Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Turning a board game into a big-budget summer blockbuster was always
going to be a stretch. But Hasbro the company behind the cinematic
juggernaut Transformers series thought they had locked on to a winning
formula for their adaptation of their best-selling board-game
Battleship...namely ditch Michael Bay for the supremely talented Peter
Berg, add aliens and throw shed-loads of money at the screen. And it
The plot such as it is sees Taylor Kitsch play the lovable aimless reluctant hero. Drafted into the Navy after a drunken stunt to impress a girl goes awry he soon rises up through the ranks as his natural ability overshadows his confrontational nature. Meanwhile scientists have discovered a new planet light-years away that might just contain intelligent life. Sending a message to this planet they are seemingly unaware of the potential consequences, that ET might answer and drop by. Back in Hawaii the Navy is gearing up for a massive military exercise when our new "friends" decide to pay a visit. What happens next is man v alien in a spectacular battle of technology and wits for the control of the planet...
So lets start with Kitsch. The poor boy never can quite get a script close to that of his breakout TV role in Friday Night Lights. He's a likable guy, who does his best with the material and can handle the action sequences with aplomb. He is however overawed by Alexander Skarsgard, who manages, in a significantly smaller role, to show why he's better equipped for leading man duties than his John Carter starring cohort. Liam Neeson gives another in his trademark gruff father figure performances. You never get the feeling that he's exerting himself, but that's okay. Rihanna casts aside her singer-cum-actress background and manages to give as good as she gets playing with the boys. Brooklyn Decker never equates to more than eye-candy and the rest of the actors are all given screen-time but no background.
As a feat of technical film-making Battleship is a tour-de-force. It's visually stunning with obvious state of the art effects and seamless CGI for the most part. The alien technology is beautifully rendered, although the aliens themselves leave a lot to be desired. Likewise the movie slows to a crawl during the misconstrued slow-mo weapon loading sequences, which serve to remove the audience from the action rather than immerse them in the spectacle. Aurally the film is amazing, way to loud, but the sound design itself is full of merit. The soundtrack works well in places, less so in others. The liberally used rock classics that magnify the action are well timed, as is the wonderful interjection of the Pink Panther theme. Sadly it all comes apart when we get to the script. The story is woeful, with under developed characters serving only to spout unnecessary exposition and act as the most needless array of clichés seen in many a year. Even by the standards of sci-fi films based on board games this is ludicrous. Berg has a good eye for action but even he can't help but channel his inner Michael Bay when it comes to blowing stuff up. Given a couple more months to develop the script, a good edit job and 40 less decibels and we'd have a real contender on our hands here.
As it stands Battleship is a completely mental, completely bombastic, completely stupid summer blockbuster. A missed opportunity perhaps but maybe just what the doctor ordered if you like your movies loud, crass and Americatastic.
Two years ago Ruben Fleischer burst into the modern movie making school
of excellence with his accomplished debut comedy Zombieland. Now he
returns with another Jesse Eisenberg starring comedy but can comedic
gold be struck twice?
The plot, such as it is, revolves around a slacker called Nick. Nick is your average college drop-out, a guy trapped in a menial job with a fondness for illegal substances that may just be the root cause of his joyless existence. He is employed by a Michigan pizza parlour who offers delivery in 30 minutes or less, or your pizza is free. So now that we've established the meaning behind the name lets forget about it altogether. What really drives the whole movie is the need for another character, Dwayne, to overthrow his dad and become his own man. In an odd parallel Dwayne too is a slacker, a guy in his 30s who lives completely off his rich over-bearing ex-military father. Dwayne concocts a crazy scheme to hire an assassin to knock-off his old man but to make it work he needs a fall guy. Enter Nick
30 Minutes or Less' greatest strength, and also its greatest weakness, is its brevity. A mercifully short film it packs a lot of laughs in without overstaying its welcome. Unfortunately this short run time means that it's a disposable enough film, more likely to fill an hour and a half mid afternoon than make you actively seek it out for an evening's entertainment. The main cast are all pretty good. Eisenberg plays to his strengths with a neurotic role that derives more from his Zombieland appearance than his Oscar nominated turn in The Social Network. That latter movie does offer us a nice throw away gag near the start though. Danny McBride is less irritating than usual with the tight scripting and short run-time condensing his absolutely stunning use of foul language into brief barrages of funny. In the smaller buddy roles both Aziz Ansari and Nick Swardson equate themselves well, offering solid platforms for Eisenberg and McBride to bounce off. The stand-out role however goes to Michael Pena as the deranged hit-man Chango.
A solid, but ultimately unfulfilling comedy. It's good but just not great.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first heard that there was a new movie out about a tire that
becomes a serial killer I was intrigued. When I learned that it is the
work of French director Quentin Dupieux, I decided it was bound to be
until I discovered that Quentin Dupieux is better known as Mr.
Oizo, the electro house musician who brought us the infectious 1999 hit
single Flat Beat. Then I had to see it!
Rubber is the story of a tire. The tire's name is Robert. One day Robert becomes sentient and decides to venture out into the world. It's a moving scene as Robert takes his first halting rolls and discovers the joy of squashing a plastic bottle and then a scorpion, until he is stopped by a glass bottle. frustrated Robert soon discovers his true power he can make things blow-up with his mind. Pretty soon he's on the road and heading straight for the local population and a mysterious girl who he sets his sights on. Meanwhile on a remote hillside the audience have gathered to watch his apparent path of wanton destruction, with intrigue, apathy, joy and sadness. Standing between them and their viewing pleasure is a cranky sheriff who really wants to go home, and the lack of food and basic resources, which sets the crowd on edge.
If that all sounds a bit weird then believe me that's not even the half of it. Rubber is a deeply strange movie. Robert is almost a sympathetic character. The way he is framed and the audience's investment in his "birth" and journey give him a Wall-E type of existence. He almost wish that he succeeds in his apparent mission of getting the girl. Roxane Mesquida plays the girl. Unfortunately she's given little else to do than be the token female. Aside from a brief scene were she's forced to try lure Robert into a trap she doesn't even say much. The real star of the show is Stephen Spinella as Lieutenant Chad, the world weary law-man who is convinced it's all a show and that the movie would be over if the audience just went away. He's opening monologue, direct to camera, is a work of twisted genius.
Spinella's opening monologue in fact sets the tone for the whole movie. Right off the bat you know that this is not a straight-forward horror, it's actually more satire or comedy than horror truth be told, with Spinella announcing that the movie exists "for no particular reason". Dupieux has managed to make a film that harks back to Kentucky Fried Movie and Airplane, without being a spoof, and has a cinematic quality that would be totally at home in a western. His framing of Robert is such as to make a viable character from an inanimate object. The decision to ignore the fourth wall, by placing the audience in the movie itself is a brave one, and mostly it works. It provides an aside to the central story, which is sadly lacking in legs, and imbues the entire movie with it's sense of oddness.
Inventive, stupid and completely unnecessary yet offering something completely different Rubber is one that will confound and titillate in equal measures.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
8 years ago Gore Verbinski teamed up with Johnny Depp to make a movie
that no-one in their right mind thought was going to be a success.
Pirate movies were dead and buried and it took the monumental success
of Verbinski and Depp's first endeavour to show that genre movies can
work, if the source material is good enough. 8 years later Pirates 4
sails over the horizon, Verbinski has walked the plank following the
disappointing story-telling of Pirates 2 and 3, and Depp has just made
The Tourist. Suffice to say that the two of them could do with a hit
right now, but is an animated western really the way to go
Rango tells the story of a chameleon called, well we never actually find that out, who lives a solitary existence in a terrarium. Starved for companionship he survives the days by using his fertile imagination to act out plays and create scenarios utilising a clockwork fish and a decapitated doll. Suddenly he falls from a moving car and lands in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Seeking refuge he happens upon the old desert town of Dirt, a town populated with a cacophony of desert creatures living a meagre existence in the harsh environs. Using his anonymity he fashions himself as a gunslinger, tells a fantastical story of bravery and bravado and winds up becoming the local sheriff. It soon becomes clear however that all is not well in this quite little town and pretty soon Rango is going to be called into action.
The characters in Rango are magnificent. There's at least 20 different desert critters each with their own unique character and personality, each interesting and worthy of their own moment in the sun. That in itself is a wondrous feat of film-making. The star of the show is of course the Johnny Depp voiced Rango. Depp imbues Rango with a vibrancy, urgency and nagging self-doubt of a guy who knows his entire persona is built on a crumbling deck-of-cards. Depp inhabits the character, causing the audience to forget that he's providing the voice and allowing Rango to become the star. Isla Fisher does a strong quirky turn as Beans, her accent is spot on and her comic sensibility very much to the forefront. Ned Beatty does a villain well, his Lotso in Toy Story 3 was perhaps better but he's still solid here. Bill Nighy's Rattlesnake Jake is the prototypical Western bad-guy and Nighy gives a suitably evil performance. As good as Depp is though there is one better, Abigail Breslin as Priscilla. Sombre, morose, sweet and more than a little scary her proclamations and utterations give weight and substance to the plight of this poor town. She is the essence of why Rango must win out. Oh and the Mariachi band are brilliant.
The animation is superb. It's fluid and dynamic and shows that 2D is not quite dead yet when it comes to drawing a story. Visually sumptuous the Roger Deakins' inspired cinematography captures the west in a manner that compares favourably to Deakins own Oscar nominated turn in True Grit. This movie marks Industrial Light and Magic's first foray into animation, and if they can continue in this mould Pixar is about to get serious competition. There's an aerial assault/chase sequence here that is simply something special. John Logan's script is peppered with movie references and homages that offer something to hardcore cinema-goers and yet never distract from the tale. Sure the plot itself could be the basis of any Western but there's dialogue and discourse enough to elevate it from the dust and allow Verbinski a platform for greatness. And then there's Hans Zimmer's score Referencing Ennio Morricone's classic work and adding a twist the soundtrack here will have you humming long after you leave the cinema.
Great animation coupled with strong characters, a good story and an inspired score, there's a lot to love here. Even with some minor flaws too trivial to mention Rango is top-class entertainment.