28 October 2009

Squanderland

University and employment suck a little, not unlike the only two new films I've had time to see since the last post. On the plus side, I now have the new computer sorted, pending a couple of minor technical bugbears, so can now blog a bit more regularly again. As something of a regular disclaimer, it's only my opinion on here- others are available. So here goes with Couples Retreat and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. As ever, mild spoilers may occur in the process of reviewing, but never so far as to spoil any major plot developments.
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Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is about an average teen called Darren Shan, whose life changes after he and his best friend Steve go to a freak show and run afoul of Crepsley, a performer who is also a vampire. Crepsley's spider bites Steve, forcing Darren to make a deal with Crepsley to save his friend's life. Thus Darren becomes a vampire and joins the Cirque du Freak, incurring the wrath of an opposing caste who are looking to end a hundred-year truce and start a war between vampires. Yep, it's yet another vampire film and that's where it falls down.

The film centres on Darren, Crepsley and their conflict with the Vampanese, the type of vampire that kills their prey rather than just taking whatever non-life-threatening amount of blood they need to survive. But elsewhere in the film, there's a creepy gangster with the power to resurrect dead people, a bloke with two stomachs, and a bearded lady played by Salma Hayek. All of these are more interesting ideas than the umpteenth reinvention of vampires, and it's lost in the pea soup that is Cirque du Freak. John C. Reilly plays Crepsley, and he's reliable enough as an actor that he carries every scene he's in. The trouble is that our intrepid hero is played by newcomer Chris Massoglia, an actor so leaden that he brings everything else down. It's not entirely his bad- the film's pretty terribly edited, and given the timing of its release, you have to wonder if it was rushed out in time for Halloween. It takes ages to get going, and then once it does, approximately not much happens. The last minute appendage of the Vampire's Assistant subtitle suggests they're planning sequels, but that most likely won't happen now that the film has bombed on its opening weekend at the American box office.

The film is being marketed and reviewed as "Twilight for teenage boys", and whatever my feelings on That Franchise, it's a shame that the potential for this has been squandered in order to appeal to an apparently ready-made audience. I didn't hate the film, it just massively disappointed me. Reilly makes a valiant effort and there is one really good joke in the middle of it, but the poor pacing and Disney-brand moral message at the end make the film thoroughly unremarkable. Cirque du Freak doesn't suck, but it lacks bite, and that's as much wordplay as I can be bothered to think up for a film so forgettable.

On the other hand, we have Couples Retreat, a comedy largely aimed at people who've ever wanted to watch Vince Vaughn present Wish You Were Here. Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell are considering divorce because of their seeming inability to conceive. They decide to book a couples' skill-building holiday at a tropical paradise called Eden. They drag three other couples along with them, promising that they can enjoy the sun and surf instead of the rigorous couples therapy. Instead, they're told by an officious Peter Serafinowicz that all eight of them have to partake in the whole programme as well as all the fun activities. Hilarious romantic hijinks ensue. And yes, Bateman and Bell's characters do have names, as do Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis, but that doesn't really matter, seeing as how plot is secondary to these actors going off and filming on an island somewhere in the Mediterranean.

See, the film I just described would seem to be about couples realising they have issues in their relationships and having to work hard to sort those out. The couples bicker and fight, contrary to their idyllic surroundings. And yet the only picture I could find to illustrate this was the above holiday snap of a publicity picture. That's what it is- Vince Vaughn decided to go on holiday with some other actors, and now you're paying for it in multiplexes. The script is utterly devoid of laughs, so I urge you not to go and finance their holiday. It's a real shame to see the likes of Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell and Jon Favreau in this though- all three are decent comedy actors, and should really have known better. All acquit themselves rather well, but I still don't like Vince Vaughn, I'm afraid. There's really little more to say except that the amount of product placement in this is distractingly huge. Everyone make sure they go to Appleby's after the film, and then write about it on Facebook on your Apple Mac before you go and play Guitar Hero. Powerpoint. Will anyone be watching this in just twenty years time? It's going to be hideously dated in about two years.

Couples Retreat has about as much entertainment value as a tourist brochure, and it's a shameful exercise for certain comedy actors who really should've put their artistic integrity before the temptation of being paid to spend time on an island paradise. I don't begrudge anyone who has the money to go and do that, just please don't give the world your holiday videos to sit through afterwards. Probably the worst thing any of the main cast (except Vince Vaughn) has ever been in.
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I'm off to see Fish Tank shortly, and I hear that's a really good film, so looking forward to that. Other than that, still need to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, 9 and Saw VI. Expect any one of those four in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you've seen either Couples Retreat or Cirque du Freak, please comment on this post and let me know what you thought- always like a bit of discussion and feedback.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

17 October 2009

What Price Dreams

Technical issues persist here, but hopefully my readers will be pleased to know that my rant head is still in full working order. As for the new computer, it's been sent off for repairs and should be sorted soon, with any luck. Fortunately, I've seen some good films lately, including Zombieland and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. As ever, mild spoilers may occur in the process of reviewing, but never so far as to spoil any major plot developments.

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Zombieland appears to be another in a long line of knock-offs of Shaun of the Dead, which have been coming in a steady stream since Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright found great success on both sides of the pond with that film in 2004. Appearances aside, Ruben Fleischer's first major feature film is actually the only worthy contender to Shaun. In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, the handful of survivors remaining in the United States roam the roads and generally try to avoid emotional ties, going so far as to name themselves only after their next destination. Our hero, headed for Columbus, has survived thus far by fastidiously following a rigid set of rules- rules that are compromised by the arrival of the gun-toting zombie-hating Tallahassee and a conniving pair of sisters called Wichita and Little Rock.

You really can't expect me to say this is better than Shaun of the Dead, because that's one of my favourite films of all time. But like that film, Zombieland is a film about people surviving the zombie apocalypse as opposed to the event itself. Large amounts of time go by, including most of the second half, without any zombies making an appearance whatsoever, and the film is the better for it. By ditching shock-horror tactics and the traditional social allegories attached to George A. Romero's zombie outings, Fleischer can better focus on characters, making this a very enjoyable horror comedy indeed. A great deal of the film's energy and charm can be attributed to the way the relatively small cast bring it to life- Jesse Eisenberg concerned me a little because as I said in my review of Adventureland, he reminded me a little of Michael Cera there, and the same is true of this film. As I've mentioned, I like Michael Cera, but he always plays the same kind of character, and I'm hoping Eisenberg will fulfil his potential and branch out a little.

With the rest of the cast, no complaints whatsoever- Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin both make an impression, but the real highlights are Woody Harrelson, who just has a whale of a time giving it every ounce of machismo and bad-assery he can muster, and the surprise cameo halfway through. If you still don't know who makes an appearance, please try to avoid finding out, because it's so much better when you don't know it's coming. It's a surreal and brilliant segment of the film and pretty much elevates cameo to high art- I can't see how any successor will cap it for hilarity and general... well, dementia. There's plenty for all to enjoy in Zombieland, gorehounds and comedy fans alike. While Pegg and Wright showed ordinary people surviving "Z-Day", Fleischer gives us an entertaining and fitting show of what might happen once you accept that zombies have taken over. Witty, occasionally demented and just laugh-out-loud brilliant.


A more divisive film currently playing in cinemas is Terry Gilliam's eagerly-anticipated and tongue-twistingly titled fantasy, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The majority of the film's marketing and appraisal has focused on the late Heath Ledger, given how he died halfway through principal photography. However, the film as a whole centres around the titular Doctor Parnassus, played by Christopher Plummer. He runs a carnival sideshow that allows customers to step through a magic mirror into his own imagination, which puts him into an ongoing game of one-upmanship with Mr. Nick, his devillish counterpart. The doctor's daughter, Valentina, is soon to turn 16, but little does she realise that when that day comes, a lost bet with Mr. Nick means her soul will be damned. The only hope is for Parnassus to enlist the help of a charming stranger to entice five souls to rejuvenation within his show, before Mr. Nick can entice the same number to eternal damnation.

Ledger plays the charming stranger of course, and because so much attention has been lavished upon him already, I'll get my appraisal of him out of the way first. As with his role in The Dark Knight, his performance as Tony is utterly magnetic- Ledger has a natural charm, and so in the short term, audiences might see the film as a sad reminder of how great he would have been if he'd survived long enough to fulfil his potential. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is naturally dedicated to him by Gilliam, who used the film's fantasy concept to work around the character's unfinished scenes with remarkable effect. This comes in the form of a device that employs three of Ledger's friends- Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law- to alternately complete filming without disrupting the film's continuity. For me, that was the most important thing, because this is a film that will be appraised as a whole rather than based on Heath Ledger- if you didn't know the circumstances, you might have felt that it was always the intention for Tony to be played by multiple actors.

I felt the standout performance of the film came from Christopher Plummer, one of those great older actors who really isn't in enough films these days. Additionally, Andrew Garfield and Lily Cole make themselves noticed rather well in a film that also has the aforementioned performance by Ledger, scene-stealing turns from Verne Troyer and Tom Waits, and of course Gilliam's own very distinct visual language. It's a morality tale, but the visuals look like one of Roald Dahl's cheese dreams. Gilliam's aesthetic sensibilities and flair for storytelling make this a film that may divide audiences somewhat, but that's surely par for the course from the director of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is one of a rare breed since Harry Potter set that recurring trend for big-budget fantasy adaptations aimed at the broadest audience possible- it's an original fantasy film made for an older audience, and if you can enjoy fantasy without switching your brain off entirely, you'll probably love it. Everyone else will feel the film is a little flabby at its two hour running time, but hopefully you'll engage enough with the story that it flies by.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus had a troubled production, but the end result is something truly special. In my opinion, the credits' proclamation that it's "a film by Heath Ledger and friends" doesn't entirely do justice to everything that's on show here, but I realise that's something they felt necessary. What's important is that in time, the film will be reassessed on all of its merits and enjoyed as a thinking man's fantasy- it's almost certain to become a cult classic in the future.

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I'll be sure to visit the cinema again this week, most likely before my PC is repaired, but when I can access a PC I'll be bringing you reviews of Couples' Retreat, Triangle and Fantastic Mr. Fox. In the meantime, please comment below if you've seen either The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus or Zombieland and let me know what you thought of the film and of my review- I always like a bit of discussion and feedback.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

12 October 2009

The More Things Change...

The year is 1996, and I'm experiencing the first of many absolute obsessions in my life, and it's with a film I haven't even seen yet. The (almost) six years of my life so far have largely centred around watching Winnie the Pooh, Mr Bean and repeats of the 1960s Batman series on Channel 4. Nothing before or since captivated me like the marketing for Toy Story, the first ever completely computer animated feature film. It was colourful, interesting and quite frankly, it looked like the most amazing thing ever to me. This was the start of mine and everyone else's dalliances with Pixar.

Of course, the year now is 2009, and I've gained about three feet in height, a few GCSEs and A-Levels a cynical outlook on life, the universe and everything. But Toy Story is still brilliant, as are the vast majority of Pixar's other nine films. Even their only misfire thus far, 2006's Cars wasn't awful- the world just probably wasn't ready for a "toyetic" animated remake of Doc Hollywood. Their latest effort, Up, is the story of a retired balloon salesman called Carl Frederickson being evicted from his house by distinctly Agent Smith-like property developers. So because it's a Pixar film, his natural response is to lash up a quarter of a million balloons to his house and fly it to South America. Accidentally picking up a naive boy scout called Russell, Carl discovers a lost world and ends up embroiled in a feud with his childhood hero. It can never be said that Pixar is anything but original in its storytelling, and I toddled along to see Up on Saturday in much the way I go to see any other films they make, and here's what I thought, with the usual considerate lack of spoilers.


That said, I'll try to warn people in advance not only that Up crosses that threshold that few other Disney films cross, but that it does it in the first ten minutes. Yes, you know what I mean. Mufasa, Bambi's mam, and now... well, you'll see. It's utterly galling and more mature in places than anything in any family film I can think of. But nevertheless, those first ten minutes are just absolutely perfect. Literally, probably the best scenes in any film released this year. Beautifully animated and acting as a preface to the lighter antics to come. It's not jarring that the tone shifts back once the film crosses that threshold, because the balancing act that director Pete Docter creates means that the sad bits are absolutely heart-wrenching, but not so much that you can't laugh at the really funny bits that follow once the narrative really gets going.

It's not a mark against the film that it never quite lives up to that perfect opening, because it is still very good and very enjoyable, which goes without saying when it comes to this company. You know you're in safe hands, but ten films in, it takes something really exceptional for people to sit up and take notice. Up is being critically acclaimed by all and sundry, but I'm wondering if a day will come when Pixar is constantly expected to up the ante and make films better and better than what has gone before, purely because they're so good at this. This is an outstanding film, but it's not their best. The trouble is that besides the physics-related implications of the central premise, the film is more rooted in the real world than Docter's directorial debut, Monsters Inc. And now his sophomore effort loses steam a little once the house arrives in South America, giving way to a slight mish-mash of ideas. I had similar issues with WALL·E last year, but I loved that too. And the last paragraph comprises everything that detracted from Up as far as I'm concerned- the rest of the film is marvellous.

More than anything else, you have to applaud any film where the protagonist is a good 70 years older than the target audience, especially when that film makes the audience care about the character so quickly. But on top of that, the supporting characters are rather terrific- Jordan Nagai is funny and charming in his film debut, voicing Carl's de facto sidekick Russell, and Pixar voice-regular Bob Peterson as a talking dog called Dug is arguably one of the best part of a film where there are lots of things to praise. Up is one of those films that's just delightful. It's certainly not lacking in substance, by any stretch of the imagination, but all the same you're going to leave the cinema with a great big smile on your face. I saw the film in 2D by the way, and it's just as good, so it's safe to avoid shelling out extra to see it in 3D. It's pointless to go on any further when most people are already persuaded of Pixar's general genius, not to mention the fact that I've already given my epitaph for this review- just delightful.


Apologies for going all over the place again, but let's take another look at 1996. You've probably all seen Toy Story by now, but for the uninitiated, it's the story of a group of toys who come to life when their owner leaves them unwatched in his bedroom. The first film begins with hand-me-down cowboy doll Woody ruling the roost, a role which is usurped in the wake of their owner's birthday. His favourite gift is a brand-new spaceman action figure, Buzz Lightyear, who quickly becomes more popular than Woody. The pair's bickering sends them hurtling into the big bad world outside the bedroom, as Woody struggles to get home and Buzz, who believes he really is a spaceman rather than a child's action figure, trying to launch into outer space to fight for Star Command.

Similarly to Up, it's a buddy movie. You might say not much has changed, and in some respects you'd be right, because Toy Story was recently released again on the big screen, with the sequel to follow in January, and I absolutely adored it. Just as I was 13 years ago, I was absolutely transfixed. The jokes are still funny, the story is still brilliant and literally every time I see it, I notice something new- who noticed that the fireworks company supplying young boys with massive explosives was called Ill Eagle (illegal), with a sniffy bald eagle as its logo? And it's in things like this that the film's enduring appeal is guaranteed- the friends I saw it with all said they noticed more of the adult oriented jokes they didn't pick up on when they were younger. This is a film with cross-generational appeal that goes beyond nostalgia value- it continues to appeal because it is so damn good.

Everything is just pitch perfect. To try and get a bit of coherence to my gushing, I could point out that this is the only Pixar effort where studio interference from Disney could be inferred. It's the only one that fits that Disney musical sort of template, with numbers by Randy "Sings What He Sees" Newman appearing throughout, and maybe it's only me who thinks about these things enough to wonder whether or not it's a matter of Disney values that Woody seems to have lost the gun that should go in his holster. Sorry, this doesn't have any coherence does it? No, it sounds like a film nut rambling about studio politics because he watched the DVD and found out Disney were going to pull the plug on the film at one point. You can always tell I like it when I can't articulate how good it is. What I'm getting at is the fact that this is one of my all-time favourite films for a reason- it never, ever gets old.

At the film's climax, the rocket blasts into the sky and Woody and Buzz are carried what seems like miles into the air, above the moving van. This is the part where they blow up, Woody tells us, but Buzz has other ideas, and suddenly I'm six years old again, getting goosebumps as that music comes on and they fly after the car. I'm now 19, and should really be gushing about more mature fare, but screw that. Toy Story is one of the few completely perfect films ever made, and I defy anyone to say otherwise.

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Ahem, after that almost embarrassing gushfest, I still have a few other films to look into. Already seen Zombieland, and I promise a review of that will be coming up, and this week sees the release of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Couples' Retreat and Fantastic Mr. Fox too, so you can expect those to be incoming as and when I see them. In the meantime, if anyone else fancies sharing the Pixar love, feel free to comment. :)

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, watch Toy Story over and over again, on loop, forever. You've got to love it.

7 October 2009

Creative Difference

Given how I believe a large portion of my readership on this blog are in higher education, the following sentence will probably be nothing you haven't already noticed. However, I can reliably report that the Daily Mail and its ilk aren't entirely accurate in telling us that the student population is made up of Gruffalos- I have no moss under my armpits and I still retain my vocabulary, and I've been at university for a whole week or two. On the other hand, it has put something of a crimp on the amount of blog posts I've been able to do lately.

For this, you can also blame the influx of classic films at my local multiplex and my general technical problems at home- it's factors like these that have prevented me from seeing enough new releases since my last post to rush off a quick review. Since the last post though, I've been to see Creation, The Invention of Lying and Surrogates, all of which should generally still be playing in cinemas wherever you are. As ever, mild spoilers may occur in the process of reviewing, but never so far as to spoil any major plot developments.

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Slightly mis-named, Jon Amiel's Creation studies Charles Darwin's life at the time he was writing his seminal work, "On The Origin of Species". This premise alone has immediately attracted controversy with Christian activists in America, where there's something of a struggle to get the thing distributed. The long history of such baseless controversy in the form of films like The Last Temptation of Christ and Dogma assures me that this will only attract attention to the film, and well deserved it is too. The film is not so much about Darwin's book as it is about his grief following the death of his daughter, and the consequences that has for his marriage and family life. When Charles is cajoled and pressured to develop his revolutionary theories to bolster the scientific community, he takes ill and struggles to make peace with his own beliefs and those of his devoutly Christian wife, Emma.

Real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly play the two lead roles, but as usual with actor-actress couples playing spouses on film, that's nothing to write home about, especially it's Bettany that really deserves top billing. His Darwin is tortured, world-weary and utterly compelling to watch, and he effectively carries the film by himself. Connelly isn't performing badly, and nor are co-stars Jeremy Northam and Benedict Cumberbatch, but the strength of Bettany's performance makes everything else seem unremarkable. This is crucial to make John Collee's script work, and it works beautifully. It's a film that isn't trying to score points for either side of the debate about our universe's origins- the smug variety of Richard Dawkins lover won't find much to quote without citation amongst friends, and the Christian groups who are up in arms in America won't be nearly as offended as they have presumed. Instead, it's an objective look at the most troubled time in Charles Darwin's life, and it's engaging and sympathetic from the off.

I did think that Amiel really should've been a little more restrained at times, as Darwin's coping mechanism of hallucinatory conversations with his deceased daughter brings the film dangerously close to melodrama sometimes. Besides which, it's slightly incongruous with Darwin's apparent atheism- how can there be ghosts if there is no afterlife? This dramatic device does give the film a slightly stagey feel, but as I've said before, that's not a deal-breaker. It does also deepen the personal connection the audience has to Darwin, and that definitely works in the film's favour. A well-written script and a powerhouse performance from Paul Bettany makes Creation one of the more enjoyable biopics of the last few years, and I hope it does eventually get past the Christians in America to reach a wider audience.


If you're after something a little lighter and funnier, Ricky Gervais has followed up last year's rather marvellous Ghost Town with another Hollywood comedy, The Invention of Lying. Gervais plays Mark Bellison, an underachieving screenwriter in a world where fiction doesn't exist in any iteration. No one has ever told a lie, and subsequently Mark's employers distribute blockbusters that consist of history lessons- "The Invention of the Automobile" being the highlight of the upcoming summer season. Mark is frequently the victim of brutal honesty and general snootiness until he happens upon a lie for the first time. Naturally, he exploits this for personal gain to achieve the fame and fortune he's always wanted. High concept? Yes, and a rather good one at that, but it's in the comedy stakes that the film loses out somewhat.

Without spoiling too much, there's a pivotal moment halfway through The Invention of Lying that marks a considerable shift in tone. The first half gets a lot of laughs from the perfunctory offensiveness that comes with a world where no one knows how to lie. There is no flattery, no modesty and no ability to sugar-coat things, and thus a retirement home is marketed to clients as "A Sad Place For Hopeless Old People". And it's here that the pivotal moment comes about. It's not a funny scene by any stretch of the imagination and would have a lot of emotional weight, except it seems like an opportunity for Gervais to do some Serious Acting. Because it's not the only way the subsequent narrative could develop, it feels somewhat shoe-horned in, and it affects the rest of the film- the stakes are lowered when the tone flips back to comedic and Gervais is put back in his element.

That's not to say it's not an enjoyable film- I did laugh a lot, but once we get past that midway point, the film hares off in a different direction that never quite matches the promise of the original concept. There's some stuff that's very reminiscent of The Life of Brian and an allusion to Jesus that any audience members who aren't really fans of Ricky Gervais will balk at, and the rest sort of settles into a generic romantic comedy. Gervais really doesn't share any romantic chemistry, no matter how much he'd probably like to. Besides which, her character is continually said to be sweet and very caring, as if she's only so hideously blunt because she doesn't know how to lie. If some of the stuff she's coming out with is her honest opinion, how does that excuse her? That aside, Garner copes well enough, and I don't have many complaints with the rest of the cast either.

However, let's have a look at the rest of the cast, which boasts cameos from Jason Bateman, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, Edward Norton and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. And this brings about the return of the Bit. You may remember the Bit from Night at the Museum 2, and it's always about the length of any given comedy star's cameo in a film that could otherwise be good without their appearance. That at least is how I measure a metric Bit, and this is full of them. A cameo-palooza is always distracting, and this film really didn't need it. Allow me to be honest though. The film's discrepancies in tone don't bring it down at all, and if you liked Ghost Town, you'll probably like this. Then again, it's more cynical than that film. Hey, you might be better off just watching Ghost Town again. Fans of Gervais won't be disappointed, but the film just falls short of the promise its central concept holds. Even though the tone of this review generally seems to be negative, The Invention of Lying is a sweet and highly original film.


Unfortunately it now falls to me to review a film as far removed from that originality and ingenuity as possible, and turn to Jonathan Mostow's Surrogates. Stop me if you've heard this one before- in a future where people live their lives via robotic surrogates, Bruce Willis plays Tom Greer, a detective with serious issues about robots, and is investigating the first homicide in years following the emergence of a weapon that can kill people while they are connected to their surrogates. Yes, I can hear you all screaming stop. This is a film so creatively bankrupt and pedestrian that it could well have been made by The Asylum. The most identifiable rip off in the film's synopsis would be I, Robot, so because it's five years since that film was released, it's actually sub-Asylum.

In many ways, I think Surrogates was some form of karmic retribution for my assertion that District 9's ostensible lack of originality didn't necessarily make it a bad film. While I stand by my opinion that Neill Blomkamp used homage and innovation in equal measure in that film, Jonathan Mostow has crafted a largely brainless blockbuster that plods along for 104 minutes with little to enjoy at all. As versatile an actor as Bruce Willis can be, Hollywood will eventually learn that his best cop character was John McClane. Thusly if he's playing a cop who isn't John McClane, even if it's some future cop who pilots a bewigged robot version of himself from his couch, it's not going to leave much of an impression. This is why casting him against type in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable was such a good idea, and he clearly engages much better with scripts like that than with dross like this.

The script was written by serial offenders Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato, who also penned Terminator Salvation and Catwoman, so you know it's not going to be very good right off the bat. No matter how good the performers are, you can't elevate a bad script, and it really seems like the rest of the usually capable cast have the same lack of vigour that Willis contributes- Ving Rhames also dons a bad wig, Rosamund Pike is utterly unremarkable and even James Cromwell, one of my favourite actors, is looking bored. Admittedly, he's only in it briefly, and that's probably due to the fact he's playing the inventor of the robots, just like he did in I, Robot. Surrogates is a film that should really get Will Smith on the phone to his lawyer, along with most members of any paying audience who see it. Devoid of originality and entertainment value- worse than that, it's one of those films where the entire crux of the story is shown in the trailer. If you've seen the trailer, definitely give the film a miss. If you haven't seen the trailer... definitely give it a miss. Just utterly dull.

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I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the next post will involve much gushing about Pixar, because if I don't talk about the thrill of seeing Toy Story on the big screen again soon, I may do a little bit of wee. More to the point, tomorrow sees the long-awaited UK release of Up, which I'm sure to give a look over the weekend. Thereafter, expect reviews of The Soloist and Zombieland. If you've seen Creation, The Invention of Lying or Surrogates, comment below and let me know what you thought of the film and of my review- I always like a bit of discussion and feedback.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, make sure you don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.