen instead of shuttles and we have an underwater base instead of a volcano. OTT would describe this film pretty well as OO7 parachutes of a mountain, fights a private army and battles a 7ft chap with no regard for HIV. With a massively increased budget this was the most technically impressive Bond to date and its aged very well. Barbara Bach is one of the best Bond girls playing a sophisticated and deadly Agent XXX.

Best moment: The Lotus literally becomes a submarine. One of the definitive Bond moments

Rating 8/10

6. Goldfinger

Sean Connery’s third outing is the series most influential. Dr No and From Russia with Love were your typical Cold War spy escapade but Bond as we now think of him was born with Goldfinger: the larger than life villain with the larger than life plan, suggestive character names, a car with a few surprises and a devious henchman – the Bond formula.

The film oozes style and swaggering confidence. Sean Connery is the agent every guy wants to be and every girl wants to be with. Bond is now the callous womaniser and actually uses a young lady as a shield at one point. The one liner’s are here too with a particularly effective ‘shocking’ following an electrocution.

Best moment: Anything with the Aston Martin – pure genius.

Rating 8/10

5. For Your Eyes Only

Roger Moore was back for 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. 1979’s Moonraker had literally gone out of this world in pursuit of the Star Wars craze but many felt it was a step to far and it was time to return to a Cold War spy tale. What makes this film stand out is its succession of stunning set pieces – Bond evades thugs in a Citroen Dolly in the most extensive chase sequence to date, he then battles underwater enemies in no fewer than two great sequences, before escaping sharks and launching a daring mountain top raid on the enemy HQ. Director John Glen would helm this and the next 4 entries – the most consistent period in Bond history which produces three entries in our list.

Best moment: Guy attempts to steal Bond’s car. It explodes. Pwnd

Rating 8.5/10

4. The Living Daylights

1987’s The Living Daylights was the series first reboot. John Glen was back but Roger Moore was not. Timothy Dalton would be a Bond far closer to the Bond of Ian Flemming. A reboot was badly need and the gamble paid off.

Timothy Dalton plays a darker Bond, ruthless, conflicted and with a more restrained libido. The story attempts to be the best of both worlds with a down to earth tale based on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan but still featuring an incredible array of gadgetry with an actual ‘ghetto blaster’. Bond had become a bit too daft with Moore – The Living Daylights gives us the remedy.

Best moment: Bond fights a foe while hanging from a net trailing from a cargo plane. Tense!

Rating 8.5/10

3. Licence to Kill

The Living Daylights had attempted to fuse the old with the new – a down to earth Bond still aided by some out of this world situations and equipment. Licence to Kill was the brave attempt to break the formula and send Bond in a new direction.

Licence to Kill attempts to be gritty and realistic throughout – our villain is an all too plausible drug baron, played by the excellent Robert Davi. Bond is out for revenge, quitting M16 on his way to a bloody showdown in South America.

License to Kill is harrowing in its violence to the extent it was only released unedited in the last 2 years. Guys are torn to bits by sharks, exploded and shredded. This is brutal and for many – very un-Bond. That of course was the point. License to Kill was bold, daring and brilliant.

Best moment: an incredible chase sequence with oil tankers ranks as among the series very best sequences

Rating 9/10

2. Casino Royale

2006 saw Bond rebooted for the second time. Pierce Brosnan was out and Daniel Craig was in. For the second time Bond was going to be toned down – gadgets and world domination were out and, just as Timothy Dalton had tried in his two offerings, Bond was going to be a ruthless killer again.

A Bond film had never seen higher production values – Casino Royale looks breathtaking throughout. Craig brings something new to a very familiar character – he’s more brutal than ever, but falls hopelessly in love for only the second time in Bond history. Craig’s Bond is human.

Best moment: a chase through a building site in Madagascar set against the back drop of the Indian Ocean is exhilarating and demonstrates some stunning cinematography and editing.

Rating 9/10

1. Goldenye

1995’s Goldeneye brings so much of what is good about Bond together that it goes in at no.1. Pierce Brosnan fused Connery’s swagger with Dalton’s psychology and delivered a superb Bond. Goldeneye was the most lavish Bond offering to date and really marked a step up from the cash strapped 80’s offerings. Goldeneye manages to reconcile the timeline, keeping Bond’s roots in the Cold War but ensuring he’s a modern assassin ready for today’s challenges. The plot, involving wayward tech from the former USSR, serves to underscore this transition.  Sean Bean gives us an excellent villain as a rogue MI6 agent and I wish he’d had just a bit more time to play on his former M16 credentials. It’s hard to find any fault with this film, it’s just about the perfect Bond offering.

Best Moment: Bond chases a Russian general through the streets of St Petersburg in a tank. (Yet none of the sequence is even filmed in Russia…)

 Rating 9.5/10

So far, so good, so what? Jan – April in review

May 4, 2010

A better way to fill 2 hours? We haven’t found it…here’s the first 4 months of 2010 in review…

*My comments (Danjo Kazooe) appear in italics underneath James comments.

Daybreakers – frankly nonsensical vampire farce, highlights include blood rations controlled by Starbucks employees and, mid interrogation, letting the chump go outside to make a phone call unescorted. 3/10

A great premise, and some interesting concepts get forgotten as the movies plot holes and lack of scope take centre stage. 5/10

The Road – majestic and haunting visuals follow you long after the credits have rolled. A beautifully depressing film. An absolute must see. 8/10

So bleak, its hard to say you actually enjoyed it – but still, The Road is an incredibly tense, and moving cinematic experience. A movie that will haunt you for some time. 8/10

Edge of Darkness – Mel Gibson isn’t just angry at religious groups but also ”the government” predictably up to nefarious things again. How this got a theatrical release is really a tale of ‘the little story that could’. Avoid! 4/10

When your movies big heroic showdown ends with the bad guy being forced to drink a bottle of milk, you know something has gone wrong – that said, this movie has gained additional points for simply not being as bad The Ghost. Dull, but at least stuff actually happens in this political thriller. 4/10

Sherlock Holmes – Guy Ritchie makes grimey London look…grimey. Entertaining if unspectacular. 5/10

A surprisingly good take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, and hopefully the slightly awkward beginning of a potentially fantastic franchise. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law work brilliantly together . 6.5/10

The Crazies – odd the film title was based on the writers and not the events of the film. The Crazies features government quarantine zones over thrown by yokels and some dubious understanding of how water, pipes and bacteria interact…Anyway, solid enough.6/10

Neither good, nor bad, just very meh! A half decent way of spending 90 minutes or so. Just dont expect to see anything you havent seen a thousand times before. 5/10

The Book of Eli – Denzel Washington must take a Bible to Alcatraz where it can be archived safely. Thrilling! 5/10 

This movie tricks you into thinking that you`ll going to be seeing a kickass, post-apocalyptic action movie. Instead, you get a 2 hour bible class. Denzils a prophet, I get it! Dull, Dull, Dull! 2/10

The Wolfman – blighted by backstage malarky, The Wolfman is a film bored of itself. Throw in a werewolf wrestling match! Just what the film needed. 5/10

A cool beastie and  OTT gore do not make up for its terrible script and dull performances. That said, you do get to see a hairy Anthony Hopkins and a hairier than usual Benicio del Toro come to blows in a wonderfully camp  fight scene. 6/10

Alice in Wonderland – read our reviews to see just why this film must be avoided like a Mike Tyson whisper. 1/10

Tim Burton by the numbers. The lead actress is more wooden than a match, and Johnny Depp does his usual man child, weirdo thing. Oh, and the 3D effect looks horrible. Alice in Wonder Pants! 4\10

The Ghost Writer AKA The Ghost – The Prime Minister knows the CIA! Guess its time to revert to a feudal system! Boring! 3/10

Even more boring than Edge of Darkness. The movies failed attempts at being mature and thought-provoking  made me honestly wish I had of re-watched Ghost Rider instead; a movie more grueling than a colonoscopy.  3/10

Repo Men – if it weren’t so dumb it would have just been dull, just what were the writers thinking? 3/10

Pure torture – which is quite fitting considering its premise. Horribly pretentious, stupid and sadistic. 2/10

Clash of the Titans – gods fighting gods should be incredibly epic right? Wrong – 5/10

A completely forgettable experience. Some interesting sets and character design work aside, this movie is as lifeless as Sam Worthington’s performance. 5/10

How To Train Your Dragon – surprisingly intelligent animation with real heart. And a dragon. 7/10

Kick Ass – It’s violent, we agreed on that much – little else.  5/10 (James)

My favourite movie of the year so far. Yes it is violent, but it also funny, exciting and a well observed satire of the on-gong comic book movie boom! 8.5/10

I Love Your Phillip Morris – entertaining, interesting and well acted, now there’s a change, 6/10

Green Zone – leaves to another film the task of making the definitive Iraq commentary, 6/10

Shutter Island – cinema is very subjective, that said – I adored this, 9.5/10

This movie is certainly well crafted; but its predictable and logic defying plot left me a little cold. 7/10

Iron Man 2 – a two-hour preview of either the Avengers movie or Ms Johanssen’s body – I wasn’t sure, 5/10

You get the impression that this movie was plotted by a group of kids with Iron Man action figures. Some exciting moments and a good cast just about make-up for its complete lack of actual story. 6.5/10

Scre4m…

May 2, 2010

No, I didn’t photoshop this. Scream 4 is coming.

What’s more unbelievable is Neve Cambell, Courtney Cox, Wes Craven (directing) and former WCW World Champion David Arquette are all signed on.

Wes Craven has said that Scream 4 will lampoon the state of the horror film genre today and will take shots at the Saw franchise.

The movie’s director told Entertainment Weekly that the fourth Scream instalment will continue the tradition of exposing the conventions of the slasher plot started by the first three films.

“It feels like the end of an era of a certain type of film. There are series of films, a lot of sequels, and a lot of remakes, and part of the humour of Scream 4 is when characters comment on that. ‘Enough of Saw 25 and all’. A lot of films, directors, and studios are the butts of some of the jokes.”

He continued by saying that just like in the trilogy, knowing the horror formula will help them beat the Ghostface murderer.

“In order to figure out what’s happening around them, the characters have to figure out where the genre of horror is. So this is a look at horror after ten years of a lot of sequels rather than original films coming up year after year. One film is successful, and then they make 25 of them.”

The creator also promised a reinvention of horror itself.

“I think it’s time for something new. I’ve done remakes of my own films too, with, The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes, but we feel it’s time for something new and different, and that’s what this film is going to be.”

Scream was great. Let’s face it – it was cool, it was sexy, it was insightful. Scream was postmodern – understanding the genres cliches it reworked them into something new. Now Scream 2 was just lazy and Scream 3 was some sort of self parody – possibly the first example of a film setting out to make fun of itself.

Wes Craven seems to have some ideas and he’s got a likeable enough cast to make it work (Neve Campell was (is?) such a babe. One wonders how someone like Wes Craven, who is very much the ”problem” with modern horror films, can be its saviour…it will be interesting to see how this works out.

Scream 4 hits screens April 15th 2011.

Another sort of film rating…

May 2, 2010

 

Where would we be without film ratings? As a kid a high rating kept me from so many films and while my 18th birthday is now just a distant memory it still feels like a ‘big’ event each time I can see an 18 certificate film.

The BBFC censors have an odd attitude to sex, drugs and rock n’roll – lets take a look at a few films they rated but never actually seem to have watched…

Beowulf (2007) – its CGI so it must be for kids, right? Beowulf featured graphic violence and dismemberment, our hero fighting while naked, a deformed monster, an elderly man’s suicide and full frontal nudity from Angelina Jolie. The BBFC decided it was all good fun and gave the film a 12A.

Our rating:

Beowulf is a hard 15 certificate.

Jaws (1975) – Spielberg made one of the most definitive horror films ever made. An entire generation grew up fearing shark attacks (though more die from bee stings each year). Jaws is a masterpiece in film making with relentless tension, graphic violence and pure terror. The BBFC must have thought this was a film about James Bond’s nemesis and gave this a PG. Utterly baffling.

Our rating:

Jaws is terrifying. Dodgy effects keep this from an 18, so we settle on a 15 certificate.

Star Wars (1977) – everyone loves Star Wars, children, adults – everyone. The BBFC gave it a U rating – suitable for all. Let’s take a closer look. Star Wars features Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru being burnt to death, a guys arm being severed, Jawa massacre, intergalactic genocide and Greedo being fried. Not to mention anti-droid racism. Star Wars is surprisingly violent.

Our rating:

Star Wars is a PG film through and through.

The Terminator (1984) – released with an 18 certificate (now downgraded) Terminator looks positively tame these days – and probably fairly team by 80’s standards too. Sure a punk has his heart removed and we see the sweet, sweet act of love but Terminator is just a lot of fun.

Our rating:

Terminator is the quintessential 15 certificate film.

Goldeneye (1995) – the BBFC seemed unsure about Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond. Its theatrical release was cut and awarded a 12A, but the DVD has gained a 15 certificate. It features fully clothed sex and Sean Bean but I really struggle to find anything that compares with Licence to Kill’s multiple shark attack scenes (which earned that film a 15). No swearing, little blood and a nice tale of good vs bad – 15 is harsh.

Our rating:

This needs to go back to the original 12A rating.

Transformers (2007) and Transformers Revenge of the Fallen (2009) – in America only Spielbergs direct appeal to the US censors got this downgraded from an ‘R’ to a PG-13. In the UK it earned a 12A – despite every shot of Megan Fox being soft core porn. Sexual innuendos and relentless swearing – (in a giant toy commercial) where totally inappropriate. Oh, we have plenty of drug references too.

Our rating:

Transformers just gets a 12A but Revenge of the Fallen is a 15.

Kick Ass (2010) – a coming of age comic book film sounds friendly enough. Kick Ass features children beaten about the head, enemies being cooked, sliced, crushed and exploded and relentless swearing. Oh and Nicolas Cage burnt to death. This was nasty violence – but a 15 certificate was seen as adequate. Kick Ass is among the most disturbing films I have ever seen at the cinema.

Our rating:

Kick Ass is a cast iron 18 certificate.

Any films ratings that had you scratching your head? Post a comment, lets hear your views!

With Iron Man 2 so very close…

April 28, 2010

Iron Man 2 goes on general release tommorow (Thursday) and I found myself casting my mind back to the original…

2008’s Iron Man was a film I enjoyed. Enjoyed – but didn’t love. The effects were great, Robert Downey Jnr was inspired as Tony Stark, and to be honest, I thought there was enough action and that Obadiah Stane was a good villian. Iron Man was the sort of escapism the cinema should be all about – right?

Actually, no.

Iron Man was thoroughly Hollywood – I’m going to describe it as a ‘shake and bake cinema’. Add charismatic lead, sexy females, explosions, clear division between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and just a hint of ‘The American Dream’ – serves 30-40 million cinema goers.

Iron Man isn’t immature but I would call it silly. I wanted to buy into the films ‘universe’ but scene after scene played for laughs didn’t help. I found myself asking why if Stark has created Artificial Inteligence he sells military equipment less advanced than his desk lamp? It’s the equivalent of Bill Gates developing Windows 7 and giving the world Windsows 3.1 (remember that one?). I also wanted to know why the US Military allowed this…Suppose I need to mention the absurdity of building a reactor in a cave ((with second hand parts) while being watched by thugs checking if your making a missile. Not sure if I was supposed to be ‘impressed’ with Stark or just walk out of the cinema in bemusement.  

My biggest gripe was that Iron Man never tried to be anything. £8 of your money was all it sought – not to tell a great story, not to be memorable. In the film the ultimate Stark weapon is the Jericho missile – ‘fire and forget’. Iron Man is view and forget. Perhaps thats a weakeness of the source material  – flying superhero (Superman) + playboy billionaire (Bruce Wayne) = Iron Man, second tier hero. The whole film lacked anything unique – and where was the inspiration, the scene that was ”wow”? Perhaps I’m asking too much for unique – but surely not for inspiration? Was The Dark Knight unique? No, it was just sticking closer to an old comic. However, it had inspiration – someone was trying to make a good film.

With Iron Man 2 I am hoping we get a bit more substance to go witht the style – a story with some depth, 3-D characters, a bit of ‘wow’.

Iron Man was a comic book film. I’m hoping Iron Man 2 is an actual film.

In defence of….Licence to Kill

April 24, 2010

In 1985 a 60 year old Roger Moore had starred in ‘A View to a Kill’, it was a solid Bond offering but it was becoming apparent that Bond was aging. 1987’s ‘The Living Daylights’ rebooted Bond, for the first time we saw Bond played by Timothy Dalton – the James Bond character Ian Flemming had in mind.

The ‘Living Daylights’ was an excellent but cautious film, not yet ready to stray too far from conventions – Bond may have been darker but he was still driving cars with rocket launchers and fighting Aryan super men. 1989’s ‘Licence to Kill’ had the confidence to do away with all of that – we weren’t going to get the Bond we’d known for 20 years, we were getting something radical for the 16th Bond film.

James Bond and Felix Leiter secure a major coup with the arrest of drug lord Franz Sanchez. Sanchez’s connections (and money) soon see him make a daring prison break and he sets out for revenge. Sanchez murders Felix’s wife and then feeds Felix to a shark at the marine research facility he uses as a front – Felix, still alive, is then dumped at his home as a message. Those familiar with the Bond series will remember Felix as Bond’s friend since ‘Thunderball’ – and Bond is out for revenge. M16 feel this is a CIA matter and refuse Bond’s request to pursue Sanchez. Bond resigns and heads off to South America where it won’t be a jet pack, invisible car or exploding pen that will save him – he’s going to have to rely on his wits.

In an age of Jason Bourne Licence to Kill seems more like a template than a radical departure – but audiences were left stunned by this offering. Licence to Kill is harrowing in its violence. People have been fed to sharks (and piranha) in plenty of Bond films – but we have never seen it quite so graphically. Licence to Kill features a guys heart being cut out, another guy being exploded and a henchman dragged through a mincer – as blood sprays across the walls. So violent, it was only in the last 2 years it was released unedited. This isn’t ‘Bond’ violence either – it’s intense, graphic and designed to be as unsettling as possible. We’ve seen violence against women before in a Bond film – after all, Bond’s own wife is killed in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ – but here Sanchez brutally whips his own girlfriend after she tries to escape him. The entire film has an air of menace a Bond film wouldn’t see again. At one point Bond ends up rescued by Sanchez, who is yet to realise who Bond is. We know Bond is in a ridiculous degree of danger and with absolutely no back up – and these scenes boil with tension, for god’s sake man – get out of there! In attempting to reboot Bond audiences decided director John Glen had gone too far.

John Glen was certainly no novice when it came to Bond – this would be his 5th consecutive offering (and in this authors opinion, the second best Bond director after Martin Campell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale). Glen is determined to keep Bond’s feet on the ground, while we do get the spectacular we don’t get the Moore era absurdity or campy humour. While Glen had demonstrated his skill with set pieces in 1983’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’, Licence to Kill would feature less grandiose action. That’s not to say this isn’t a film heavy on action or great sequences. At one point Bond is discovered infiltrating Sanchez crime buddy Milton Crest’s yacht and has to escape – pursued by divers he harpoons a plane, skis behind before climbing aboard and hurling the pilots to their deaths. Licence to Kill’s greatest sequences is reserved for the end – Sanchez attempts to escape with close to a 100 tonnes of cocaine hidden inside oil tankers. As these tankers hurtle down dusty roads Bond fights off drivers, gun men and gravity with explosions galore. It’s probably my favourite sequence in the Bond series. Incidentally watch for similarities with a sequence in Jason Statham’s ‘The Transporter’.

The cast is simply excellent. Timothy Dalton is perfect as the ruthless and vengeful Bond and it’s a tragedy he never got to reprise Bond a third time. Timothy Dalton’s Bond doesn’t do the humour or womanising as well as Sean Connery – but then that isn’t the attempt. This is a more introverted Bond, that’s not to say that many young ladies pass him by. Robert Davi is the most evil villain in Bond history; his ruthless and worryingly plausible portrayal was perfect for this film. Anthony Zerbe and Benicio Del Torro play Sanchez henchmen – Del Torro is perhaps even more sinister than Robert Davi’s character.

No Bond film would be complete with Bond girls. Talisa Sota plays Sanchez girlfriend Lupe, who wants Bond to kill her keeper. Lupe is stunningly beautiful but also dangerous – the kind of woman that gets men in trouble. Carey Lowell plays Pam Bouvier, tough and resourceful she has her own reasons for wanting Sanchez dead. One of a new breed of Bond girls she can take care of herself and actually saves Bond at one point. We had seen Bond girls with brains before – Barbara Bach’s Soviet agent in The Spy who Loved Me for instance, but Licence to Kill continued a trend that has continued to this day.  

Licence to Kill is intense and violent and shares little in common with the Roger Moore era. Audiences weren’t ready for a film ahead of its time and its summer release alongside a series of blockbusters meant its one of the least remembered Bond films. Interestingly, the stripped down and violent formula of Licence to Kill was back with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace where it was meant with almost hysterical praise. Licence to Kill was 15 years too early and I hope modern audiences will be able to see it for what it is – a stunning film and if its not the best Bond film that’s only because of the huge budgets subsequent entries had. Licence to Kill is my third favourite Bond film after GoldenEye and Casino Royale and is easily one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.

Violent, unconventional and daring, Licence to Kill will shock and amaze for 2 hours. Nobody does it better – 9/10