31 August 2011

SPY KIDS 4D- Review

Whoa, is it Shitty 3D Sequel Week or what? The last time Robert Rodriguez dropped one of these movies into cinemas, it was 2003's Spy Kids 3D- Game Over, a pre-Real-D anaglyphic endeavour that actually captured what a kitschy, retro bit of flim-flam 3D actually is, before it was legitimised by new technology and whatnot. Eight years later, he's trying to bring back another kitschy gimmick.

It's apt that Spy Kids- All The Time In The World is presented with the fourth dimension of Aromascope, i.e. a scratch and sniff card to accompany the feature. The film itself stinks too. It's another of those semi-reboots we've been seeing, centring on Jessica Alba as Marissa, the superspy aunt of original Spy Kids, Carmen and Juni Cortez. She's a stepmother to her husband's two kids from a previous marriage, and when she has a kid herself, she retires from the OSS. One year on, an old nemesis called Tick Tock threatens to cause Armageddon, and Marissa and her kids spring into action to stop him.

29 August 2011

FINAL DESTINATION 5- Review

If only I had Anton Ego's coffin-shaped office from Ratatouille, I could rifle through a filing cabinet of past reviews and enjoy reflecting on my review of the fourth Final Destination film, of which I said; "the trendy de-numbered title does nothing to hide the liver spots and sagging belly of a franchise that should've ended around number 2." Instead I must grimace at the fact that we've got another of these things to watch.

In Final Destination 5, our flavourless "characters" of the week are headed by Sam, a sales administrator for a paper company, who foresees a calamitous suspension bridge disaster on his way to a company retreat. He saves himself and seven of his colleagues with this foreknowledge, but as per usual, Death doesn't take kindly to being cheated and begins to systematically rectify their fates. However, courtesy of a mysterious coroner, the survivors are told that they could potentially save themselves by sacrificing an unmarked soul to Death's design.

26 August 2011

ONE DAY- Review

A quick warning should be given here. One Day is based on the best-selling book of the same name, written by David Nicholls, who also provides the screenplay for this film adaptation. One Day the novel seems to be hugely popular, but not so much that I'm not going to give a spoiler warning. I'm not going to use that as a licence to directly speak about what happens at the end of the movie, but just be wary if you haven't yet read the book and want to see this one unspoiled.

Ready? OK then. So, One Day follows best friends Dexter and Emma, who become acquainted upon their graduation from Edinburgh University in 1988. Their relationship is principally platonic, seeing as how she's an awkward working-class girl with low self-esteem, and he's a privileged ladykiller without a care in the world. The twist here is that we only see the pair on July 15th, one day of each year, every year, over the course of two decades.

24 August 2011

CONAN THE BARBARIAN- Video Review

Surprisingly, 1982's Conan the Barbarian really holds up to being revisited by a modern audience. It probably has Arnold Schwarzenegger's best acting outside of the early Terminator movies, and it's a rock solid, balls-to-the-wall fantasy action flick. It might not be the film that fans of Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero would have liked, but it's many lightyears ahead of the new version.

Marcus Nispel's remake, aptly titled Conan the Barbarian, shall henceforth be referred to as Conan, to avoid confusion. Born on the battlefield, Conan is the young son of a barbarian chieftain, raised by his father after his mother dies from an implausible combination of childbirth and combat. At a relatively early age, Conan's father is slaughtered in front of him by a maniacal warlord called Khalar Zym. Already a skilled warrior, Conan makes it his life's work to avenge his father and his tribe.

22 August 2011

THE GUARD- Review

Those who've flagged up The Guard as a film from the makers of In Bruges are either innocently unaware or wilfully ignorant of the fact that it's actually written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. That's not to say the film is entirely dissimilar to his brother Martin's 2008 tragi-comic cult hit, seeing as how it retains star Brendan Gleeson and a distinctively Gaelic perspective. And it's also very good.

Gleeson is Gerry Boyle, a police sergeant from Galway whose methods are unorthodox at best, and amoral at worst. In the fashion of 1980s buddy cop movies, he's paired with Wendell Everett, a straight-flying and motivated FBI agent who's tracking an international drug smuggling ring. Everett has his methods, but he undoubtedly requires Boyle's experience in order to unearth the perpetrators he's searching for. And Boyle is either "really motherfucking smart, or really motherfucking dumb."

19 August 2011

COWBOYS & ALIENS- Review

It should be indicative of the talent involved, when the on-screen pairing of James Bond and Henry Jones Jr, the first since 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is the least mentionable part about a film. But unfortunately, even with the casting of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde, Steven Spielberg's role as an executive producer, and Jon Favreau in the director's chair, there's little of interest to say about Cowboys & Aliens, full-stop.

Let's keep things in perspective though- it's not nearly as bad as you've heard. It has a pretty interesting spin on the Western hero archetype of the man with no name, whose backstory is a mystery. In amongst sci-fi trappings, Jake Lonergan's history is unknown even to himself. But he's a wanted man, so when he shows up in the small town of Absolution with a strange weapon strapped to his wrist, he's soon arrested by the imperious Colonel Dolarhyde. But then alien invaders show up, and unlikely allies must band together to protect the town, and the planet.

18 August 2011

THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE- Video Review

If you remember back to last month, my buddies and I debuted an idea called "One Mile Reviews", filming our instant reactions to a movie in the time it takes to drive home from the local cinema. Our pilot concerned Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and we've finally followed up by looking at The Inbetweeners Movie.

In the leap from E4 to the big screen, we naturally find our teenaged heroes- Will, Simon, Jay and Neil- deciding to go abroad. Hell, even In The Loop went on a holiday, of sorts. The four clueless numpties pack their bags for a fortnight in Malia. Happily, it's nothing like Kevin And Perry Go Large, and for once, being an extended episode of the TV series isn't a negative thing. Watch our video review, after the jump.

16 August 2011

BlogalongaBond- LIVE AND LET DIE Review

If Diamonds Are Forever can be viewed as the prototypical 70s Bond movie, Live and Let Die is where the formula was crystallised. James Bond has regenerated once again, now played by Roger Moore. To date, Moore is still the oldest actor at the time of taking on the role, at 45 years old. Then again, he benefits from his acting experience, especially in The Saint, in taking over from Sean Connery, arguably the iconic 007.

To usher in the new era, the producers surprisingly decided to mix in the transgeneric elements of blaxploitation, and the supernatural. And so Bond is dispatched to investigate the deaths of three British agents in the line of fire, discovering an American gangster's plot to monopolise heroin dealing in the United States. Elsewhere, working for corrupt Caribbean prime-minister Dr. Kananga, the mysterious Solitaire reads tarot cards that predict Bond's doom.

15 August 2011

THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE- Review

Can we please collectively admit that Brian DePalma's Scarface is an overlong, excessive embarrassment of a film, appropriated by hipsters and mock-gangstas as a masterpiece? With the most erroneous pull-quote since "Bourne Meets Inception", The Devil's Double arrives in cinemas, touted as "Scarface In Arabia". It's a comparison that will attract fans of that film, but it's not a comparison that holds up.

There's a better film to talk about here. The Devil's Double features Dominic Cooper as both the devil and his double, charting a period of Iraq's history in which Saddam Hussein's sadistic and hedonistic son, Uday, romped around the country, being a thoroughly hateful and shitty human being. Half-remembered from his schooldays with Uday, Latif is an Iraqi solder withdrawn from service to become Uday's "fiday", or body double, with all of the horrors of his lifestyle included.

12 August 2011

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- Review

This is a reboot that goes back to the beginning of a popular franchise's mythology, which instils character-based drama and a perspective on those characters as yet unseen on the big screen. It's also lumbered with a shonky title that promotes brand recognition by a paranoid studio. All of this hopefully shows that it's not without reason that I hold Rise of the Planet of the Apes in the same esteem as I hold Batman Begins, as a reboot par excellence.

The spoiler may be in the title, but the focus of this semi-prequel is more deep and complicated than that. The original Rise of the Apes would have been more apt for this story about chimps who are neurologically enhanced by an experimental drug, intended to cure Alzheimer's. Will Rodman is a scientist whose father is afflicted with the disease, but it's not really his story. It's very much the story of Caesar, an ape orphaned by the testing of the cure, who is brought home to live with Will's family.

10 August 2011

HESHER- Review

As Paul McGann once snarked, human beings are always seeing patterns in things that aren't there. Still, the fact remains that the second film I'm reviewing this week features a son trying to get over the death of his mother and reconnect with his grieving father. Then again, that's where the comparison between Super 8 and Hesher ends. Abrams' film held Spielbergian family flicks in high esteem, while this one owes more to Mary Poppins.

The aforementioned son is TJ, a depressed and reclusive young boy who lives with his father and grandmother. One day, in a fit of frustration, he smashes the window of an abandoned house and inadvertently unearths Hesher, an unkempt hardass metalhead. Hesher, now homeless after being chased from his squat, ingratiates himself in TJ's broken home by literally just walking in like he owns the place. But unexpectedly, he has some life lessons to teach his reluctant housemate.

8 August 2011

SUPER 8- Review

Like most films with a number affixed to the end of its title, the least credit you can give to anything in Super 8 would be to its originality. Director JJ Abrams is unabashedly homaging the 1980s oeuvre of producer Steven Spielberg, which was itself largely comprised of callbacks to his own 1950s childhood and the adventure movies on which he'd been raised. None of which is to say that this newer, doubly nostalgic film is unenjoyable.

In the small everytown of Lillian, Joe Lamb is a 13-year-old boy who's recently lost his mother in an industrial accident. Living with his grieving father, he expresses himself by helping out his best mate, Charles. Charles is making a short zombie movie for a regional film festival, shooting on Super 8 film. The production is shockingly afflicted by the kids' middle-school teacher driving his truck into a passing US Air Force train. The train derails and its cargo escapes, leading to a series of mysterious disappearances in Lillian.

3 August 2011

ZOOKEEPER- Review

Count the pricks...
It's easier to say what Zookeeper is not, than what it might actually be. To state the obvious, it's not a cross-generational laugh-a-minute family comedy that will, in years to come, be as fondly remembered as any classic kids' movie. But nor is it a zero-star, horribly depressing misery of a Kevin James vehicle. And to be frank, I haven't the energy to get mad about having watched it.

Following on from his unexpectedly successful breakout hit, Kevin James Is A Fat Man And He Falls Over Paul Blart- Mall Cop, Kevin James is cast as Griffin Keyes. That name isn't as much of a stretch as it is for us to believe that he once dated Leslie Bibb, who's snooty about his job as a zookeeper. Griffin considers quitting his job in order to get back with her, but the zoo animals aren't pleased. Indeed, they decide to reveal that they can talk, in order to give Griffin pro-tips on wooing his ex.

1 August 2011

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER- Review

Each of this summer's comic book movies have stood out from one another by dipping into different genres from one another. Thor is a full-blooded fantasy film, X-Men: First Class is a stylish spy thriller, and Green Lantern is pretty drab and mediocre, but with ambitions towards being a sci-fi space opera. Captain America: The First Avenger is a war movie, and it's the best of the bunch because it's completely successful in everything it's trying to be.

Set after America's entry into World War II, Steve Rogers is a skinny, runty looking kid from Brooklyn who is possessed by a heart of gold and an entirely earnest desire to serve his country. He's enrolled in a super-soldier experiment and effectively transformed into the world's greatest athlete. An accident leaves him as the first and only super-soldier at America's disposal, and Steve struggles to prove his worth in combat, on his way to a confrontation with ex-Nazi bastard, Red Skull.