DVD Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

original

Framed as a flashback, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is the story of Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner), who live in a dying industrial town whose economy depends on the local pencil factory.

At the film’s start, Jim and Cindy get some terrible news – after years of trying everything, they are told that they will never be able to produce a baby of their own. One of the films most heart-wrenching moments, we see Jim and Cindy go through sadness, anger, and eventually denial.

Sick of mourning, they get drunk and start imagining the kid they would have had, writing each of his awesome attributes on a piece of paper, then putting the slips into a wooden box, which they bury (or plant) in their garden (along with their dreams apparently).

Overnight, something magical happens – there’s a rainstorm localized specifically over their house and garden and something crawls out of the earth. In the morning, Jim and Cindy discover muddy footprints leading to what would have been the baby’s room – and inside, a mud-covered 10-year-old (CJ Adams) who announces that his name is Timothy and that he is theirs.

Timothy is a strange little strange little cookie to say the least. He doesn’t pick up on social cues—he’s oblivious to bullying and can’t figure out the fun of sports – and persists on photosynthesising at the most inappropriate moments. Timothy is a unique soul, but it’s a struggle to get really excited about his arrival, excepting the fact that he’s growing leaves along his shins.

Luckily, the camera often follows Cindy and Jim. The majority of scenes are reliant on their connection, which Garner and Edgerton pull off spectacularly – they really work as an on-screen couple. Both deliver fine performances as parents who desperately want to become parents, but even their combined efforts can’t save this movie from its own overbearing sentimentality.

Having said that, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is definitely a different kind of film and one that the whole family could enjoy. It’s not the greatest movie ever made, but it has its moments. A safe bet if you’re looking for a family friendly tear-jerker.

Advertisements

Breaking Dawn Part 2: Twilight at its most tolerable

Breaking-dawn-part-2-sneak-preview

Doomsday for Twi-hards has come and gone – the Twilight saga has ended, if not on a high, then at least on a considerably better note than it began.

Converted into a bloodsucker after a rather brutal childbirth in the previous film, our protagonist Bella (Kristen Stewart) is now faster, stronger and hungrier than she’s ever been, and even Edward (Robert Pattinson) has trouble keeping up with her.

No sooner than they’ve settled into their new home and enjoyed a few passionate moments, Edward and Bella learn that the Volturi, that feared clan of vampire law-keepers, is headed their way to pick a fight. Turns out the Volturi are convinced Bella’s daughter, Renesmee, is an “immortal child” and therefore must be immediately killed.

Truth is, since the girl was conceived and delivered while Bella was still human, she’s very much mortal, but that won’t stop the Volturi using the misunderstanding to rid themselves of a potential rival coven – and recruiting some talented individuals while their at it.

So the Cullens call in favours across the globe, assembling a force to face the oncoming Volturi army. Good luck trying to keep awake as you’re introduced to these dozen-or-so friends, each with a special power or gift to be explained and suitably demonstrated.

Creepiest of the lot is little Renesmee herself, the root cause of all the problems in this film. The kid (Mackenzie Foy) ages rapidly, and has this strange gift where she can touch your face with her palm and teleport her back-story to you – a trick her shameless parents encourage her to do with pretty much everyone she meets.

Almost all the characters in this film are lacking in some way. Though Kristen Stewart appears a little less morose in this film than she usually does, Edward as a character is still as stiff.

In fact, the only truly enjoyable thing in this film, apart from Taylor Lautner taking his shirt off once again, is the delicious overacting by Michael Sheen as Aro, leader of the Volturi, who offers up such a deliberately hammy performance it’s hard not to laugh out loud.

The climatic battle scenes at the end do manage to deliver some surprisingly gory thrills also – but it’s an unfortunate case of too little too late. Though a marked improvement from the previous Twilight instalments, Breaking Dawn Part 2 leaves a lot to be desired.

End of Watch: Another visceral and hard-hitting cop drama from Director David Ayer

Film Jam

By Kelly O‘Brien

End of Watch Director David Ayer has long been obsessed with the thin blue line separating cops from criminals and good cops from their corrupt brethren.

He explored this theme when writing the morally ambiguous Training Day, in which a very angry Denzel Washington won an Oscar for playing a crooked cop, and when writing and directing the problematic but compelling Harsh Times, in which an even angrier Christian Bale played a crooked veteran trying in vain to join the boys in blue.

Though sticking with this tried and tested theme for his latest offering, Ayer does manage to inject some new life into End of Watch – a film about two upstanding cops who put their lives on the line every day. The twist in this movie is that the cops, for once, are the good guys.

Thanks to an incredibly tight script, the film…

View original post 479 more words

Skyfall: The last rat standing

Image

The 23rd installment of the Bond franchise, Skyfall, is perhaps the smartest, slickest, most sensational Bond outing yet, with the lord of the spies grappling with changing times, the limitations of his own battered body, and a super-villain who spreads cyber-terror through a digitized network of global computer hackery.

After an audaciously thrilling pre-credit sequence (that reportedly took three months to film) in which Bond pursues a bad guy across the sprawling rooftops of Istanbul on motorcycle before finally coming to blows atop a speeding train, the movie settles into its groove. Someone has stolen a computer drive with information that could compromise the entire British Secret Service, and M (Judi Dench), Bond’s boss, becomes the target of a mysterious psychopath (Javier Bardem) with chillingly personal reasons for his mad rampage.

On a tropical hiatus due to his presumed death, Bond returns to Her Majesty’s service after hearing that M is in danger. But circumstances dictate that he has to reapply to get his old job back. That includes re-passing the fitness test – a harder task than expected, leaving Bond huffing and puffing and nursing his recently banged-up shoulder.

“It’s a young man’s game,” Bond’s reminded by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the bureaucrat in charge of hauling the British espionage division into the 21st century.

Seeing if 007 is up for the job will keep you glued to your seat as the plot shifts from London to Shanghai and finally to the moors of Scotland for an emotionally charged stand-off where Bond must not only defend the empire, but also confront his own past.

Director Sam Mendes integrates sweeping action, solid characters and spectacular scenery to the long line of Bond pop-culture mythology while Craig manages to unearth facets of the Bond character that other actors have simply never found before.

Bad-guy Bardem, so memorable as the creepy killer in No Country For No Men, also works well in his role as soft-spoken sadist Silva – a swishy, blonde-haired demon who taunts Bond with the prospect of England’s old cloak-and-dagger crumbling underneath his new world order of servers and software.

Skyfall manages the hard task of striking a respectful balance with the movies that have gone before, while also taking the character and the franchise into new and exciting territory.

If the next Bond movie is going to be as good as this, then lets just hope we don’t have to wait another four years to see it.

http://youtu.be/6kw1UVovByw

Rust and Bone: A tough watch

Rust and Bone marks the return of Parisian film-maker Jacques Audiard. Much like his 2009 success A Prophet, this picture pushes viewers to the unpleasant extremes of reality whilst remaining rooted in the mundane. .

Party girl Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) meets security guard Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) when she gets in a fight in a nightclub. She isn’t badly hurt but he drives her home anyway and they part ways. The next day, Stephanie returns to work at Marineland where she trains killer whales. Soon catastrophe strikes and Stephanie is pulled into the water and her legs are bitten off.

Wheelchair-bound, Stephanie becomes depressed and reclusive, but contacts Ali on a whim and begins a friendship with him. The ensuing romance, if that is the correct term for this complex relationship, stretches both characters beyond their limits. She may carry the obvious handicap but Ali is shown to be grievously emotionally disabled. Rarely has such an unsympathetic and flawed character led a film so convincingly.

A Hollywood version of this film could have been corny and soap-like, but Audiard’s characters are passionate and real, and the way that they are shot makes this story incredibly powerful.

The CGI special effects are stunning, appearing to erase Marion Cotillard’s legs as if by magic. These impressive techniques are mind-boggling; her legs aren’t tucked away by some clever camera angles, they’re simply gone.

The film also tackled the awkward subject of sex with amputees in an intimate no-nonsense way not usually seen on film. As in the recent French hit Untouchable, where a paralyzed man was sent on a blind date, Rust and Bone tenderly shows its characters’ healthy love lives despite their physical disability.

Marion Cotillard gives a staggeringly beautiful performance, giving emotional depth and veracity to the role. This is arguably her best since her Academy award-winning turn as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose (2007).

Jacques Audiard has fast become the World’s favourite French director. His previous features have been showered with awards, and Rust and Bone has now earned a selection of its own, recently winning the Best Film prize at the London Film Festival, and being nominated for the Palme D’Or earlier this year, too.

A tough and original watch.

Argo F**k Yourself

Some stories are so unbelievable that they can only be true. Argo is one such story.

The film opens in 1979, in the middle of an Iranian revolution. We see angry crowds swarm outside the American embassy in Iran, viciously protesting for the extradition of recently deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – demanding that he be returned to Iran to hang for his crimes against its people.

After days of rioting outside the gates, the US embassy is eventually overthrown by revolutionaries and the inhabitants held hostage. Six American diplomatic staff evade capture , however, and take shelter in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. If discovered, they face brutal and public execution

Back home at the White House, the administration of President Jimmy Carter is running out of time. The best man available for the worst job imaginable is Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA agent who specialises in “exfiltration” – retrieving ordinary US citizens from extraordinary situations all over the world.

Mendez has an idea and, by his own admission, it’s a longshot. After much deliberation, the proposal gets a green light, largely due to the words of Bryan Cranston’s character – “It is the best bad idea we have”.

The Mendez pitch is this: he will travel to Tehran posing as a Canadian film producer. Once there, he will persuade the newly installed (and radically militant) Iranian regime that the six stowaways are his crew scouting Middle East locations for an upcoming sci-fi production.

There are multiple passports to be forged, and a lot of fast talking to be done. One minor slip-up, and everyone dies. Including himself.

Affleck’s third feature film as a director, Argo is a taut, well-paced suspense thriller with so much palpable tension that it has you on the edge of your seat.

The screenplay (based on a book penned by Mendez) is the key, relaying tons of information while ably carrying in excess of 100 different speaking parts. Sometimes it sticks to the facts. Sometimes it embellishes them. Nevertheless, you will be hanging on each and every word.

The acting of the ensemble cast – led strongly by Affleck – is faultless. No one steals a scene. Everyone picks one up, runs with it a while, and hands it to someone else.

All in all, Argo is a stunning achievement in direction, screenwriting, acting and filmmaking. If this movie doesn’t bag at least one Oscar, I’ll eat my hat.

DVD Review: Magic Mike

There are guy movies and girl movies, the latter of which the guys label “chick flicks” and often only ever see under protest.

Is Magic Mike a chick flick?

If it is, it may the first of a new breed. It’s a crisp, unsentimental story, with none of those lingering sunset shots you find in Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations, and a heroine who spends most of the movie tutting her disapproval on the sidelines. But while it’s not necessarily a chick flick, you can be sure that the primary audience to this film are indeed women.

Why? Because Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) is a stripper, and so is his mentor, club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), and his 19-year-old protégé, Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

From the opening shots of a buff, naughty McConaughey teasing the audience in tight leather trousers (“What can’t you touch?”), it’s clear that Soderbergh has the measure of what his audience wants. He’s going to give it to them, too, but not too much, too soon because the tease is as important as the strip.

A college dropout who draws the line at taking any job that requires him to wear a tie, Adam is living with his big sister Brooke (Cody Horn) when his new buddy Mike ushers him into the delights of the Xquisite Male Dance Revue. In time-honoured backstage musical tradition, “the kid” gets thrown on stage when one of the stars can’t go on. Next thing he knows, Adam is shopping for a stars and stripes thong for the Fourth of July special.

Scripted by Reid Carolin and inspired by Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a Tampa stripper in the 1990s, Magic Mike is honest about the attractions of the job (money, girls, fun) without pretending it’s a smart choice in the long run (too much fun, too many girls, not enough money).

Brawny and bruised, Tatum doesn’t look like it but he is one hell of a dancer. If the movie was in 3-D you’d probably be stuffing bills into his briefs.

Magic Mike hits DVD outlets on October 23rd.

Looper: Keeping it simple

Back in 2006, writer/director Rian Johnson made an exceptional début with Brick, a low-budget thriller set in a southern California high school featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a teenage private eye.

Six years later, with the disappointingly mediocre The Brothers Bloom proving but a minor bump in the road, Johnson is back on course with Gordon-Levitt in time-travelling action flick Looper.

The term ‘Looper’ refers to a hitman who kills people sent back in time from the future (so that there is no dead body as evidence). The term is apt because the assassins operate under the knowledge that they will eventually have to ‘close their loop’ by killing their future selves.

The film centres on a particularly efficient Looper called Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is saving up enough money for a retirement in Paris. His plans are shattered, however, when he fails to close his loop allowing his future self (Bruce Willis) to get the better of him.

Throughout the film, writer/director Johnson cleverly evades the complications that come with time travel. Willis’s character even states, “I don’t want to talk about time travel shit.” Viewers who want to see a true science fiction film may be disappointed by this (the time machine, resembling an old-fashioned scuba diver mask, is also rather lackluster), but the film proves to be perfectly entertaining and well-made overall.

Cinematographically, the film is a work of art. Motifs like close-ups of cigarette smoke and ticking clocks are intricately placed, the camera work while Gordon-Levitt is on an acid trip is breathtaking, and the details necessary to maintain consistency between the future and current Joe are painstakingly accurate. In a diner scene, for example, we see a newly injured, bandaged ear on Gordon-Levitt… and a newly disfigured ear on Willis.

Another near flawless aspect is the casting. Veterans Bruce Willis and Jeff Daniels bring their usual prowess to the screen, while Paul Dano and Emily Blunt successfully transform into roles unlike any they have played before.

The main acting highlight, however, comes in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who supposedly spent hours in make-up having prosthetics applied so that he would look more like Bruce Willis. Though his contrived voice and strangely perfect eyebrows are distracting at first, he is able to capitalize on the disguise and adopt a convincing tough guy persona.

Overall, Looper is the proof we needed that originality hasn’t died in Hollywood. It also reinforces the fact that Sci-fi movies can be smart (Gattaca), imaginative (2001: A Space Odyssey), or just plain exciting (Dredd).

With Looper, we get the pleasure of a sci-fi film that does all three, and does them masterfully.

The Campaign: Ticking all the wrong boxes

With US election year upon us yet again, the timing could not possibly be better for a comedy satirizing the extreme excesses of politicians who will say or do almost anything to get elected.

Despite this, The Campaign is a hit-and-miss affair that falls far short of the mark. Absurd, abusive and annoyingly familiar, this latest Ferrell film had the potential to be witty, sharp and incisive… but, with director Jay Roach (Fockers franchise) at the helm, it ends up being nothing more than another run-of-the-mill film of the jerk-off genre.

Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a North Carolina congressman who has run unopposed for many a term, enjoying the perks of power with very little regard for actual public service. When Cam’s philandering ways land him in the media cross-hairs,  his rock-hard platform of “Family, Jesus, Freedom” shows enough cracks to motivate money hungry business types Glenn and Wade Motch (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) to sponsor a new candidate to oppose Brady.

Enter Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the eccentric son of a wealthy family, who actually does care for his community. At first Marty seems to be nothing more than a simple-minded small-towner drowning in the treacherous waters of American politics, but under the guidance of a cutthroat campaign manager (Dylan McDermott), the oddball newcomer starts to gain serious ground on the favored incumbent.

Though not as side-splittingly funny as some of Ferrell’s earlier films, The Campaign does serve as a chillingly accurate (if slightly exaggerated) portrayal of US elections. The films genius lies in its premise – that a go-for-broke, no-holes-barred comedy might just be the only way to deal with the harsh reality of modern-day politics…

But even the brilliance of a great idea and an all-star cast can’t reverse the ratings black hole that is Jay Roach. Definitely one to avoid.

Resident Evil: Retribution

The fifth, and probably not the last, Resident Evil movie has now hit cinemas nationwide. As with every instalment of the RE series, I find myself asking, ‘How on earth can they still be making these god-awful movies?’

Most films based on video games, I’m sorry to say, just aren’t very good. Much is either lost in translation, or wasn’t there to begin with. The end result is usually something that leaves nobody satisfied, be they gamers or movie buffs.

Alice (Mila Jovovich) is knocked unconscious during an Umbrella Corp onslaught. Upon waking, she finds herself in the heart of suburbia – a homely housewife taking care of her husband and young daughter. Before long, however, some trademark RE zombies appear out of nowhere to chomp on some upper middle class meat. Just as it seems as if her number is up, Alice wakes with a start in an Umbrella-designed holding chamber, semi-nude of course.

Before long, Alice manages to escape with a new leather outfit but, surprise, surprise… (more)

Lawless: bootlegging brilliance

Every once in a while, you’ll see a movie that shines despite having a subpar plot. Lawless is that type of movie.

Set in Franklin, Va. during Prohibition era, this tale of three bootlegging brothers is so beautifully shot and well acted that you can forgive a plot that drunkenly weaves from one act to the next.

Lawless is the story of the three Bondurant brothers – Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf).

Together, these three brothers embody traits that Americans find admirable: grit, determination, and loyalty. That’s why you’ll find yourself rooting for Hardy’s lumbering family patriarch Forrest as he knocks some fool’s teeth down his throat. The Bondurant boys just want to make a living, Prohibition be damned.

When the authorities storm into Franklin and demand a cut of Forrest’s profits, the man who was Bane uses the same tactic that brought Gotham to its knees: fear. Forrest tells Jack, “We’re survivors, we control the fear. And without the fear, we’re all as good as dead.”

That’s part of what makes Lawless such a rewarding watch. To see three brothers control a moonshine empire with nothing but fear and their fists is incredible.

More than that, it’s is a coming-of-age tale. Youngest brother Jack, long left out of the family trade, yearns to expand the Bondurant brand outside of Franklin. He makes mistakes along the way that any younger sibling can relate to, giving the audience a great connection to what they’re seeing onscreen.

LaBeouf, always so manic and one-dimensional in the Transformers movies, conveys Jack’s wide range of emotion quite nicely. He goes from frustrated to hopeful to elated to devastated throughout Lawless, and his journey provides the movie’s emotional heft.

While Hardy’s definitely invested in the role, Forrest is little more than a living, breathing Terminator who’s (sometimes inexplicably) used a lot of times for laughs. The movie opens with a voiceover from Jack about how Forrest is indestructible, an assertion you see tested several times during the movie’s 116-minute run time.

Clarke does a nice job as Howard, the perpetually drunk version of Forrest who’s also adept at cracking skulls but the movie’s real star is Guy Pearce as Charlie Rakes, a Chicago lawman brought in to help curb Franklin’s booming booze trade. With his slicked back hair and leather gloves, Rakes is a psychopath parading behind a badge. He sets himself up on a collision course with the Bondurant brothers, and you’ll be counting down the minutes until his rail-thin face meets Forrest’s brass knuckles.

Those expecting a blood-soaked romp through the Virginia hills will be disappointed to learn that this movie isn’t gratuitously violent. Yes, there’s bloodshed, but Lawless is a character study first and foremost, and it’s that decision that makes the movie stronger.

Though it’s not as tightly constructed as it could have been, this period piece definitely has enough punch to make it worth seeing.

The Cold Light of Day: missing more than family

The doldrums of September are finally upon us. It’s that time of year when Hollywood gives full expression to its disdain for movie goers by dumping its crappiest tax write-offs into empty theaters. Enter The Cold Light of Day, a movie so bland and forgettable that, despite having seen it less than twelve hours ago, I actually had to look it up on IMDB.com just to recall the title.

The Cold Light of Day is a product-placement travelogue in search of a coherent thriller. A poor imitation of the best Bourne films, it’s confusing and illogical, with plot lapses and continuity blunders.

Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver star alongside Henry Cavill in this story of a young man who finds his family abducted by terrorists during a vacation to Madrid. Why is his family kidnapped? Because his dad, Bruce Willis, is secretly leading the double life of a CIA agent.

Never before have I seen a movie where the characters themselves seemed so bored to be in their own movie. The entire supporting cast provides dead-eyed, monotone line readings throughout the film’s torturous 93 minutes.

But the lethargy doesn’t begin and end with the cast; everything about The Cold Light of Day feels sluggish. In one chase sequence, Sigourney Weaver plows a Range Rover into a motorcycle carrying Cavill. The bike skids off the street, but before Weaver can put a bullet in his head, he gets back on the bike and speeds away at a whopping 15 miles per hour. Weaver just stands there as if she’s too sedated to even be bothered to continue chasing him.

In another sequence, Cavill, after being framed for murder, finds himself being chased through a park by one police officer on horseback and another two or three officers on foot. He bolts down a gravel pathway and into a tunnel. Everyone in the scene can clearly see Cavill running for the tunnel. The officer on horseback is thrown from his mount before he can enter the tunnel, and the scene immediately cuts to Cavill washing his hands and face in a public bathroom. What the hell happened to the other half dozen police officers who were chasing after him? Did they just turn around go home after their buddy faceplanted on a sidewalk?

Every aspect of The Cold Light of Day, from the writing to the performances to the direction to the unimaginative title, absolutely reeks of laziness. Avoid at all costs.

DVD Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Out on DVD Next week we have The Cabin in the Woods, the horror genre hybrid of writer-turned-director Director Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon.

On a surface level, the film follows five friends Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Holden (Jesse Williams), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Dana (Kristen Connolly) as they go on holidays to a country cabin for a weekend of drinking, skinny-dipping, and other suitably scandalous antics.

As their journey comes to a close, the fivesome encounter an ill-tempered gas pump attendant who, despite his disdain for college kids, warns the group about their destination and asserts that visitors regularly disappear up in them there woods. Dismissing the warnings, the group reach the cabin where, surprise surprise, things quickly turn sour.

In the same way that Scream winkingly riffed on the slasher film template, The Cabin In The Woods is aimed at audiences who are already familiar with haunted house movies. Wry nods to The Evil Dead, Hellraiser and A Tale Of Two Sisters, among others, will delight fanatics. But it’s also an admirably reflective send up, and readily questions the horror film industry’s ritualistic obsession with specific stereotypes.

A surprisingly entertaining effort, The Cabin in the Woods strikes a smart balance by embracing, as well as rejecting, the viewer’s expectations and knowledge of the horror genre.

The set-up is executed with a tongue-in-cheek attitude but presented with a straight face that could be off-putting for viewers who are expecting a straightforward slasher film or a “gritty” and serious scare-fest (such as The Descent or Hostel).

The final product, however, succeeds in paying homage to the movies that inspired it, poking fun at the often static state of the horror genre, all while simultaneously delivering a few fresh surprises. Anyone willing to suspend a bit of disbelief and not get too bogged down in the film’s logic will likely be ready for an entertaining and worthwhile experience. Definitly worth a rental.

DVD Review: Battleship

Out on DVD this week we have Battleship starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Neeson and, unfortunately, Rihanna.

The film starts reasonably enough with Kitsch playing Alex Hopper – a reckless and irresponsible youth whose wild ways consistently disappoint his brother Stone (True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård), a respected officer in the US Navy.

Shortly after giving his brother an ultimatum, Stone finds his brother committing a totally unneccessary burrito-related felony and offers him a life at sea as an alternative to prison. Finding that the US Navy life agrees with him, Alex resolves to turn his life around, both to please his brother and impress his girlfriend’s father (Liam Neeson).

At much the same time, scientists have been sending transmissions to a newly discovered planet in the hope that its inhabitants might be friendly. They’re not.

And quicker than you can say Independence Day, Battleship goes from being a mediocre movie, to downright incomprehensible drivel.

If they had stuck to a basic plot, with one or two offshoots, they might just have been on to something… but the whole thing is weighed down by totally unnecessary sub-plots. We have the unrealistic love story and the short-lived sibling conflict, but that’s just the tip of the narrative iceberg. We also get Japanese-American hostilities between Hopper and Nagata, a group of grizzled war veterans taking one last shot at glory, and a bizarre sub-story in which a double amputee teams up with a physical therapist to do battle with aliens in a forest…

At times it almost feels like director Peter Berg – whose previous credits include Hancock, The Kingdom, and Friday Night Lights – is out to satirize the genre, sending up the work of Michael Bay rather than aping it, but the film is played with such po-faced stoicism and flag-waving jingoism that this theory has to be rejected.

Instead, the sub-plots mount and mount so that come the finale, the film threatens to collapse under the weight of its many tangents, and it’s a testament to Berg’s skills as a director that he reins proceedings in for the final few scenes… though even he can’t make the sight of two ships firing at each other particularly interesting.

Those with a fetish for weapons and hardware will doubtless enjoy proceedings to some extent, but if plot logic and character development are what you’re after, you may want to give Battleship a miss.

Total Recall: slicker but soulless

Film Jam

By Kelly O’Brien

The latest movie remake to spring out of Hollywood in recent months, Total Recall boasts an all-star cast of Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston. While this reboot, besed on the 1966 short story by Philip K. Dick, retains the original title from the cult classic 1990 Arnie movie, it seems to have borrowed pretty much everything else from the most successful action/sci-fi movies of the past decade. In other words, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Directed by Len Wiseman of the Underworld films, Total Recall is not only fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping, it’s astonishingly well-made. On paper, it’s a box office smash of epic proportions. In reality, however, it’s just another in a long line of technically impressive yet ultimately forgettable action films.

In a dystopian future, the majority of earth’s landmass has been devastated by chemical warfare. Only two habitable areas remain…

View original post 336 more words

The Amazing Spider-man: Webb not strong enough

Hot on the heels of The Dark Knight Rises, the latest superhero flick to hit cinema screens is The Amazing Spider-man starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) and Emma Stone (Zombieland).

A mere ten years after the Toby Maguire/Kirsten Dunst/Sam Raimi Spider-man, director Marc Webb, disappointingly, opts to keep the plot simplistic and run-of-the-mill. While both Garfield and Stone are leaps and bounds ahead of the irritatingly dismal acting abilities of Maguire and Dunst, the plot simply isn’t interesting enough to make this movie anything other than mediocre.

Like most teenagers, Peter Parker (Garfield) is trying to figure out who he is. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. When Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. The rest of the movie can be summed up in a few words: Spider bite, sense of duty, girlfriends bedroom, giant lizard.

While there was nothing particularly amazing about The Amazing Spider-man, it was an enjoyable film with good acting and great direction. It was both visually and artistically stunning, and got straight into the romance and action with no hanging about.

While Webb has successfully addressed the new demand for superhero movies to be deeper and more human, he is not a director adept at providing big-budget action to an audience in the same way as Joss Whedon or Christopher Nolan.

Most viewers will no doubt be satisfied by this the newest Spidey flick, but anyone expecting a remake as successful as The Dark Knight will be sorely disappointed.

Ted: offensive comedy at its very best

Coming to Irish cinemas next week we have McFarlane’s Ted, a goofy, quirky and infectiously funny bromance about an ordinary guy and his extraordinary friend.

Sick of being the kid who can’t make friends, eight-year-old John Bennett wishes that his teddy bear were real. In true fairytale fashion, complete with shooting stars and gap tooth smiles, little John Bennett’s wish comes true. At first Ted the talking teddy bear is a celebrity, appearing on television chat shows and loved by parents and children the world over. All too soon however, in the words of Seth McFarlen “everybody stopped giving a shit”.

Fast forward 27 years and we see John (Mark Wahlberg) desperately trying to juggle his girlfriend (Mila Kunis) and his best friend (Ted) as they share an apartment in the big city of Boston. Hilarity ensues.

From the very beginning, you can tell this is a Seth McFarlen production. His very unique, very offensive, style of comedy is both hilarious and slightly awkward. Fans of Family Guy (McFarlen’s hit TV animation series) will love it unconditionally, but a more reserved audience will hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. As such, Ted has, predictably enough, garnered some pretty mixed reviews.

Personally, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was original, random and deliciously unapologetic. Some of the jokes were a little childish and awkward, but these were few and far between. Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable movie with a good few sidesplittingly funny moments that you just can’t help but laugh at.

If you think it’s your kind of humor, then it probably is. But if you can’t find the funny side to jokes about racism, drug abuse and having sex with vegetables, you should probably give it a miss.

The Dark Knight Rises: Stunning,intellectual and deep but not without fault.

Film Jam

By Kelly O’Brien

The third instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is a stunning and intellectual conclusion to what has become a cultural phenomenon. Currently showing in cinemas across the globe, The Dark Knight Rises is not to be missed.

Beginning with a fantastic opening sequence, a CIA manned plane is hijacked. Liberated by the manoeuvre is Bane (Tom Hardy), a muscular menace with a muzzle: a modern day mix of Darth Vader and Hannibal Lector.
In no time at all, Bane has control of Gotham’s underground and seeks to destroy the city from the bottom up. Assaulting the Stock Exchange and stealing a nuclear bomb, Bane sees himself as Gotham’s liberator, delivering the city back into the hands of its people.

While Bane gathers strength for Gothams “reckoning”, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hides himself away in Wayne manor, seeing no one but his butler Alfred…

View original post 443 more words

The Lucky One: full of vapid, useless beings

The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and Taylor Shilling, is due for release on DVD next month. My advice? Stay as far away from it as possible.

The movie begins well with Efron sporting a fetching army get up and braving guns and bombs in a war-torn Iraq. While the initial sequences are action packed, gritty, and realistic, it’s not long before things take a turn for the worse.

After finding a photo of a pretty blonde woman, Logan (Zac Efron) and his company are attacked. Calling the mystery woman his guardian angel, Logan credits her with his survival and makes it his mission to find her once he is discharged.

Thanks to a conveniently placed landmark, Logan is able to make his way to the place where the photo was taken. Once there, he starts questioning the locals and finds out that his mystery girls name is Beth (Taylor Shilling). Having found her, he accidentally secures a job working for her and her grandmother (Blythe Danner) and finds himself playing an important role in her life.

While The Lucky One does have its share of touching, gut-wrenching and tummy-flipping moments, it ultimately falls short of the benchmark, especially for an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The majority of the characters are vapid, useless beings, and while Zac Efron is an admittedly fine specimen of a man, I’m afraid he wouldn’t be able to act his way out of a paper bag if his life depended on it.

If you’re looking for a film where you can drool over Zac Efron, this is definitely the one to watch. If you’re just looking for an interesting chick-flick, however, I’d keep looking.

The Pact: Just another horror film

In cinemas this month, we have The Pact, an eerie ghost film about a woman returning to her family home shortly after her estranged mothers death.

Starring Caity Lotz (Annie) and Casper Van Dien (Creek), the kindest thing I can say is that it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. The Pact is yet another jumpy ghost story that will soon be forgotten.

At her sisters request, Annie returns home after many years to attend her mothers funeral. It becomes clear, thanks to some very obvious dialogue, that Annie and her mother didn’t have a good relationship and that as kids, Annie and her sister had to endure various levels of parental abuse. Brash and unlikable, Annie does nothing to make the viewer like her or feel pity for her. She is stubborn, idiotic, and fancies herself a rebel of sorts. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Shortly after, Annie begins experiencing paranormal activity in the house and teams up with local Cop, Creek. While I did find myself warming to him a tad, the well-meaning law officer is simply too vapid a character to have much of an impact. Dimwitted and unprofessional, Creek is yet another stereotypical and clichéd “horror-film” character with lots of testosterone and not enough depth.

Though The Pact was, overall, very tense and had its ‘jump-out-of-your-seat’ moments, it did nothing to stand out from the crowd. If it had been on TV, for example, I probably wouldn’t have watched it through. Not because it’s a terrible film, it’s not too bad, but it simply didn’t really engage me.

The best part of the film was when local clairvoyant Stevie (Hayley Hudson) attempts to connect with the presence in the house. This lasts maybe ten minutes and really does up the ante. Unfortunately though, it’s a case of too little too late and even Hayley Hudson’s eerily beautiful performance can’t save this film.

If you’re the type of person who likes laughing at badly scripted, badly acted, badly lit “horror” films, you might like The Pact. If not, you’re probably better watching something else.

%d bloggers like this: