29 August 2014

LET'S BE COPS- Review

There is no kind of bad movie worse than a bad comedy. Apparently, good comedy is all in the timing. With everything that's going on in Ferguson as of late, it's hard to imagine a worse time to release a film about abusive dickhead cops than now. If timing were the only thing wrong with Let's Be Cops, then it might have been a misdemeanour. However, it's not at all funny either.

The story starts when 30-year-old roommates Justin and Ryan mistake a masquerade ball for a fancy dress party and decide to go in realistic police uniforms that Justin has been using to pitch a video game at work. Mistaken for real cops, they find that they're getting respect from the public, lots of attention from the ladies and all of the other things to which they feel entitled. They keep the game going by acquiring more police hardware, but predictably wind up in trouble with some serious criminals.

28 August 2014

SIN CITY 2- Review

It's a sign of how quickly we accelerate through a franchise cycle these days that Sin City feels like it was years and years ago. By the measure of most other franchises based on comic books, it should probably be time for a reboot by now, but at least Sin City: A Dame To Kill For arrives on the other side of years and years of development.

As with the first one, it's an anthology film set in the perpetually rainy (Ba)sin City, whose stories take place before, after and during the gaps between the disjointed timeline of its predecessor. We pick up with characters like Jessica Alba's Nancy, who's traumatised by events from last time around, but flashback to Josh Brolin's Dwight, before he had plastic surgery to look like Clive Owen. New characters include Joseph Gordon-Levitt's young chancer Johnny and Eva Green's titular dame, Ava Lord.

27 August 2014

LUCY- Review

Scarlett Johansson is having an interesting year. Only within 12 months of appearing in Jonathan Glazer's headfuck Under The Skin and (not) appearing in Spike Jonze's unorthodox romance Her could her latest role, Luc Besson's Lucy, look like a relatively mainstream proposition and yet here we are.

At the start of the film, Lucy is a fun-loving American living in Taiwan, recovering from a typically massive hangover, when her shifty boyfriend embroils her in a drug-trafficking racket. When she's beaten in custody by the criminals, a deposit of a synthetic growth hormone bursts inside her stomach and changes her physiology. While it's said that humans only use 10% of their brain's potential, the substance allows Lucy to access up to 100% of that capacity, and over the course of 24 hours, she has to put that power to good use.

26 August 2014

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT- Review

Summer has never been a season to leave you short changed if you like films with a "two" in the title. 22 Jump Street, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and The Inbetweeners 2 have all been and gone in the last few months, but it's time for a change of pace. Two Days, One Night is the latest film from Palme d'Or-winning filmmakers, the Dardenne brothers, and it's a bit marvellous.

Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a working mother who has recently taken leave from her job due to depression. She's ready to return to work when she hears that her colleagues have voted for her to be let go so that each of them can have their annual bonus. In the face of an immediate relapse, Sandra is spurred by her loving husband to spend the weekend appealing to her colleagues' better nature ahead of a second vote on Monday morning, in the hope that enough of them will renounce their bonuses and let her keep her job.

25 August 2014

THE CONGRESS- Review

There are still a lot of people in favour of Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell receiving award nominations for their performance capture roles in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. From the outset, at least, Ari Folman's The Congress views the ape-ifying technology as something a bit more sinister, with emphasis on the "capture". Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the film is hugely interested in following through on that.

Robin Wright of The Princess Bride and, latterly, House of Cards fame, plays a version of herself in a version of near-future Hollywood. The roles have apparently stopped coming and she has a daughter and a disabled son to support. Her agent passes on a proposal from studio conglomerate Miramount Pictures, whereby they offer to create a lifelike CG-duplicate of her that they can use in their movies any which way they please, in return for a lump sum and the promise that she'll never act in person again.

20 August 2014

GOD'S POCKET- Review

This is a film that wasn't meant to bear the sudden and shocking realisation that we have fewer Philip Seymour Hoffman performances in front of us than we have behind us. As the first major release to star the late, great actor since his untimely death in February, it's a weight that God's Pocket must carry all the same, but as a film that's indubitably an actors' film, it does find him in his element.

Hoffman plays Mickey, a van driver who lives in the one-van town of God's Pocket, Philadelphia, home to a bunch of fiercely parochial locals who aren't averse to a little criminality on the side. When Mickey's obnoxious stepson Leon dies while working at a construction site, the other builders on the site close ranks around the truth about what really happened. Mickey's distraught wife Jeanie is convinced there's more to it and she ropes in alcoholic local columnist Richard Shellburn to find the truth, but Mickey is more concerned about how he's going to pay for the imminent funeral.

19 August 2014

WHAT IF- Review

Daniel Radcliffe still has a bit of hard work ahead shaking off his Harry Potter rep, just by dint of having so comprehensively tied himself to Harry Potter over the course of a decade of his life. Happily, he does seem to be putting the work in. The Woman In Black, with its candlelit roaming of corridors after nightfall, might not have been the best vehicle for that, but perhaps hip new romantic comedy What If is better.

In the film, he plays Wallace, a young romantic who puts on the impression of embittered, cynical singledom after being repeatedly wounded by long-term girlfriends past. Moping around at a house party, he bumps into graphic designer Chantry, with whom he markedly does not hit it off. After a couple more chance encounters, they become not-so-fast friends, even if Wallace feels disingenuous about hiding his feelings when Chantry has a long-term engagement with her diplomat boyfriend Ben. That's right folks, it's another film asking if men and women can be best friends, or if the possibility of sex just gets in the way.

18 August 2014

INTO THE STORM- Review

Here's something that the trailers for Into The Storm aren't bothering to highlight- it's a found footage film, in the vein of Cloverfield and countless horror movies since The Blair Witch Project. That usually means we're in for a cheap and highly profitable venture for the studio, but this is also a big-budget special effects film. As the more savvy of you might have gleaned by now, that means when it came to the script, they literally spared some expense.

The action takes place in the American town of Silverton, as high school students anxiously prepare for graduation. Video club president Donnie is tasked with filming the proceedings by his vice principal father Gary when a tremendous tornado levels parts of the town. Gary and his other son Trey are separated from Donnie, who finds himself trapped and in terrible danger. Teaming up with a group of high-tech storm chasers who are shooting a documentary about the superstorm, the family struggle to reunite and survive the mildly apocalyptic weather.

15 August 2014

THE EXPENDABLES 3- Review

You know, until Guardians of the Galaxy came along, this might just have been the first of these movies not to have been upstaged by a faster and looser team movie in the same year. I'm not sure how many more times I'll repeat myself about the Expendables franchise, but there's at least a note of finality about The Expendables 3 which suggests that this team can finally start collecting their pensions now that they've notched up the trilogy.

The plot, such as it is, picks up with business as usual for this franchise. Led by Barney Ross, the Expendables are running jobs as mercenaries and generally engaging in excruciatingly unfunny camaraderie. A chance encounter with Conrad Stonebanks, an arms dealer and another founding member of the team, leaves them wondering if they really are too old for this shit, particularly when Barney sets about drafting a younger team of Expendables to get the job done and eliminate Stonebanks.

11 August 2014

DIVERGENT- Review

It's been a while since a film outright confounded me as much as Divergent does. The Hunger Games is a series that has its problems, on the page and to a lesser extent, on the screen, but based on this adaptation, I can't fathom why anyone would invest in this. As far as I can tell, the target audience is people who take quizzes on Zimbio and disagree with the result. Because I can be more than one Power Ranger at once, right?

The plot is far too convoluted to fully explain in the usual short span of this introduction, so the gist is that it's set in a dystopian future where the post-war government controls the population by sorting them into castes based on single personality traits. Using the synonym function in Microsoft Word, these factions are Dauntless, (brave) Erudite, (smart) Abnegation, (selfless) Amity, (happy) and Candour (honest). During her sorting process, Abnegate teenager Beatrice Prior discovers that she's more than one of these things at once, and thus classified as Divergent, starting a chain of events that will take her away from her loved ones and on the path to revolution.

8 August 2014

THE INBETWEENERS 2- Review

The genius move of releasing The Inbetweeners Movie on A-Level results day in 2011 got it off the blocks on its way to becoming the most successful comedy in UK box office history. It heralded a wave of UK comedy characters moving onto the big screen and now, inevitably, The Inbetweeners 2. Still, at least Damon Beesley and Iain Morris have reneged on their "no sequels" promise in fine form.

While the first film brought things to an all too neat conclusion, (read and watch how not-right about that I was here) the sequel picks up with Will, Simon and Neil six months later, pondering how things haven't turned out how they hoped. Conversely, all appears to be grand for serial exaggerator Jay, who has moved to Australia and claims to have made it big as a DJ. When the other three decide to visit him over the Easter holidays, they wind up on a typically ridiculous adventure from Sydney to the Outback.

4 August 2014

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY- Review

On paper, Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel's "biggest risk" since Iron Man, except that six years on from that independently funded feature, Marvel Studios has galvanised the movement of comic book movies that looked to be winding down around that time. That name sells a lot of tickets, even if the movie is a space opera starring a tree and a raccoon, from a Troma-trained director whose last two movies grossed the same in their whole lifetime as this one did from midnight screenings on its first day.

In 1988, on the worst day of his life, young Peter Quill is abducted by aliens and whisked away into space. A quarter of a century later, he's grown up exactly as you might grow up in space if Star Wars and 1980s family sci-fi movies were your main source of reference for this sort of thing- he's a Han Solo-esque rogue who has dubbed himself Star Lord. Robbing a mysterious orb brings him onto a collision course with professional assassin Nebula, incarcerated barbarian Drax, a big softy tree person called Groot and a talking, gun-toting raccoon called Rocket. They're all connected to the orb for different reasons, but find themselves united against the intentions of fanatical warlord Ronan the Accuser, who aims to use the artefact to destroy a planet.