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170 out of 216 people found the following review useful:
You've already seen this movie, but better., 12 January 2013

Originally intended for release in September of 2012, Gangster Squad has belatedly hit theatres this week. The film follows the story of LA crime boss Mickey Cohen and a group of off-the-book beat cops to bring him down. "Based" on a true story (What movie isn't these days?) the film and its fantastic cast promise much but come across as bland and boring.

Set in Los Angeles in the 50's, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is a crime lord who has taken over and there seems to be nobody who can stop him. The few good cops are outnumbered by the cops Cohen has bought and it seems all hope is lost. But Police Chief Nick Nolte decides something needs to be done and assigns good, hard cop Josh Brolin to put together a team to go after Cohen. What follows is the assembling of a team of not-so- perfect cops and the war they wage on Cohen's empire.

Sound familiar? That's because we've all already seen this movie, only done much better. You can tick the cliché's off as you watch. Good cop being grilled by his dirty cop superior? Check. Older tougher cop and his young protégé? Check. Evil henchman of the chief bad guy? Check. The list could go on but would approach spoiler territory. The climax of the film is somewhat predictable about half way through. You can foresee almost all of the events that will play out in the last 20 minutes and while it's enjoyable enough, it's nothing you haven't seen before.

The cast is a who's who list of names. Which makes the film all the more disappointing. With names like Brolin, Gosling, Penn and Stone they should blow you away. But the characters are nothing more than caricatures and nobody gets the chance to portray any real depth, with the possible exception of Giovanni Ribsi. Sean Penn looks bizarre in a mountain of makeup, although it matches his completely over the top performance. Ryan Gosling turns in a nicely subtle performance, but most of the rest of the cast are stuck in cardboard cut out roles with individual stories set on railway tracks. We all know where they're going to go, we just have to wait for them to get there.

Also worth mentioning in the reason for the delay in the film's release. Originally the film was to be released in September 2012, but then the Aurora shooting took place. At that time one of the key set pieces of the film was a scene in which the characters shoot at people from behind a movie screen in a theatre. Realising how disastrously that would be received in the wake of Aurora, the studio immediately suspended promotion for the film and set about reworking that scene. The cast re- assembled in August to reshoot the sequence, now taking place in Chinatown.

Something I liked: Robert Patrick's performance as the grizzled older gunslinger. As a Terminator 2 fan it was great to see him still taking out people almost at will.

Something I didn't like: The predictable climax. At the 60 minute mark I mentally made a list of things I thought would happen in the last 20 or so minutes of the film. Of my list of about 6 things, 5 of them happened exactly as I predicted.

Something that bugged me: The scenes with Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte seemed to be shot out of focus. It was particularly noticeable in the shots of Nolte. For a film with a budget of $75M, this just shouldn't happen.

Summary: Ultimately Gangster Squad is an enjoyable enough 100 minutes but isn't anything significant. There's no great performances, no spectacular set pieces nor any big moments that you'll go home talking about. For the ladies there's an ample amount of eye candy in the form of a suited and fedora-d Ryan Gosling, and for the gentlemen there's Emma Stone and a no-nonsense Robert Patrick. But the story fails to ever really leap off the page and become something. We're told Mickey Cohen is bad, but he's never anything more than "that bad guy". We don't hate him, we don't sympathise with him or desperately want him to be taken down. He's just "the bad guy". The same can be said for all of the characters, and the story as a whole. Which makes it on the whole, ultimately forgettable.

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Decent, but fails to capture the book's spirit, 25 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Managed to see the film in 3D and High Frame Rate 48 FPS. The 3D was fine, but the 48FPS was awful. I won't say it ruined the film, because that's not fair. But it was far more noticeable than it should've been. At times things looked like they were moving far too fast. It felt like watching an American soap opera in the middle of the day. Best way I can put it. I'd read that the CGI was looking awful because of it, but I didn't really notice that. However if they want 48FPS to be the way of the future, CGI has to take several big steps forward. It's not up to that level yet. The Great Goblin (Barry Humpheries) comes too mind, it looked like CGI whereas in 24FPS they've got that down pat looking basically lifelike.

The film as a whole was all a bit meh. It felt like Jackson was trying to turn it into an epic, LOTR style film. Which The Hobbit isn't. I can only repeat words that many others have already used: Bloated, slow, overly drawn out. The scenes with old Bilbo and Frodo at the start (very start, no spoilers here) felt far longer than they needed to. The book starts with Bilbo meeting Gandalf, whereas in the film it took maybe 10- 15 minutes to get there. Felt like it was trying to emulate the prologue opening of LOTR. We could've had Thorin explain it later in the film, and would've been more effective in my opinion. Perhaps at that first camping scene?

Martin Freeman was brilliant, Richard Armitage was really good as Thorin. Ian McKellen was...Ian McKellen. But it just didn't have that sense of fun and adventure that The Hobbit book had. All throughout the movie there was this overwhelming sense of "Shit's about to get messed up", whereas in the book it had Bilbo's attitude of "Gonna get some gold, why not?".

It was okay, but so far it's the Jan Brady of the LOTR series. However, worth seeing solely for Martin Freeman.

23 out of 47 people found the following review useful:
Utterly incomprehensible to people who have not read the book, 22 December 2012

I like musical films. Rather enjoy them in fact. So I went along to see Les Miserables, having not read the book or seen the stage production. I went in fresh. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hooper. How could I go wrong?

In many ways it would seem. The film was just impossible to follow. The plot was completely indecipherable. It felt like a series of music videos taped together. Moving forward at a million miles an hour without taking any time to actually tell the story. It struck me as similar to a Michael Bay film, in that the plot was secondary to the visuals (and in this film's case, the songs).

Take nothing away from the principles, they're all fantastic. It's just a horrendous failure by the film makers. I shouldn't have to read the book before I go to this movie to understand what's going on. Having read about the story on Wikipedia after seeing it, it does sound absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately the film makers completely failed to capture that. Instead they've produced a series of music videos played together like on MTV. An appalling failure.