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The World's End (2013)
The Cornetto Trilogy has its Godfather part 3
The World's End is about all about trying desperately to re-live former glories and the film ends up mirroring that. You come away remembering how great Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were, and how sad it is to see the same talent serving up something so lackluster.
The story has a promising concept, but it's a dud from the start. The pub crawl idea simply doesn't work when meshed with the sci-fi invasion. Because after the 'robots' are revealed there becomes no reason for them to continue drinking. You can throw up a flimsy explanation that they continue so as not to arouse suspicion, but it doesn't wash. Put simply: once there are robots around, you do not care if they get to The World's End.
Furthermore, I didn't much care if they got killed/replaced. None of the five are very sympathetic and they are for the most part very nondescript. These are not the kind of drinking buddies you want to go on a ride like this with. Freeman, Marsan and Considine all play similarly bland characters. They're really nothing but place-holders. Pegg and Frost, having nailed the lovable doofus previously, obviously wanted to play against type for this one and it backfires massively. If Shaun and Ed were on this pub crawl, I'd be in. Gary and Andrew? I wish I'd bailed after the first round.
Even the direction felt oddly off here. Of course there were the obligatory half-second shots of pints being poured, keys turned, etc. But it lacked the energy of Wright's previous work. In fact, it felt like no-one's heart was really in it. The whole film was came off like an idea they no longer believed in. Either that or they just haven't got it anymore. A bit depressing either way.
It's sad when people you love serve up something you hate, but The World's End is a turkey. I only wish I'd drunk twelve pints before seeing it.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
As bad as The Dark Knight was good.
The Dark Knight Rises is a complete mess. It's convoluted, silly, inconsistent and worst of all DULL.
First I should give a frame of reference for giving it one star. If you compare this to Batman & Robin, then it's not a single star film. It's better than that at least. But I'd rate Batman Begins as an 8/10 and The Dark Knight as 9 or even 10/10. And compared on those grounds this is a total stinker and worthy of just 1/10.
The main problem here is just unchecked excess. Nolan has being given (and arguably earned) complete free reign to do what he likes with this franchise. So it's at his door that the blame must fall for this overblown mess.
Summer blockbusters falling victim to excess is nothing new. Michael Bay has built his career on it. But whereas his films are an overdose of action over story, here Nolan gets drunk on plot. There are so many plot strands running here and they all end up half-baked and largely redundant. And in his desperate struggle to weave them into something coherent, Nolan is forced to completely abandon character motivation and common sense and literally just shifts characters from one place to another with no cause-and-effect whatsoever.
There are so many plot holes here it's simply not worth listing them. A few plot holes can be forgiven in films that set the story in a fantastical universe, but Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were refreshingly serious portrayals of the superhero films and grounded them in a reality close to our own. The Dark Knight rises destroys that reality completely.
The characters are mostly bland too. Bane's voice simply doesn't work and he doesn't dominate physically as much as he should either. Catwoman is shuffled in and out whenever it's convenient and as a result we neither like nor dislike her. She's just there. Alfred is now a crying old softie. Gordon switches from terminally ill to Dwayne Johnson. And there's about a thousand other minor characters who are all cardboard cutouts.
And finally the dialogue is awful. Remember when Harvey Dent says to Bruce Wayne in TDK "you either die as a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain"
That was a nice line. But if EVERY character talks like that for the whole film it loses all meaning and suddenly you see the writer's hand everywhere. In TDKR people just start spouting pseudo-philosophical metaphors at each other about what the city needs. The city needs an airport, that's what it needs. And the franchise needs a long rest before the inevitable reboot.
The Inbetweeners (2008)
I just don't understand the how this show got so popular. It's pathetic. It's badly acted and relies purely on naughty words to get laughs. It's just not funny. Imagine a 12 year old trying to write Superbad and you get the idea. It makes me cringe. That this is held up alongside Peep Show (1000 times funnier) is so depressing and just shows how little audiences have to come to expect.
There's nothing inventive or clever here, just unlikable characters throwing base insults at each other - and that grates after the first two minutes. It's all about cheap, easy laughs and clearly that's enough for a lot of people. How sad.
I'd rather watch My Family than The Inbetweeners. That's how bad it is.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Just not funny
I cannot understand why this film has received such a high rating. It's slow, moany and not in the least bit funny. Jason Segel is not leading man material. And neither is his penis.
The characters are all unlikable, one dimensional bores. There's no set-pieces whatsover, just a long string of static scenes that have no edge. You don't even get many shots of beautiful Hawaii. It's just really weak film-making.
The one plus-point is Mila Kunis, who is a cut above everybody else, and Paul Rudd does his best to improvise some life into his weak role. But there's still no laughs to be had here. Avoid this trash.
Clerks II (2006)
I liked Clerks. It was funny and refreshing at the time. That was 1994. I had high hopes for Kevin Smith. Fast forward over a decade and that hope has vanished. Clerks 2 is utterly dreadful.
This is absolutely pathetic film-making. Smith has never been much of a visual director; his films have always been slow and static. But now any flair for dialogue he ever had has gone. What you get are completely unlikable characters spouting foul-mouthed chunks of awful bile. None of it is funny or fresh. It all sounds like the stuff a desperate fanboy might come up with. And I guess that's all Kevin Smith is at heart. He should go and work in a video store where he might amuse the odd customer with a speech about Lord of the Rings. His career in film should be over.
Contender for worst sequel of all time. A disgrace.
Good by summer blockbuster standards, but no masterpiece
Dreams are both endlessly fascinating, and utterly tedious. Fascinating in what they represent, tedious whenever anyone tries to explain one to you. This is Inception. There's an undercurrent of something great here, but it's spoiled by the mundanity of the mechanics of trying to make the story make 'sense'. Dreams don't make sense, they're abstract. But Chrisptopher Nolan tries desperately to make the dreams in Inception follow rules. Endless rules. So many rules the story starts to wither under the weight of them. Which is a shame, as dreams are the perfect playground to create something remarkable. I feel Inception failed to make it there.
The performances are mostly excellent, with Marion Cotillard particularly good in a role that's deliberately underwritten. There's some great visuals in there as well, even if things exploding in slow motion does start to get a bit old towards the end.
I'd rather watch something this well crafted over Transformers 3 any day of the week, but I left Inception with a definite feeling of disappointment at what could have been.
The Pacific (2010)
War is hell............and BORING
Okay, lets get the Band of Brothers comparison out of the way first. It is absolutely reasonable, given the similarity in creative and financial input of those involved, to expect some parity with the quality of the two series. However, The Pacific falls very, very short.
The foremost problem has been touched on by many; lack of character development. I didn't feel I knew, and a result care, about these Marines. By the final episode I could name three of the characters: Snafu, Leckie and Sledge. And I didn't like any of them. When you don't have empathy for those involved it makes the action uninvolving. Horror movies only work when you empathise with the protagonist and feel their terror. I never felt part of the campaign here. People getting their limbs blown off may have made me wince, but it never made me want to cry. And it really should have.
The weakness in the characterisation is all the more marked because this series spent so much time away from the battles, where you might expect rich backstory to occur. But the scenes away from the war were incredibly stale and only served to slow the story down to a frankly boring pace. The battles in the Pacific and the progress of the forces are of important historical significance and that's what we all tuned in to watch, right? John Basilone's wooing techniques and Leckie's premature ejaculation are NOT of important historical significance. Neither do they advance their characters.
Some the characterisation has to fall with the actors. I felt the acting was rather disappointing in this series as well. It was never inept, but neither did anybody find a way to inject charisma, mystique or grandeur into their performance. It was all very one level, staring into the distance acting.
So a great deal of The Pacific was a real disappointment for me. But there were a few great set-pieces in there too. The landing in episode 5 was particularly strong. The strength of the battle scenes is all that elevated The Pacific above being plain dreadful television.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Existentialism for morons
I have seen probably 1000-1200 films in my life and I haven't hated a film more than this. Sure there are more inept films out there, "The Rollerblade Seven", for example, is genuinely the worst film ever made. But at least The Rollerblade Seven didn't think it was smarter than me. I Heart Huckabees is made by morons who think they're geniuses for morons who believe them. Watching this film is the cinematic equivalent to having someone come over to your house and poke you in the eye whilst reading a dreadful poem and then scoffing at you for not 'getting it'. If I ever see David O. Russell I swear to God I will make him reimburse me for inflicting this dreadful movie on me.
In closing: I no longer fear death, for I have experienced so much worse.
Kids Playing Grown-ups, Talking Nonsense
This is a very irritating film. It's like Bugsy Malone without the songs. It all comes across as kids doing Film Noir for their school project - badly. It is an unengaging story about an unlikable girl who goes missing, and her miserable ex-boyfriend who tries to solve the big mystery. Yawn. The dialogue is perhaps the most annoying part of Brick. Clearly the writer has mistaken 'incomprehensible' for 'clever'. It's all gabbled nonsense like "Jimmy C got goosed by the bulls and now I'm half-galloned to Milwaukee. Find out where Eddie Cheerio hides his cake and then meet me behind the Flapjack shop at a quarter past lunch." Or something.
In truth the film is slightly better than a 1, but is just so irritating in how smart it thinks it is that it needs bringing down a peg or two.