Sunday, May 24, 2009

Disaster Movie

They explain every "joke".

A "joke" is a celebrity "impersonator" or film "spoof" or combo of the two.

1/10 for "Like Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV, I must break you" if only that was in a better film.

I lost count of the amount of times I shook my head at it tho.

Disaster Movie - 1/10

FYI Scary Movie 5 is on the way.

(No amazon links, I wouldn't do that to you)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

To be honest, it didn't look that great from the trailer. Less than 10 minutes into the film and I wanted to turn it off, but I stuck with it out of principal. I should change my principals.

It's an odd film, well the film isn't odd as such, it's a basic comedy crime caper/underdog story set in a shopping mall, the thing is that it isn't funny, yet still has a reasonably satisfying resolution. It's straight out of the '80s in it's plot style and has a cracking soundtrack, but ultimately it's just not that good.

Best thing about it is Keir O'Donnell, and the only real smiles came from Kevin James running into things and rolling over his shoulder as only a fat man can. Hardly top notch comedy.

Will Observe and Report be any better or will it be another let down like Pineapple Express?

Paul Blart: Mall Cop - 2/10

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Wrestler

A lot of fuss has been made about Darren Aronofsky's fouth feature, especially after the flop of The Fountain, couple that with the 'comeback' of Mickey Rourke, in to be fair a very good performance, and you could possibly see why people were interested (myself included).

So what of it?? First impressions from the trailer... it's Rocky but with wrestling. After watching it... it's Rocky Balboa but with wrestling. Basically Rourke plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson and ageing pro-wrestler, well past his prime, still wrestling on the smaller circuits and fan events. He's just scraping buy, has an odd slightly more than customer relationship going on with a bar stripper in the shape of Marisa Tomei and no relationship with his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood.

When things start to go south, he tries to make a go of things without wrestling, needless to say that doesn't go so well and he heads back to the ring, for a rather upbeat/downbeat ending.

It's a good film, but it's a character study, so with that, not a lot actually goes on, there's sequences made up Ram just going somewhere, seeing his daily life, self reflection and all that. I watched it through, although interest did wander occasionally, but I can appreciate the filmmaking, which leads me onto the special features, something I don't usually comment on, but I'm a big DVD extras guy and while the rental copy only had 3 video extras (trailer, on set featurette & interview with Mickey Rourke), the featurette was brilliant, more interesting than the film to watch how Aronofsky went about making the film on a comparatively small budget of around $7m (£4m) and a shoot schedule of 35 days.

Worth watching, but an "in the right mood" film.

The Wrestler - 7/10

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine is currently one of Marvel's biggest characters, after starting out life as a bit player with the X-Men, he's now heading them up it seems in comic land. As far as I can gather, this is largely down to the success of the X-Men movies (which I'll cover in a separate post, probably all three on one post, which I've been meaning to do for AGES!).

Now, we have our first X-Men spin-off movie, and obviously they came out with their big hitter, Logan, Wolverine (I keep typing Wolverinie dammit). Now despite it coming off the back of the big X-Men trilogy, and still being a 20th Century Fox property rather than from the Marvel Studios like Iron Man, they still went for a more indie-esque director in Gavin Hood (of Tsotsi fame) and while I can see what they're trying to do, I don't think he was quite up to the task (compared to Jon Favreau's efforts on Iron Man!).

This IS (or supposed to be) the origin story of Wolverine, how he became who we see in the X-Men films. I have to say, not having read any of the Wolverine Origins, or Weapon X comics (currently reading the Old Man Logan storyline in Wolverine tho, AWESOME!) there were a few surprises in there, the length of time he's been about, his real name, bone claws?!? Fair enough. However one of the things that made Wolverine interesting was his LACK of backstory, nevermind, it was in the comics first I guess.

So in the film we see the process of the Adamantium bonding, his apparent reasons for having it done in the first place and a lot of roaring and running about with a snarly look on his face. For someone who's invested in his character as much as Hugh Jackman (producing this outing), and the fact this is his origin, it certainly felt like there was less to the character in this film than the X-Trilogy!

Liev Schrieber does lend a bit of gravitas to Victor Creed (Sabretooth, although he's never referred to as such), but the PG-13 friendly script loses some of the edge off the character.

Speaking of characters, X-M O:W is chock full of them and could pretty much do without most of them. It seems like they just wanted to throw in as many references as they could, ideally to characters as yet unused, such as the much loved Gambit, who was left out of the X-Trilogy for various reasons, yet crops up here as Gambit the MacGuffin, we also get Blob, for a comedy fight, John Wraith, for no real purpose, Bolt, for even less purpose, Agent Zero to die and a whole host of teen mutants, presumably setting up the X-Men: First Class movie that's in development (I could see Gambit being brought back in for that).

One character that definitly wasn't in it enough, was Wade Wilson, who is basically Deadpool (although not quite yet in the film), played by Ryan Reynolds, he OWNS the role and despite me not really getting into the character in the comics, I can't wait to see the announced Deadpool movie.

For an origin story of a major tortured hero, it severely lacks in depth and emotion, I made it all the way through, I kind of enjoyed the ride, it's an enjoyable romp around, a kids movie, but as regards any serious plotting or real character engagement... nope.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - 6/10


Pretty much Kiefer Sutherland's big screen comeback, Mirrors, as I recall, got panned by critics and didn't perform too well either. Sorry Kiefer.

It's directed by Alexandre Aja, who previously directed the enjoyable The Hills Have Eyes remake and the ridiculous Switchblade Romance/High Tension/Haute Tension.

Keifer plays Ben Carter, an alcoholic ex-NYPD cop who takes a job as night security at the burnt out Mayflower department store, curiously the mirrors in the store are in pristeen condition. Soon enough some spooky goings on start occuring where the mirrors are concerned and people think Jack, sorry, Ben is going mental, but he's not, no! There is crazy stuff going on with the mirrors and only Jack, sorry again, Ben can solve the riddle.

Okay, so it's not a great film, my girlfriend thought it was "a load of crap" for instance. I however quite enjoyed it, sure it's a tad slow and disjointed, but it falls in well with films of a similar ilk and kept me interested for a couple of hours.

Mirrors - 6/10

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eden Lake

A British horror/thriller from the writer of My Little Eye (which everyone tells me is crap). For Eden Lake, take one part "horror-in-woods-slasher-flick" add one part Deliverance and a whole lot of chav.

I'm not sure if it's even attempting to make any sort of intelligent comment on chav culture in the UK, or whether it's just using it to try and give us a slightly different take on things, although in the grand scheme of things it's no different to the various American redneck slasher type movies that have come before.

It possibly would've been ok, after all there's not many decent british horror/thrillers out there, however it takes too long to get going (as I've said before, I'm all for slow builds, if they're done right), or maybe it's more that it feels like it takes too long, I don't really give a shit about the couple introduced as our leads and thanks to her whining and their joint decisions, I fail to care about them throughout.

The writing could be tighter, although, credit where credit's due, he sure can write chav, and the kids sure can act it.

When it does get going, it's not too bad though, there's kids committing violence (as much is explained on the back of the DVD), a fair bit of gruesomeness and a reasonably interesting end. However, because it's not totally clear as to where it's coming from, I'm not sure if it packs the punch it should.

Eden Lake - 5/10

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek

This is gonna be rather spoilery, so be warned.

"Not your father's Star Trek" is a phrase that's being banded around about the franchise reboot from J.J. Abrams and it's an apt phrase in more than just the fresh faced cast and lens flare heavy lighting.

Let's start with the cast; Chris Pine is brilliant as Kirk, I agree with the general consensus, he should be BIG in the next few years, he can clearly balance the humour and action with a massive on screen charisma, strong possibility he's our next Harrison Ford (Sorry Nathan). Zachary Quinto steps in as younger Spock. I've followed Heroes since season 1 (glutton for punsihment?) and knew he'd be perfect as soon as it was announced, he doesn't disappoint. Karl Urban is also brilliant as Dr Leonard McCoy, while Pine goes to firmly stamp his own mark on the iconic James T. Kirk, Karl Urban happily homages-the-crap out of DeForest Kelley and with great effect. I'll be honest Zoe Saldana, John Cho & Anton Yelchin, as Uhura, Sulu & Chekov respectively, are pretty throwaway, ok Uhura's got some stuff going on with Spock and gives us our initial intro to an adult JTK, but overall, they just feel like they're being given their token screen time. That brings us to Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott, who doesn't come in until some way through the film and doesn't really do anything except be Simon Pegg putting on an accent, he also gets some terrible "comedic" moments courtesy of his spiny sidekick thing.

Eric Bana chews his way through the film's resident villain, Nero, nothing special, but ok.

The casting refresh is one thing, the look and feel is another and this is where it shone for me, a tad too much lens flare maybe, but the look of the sets, the updated ship design and all the general space stuff was pretty damn cool, more energy, more intense, yet clearly updates on the previous versions as opposed to a total re-imagining. I'm not a Star Trek geek, I'll watch it, but I don't get all fanboy over it, I also preferred the movies (not mentioning TNG ones), but the updates hit the right notes with me.

What also makes this "not your father's Star Trek" is the plot. This is NOT a prequel, they even go to writing-hack level lengths to point this out in the exposition, this is an "alternate reality" [Uhura], so how the crew of the Enterprise comes to be in this film is not how it did for the series.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting all worked up over this, as I said, I'm not a Trekkie fanboy, but the film's pitched as an origin story, and while it IS, it's not quite the one I went in, and I expect many others were, expecting. That doesn't take anything away from it, just simply an observation... sorry, not an observation, there was a whole sequence devoted to making sure I damn well knew it.

Without going into the convoluted time travel plot, it basically sets up the new Enterprise crew with Old Spock lending a guiding hand along the way.

What stops this reboot from being amazing then? The comedy, that's what. Once you lose some of the language and maybe the brief "sex" scene, it's basically a kid's film, it's full of one liners, some good, plenty bad and stupid slapstick (see: Simon Pegg in coolant tubes) and set against the backdrop of what should be impending doom for all involved, it all feels like they're having a tad too much fun.

I'm not saying this needs to be all doom and gloom, the original movies all had humour, with The Voyage Home being the prime example of this, but that was in context, the humour in this one felt, for the most part, forced and unnecessary. Kirk's son get's marooned in ST2 and we get Kirk wigging out on a revenge trip, the whole of Vulcan gets wiped out in this one and we get Simon Pegg saying how exciting everything is. A bit of balance is what's needed.

So when it comes down to it, the re-boot shows a lot of potential on all fronts (less slapstick though please), there's already a sequel in the works, it looks like Kurtzman and Orci are lined up to write again, let's hope they move a little away from the Transformers style script and give it a little more meat! They came up with Fringe which I'm loving, so I hope they deliver the goods for Trek.

Star Trek - 7/10

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I've decided recently that I need to watch more films that i wouldn't normally choose to watch. Twilight is one of them, after all Twilight (based on the book), is aimed squarely at, to use a cliche here, overweight, single women with too many cats. Or soppy teenage girls, of which I am neither.

So for those who don't know, Twilight is a vampire flick, takes some classical vampire notions, mixes them up a bit with a couple of new takes, which in a similar way to Being Human, allows for more EXT. DAY scenes and throws in a generous helping of teen angst and token Scream-esque school friends.

Now I'll be honest here, plot wise, character wise, even acting wise, it's not bad. The secondary characters are more interesting than the main couple, but the combo of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) is bearable, despite him looking like he's been smacked in the face with a cartoon frying-pan yet everyone thinks he's hot. Go figure.

The story pulls from various sources, there's the classic forbidden love story, and there's the new kid in town story. What is it with vampires and high school outcasts eh? It's not Lost Boys, but at the same time, it's this decade's answer to it.

The script is a tad ropey in places, some clunky dialogue, but that's kind of expected, what let's the film down and I think seriously holds it back, is the APPALLING camera direction by one Catherine Hardwicke, I mean, REALLY BAD, not helped by the editing. Whether the film's editor Nancy Richardson was beaten down on suggesting that maybe less cuts should be used or whether she pushed them through, I don't know, either way, it's crap! For instance, one scene where Bella & Edward are in the woods, she's sussed what he is and building to that point, in less than half a minute, one short piece has at least ten cuts, with different angles, handheld, undercranked steadicam, normal steadicam, swooping crane AAAARRRGGHH!

ONE SHOT, the whole scene could've been done in ONE SHOT and been a hell of a lot better.

Effects, well they're a bit hokey, fine it's a relatively low budget film but hollywood standards, maybe if they'd done less setups on the above scene, they could've squeezed a little more for effects (and maybe re-shooting the soft focus shots.. I mean really, c'mon!)

It's a soppy film, but once you get past the inept camera work, not terrible. Let see if someone can direct the sequels better.

Twilight - 6/10


This is possibly one of the most original and interesting British films to come out in a long time. It does riff on some familiar themes, but it does so in a very refreshing way.

Although by the end of the film I, just about got where it was coming from, I was totally gripped and genuinely intrigued throughout, I sussed the general direction of the film pretty early on, but what kept me interested was just how it was all going to tie up, constantly speculating on the different characters' connections and figuring out who's who.

It's not perfect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! It also looks wonderful, it's very well shot (a quick butchers at IMDb reveals the DP to be one Ben Davis, who's also on Kick-Ass, cannot wait for that one!!!)

The cast aren't brilliant, Eva Green's voice irritates me, as does her waifness (!?), Sam Riley, while apparently brilliant in Control, was rather wet, Ryan Phillippe was behind a mask most of the time, but does a very good english accent and Bernard Hill, while good, could've done with more development and screen time. Despite this, the plot keeps it going.

So, written and directed by Gerald McMorrow, a promising debut feature, I for one certainly look forwards to more stuff from him and hopefully he won't let us down like a previous certain person...

Franklyn - 8/10