29 April 2011

I SAW THE DEVIL- Review

I Saw The Devil is about as far away as you can get from the blanket coverage of the royal wedding farrago earlier today, as you'll know if you got the chance to take a trip to the cinema to see it, instead of watching the Disney-esque romantic gubbins. Due to its uber-violent content, it's had a limited release today ahead of a DVD release next Monday.

In the vein of other revenge thrillers, a popular genre in Korea, we find a man who loses a loved one to a vicious murderer. Soo-hyeon is a secret agent whose pregnant fiancee is killed by the sadistic Kyung-chul. Taking two weeks' leave from work, he decides to track down Kyung-chul himself, but rather than taking vengeance forthwith, he begins an increasingly savage game of catch and release.

28 April 2011

INSIDIOUS- Review

I'm probably missing something, but does it seem to anyone else that there haven't been an awful lot of big horror movies in cinema thus far in 2011? I can think of The Rite and Scream 4 as films that would draw horror fans to the multiplex, but that's about it, until now. Insidious is the new film from the creator of Saw and director of the first film, James Wan, but the marketing's done a solid job of selling it as "from the producers of Paranormal Activity."

In Insidious, Josh and Renai are young parents who move into a nice new house with their three kids. Their eldest, Dalton, falls asleep one night and doesn't wake up. Dalton is in a coma, or so it would seem, as weird paranormal gubbins starts to occur all around the house. Monsters and demons appear around every corner, and when even abandoning their new home doesn't work, Josh and Renai are forced to the conclusion that it was never the house that was haunted...

26 April 2011

THOR- Review

Looking at the scoreboard as Marvel Studios doggedly continues to ramp up next year's blockbuster event, The Avengers, it becomes clear that not every part of the puzzle is coming together. The Incredible Hulk will feel disparate because Mark Ruffalo is going to replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, and Iron Man 2 proved that you can't let Tony Stark be Tony Stark while SHIELD are pottering around and teasing summer 2012.

So it's surprising then, that the God of Thunder turns out to be the most grounded character yet established for the upcoming Marvel team-up extravaganza. Thor introduces its titular character as an arrogant and short-tempered warrior from another dimension, called Asgard. He's heir to his father Odin's throne, but when he recklessly breaks a truce with Asgard's old enemies, the Frost Giants, he's exiled to Earth and relieved of his powers. Thor must prove himself worthy of his heritage in time to stop a threat that could consume both Asgard and Earth.

25 April 2011

ARTHUR- Review

Like Tony Scott's rubbish remake, The Taking of Pelham 123, there's only so much I can say about Russell Brand's new film, Arthur, without referring back to Arthur, the 1981 Dudley Moore romcom on which its based. In both cases, I think the original films are classics, but at the same time, I'm not using the original as a stick to beat the new film.

The plot remains intact, as Brand plays Arthur Bach, the alcoholic heir to an enormous business and an incredible fortune. Accordingly, Arthur lives life to the fullest, despite not having any practicality in the real world. When shareholders start to get anxious about Arthur's antics, his mother attempts to marry him off to a maleficent heiress called Susan, just as he happens to fall in love with a "poor person" called Naomi.

22 April 2011

FAST & FURIOUS 5- Review

So, Fast & Furious 5. Sorry, er... Fast & Furious 5- Rio Heist. Or is that Fast Five? I'm pretty sure it was Five Times Faster and Furiouser, right? Well, the BBFC says Fast Five. You can call a duck a goose, but it's still the fourth sequel to The Fast and the Furious. I'm not going to fucking quack any more about the title, when the main matter of my quacking lies elsewhere.

What can be distinguished of the plot at this point finds criminal siblings Dom and Mia Toretto, and their habitual lapdog, Brian O'Conner, escaping to Rio in order to avoid a federal manhunt. Incapable of lying low, they begin to mount a daring heist on a corrupt businessman who double-crossed them on a job. When a couple of DEA agents are caught in the crossfire, federal agent and supercop Hobbs is put on the criminals' trail.

21 April 2011

BEASTLY- Review

So soon after Red Riding Hood, I find myself delving back into the Twilight zone for another teen-oriented, romantically updated fairytale. On paper, Beastly reads like a TV movie version of the story of Beauty and the Beast. Alex Pettyfer is the Beast, Vanessa Hudgens is the Beauty, and Neil Patrick Harris and Lisa Gay Hamilton round out the cast as the candlestick and the clock.

The Beast in this case is Kyle Kingson, an infuriatingly obnoxious little scrote who's supposed to have gotten the position of Green Party President at high school by sheer attractiveness. This provokes the wrath of conveniently placed Goth-y witch-type Kendra, and she curses Kyle with a spell that uglies him up. If he can't break the spell in a year, he'll look that way forever, and his only hope is the love of troubled teen Lindy.

19 April 2011

WINNIE THE POOH- Review

What's the measure of a film? In recent years, we've seen Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, Roland Emmerich's 2012 and some arsehole's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen over-run by a vast margin, and given how bored I was by each of them, it would be difficult to say that I felt I got my money's worth from those lengthy films. So it's baffling to see the negative reviews of Winnie the Pooh, which runs to 54 minutes long.

Not that the short length of the main feature is the only criticism that certain grumpy bastards are levelling at this return to the Hundred Acre Wood, but it's a criticism that is paradoxical. Winnie the Pooh is not hugely story-driven, nor has it ever been. Indeed, the Disney features usually consist of episodes, which in this case include Eeyore losing his tail and Pooh Bear being unable to get some eats no matter what he tries. And it's pretty much a perfectly pitched film.

18 April 2011

SCREAM 4- Review

It would be hard to disagree that over the course of three films between 1996 and 2000, the Scream saga went from being incisive about its own genre and having things to say about the state of horror and cliché, to taking the piss out of itself instead. This eventually got so bad that I'm about 90% certain I can recommend you skip straight from Scream 3 to Scream 4.

In the film, and in real time, 15 years have passed since Sidney Prescott first came up against the Ghostface killer. She returns to Woodsboro on the eve of the anniversary of the original murders, promoting her self-help book about moving on from being a victim. With horror movies in a state of ouroboros due to remakes and reboots, the students of Woodsboro High School soon come under attack- someone wants to improve upon the original killing spree.

15 April 2011

RED RIDING HOOD- Review

I think the record will show I've haven't ever been overwhelmingly negative about Twilight in the past. Yeah, it's not very good, but there are certainly worse films out there, and I find it harder to dislike the films than to dislike the hype and fanaticism the stories inspire. In the hiatus before the next film, due in cinemas this November, we're seeing a number of films hoping to replicate that hype and fanaticism.

Red Riding Hood takes a fairytale and tries to apply it with the formula of the Twilight films, bringing the first film's director, Catherine Hardwicke, in to do it. The girl in the hood is Valerie, whose affections are torn between the blacksmith with whom she has an impending arranged marriage, and her childhood friend, a woodcutter. More pressingly though, her small township has been plagued by werewolf attacks for generations, and with the rise of a blood moon comes the puritanical and violent Father Solomon, who pledges to kill the big bad wolf.

14 April 2011

YOUR HIGHNESS- Review

Your Highness is a stoner comedy set in a similar realm to The Princess Bride, as the slacker prince Thadeous is press-ganged into a quest by his more princely brother, Fabious. His virgin bride-to-be has been kidnapped by a sorcerer who has wicked intentions and a prophecy to fulfil, and Fabious needs his brother on-side in order to win the day. They begin a quest that pits them against treachery, minotaurs and a paedophilic Muppet.

In the last couple of months, we've seen both an exception and an apotheosis of one cinematic rule- big budgets are anathema to comedy. The issue isn't that money isn't funny, and there are certainly more exceptions to this rule if you look further back, but when you put the $50 million budget of Your Highness on the table, the hilarity is going to be tempered by accountants who don't get the joke.

13 April 2011

BlogalongaBond- THUNDERBALL Review

Objects may be less exciting than they appear in image...
As penance for being all contrarian about the larger-than-life elements of Goldfinger last month, I was fixed up with Thunderball, which is so down to Earth that it's underwater. A lot. And not a lot of it is hugely interesting. That's right, folks- my crusade through BlogalongaBond has hit its first bum note.

SPECTRE return after an absence of one film, and they hijack a couple of atomic bombs and hold the UK and the USA to ransom, threatening to annihilate one of their cities each, unless the governments pay up within a week. MI6 dispatch all of their 00 agents around the globe in search of the stolen nukes, and typically, James Bond ends up in Nassau, rather than his originally assigned destination in Canada.

11 April 2011

RIO- Review

Can we change the name of Orange's "Gold Spot", in which a 20th Century Fox film gets some rampant phone-related plugging for about six months at a time before every single film in the multiplex? Thus far, we've had The A-Team and Gulliver's Travels there, so I was lobbying for the "Brown Spot". However, as annoying as the ads for Rio have been before every single film, it turns out they just indicate how shit Orange are at making cinema ads nowadays. Where did Mr. Dresden go anyhoo?

The film itself follows Blu, a rare blue macaw who lives in Minnesota with his owner Linda. It turns out he's so rare that he's actually the last male of his species, and he must go to sweltering Rio de Janeiro to mate with Jewel, the last female blue macaw. Unfortunately, the two birds barely even get on with one another, much less wanting to actually get it on, even to save their species.

7 April 2011

KILLING BONO- Review

It's kind of well known that one of my pet hates at the cinema is biopics about musicians. It's not that I don't like music, or that I don't like musicians. The problem is that different people's lives seem to fit the same old template, the same old cliches, and the kind of things that the excellent but underrated Walk Hard- The Dewey Cox Story expertly skewered.

So it's a good thing that Killing Bono is not a story about that most self-satisfied and untouchably nice guy whose name is part of the title. Instead, it's about the McCormick brothers, Neil and Ivan, who grew up in Dublin with Paul Hewson. All three boys want to be famous musicians, and Paul offers Ivan a shot at the big time when his band is on the rise. Neil insists that the brothers will go their own way, and Paul styles himself as Bono and goes on to form a little band called U2. Meanwhile, Neil and Ivan try to carve their own path to the big time.

5 April 2011

SUCKER PUNCH- Review

I like Zack Snyder. I don't think he makes guilty pleasure films, except for maybe 300- I think he makes visually exciting and generally very well-made adaptations. Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians and yes, 300 too, are all fine adaptations from what you could call difficult source material, in terms of their baggage if not in terms of their suitability for the screen.

While Snyder might be amongst the best in the business for adaptations, his new film Sucker Punch is all his, and so his visionary side takes a lemming-like leap into the depths of narrative incoherence. Baby Doll is a 20 year old girl who is left with her younger sister and her abusive stepfather when her mother passes away. When the stepfather attempts to rape the sister, Baby Doll snaps and he commits her to an insane asylum, on the fast track for a lobotomy. She then retreats inside her own mind in order to go on an epic quest to secure her own freedom.

4 April 2011

SOURCE CODE- Review

Duncan Jones properly makes a name for himself with Source Code- and goodness knows it's not easy to make a name for yourself when your birth name is Zowie Bowie. After his astonishingly good debut Moon in 2009, he takes on a bigger budget to direct Jake Gyllenhaal as an Air Force helicopter pilot who's drafted into a top secret government science project.

Captain Colter Stevens wakes up on board a commuter train, in a body that is not his own. Everyone else sees him as the man he appears to have inhabited, a teacher called Sean Fentress, including Sean's colleague Christina. Eight minutes later, the train explodes, bombed by an unknown attacker. In a cramped capsule at a government facility, Colter is repeatedly put through those eight minutes by a technology called source code, with the goal of discovering the bomber's identity before he strikes again in the real world.

1 April 2011

The DC Animated Universe

Believe it or not, this post has been planned for a while now, and it's only serendipitous that it comes shortly after Warner Brothers announced that the live-action Justice League movie is on the cards. I'm not going to weigh in on the Batman reboot (though they really should wait until they get The Dark Knight Rises out into the world first) or the optimistic 2013 target date- I'm going to talk about some animated DC movies.