31 March 2012

WRATH OF THE TITANS- Review

There is no excuse for Wrath of the Titans. Let's just put that upfront, setting aside the fact that Clash of the Titans, the underwhelming 2010 remake of the 1981 nostalgic favourite, happened to  rake in almost $500 million at the global box office. If that's enough of an excuse for this sequel to exist, (and I don't believe that it is) then there is still no excuse for the film to be as bad as it is.

Read my full review, over at Movie Reviews >>

26 March 2012

THE HUNGER GAMES- Review

Having been hyped as The Next Big Thing in films for around a year or so now, it's fair to say that The Hunger Games, the first of a potential four films based on Suzanne Collins' uber-popular novels, has now properly arrived as a massive pop culture thingummy. Aside from having the third biggest opening weekend of all time at the US box office, and superseding the gross of every other film ever made by studio Lionsgate in just three days, it's also a bit flipping good.

Even with its unavoidable thematic debt to Battle Royale and The Running Man, its central allegory feels timely and incisive. Set in one of those dystopian futures, the titular games are an annual ceremony in which each district of a subjugated nation must make Tributes of one boy and one girl to the Capitol, to take part in a televised deathmatch. Katniss Everdeen comes from an outlying industrial district, and when her younger sister is selected as a Tribute, she volunteers herself instead, and is pitched into an arena where 23 children will die, and only one can survive.

21 March 2012

WILD BILL- Review

There's an impressive list of excellent British directors who made their debut feature last year, after rising to fame for other things. Ayoade. Cornish. Considine. Although it debuted at last year's London Film Festival, the early 2012 release of Wild Bill sees it arrive at the back of the pack, but Dexter Fletcher proves more than capable of keeping the same exhilarating momentum in UK cinema.

Read my full review, over at Movie Reviews >>

19 March 2012

21 JUMP STREET- Review

By now, you must know the drill with reviews of good comedies. 21 Jump Street comes from the co-writer of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. It's way funnier than the trailers make it look, and if you're reading beyond this, it's because you're interested in why I enjoyed what amounts to much more than a basic reboot of Stephen J. Cannell's 1980s high school detective series.

Jenko and Schmidt were high school contemporaries in 2005, where Jenko was the popular jock who flunked out and Schmidt was the achingly uncool geek. They both arrive in police academy around the same time, and when they find that they complement each other's academic and athletic weaknesses, their friendship helps them to graduate. Alas, they're both pretty stupid, and their incompetence gets them busted to the recently revived Jump Street division, which sends the fresh-faced cops back to high school, undercover, to bust a drugs racket.

16 March 2012

CARANCHO- Review

Doing some research into Carancho, a film I saw last week, I discovered that Carancho is a character in Bolivian folklore, who received the gift of fire from an owl. There's not a lot about this in the film itself, but I can see how you can look at its protagonist, Sosa, as Promethean, from a certain angle. But more simply, it turns out that carancho means "vulture", which links back to the film in a much more obvious way.

This Argentine entry for Best Foreign Language at last year's Oscars didn't match the 2009 success of The Secret in their Eyes, but the two films do share a leading man, Ricardo DarĂ­n. He plays Sosa, a counsellor for the Foundation, which deploys ambulance chasers to swindle plaintiffs out of their compensation settlements. Sosa desperately wants to get out of his unethical line of work, and his friendship with the idealistic Lujan, a young woman who's trying to get appointed as a doctor instead of working long hours on call, might just help him to find his way out.

14 March 2012

THE RAVEN- Review

How refreshing it is, to see a film based on a historical figure, that doesn't lean on the crutch of "Based on a true story." Doctor Who does it once or twice a season, but you don't see as many films that competently fictionalise historical characters, and in the wake of The Raven, this summer's patently absurd Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will have to live up to the enjoyable standard set here.

John Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe, in a mystery story that takes place in the week before the author's death. Poe is creatively stymied at this point in his life, with a dependency on alcohol and opium and no means with which he can convince the father of the woman he loves, Emily, to give his blessing for their marriage. Most disturbingly, however, a serial killer is on the loose in Baltimore, and his murders echo the inventive fates imagined in Poe's canon of grisly detective fiction. Detective Emmett Fields then enlists Poe, for his unique insight into the case, with the aim of bringing the killer to justice.

12 March 2012

PROJECT X- Spoiler Review

Ohh, this fucking movie. Last week, I effectively Kirk-ed the Kobayashi Maru that was March 2nd at the megaplex, by simply not going to see any new movies that weekend, for the first time in years. Eventually I had to bite the bullet, and in hindsight, I don't believe that it's possible for This Means War or Wanderlust to be any worse than Project X. Just to flag it up in advance, this review is going to contain SPOILERS, but come the fuck on- there's no real plot to spoil in this thing.

The film has been billed as a production by Todd Phillips, the mind behind The Hangover and its sequel, and it largely follows the same mad-lib character structure as those films, but with junior characters instead of grown men. There's a nebbish kid, a brash and over-confident kid, a fat, stupid kid and a non-entity who's left holding the camera, seeing as how this is a found footage film. This bold expansion of the form finds this bunch of bumboxes throwing a house party that goes badly wrong. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves anyway.

10 March 2012

JOHN CARTER- Review

It was very nearly the first ever animated feature film, and in recent years, it's had directors like Robert Rodriguez and Jon Favreau attached, but it's Pixar luminary Andrew Stanton who has finally brought Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars to the big screen. But er... just don't mention the “of Mars” part.

Read my full review, over at Movie Reviews >>

7 March 2012

BlogalongaBond- THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS Review

A jeep barrels through a wall, with a screaming assassin at the wheel, neon pink paint all over the windscreen, the cargo ablaze, and James Bond's arse sticking out through a hole in its canvas roof. Timothy Dalton might have arrived a few films late to the party, but he certainly makes a big entrance, and keeps on making it all the way through The Living Daylights.

But, if anything, this feels like a more intimate Bond film for a reconstructed post-Moore 007. The stakes are realistically world-changing, but not on the carnivalesque plane of a Karl Stromberg or a Hugo Drax. Instead, Bond unwittingly becomes the lynchpin of a plan to trick British intelligence into assassinating one of their own allies, a Russian general. Behind all of this, arms merchants are lining up for a massive pay-off, while Bond is brought into contact with Kara Milovy, the girlfriend of one of the conspirators.

5 March 2012

SAFE HOUSE- Review

I'm alive, I promise. It feels like ages since uni properly got on top of me like it did last week, but now that I'm sitting on top of the still-ballooning mountain of work once more, I can resume service, to you, the reader, with the regular blog posts that you deserve, nay, crave. If you found the temporary outage annoying, imagine how hard it is to be a fan of Denzel Washington and/or Ryan Reynolds.

Both are extremely likeable leading men who've been in a lot of middling to crap films of late, and they're together at last in Safe House. Reynolds plays Matt Weston, an inexperienced CIA agent who's stationed at a safe house in South Africa, where approximately nothing happens, all day, every day. Then, out of the blue, an uber-bad rogue agent called Tobin Frost is captured in Cape Town, and deposited into Weston's custody. Frost is carrying some important information, so it's not long before the safe house is compromised, and the rookie has to go on the run with his dangerous prisoner.