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|11 reviews in total|
In a movie industry cluttered with own-grown hype, gimmicks and lack of
idea, "Kick Ass" bursts onto the screen and shatters all expectations
in it's wake. You're on this page because you think it's gonna be good?
Wrong. Or you're here because you think it looks a decent or a good
superhero movie to join the ranks of the ones you already love? DEAD
wrong. Reason being, is "Kick Ass"doesn't want to be good or above
average, "Kick Ass" wants to be great and it has the balls to want to
be original too. Seemingly impossible in a done to death genre where
we've already glimpsed Mark Millar's signature style in "Wanted", but
"Kick Ass" is all about the unexpected.
Make no mistake, nothing you believe of this movie compares to what Vaughn and co. serve up for you. Mainly because everyone involved seems determined to honour the comic and redefine a genre. Most movies entertain, but this one? It wants to BLOW YOU AWAY! Less smarter movies have done that but "Kick Ass" ain't giving that up either. It's script is razor-sharp, dumping the pretension of "the burden of heroism" crippling even the better superhero films, showing this in actions rather than long drawn out emoting. Matthew Vaughn has finally solved the hurdle that all superhero movies suffer, namely how to get to know and love your characters without long drawn out scenes. He does it by keeping them moving. The more they do, the more they try, the more you know and love them. And make the narrative interesting and most of all relatable so we're with Dave 100% of the way, it doesn't just have to functional.
The real visual joy of "Kick Ass" is it's desire to keep it simple but not at the expense of wowing us. Make characters do cool things, instead of Michael Bay-esquire things happening to them. That's why they exude coolness, despite Dave's almost humdrum existence. This is the everyman doing the things we could do if wanted to; not a guy from another reality or possessed with great drive and ambition. Dave wants to get laid. He wants to be hip. Even your bad guy in this is believable. Watching the whirlwind that is Hit Girl perform a routine almost straight out of Jackie Chan's Hong Kong days stuns us in a way no big screen chase ever could. Visually the film takes all the thing we DID love from the movies that ultimately didn't zing and churns them into a finely balanced flawless brew.
Did I mention it's feel good? From it's inspired use of music (again utterly relatable) right down to it's outstanding score, like "Get Carter" for superheroes; I could say more but there's surprises in store.
In a movie this stunning, acting is usually secondary (as any James Cameron film shows). Not a bit of it. In a cast as eclectic as the styles the film embraces you have performances that set a benchmark for all concerned. Can Mark Strong already better his stellar work? See his menacing and humorous turn as D'Amico, a career best. Christopher Mintz Plasse follows "Role Models" by breaking out of McLovin mode. His guy has layers and he can show them. Nicolas Cage as expected returns to his past glories playing larger than life eccentric characters but not without a little sadness too. Joining him is Chloe Moretz forever destined to be remembered for her first major role. She idolised Angelina Jolie apparently. Guess what, you trounced any action movie she has ever made! Moretz dominates any scenes she's in, no easy task considering her fellow cast! Aaron Johnson has the most difficult job of all. Being an original uber-geek after Michael Cera set the standard (anyone who's seen "Zombieland" knows it's hard to write an original geek even in a great movie). He shakes it, redefines it and OWNS it. He leads the movie like he wrote it, joined by a cast where even the smallest roles are fully fleshed out. It's quite an ensemble. A renegade band of acting styles forming a perfect one and complementing the film's fun style.
Watching "Kick Ass" is ultimately like being on a thrill-ride, it doesn't just want to dazzle you, it's wants to draw you in, ride the wave and leave the cinema on a high. And it doesn't do that with gimmicks or tried and tested formula's, it breaks the mold, shakes conventions and wants you to be surprised while complementing all the movies you already love. It's not just a movie, it's a standard, one that promises to prove movies like this can be written with great heart and brain.
And ultimately you'll be leaving the screen thinking "Wow, let's do that again" no matter how many agains come before it.
"Chaved up" for the millennium comes a timely if unwanted remake of the 'St. Trinian' films of the sixties. St. Trinians is the worst school in the country known for bad grades and unruly behaviour and an equally eccentric and unruly headmistress, Miss. Fritton, it's targeted for severe investigation by Education new broom Geoffrey Thwaites. With the bank looming round the door, things pad out even worse for the school. Even Fritton's caddish brother plans to twist the knife to make money from the school's misfortune, even with his daughter's recent enrolment. This as such serves the plot for the unruly behaviour to ring out, cue a bizarre heist, a "University Challenge" style quiz and general anarchy in the name of saving the school. But it's here 'Trinians' is woefully misguided. What was considered anarchy and amusingly unusual behaviour in the time of the original films, simply is the teenage norm now. Drug-peddling, booze loving, flirtatious schoolgirls are more a problem these days then a source for comedy so the underlying tone becomes somewhat sinister. The film tries to have it's cake and eat it. Drinking is only implied by kids, never actually seen and only older characters are seen dispensing 'uppers' and 'downers' to unwitting participants for 'amusing results'. 'Poshy totty' flirt and dress provocatively but never actually are seen in an embrace. It's this kind of humour which proves even worse baring in mind it's target audience. It takes the film to a seedy and unpleasant level, pitching knowing drug-jokes at kids, many of which ask us to laugh at people 'buzzing' many of whom have had drinks spiked. Definitely the films lowest low. Family friendly? I don't think so.... How this film ended up with a '12a' certificate in the UK is beyond me! Add to this unwanted sexual jokes and you have a film far too adult for kids but too childish for adults. Of course, with some nifty direction and timing, 'Trinians' could maybe make this fly, but the film has neither. The characterisation poor, the plot threadbare, painfully predictable and struggling to add up. The resolvent of the key heist rendered pointless when the exact object of theft isn't even needed. Even when 'Trinians' is aiming for smart it fails. Numerous 'Girl With A Pearl Earring' jokes are no doubt lost on it's key audience, probably thankfully as they are of 'christmas cracker' standard at best. Colin Firth is top of his game in a film you'd assume he'd be out of place in, TV personality, Russell Brand, you'd believe has been thrust into the proceedings to score some street cred, but thankfully is more than acceptable but the usually excellent Rupert Everett is hamming it up just a notch too much here. Kudos go to it's teenage cast (one has to weep at the already pretty Talulah Riley, given a 'slutted-up' makeover in one scene). Overall the acting is decent, making even the worst of lines bearable. The film tries to whip up a frenzy of enthusiasm and fun, but as UK girl group Girls Aloud stomp on in the finale shouting a song about 'discount rates for Chavs and their mates' you pretty much feel the whole thing is just tawdry and cheap. Much like it's level of humour and even more upset tingly, it's level of decency.
In the last entry in the 'Popsicle' series we have somewhat of a conflict, namely a slight return to form but a compromise of content. The Popsicle series has had many twists and turns during it's reign, it started out as a raunchy Iserali 'American Graffiti' homage, branching into a series of entertaining, if dopey, sex comedies and then, from Episode 6 onwards, a shameless cash-in on it's former glory, complete with bored cast members and non-existent stories. So it ends as bizarrely as it started, as a German teen movie. Raunchy content is more-or-less ditched in favour of a more family friendly approach, keeping in line with the TV edits of the previous movies very popular on German television. The boys are back, older but not much wiser, with yet another name change (do the translators even watch previous entries??) this time aspiring to open a Hawiaan-style bar with a little help from a rich investor. The key to his help is the rich investor's daughter who has long harboured a crush on bad boy Bobby (Momo) who has no interest in romancing a geeky accident prone nerd to gain the necessary cash to make Hughie/Yuhadle/Johnny's (!!) dream a reality. Interestingly it develops that Zachi Noy's multi-named character is the love-lorn one here replacing Benzi's usual character-ark and in the process giving him little to do. Bobby or Momo has a nice change of pace exhibiting a possible softer side but proving by the final reel that the new writers keep Bobby in check. To say it's flawed is an understatement, it's certainly nowhere near as interesting as the first entry but thankfully seems like 'Gone With The Wind' compared to the previous one! This time the German producers have paid for proper versions of GOOD songs from the era and the new writers at least have bothered with a thread of story (although typically twee and easy) and took the characters (bar poor Benzi) is some new directions. Shame they forget to up the laughs and give the Popsicle fans some scantily clad babes in the process. At least it's a fitting end to this branch of the series, if a watered down one.
Steve Carell returns as prissy newsreader Evan Baxter, a little less mean-spirited this time around unlike his previous small turn in 'Bruce Almighty'. Of course, Carell was up and coming then but as his box-office success shows, the character responsible for arguably the only really funny scene in 'Bruce Almighty' deserves a film of his own. Shadayac and co. have approached it with a novel (if potentially expensive idea) to make God (Morgan Freeman) appear this time to instruct Baxter to build an Arc and, as Noah did before him, load it full of animals to protect them from an for an oncoming flood. It's an idea that's very entertaining, even if the jokes are less easy than the previous premise. Evan's transformation of appearance and being pursued by eager animals are the main areas of humour here, which means at times the film is thin on the ground. Sentiment comes in the form of Evan's neglect of his family; the audience will know exactly where this will be going, but fortunately the sentiment isn't as annoying as you might believe. It's also very much a family affair, the humour and the language very much for family audiences. Disappointingly, Shadayac, responsible for bringing out two of Jim Carrey's worst performances (namely 'Liar Liar' and 'Bruce Almighty') by letting Carrey overdo it by seemingly telling him to do the whole thing as an impression of William Shatner, mistakenly this time opts to take Carell down a notch. Carell's trademark hysteria and bizarre reactions are in short supply and we have an all together calmer 'Little Miss Sunshine'-esquire turn, which also means the film loses some of it's potential in this instance. Wanda Sykes and co. are merely stock characters needing better dialogue. Does this make it a bad film? Not at all. It's religious tie-ins (if rushed) are quite smart and it's very well directed visually with a great use of music and keeping a steady pace. It is what's on the label, but with a jaw-droppingly impressive final act which will really take you by surprise and could be up there as one of the sights of the summer! You could do a lot worse than enjoy 100 minutes of easy-going fun but if it's a laugh-out-loud roller-coaster you want, you will leave short-changed!
It's very rare that a film comes along that's truly worthless but 'Save the Last Dance' is most certainly it. Thomas Carter has created a film full of embarrassing black stereotypes. We have the males; 'gangstas' and guys trying to forget their criminal pasts (if you are a black male in this movie, than you MUST have some form of criminal past) and the women, who are crack-ho's or single mothers. Enter Julia Stiles prissy little white ballerina who has daddy-issues but being white, is the only decent person with a squeaky clean past. The only way black people will accept her, is if she alters her ballerina classical training by embracing r'n'b or gyrating on the dance floor to hip-hop. She must also learn to talk like she is auditioning for a female version of 'Malibu's Most Wanted', although sadly this is no comedy. This might on a good day be considered a forgivable piece of film-making but add to this dialogue written by a retarded child (a look at the 'bitch' argument in the school gym drives this point home) and you have a film that's both poorly made and offencive. The soothing thing is this predictable bland nonsense is most audiences will get what exactly what they need to reinforce black and white stereotypes....the disturbing thing is it's popularity and acceptance as a 'feel good harmless film'. In an ideal world this would be banned...or better still not made at all. Fortunatly later attempts at this, like the recent 'Take the Lead' handle this subject with a little more competency.
In a sea of predictable Hollywood nonsense and drivel sweeps
'Tideland'; seemingly from nowhere and a film rich in wonder and
It tells of young Jeliza-Rose who bumbles along with her drug-addict father, Noah, who flees on a whim to his mother's home in the depth of Texas after the sudden death of her equally drug-addicted mother. The house is little more than an open shack, long since deserted, but now home to father and daughter and Jeliza-Rose's three dolls-heads, her only toys as such. As Noah drifts away quite literally, Jeliza-Rose is left alone and survives the day by seeing all through her own eyes. She talks and whisks through adventures with her dolls and meets the excitable Dickens, a man with the mind of a child and his domineering sister, Dell who also is wildly eccentric. Where the film ends up is a journey in itself but it is the world within the film which lies it's true genius. 'Tideland' asks us to see the world as Jeliza does. Not the sea of pain or loss but one of adventure and excitement. The film's sexual overtones and drug-use have been the stuff of minor controversy but look at this with innocent eyes and they become inconsequential. Like a haunting painting or long forgotten memory 'Tideland' is not obvious or easy to define, it's a movie which lingers in the mind and is open to interpretation by the viewer, not a film wishing to lead itself down the director's own path. Technically it's breathtaking, an ambiance of suspense and mystery with a beautiful and wistful score. Very much shot through the 'Gilliam-eye' it perfectly compliments this unique story. It will no doubt be overlooked at the usual award ceremonies, but if Jodelle Ferland's franticly paced portrayal as Jeliza-Rose, complete with individual voices for her dolls and Brendan Fletcher's supporting turn as Dickens are overlooked, then we might as well give up with award ceremonies in general!
Seek 'Tideland' out at all costs, it's a journey worth taking.
People don't like bad movies and usually it's easy to spot one. 'Date
Movie' for example makes no secret of it's shoddiness (it's DVD extras
alone can testify to that) and I can confirm it's movies as
effortlessly bad as ones like 'Date Movie' that I strongly dislike. But
(and here finally dear reader is the point), what's truly worse, a dumb
movie knowing it's place, or a diabolically dumb movie posing as a
witty satire. And that leads us into 'American Dreamz'.
Paul Weitz (one of the two brothers who gives us the brilliantly observant 'About A Boy' and the hugely enjoyable 'American Pie') here proves the talent must lie in the other Weitz. All the ingredients are here for success. An 'American Idol' style pop show, a president badly in need of a more people-friendly angle, terrorists hate of America, particularly the sort of culture that creates shows like 'American Idol' in the first place, and the final pis-de-resistance, casting Hugh Grant as the grand-master of the show, a self-important emotionless monster! It all sounds so good and the timing couldn't be more ideal, the stuff of great film making. Instead (after some great lines in the opening scene) we get possibly the stupidest and most annoying film so far this year.
Rather than opt for the humour already in these situations, Weitz dumbs it down, and I mean like two year old dumbed-down. We are served the caricature innocently idiot president, which we'll take as given, the star-struck inept-terrorist Omer, who's ridiculous song would in reality never have made it past the audition stage and the scheming yet uninterested Sally Kendoo, (Mandy Moore putting in at least a good performance) such an obvious fake she would never gain even the more dopey teenage girl's adoration. Many other bad ethnic stereotypes follow (Omer himself is supposedly of middle Eastern origin yet looks like a young Tom Arnold??) and lots of terrorists who seem to abort their ideals when presented with an American TV show. And herein lies one of the many rages 'American Dreamz' invokes.
If you have such fun concepts to play with, why bother dumbing it down at all, there's plenty of laughs to be had from the set-up? If you're going to use terrorism in your comedy-satire, do you think presenting them like the Keystone Cops is not gonna cause offence? But nothing enrages more than when 'American Dreamz' tries to be 'profound'. The relationship between Grant's Tweedy and Moore's Kendoo is beyond underwritten and one wonders why it was even included. It seems messy and out of place, much like the whole scatter-shot narrative of the film in general.
You will stay with the movie until the ending and get even more irratated as we are served the most ridiculous ending conceivable and wonder why actors like Hugh Grant and Williem Dafoe hadn't stormed off in disgust ripping up their scripts at this point.
If this film has one saving grace, it is that it is well acted all round (given that the director seemingly asks for the most cod-caricatures each actor can muster) but poor Chris Klien may never live down his part in the closing scenes.
An unshapely, offencive, stupidly dumb pompous mess. If you really dislike someone strongly enough, then really punish them by buying them a ticket rather than opting for the more humane approach of beating them with a sledgehammer. You'll never find a sledgehammer anyway, the makers of this film used them all to inject the film's subtlety.
Over the waters, it seems anyone not from England is in love with that
wonderful Richard Curtis-like view of the globe, which is neither bad
or drastically inaccurate, but covers a very small percentage of what
life in the UK and particularly ordinary UK people are actually like.
Refreshingly comes "Kidulthood", an all too accurate if at times sensational version of average school-kids in London. We meet an assortment of characters, most of them only likable on a limited level, who's only motivation is to get through each day and fill the voids with partying, be it with drugs or sex, or petty crime. The film takes us through two days of their lives and how each character, be it the misguided Trife (Aml Ameen) or the sexually motivated Becky (Jamie Winstone) as well as others, on the day when a big party looms and the suicide of a classmate seems lurking in the background.
Growing up on a London housing estate and seeing the changes throughout the years has made me over-critical of films depicting this. The dialogue always being too polished or too neat, the accents as caricatured as Dick Van Dyke's cockney chimney sweep (the recent "Green Street" and anything Guy Ritchie suffered from this in spades) but refreshingly all this is absent here. The performances are very real, so real, that it would be easy to confuse them as weak, particularly with characters such as Claire, played pitch perfectly by Madeleine Fairley with her words always having that hollow ring of someone saying what everyone around her wants to hear, rather than what they're really thinking. The language is fluid and the style completely believable; this is an excellent window into an average group of modern teens, as depressing as that is to admit.
Marrying it to the excellent visual style and the lack of obvious moralising is both a strength and a weakness. Visually fast paced, using sliding split-screen and cinema scope, married to the creme of British gangster rap, this looks great, hiding it's indie roots and looking more like Steven Soderberg's 'Ocean's Eleven' than Larry Clark's 'Kids'. The pros of this are the audience it needs to reach will interpret this as 'cool' and maybe will end up seeing the characters as teen movie icons, more than stopping and thinking what the overall message is.
It's disturbing, mostly in small gestures rather than the grand shocking ones. A pretty teenage girl is bullied, punched with a bone shattering crunch as her attacker screams at her to pick up the ring that flew off her finger, Claire is intimidated by her boyfriend by him warning that he'll tell everyone she is a lousy lay (and that's the clean version) with personal hygiene issues, as she pathetically begs him to stop; it's certainly not a film for those seeking a rose-coloured view of society.
"Kidulthood" is a much needed reply to the belief that England is a pretty cool place and it's teens as going through a harmless phase. It is entertaining but without selling itself out, despite an ending thats a little too explosive to believe.
Not since Garly Oldman's 'Nil By Mouth' has a film seemed so richly realistic and it's to the director and the writer's credit that they have achieved this.
Whilst sad, it's not as 'slash your wrists' depressing as you might assume either; the power of the film is one that lingers after and hopefully it is that, that might reach to people not only affected by what they've seen but most of all identifying with it.
Every year bring us it's fair share of teen 'school' angst and with
them the inevitable Hollywood style teenage movies. The major
difference between the two is the harsh realities of school life very
rarely have a satisfying ending or a life lesson learned, unlike their
movie-versions. But, like your school cliques, teen movies have theirs
too. There's the 'jocks' (anything from the 'American Pie' school of
thought), the sugar coated 'teen dream', like a 'She's All That' or a
'Save The Last Dance', or the harsh often painful reality ala 'Ghost
World'' or 'Heathers'.
'Mean Girls' is sandwiched firmly between the latter two movie cliques, like 'Clueless' meets 'Heathers', which is no bad thing, but slightly disappointing given the movie's darker aspects such as revenge and jealousy.
Reteaming the talented (if type-cast) Lindsay Lohan with her 'Freaky Friday' director Mark Waters (with an added 'S' here), Lohan plays Cady, a sweetly naive girl, 'home-schooled' in Africa, due to her parent's nature work and now relocated to an American school and fastly, and somewhat unhappily, learning within the course of a day, everyones place in the urban jungle that is high school.
Various brands of 'in' crowds and the geeks and eccentrics are spelt out to her by the cynical Janis (Lizzy Caplan), who has an axe to grind with the school's icy popularity queen Regina George (Rachel McAdams)
It's not long before Regina notices Cady, and spies a potential new member to the beautiful, if far from brilliant, 'plastics', as Janis terms them.
Janis assures the dubious Cady, that this could prove great fun, with Cady collecting the bile which spills from the 'plastics' day-to-day wrongs and Cady herself is quietly intrigued by the 'elite' of the school. Things become complicated when Cady becomes drawn to Regina's ex boyfriend, Aaron (Jonathan Bennett), a mutual attraction which Regina promptly sabotages out of spite. Cady needs little motivation now, to do some sabotaging of her own, to 'destroy from within' and bring Regina's regime crashing round her well-manicured feet.
'Mean Girls' has a smattering of funny one liners but it also has some weary clichés too, all be them dressed up with smart writing and interesting characters. The personas of the 'plastics' may be amusing but hardly original, but fortunately the movie scores some strengths in it's other characterizations, the gay but thankfully not camp, Damien, (Daniel Franzese) who performs 'beautiful' with a gusto that could put Xtina herself to shame. There's also wannabe rapper cum-maths-brain, Kevin. The teachers are particularly well written, especially Saturday Night Live's Tim Meadows, unexpectedly and deliciously dry as Mr. Duvall and a football coach whose aggressive lessons on underage sex ("Don't have sex! Because you will get chlamydia and die!") hide some indiscretions of his own (another sign of the movie's rebel spirit waiting to break free)
As witty as the movie is, hitting all the right notes, what's missing to bring it to the realm of teen-classic, is a bite of dark humor. Why when one of the 'plastics' is hit by a bus, can it not be the death we were led to believe by Cady's narrative? It would've been a lot funnier than the merely smile inducing antics that follow? Cady's love interest, the bland Aaron, is hardly worthy of ANY interest; wouldn't it have been far most interesting for Cady to go down a different path?
You will laugh a lot, and enjoy it immensely and it's place alongside the better teen comedies such as 'Ten Things I Hate About You' is assured, but a little more 'meaness' as the title would suggest, might have elevated to even greater status alongside clever films like 'Election'. Ironicaly, 'Mean Girls' becomes a victim of the very thing it is satirizing, namely conformity.
If you've ever gone through your premium rate movie channels on a
Saturday afternoon and wonder why you are paying such rates for cheap,
ill conceived movies for young children, chances are you are watching a
film like 'Tooth'. It's more than a coincidence, as the film itself is
co-financed by US companies, known for turning a quick buck out of
these Pay TV time fillers (and no doubt sensing the added plus of a UK
A seemingly fun concept, along the lines of fairytale themed notions gone awary, like say 'Elf' or 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' we learn about the secret underground regime of Tooth fairies. A mostly jaded crew who employ time-consuming and unsubtle means to 'vacumn up' teeth and return cash in exchange for any 'loose tooths' left under a child's pillow. (Even your youngest child will crow 'wouldn't it be easier to just pick it up?').
How this turns a profit, is one creative bridge too far for the writer, so we quickly move on to the devious Plug who in need of a National Enquirerer-esque scandal, uses his security company to track the down Tooth Fairies and fill newspapers full of money making exposes. This is made easy for him when the bored, rule breaking fairy, Tooth, (genius name) decides to reward a poorly family with a wish of unlimited wealth, setting a crashing turn of events resulting in kidnap and the possible cancellation of Christmas.
What little creative thought used here, and trust me it is little, is undone by threadbare writing. Characters are sparsely written, with stereotypes beyond even the most basic of children's television. Once proud actors plod in, warble their lines and go, lacking any real decent personalities to get their (cough!) teeth into.
The only character worth playing in the script is Plug, put into the seemingly able hands of talented comedian Harry Enfield, who proceeds to give it the gusto of a car insurance promo. "Lock, Stock" fans will wince at Vinnie Jones whimpering the line "I'm a tooth fairy" and followers of Oscar Winner Jim Broadbent, will insist he would never have recorded his lines, if he knew they would eventually be uttered by the worst animatronic bunny this side of an old 'Doctor Who' episode! The pivotal Rabbit, sums up the entire look of the film. Cheap, with unrealistic sets and what little special effects the film does have, are vastly outshone by your average television commercial. Whenever Tooth and co. make time consuming journeys, a detail-less map appears with voice over dialogue.
It's hard to see where any of the money has gone at all, certainly not on the writer or director one suspects.
If this film has any saving grace, it's the sheer verve and energy of it's younger cast, particularly spectacular little Yasmin Paige, with the film's only savvy casting of her in the title role, who seems to be trying to wake the audience up throughout her screen time. But even all her efforts can't disguise what is an effortless ploy to trick children of their money.
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