Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Untouchables

I hadn't seen this in ages, but a recent (well not very recent as I'm catching up here!!) re-watch re-aquainted me with what is a classic movie and one of Brian De Palma's better ones in my view.

We've got Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness, Robert DeNiro as Al Capone and Sean Connery attempting an Irishman, what's not to like there?!?

It's an underdog story, set against the American era of prohibition, there's a lot of shooting and the iconic scene with the pram and the stairs. Not only one of De Palma's better films, but also one of Costner's best, if you haven't seen it you must!

The Untouchables - 8/10

Punisher: War Zone

Much to my surprise, this wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Based on the trailers and various self absorbed postings from Lexi Alexander, I thought this was going to be a total and utter mess. It's no masterpiece and it pales in comparison to Iron Man, Marvel's biggest success of 2008 (and so far really!), I did however find it reasonably entertaining, certainly more entertaining that The Incredible Hulk (the other big Marvel 2008 release), although overall a similar standard.

It's a grim film, going for a big tick in the violence box, which fits, as Punisher is pretty damn violent, but with all the violence going on and Ray Stevenson's portrayal of the character, you feel a little detached form it all. I don't care about the kid or his mum, or anyone else for that matter, and I don't care about Punisher's reasons for his actions, or have any sympathy for him, I'm just indifferent waiting for him to go shoot some more shit.

I don't know if I'm supposed to sympathise with Frank Castle, the film's certainly set up as such, throwing in a cheeky flashback to the killing of his family, but it's all a bit token gesture for reboot's sake. When it comes down to it, the man's a killer vigilante, out for revenge, that's not really the sympathy type.

I'm also a little torn, as I only gave The Punisher (the most recent previous version 4/10), yet after watching War Zone, I wanted to see Thomas Jane in the role instead, there's no man crush going on, I think I just preferred his Punisher to Ray's. I think I need to rewatch the other two again.

Villain wise, I think Dominic West's 'Jigsaw' is a better one than John Travolta's 'Howard Saint'

Punisher: War Zone - 6/10

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

On the cutout in Blockbuster it says that The Daily Star (yeah) gave it 10/10 and said "spectacular special effects" or something very similar. I'm guessing that was the best review this remake had.

Let's start with the effects (they're as good a place as any with this one!), they're not spectacular, they're pretty MEH actually and contribute towards highlighting the various script issues. The filmmakers made a big deal out of keeping their version of GORT a secret, so they could have a big reveal when the film was released. I can reveal that it's rubbish and just looks like a big chunk of CGI.

So what about the film, the story, the drama, the sheer lack of emotion pouring out of Keanu Reeves... to be fair, this is probably the perfect role for him, as there's supposed to be no emotion, so I guess on those grounds, he's pretty damn good in this. Everyone else ambles along, various token characters crop up all over the place with no development and thus no engagement. It's too long and dull... it's just not very good, just about watchable, but not really entertaining.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) - 4/10

Monday, April 20, 2009


I really can't decide if I actually liked this movie.

It's a reasonably interesting concept, but they do kind of spoil it, buy making a point of it rather blatantly several times throughout the movie.

So the monster's an anthropomorphic rat...

No, I really don't know. It wasn't a bad movie, it was pretty well shot, nice and short, I think I wasn't totally satisfied by the end, which I won't spoil here, but needless to say I didn't feel it had the impact it needed for me to come away feeling the way you should after a really good gore fest.

There are a couple of nice touches in there gore wise, the script's a tad expositional, but for what is essentially a small, low budget horror, it's ok I guess, worth a watch.

Splinter - 7/10

Lakeview Terrace

Overall, not great, it's a by the numbers nasty-neighbour film, Samuel L Jackson, strolling through the performance of him playing himself and any attempt to get the audience to sympathise with him fails big time. Interesting to see Patrick Wilson in something else, I'd only seen him in Watchmen... he's roughly as downtrodden in this.

It's also a slooow film, it's set against the backdrop of the recent California wild fires, but apart from a bit of smoke they don't really show up til the end, more could've been made of this I feel, it certainly needs something to ramp up the tension a little.

(this was a recent watch, but I've got a load that I haven't typed up, so trying to catch up as well!!)

Lakeview Terrace - 5/10


Now I saw Watchmen around opening weekend over here in the UK, so it's been a good few weeks since then and I'm only just getting around to typing something up on it. To be honest, I did try pretty soon after but I couldn't figure out what to write about it...I still can't really, but here goes.

I'd read the graphic novel a while before seeing the film and, while I can see what all the fuss was about, it's not one of my favourite comics, it's a laborious read, weighed down with a lot of metaphor and waffle (yes I'll probably get flamed for that), and for once I actually agree with Jonathan Ross' view on the movie, in that it stayed TOO faithful to it's source material.

Whilst trying to satisfy the book's hardcore fanbase (and possibly Alan Moore as well..good luck) and depsite the changes that were made and the stuff that was left out, it's still a very heavy going film, very wordy and slow, with A LOT going on, I came out feeling that I possibly would've rather seen a stripped down plot, even adapted more for the film format, cos as a FILM, it's not the best narrative.

On the technical side of things, yet again Zack Snyder pulled out all the stops, he's clearly geeky about the technical side of things and pushing new technology, visually Watchmen is great, a real feast if you will, even if the speed ramped fights feel a little cliched now.

Watchmen - 7/10

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Spirit

Once you get over the fact that the trailers sold it as a reasonably serious action based comic book adap and realise that it's actually a very hammy comedy, it's not too bad.

Of course you also have to get over Frank Miller's ham fisted directing and the fact that he still think's he's writing a comic rather than a film, but all in all, it was okay, there are certain things that saved it though.

Gabriel Macht has got a certain amount of presence to him, depsite having some seriously bad dialogue and directing. Sam Jackson is loving it as The Octopus, and once you indulge him he takes you right along with him, along with, bizarrely, Scarlett Johansson is great as Silken Floss, an understated role, but compliments The Octopus brilliantly, which makes a change as she usually bores the hell out of me.

Skipping over the Sin City stylings (go-on original Frank!) (I was also surprised that Troublemaker Studios didn't pop up at the start), and some of the utterly rubbish animation/wire-work/whatever stuff, there are a couple of really good scenes. There's a nice one between the doc and her dad, and pretty much everything with the kids in is brilliant, I was genuinely surprised at how natural their stuff felt, and how much more mature their scenes and performances came across.

The Spirit - 5/10