Reviews written by registered user
|12 reviews in total|
When we think back to the halcyon days of Star Wars, with its timeless
narrative, thrilling space battles and heroes, heroines and villains
that defined a generation and live on, immortal in the pantheon of
popular culture, we realise that for all of their brilliance there was
one thing missing: lengthy discussions of tax disputes.
But fear not, in 1999 George Lucas recognised his terrible mistake and rectified it to create an accountant/bureaucrat/lawyer's science fiction dream movie. Now, we have an iconic titles sequence that contains evocative words like 'tax!' and 'trade disputes!' in place of nonsense like evil Empires, Death Stars, and the glorious fight between good and evil. Furthermore, spectacles such as epic space battles and outlandish cantinas are downplayed to make way for marvellous and protracted scenes of space councils and diplomats earnestly debating trading laws! It has its critics, for sure, but I say that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was and is a visionary work of tax and trade negotiation-based genius.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I wish I could have been privy to the producers meeting when The Fog remake was first mooted as the finished film plays out like a producer was simply given a basic summary by a friend who had caught Carpenter's original on cable the night before and they just drew the script from that without bothering to see the film for themselves. The 1980 original, while not perfect, has a great sense of atmosphere and really creepy protagonists - most notably Captain Blake, joined by his decomposing undead crew and their nasty hooks. In the remake, we get Superlad pouting manfully and Maggie Grace as the damsel in distress to give the film that all-too-important 'teen appeal' (although it's a shame that Liam Neeson didn't show up to get all CIA on the ghosts - I would have bought that for a dollar!). And, while I like Selma Blair, she is not given a role that equates to Adrienne Barbeau's marvellous and gutsy turn as Stevie Wayne. In a nutshell, then, the film is not scary or remotely effective, and the CGI is no replacement for the visceral effects of the original. But the biggest problem are the ghosts, and I can't begin to imagine the script session that pitched replacing Captain Blake's rotted and leprous visage and wickedly sharp weapons with a transparent, bearded Rade Serbedzija wielding a (wait for it)......silver-topped cane! If they ever go for a remake of The Burning, they should replace Cropsy's deadly garden shears with two Mars bars as his implement of slaughter - so much scarier (think of the calories!). Oh, yes, and there is a bit of hokey reincarnation and human-to-ghost romance, too. Perhaps if Jamie Lee Curtis had hooked up (see what I did there!) with Captain Blake, all of that murderous unpleasantness could have been avoided. In the end, The Fog (2005) just needs to get lost in the mist of time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK, many moons have passed since the release of this film, but it still stands as a depressing indictment of how Hollywood creatively operates. In terms of content, the first half of The Stepford Wives is not too bad, certainly lighter than the original, but it still keeps to the spirit of the piece and Nicole Kidman is always a class act. And then there comes the extraordinary reboot: an irrational plot turn that happens before your very eyes. Indeed, it is as if it had featured a producer actually walking into frame and crying out: "Whoa, back it up, Mr Oz. I've just finally finished watching the original and it's really, really bleak! Quite horrible, in fact, and a total downer. Who knew that? At this budget we want light and frothy! We want Matthew Broderick's amusing hangdog face, a delightful battle-of-the-sexes farce, and Jon Lovitz/Bette Midler screwball antics. We most assuredly don't want MURDER. So, audience, please forget the robots, forget everything you saw until now (except the laughs!) - the ATM machine wife, the burning hand but no pain or ill-effects, the malfunctioning Country-lite singer - just go with the new 'hypnosis chip' angle from now on. Yes, I know that makes absolutely no sense at all and I know that you saw a Nicole Kidman robot, but just imagine that that was a dream. So, enjoy the rest of what is now a very different film, and good evening". And thus the producer exits stage left and we indeed are expected to expunge whole scenes and accept the happy ending. Hollywood can be a most peculiar place.
It's impossible to rate this film according to IMDb criteria as it operates under unique filmmaking rules. The continuity and editing just do their own thing so the viewer totally accepts the way in which a shot of a shark supposedly swimming about in a roadway suddenly cuts to a close up that shows said shark basking in deep azure Pacific seas. But the use of jarring stock footage is truly an art form in bad movie circles, and more of it, I say! Everyone knows the plot, and you get the impression that the film was constructed in the wake of a night out that involved one of the producers declaring: "Imagine one of those terror storm movies involving sharks! A sharknado, if you will!" The next day a poster was produced, and the film hung on that. So, in the midst of weather systems that come and go, sharks that change size and leap from here, there, and everywhere, an interminable bus rescue, the cast is game, although Tara Reid looks a bit bewildered by what is going on at times, while John Heard pretty much forms a double act with a bar stool. By conventional standards, the film would garner a 4, but this opus writes its own rules, and I thank the Elder Gods Ed Wood and Roger Corman that such chaotic, but marvellous spectacles still get made.
Everyone loves a bad monster movie, right? There is a great charm in the so-bad-it-is-good film, and for a while Mega Piranha delivers the goods. Alas, but then the unremitting awfulness wears you down due to endless repetition of scenes and CGI that is so bad that it can't be unintended (I hope). Add the unlikely return of a really rubbish villain, and a bizarre finale that suggests that everyone just got bored and pulled the plug, and you just have ultimate tedium (well, for me, at least). Still, it is not everyday that you get to see Tiffany playing a hydro-biologist, and I'm hoping to see Britney Spears as a Navy Seal in 'Mega Shrimp' and Ke$ha as the US President in 'Monster Manatee' vs. Giant Gecko' some time soon.
My rating is a kind of anti-rating. Is this a fine film? No. Is the plot compelling? No. Are the actors top-notch emoters? No, no, and thrice no. Are the gore effects convincing? Absolutely not! Is the film a work of sheer visionary genius? Yes! Sort of, in an alternative film-making universe kind of way. Fuad Ramses is one of the greatest/most bizarre cinematic creations I have had the pleasure of seeing. His logic is fantastic, and if for nothing else, he deserves kudos for outrunning a number of fully-fit police officers, and him with a conspicuous (read sinister) limp! Ramses' enunciation of his lines is brilliant and I am now searching for an opportunity to slide "a feast...last...given...five...thousand...years...ago" into an everyday conversation. Add not very bright police officers, one of whom is clearly Basil Exposition's father, and a series of splendid (and ground-breaking, it must be said) gore set-pieces, and you have genius. So, let us all raise a glass to Mr. Lewis and proclaim Blood Feast as the warped work of art it most surely is.
The gore is ridiculous, as is expected in a Lewis opus, the tone is sleazy as hell, and the actor's voices are frequently drowned out by an incessant and utterly mad jazz soundtrack. But boy, does this film stretch the patience, particularly a protracted stripper contest which, although apparently central to the plot, is interminable and which brings back memories of Ed Wood's classic opus, 'Orgy of the Dead' (without the werewolf, and like that fine piece of cinematic history, the fast-forward button is a must). However, the greatest tragedy is that we saw no more of the iconic Abraham Gentry, a cane-wielding US Jason King. What a shame!
The premise of this film is philosophically interesting and the first twenty minutes or so hold a lot of promise, but the film then falters badly and never recovers. Part of the problem, for me, is that Ricky Gervais is not really leading-man material (and not actually a very strong actor nor the possessor of much charisma) and his slow and often flat delivery ultimately becomes rather irritating. Tina Fey is very good but underused, with her role little more than a cameo, and Rob Lowe seems like a hastily tacked on love rival. But the major issue is the central love interest: Jennifer Garner's character, Ann McDoogles, who is utterly shallow and really rather unpleasant to the point that you can't understand what (beyond looks) Gervais' character sees in her. A religious segment is amusing and raises some thoughtful theological points of interest, but it is stretched beyond breaking point and you'll find yourself looking at your watch well before the end of the scene. So overall, points of intrigue at the premise and moments and humour for sure, but an unrewarding cinematic experience in the final analysis.
I Love You Philip Morris is a film that has a clear sense of warmth and is supported by superb performances. In terms of narrative, it is a romp, but one that takes some surprising (if not dark) turns. The film is not lightweight and tells the story of an inveterate conman. However, the love story, that between Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) and Philip Morris (Ewan McGregor), is touching, passionate and totally convincing. But while Carrey does (inevitably, one should suppose) teeter on the manic in places, it is McGregor who is the film's real revelation.With his blond hair and softly-spoken Southern American accent, McGregor easily gives one of the best performances I have seen him offer and represents a highly credible source of Russell's desire. The romantic and sexual relationship between the two central characters is not glossed over, and the film is all the better for it. Ultimately, I Love You Philip Morris ranks as a fine piece of drama that also works as a comedy, albeit it a bittersweet one. All in all, if you haven't seen it, then see it!
The sociological critique of consumerism underpinning Dawn of the Dead was sublime, prescient and seamlessly woven into the film's narrative. Diary of the Dead, alternatively, misses the zombie's brain by a mile. The whole 'manipulative media' angle is the main misfire of the movie simply because it does not work in the given scenario. The whole 'cover-up' and conspiratorial media schtick fails because of the nature of the problem: a global pandemic outbreak of the undead causing mayhem. How could that be covered up? The idea that our merry camcorder band will reveal the truth to a seemingly clueless populace is missing a fundamental fact: Everyone knows! They can see the undead; they have probably been attacked by their zombie-granny! Plus, with zombies on the loose everywhere, who would be glued to Myspace? Would teenagers across the land continue downloading P!nk or the Pussycat Dolls while the undead were bashing their bedroom doors down to eat their brains? This aspect of the film irritated me and felt as if Romero was trying to be hip with the kids but still maintain that Marcuse-like countercultural/Leftist stance. It worked a treat in 1978, but it is not so hot in 2007.
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