Posts Tagged ‘Films’

Slumdog Millionaire

January 15, 2009

Hype, hype, bastard HYPE.

It’s not the fault of Danny Boyle or his talented young cast that Slumdog Millionaire has been so ridiculously overhyped this past couple of weeks. It’s the fault of journalists and TV magazine shows, all champing at the bit to speak with supposed expertise about a film they consider to be not only beautifully shot and acted (which it is), but also worthy. They think that by singing the praises of the film without questioning any aspect of it, they earn themselves kudos rather than cynicism from those of us who, having watched it and made our own minds up, have realised the film’s got a few problems in the process.

It doesn’t help, when wishing to watch with fresh eyes, that the movie has been endlessly trailed. You’ll have seen about three quarters of it, including pivotal moments, before you even enter the bloody picture house. You’ll know exactly what the first half’s about and you’ll have guessed the outcome of the second half if you’ve got even one lobe left in your grey matter after the endless barrage of praise that accompanies each plot-ruining clip featured on every current affairs or entertainment show going.

So I don’t need to run through the plot. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know it. If you haven’t, you’ll have been told. What I can tell you is that, in my humble opinion, the first half is visually brilliant and depicts the life of the Mumbai slum-children sympathetically, if simplistically. The flashback scenes using children under the age of sixteen, speaking in their Hindi mother-tongue, are the best aspect to the movie. I wished it had stuck to format the moment the two male leads grew older and the dialogue snapped to English. As it did, the believability of the first half was binned in favour of an ill-advised take on magic realism that didn’t satisfy this here curmudgeon.

Reducing the sufffering of the characters to a fabricated Millionaire wish fulfilment conclusion just felt half-arsed. This was compounded by the fact that the love interest had barely a line in the whole film and we had no sense of who she was and how they had fallen for one another. All we’d seen them do was share a mattress, aged seven or eight.

Despite all that, the film’s worth a look for the visual aspect alone. The amazing opening half’s a seductive vision of a nightmare, paradoxically enough. Just don’t believe that it’s profound, feelgood, or deals sensitively with major issues. Because it doesn’t really do any of those things.

NewsGush – Best Bond

November 17, 2008

I’ve never been one for your James Bond rubbish. Bond’s a slimy sod, I reckon – whether we’re talking back in the Connery era or, more recently, the Brosnan epoch. And this Daniel Craig version doesn’t appeal. He may be all sensitive now but he’s still an overdressed ponce schmoozing about and killing innocent terrorists.

The only Bond film I’ve ever sat through was a Roger Moore one. At least ol’ Rog bought some chuckles to proceedings.

But what do I know? Apparently, the latest Bond is the biggest ever.

Quantum of Solace has captured a record opening for a Bond film at the North American box office, with takings of more than $70m (£47.4m).

Am I missing out on something great? Or is Bond a load of balls?

One Minute Review: Doomsday

August 20, 2008

Neil Marshall’s got previous, having made the rubber-wolf rubbish that was Dog Soldiers and the ultra-dull Descent. The former featured some army-types getting trapped in the middle of nowhere and fighting werewolves, whilst the latter was about an unengaging bunch of pot-holing chicks getting eaten by horrible anaemic white ghouls. Even from those brief descriptions, both films sound mildly watchable, if not like a ruddy good laugh. But they aren’t a ruddy good laugh. Neither of them. Both run out of steam within 30 minutes then rely on brain-haemorrhage speed-editing to try and involve you, to no avail.

Marshall’s got something very wrong with his mechanism. Every time things are looking good, he seems to take a completely mental premise with massive potential for larks and then slowly blood-let every element of surprise, fun and enjoyment from it. It’s like he finds some ancient, forgotten VHS of a good fun splatter film and, instead of remaking it with mad-good effects, he just takes it out of the cover and gently shits on it.

And so we come to Doomsday. Though, if you’ve any sense, you won’t come to Doomsday – you’ll let it gather dust on the racks. After a hefty amount of exposition-time in which Bob Hoskins manages to swear a lot, unconvincingly, our protagonist (played by Rhona Mitra) convinces us she’s a cold-hearted, killing-machine bitch. Then she gets sent to Scotland which is now a quarantined hinterland with the mission of finding a cure for the virus which has turned the Scots into disease-ridden cannibal bastards. With mohicans. Who have just finished  being duff extras in Mad Max.

It’s a nice, absurd premise, but what follows is just set-piece after set-piece of jarring action sequences. And then a mediaeval bit. And then a massive road chase that never seems to end.

It would be an unremarkable bit of fluff, but the dialogue is so unbelievably poor that the viewer has no choice but to start actively disliking what’s going on. I think the Rhona Mitra character is meant to come across as a stern, Aeon Flux type character. She actually seems more like a frigid, miffed newsreader and you want her to die as violently as Sean Pertwee did in the first bit. Only quicker.

The Dark Knight

July 29, 2008

Very mild spoilers

Let’s dispense with the plot first, shall we?

Billionaire in Kevlar body armour fights maniac with excellent make-up skills in Chicago, mainly at night. Meanwhile, a half-dead looking policeman with a moustache pretends to be completely dead to aid in the capture of aforementioned maniac and a chiselled Fifties film star has half his face burned off, then blames the wrong people for his disfigurement and the death of his cow-faced girlfriend. Maniac kills lots of people, man with half a face kills on the whims of a coin toss, billionaire fights them both and wins, then inexplicably shoulders the blame for the disfigured man’s crimes. The end.

Right, now that’s over and done with, a word of warning.

What The Dark Knight posters and trailers fail to mention is that Eric Roberts is in this movie. That’s right – Eric fucking Roberts. For anyone unfamiliar with the career of Eric Roberts (brother of Julia, and proof that lightning doesn’t strike twice), he’s a fourth – no, fifth – rate action ‘star’ who’s carved a career in woeful kung-fu and mercenary movies that go straight to DVD. Eric Roberts is the Happy Shopper Tom Berenger – cursed to play the villain in a string of films with titles such as Death Force Zero and The Eliminatrix III when the real Tom Berenger is unavailable. Think Chuck Norris without the personality. A poor man’s Ernie Hudson. In short, he’s shit.

Now, until I stumped up £13.50 for two tickets to The Dark Knight, I had never paid more than £2.50 to watch Eric Roberts in anything. The last time I handed over real cash-money to watch Mr. Roberts fail to convince was an ill-advised Blockbuster rental of Best Of The Best II – an ass-kicking kung-fu collective movie starring Roberts, Phillip Rhee (the Black Belt Jones of the modern era) and the late, lamented Chris Penn.

It was shit, but then it was supposed to be shit … because it had Eric Roberts in it. I was happy to fork out £2.50 to watch the monumentally ugly and unconvincing Roberts shove his combat boots up the ass of his enemies because, well, it was only £2.50. But thanks to the producers of The Dark Knight, I now have to confess I’ve spent over a tenner on an Eric Roberts movie. This pisses me off.

OK, so I had to suffer the grotesque Mr. Roberts, but what about Mr. Bale? Did he cancel the toweringly shit performance of Roberts out? Did he make me forget that I’d spent money on an Eric Roberts movie? Well… no.

Annoying as playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne (mainly because he hands in the same performance he did for American Psycho – making you think Bruce is butchering prostitutes when he’s not out fighting loonies), he’s awful – truly fucking awful – as Batman. Cursed with a stupid costume that makes his head look like a pool ball with ears, Bale adds to the misery with a dreadful deep rasp of a voice that gets up your nose. Every time Batman speaks, a viewer who isn’t so enamoured of the character that he’ll forgive him anything sits bewildered as they’re faced with one of the stupidest voices ever to grace the screen. I spent the entire two and a half hour running time thinking, “What the fuck is wrong with Batman’s voice?” I don’t think this is what the director wanted me to think.

Gary Oldman looks like he’s got cancer. Aaron Eckhart gives an Aaron Eckhart performance (the same one he gave for Thank You For Smoking, but with half his face missing). Maggie Gyllanhall is wasted, then blown up. That’s all I can think to say about that trio.

So we’ll move on to The Dark Knight’s money shot: Heath Ledger as The Joker. Anyone who wasn’t wetting their trousers at the prospect of a Joker for the 21st Century could have guessed what performance they’d get from Ledger in this role, and they would have guessed correctly. Shoulder hunched up, daft walk, tongue whipping out every ten minutes (because tongue work’s an essential part of any mentally ill person’s madness arsenal, as are trousers that never reach the shoes), wild, darting eyes, occasional high-pitched changes of vocal intonation, etc. Those boxes checked, Ledger plays The Joker in just the same way any actor of any merit would play The Joker. The performance is phoned in – Actor’s Guide to Playing the Insane 101. Stacey’s mum with stupid hair and idiot make-up.

The press has made a lot of this, his final completed performance – yet I would argue it’s nothing special. We can laud praises on the actor all we want, but this is not De Niro in Godfather II. This is an as-you’d-expect performance of a silly character in a silly comic book movie. Nothing more, nothing less. He’s good, but he’s not that good. And – going against the grain here – he’s nowhere near as good as Nicholson, in my opinion. Nicholson at least made the character fun.

Did I say ‘fun’? Well if you’re looking for that, I’d hang on for next month’s Tropic Thunder (which at least promises fun from the trailer). The Dark Knight is anything but fun. It’s ridiculously long for a comic book movie, takes itself so seriously it’s insulting and has a plot that plods along at a snail’s pace.

It’s wordy, morbid and borderline stupid in too many places. Off the top of my head, these are just a few things that pissed me off about The Dark Knight’s plot:

  • Why does a moral crusader agree to illegally extract a wanted criminal from China and bring him back to the United States? Doesn’t that make him the same as the criminals he’s taken it upon himself to fight?
  • The Joker must spend hours getting his make-up to look like that – strange for a man we’re constantly reminded doesn’t give a fuck about anything (with the notable exception of male grooming … weird male grooming, but male grooming nonetheless).
  • Alright, Two Face’s missus is blown up by The Joker, but why does this tip him over the edge and make him an ally of The Joker? His subsequent crusade to get justice for his dead partner (that leaves out kicking The Joker’s ass) makes no sense at all.
  • Is it just me, or was there an actual point to Gary Oldman faking his own death?
  • Who the fuck agrees to work for The Joker? People with a death wish? Suicides who haven’t got round to it yet? He kills everyone who works for him … surely word would have got around about this?
  • A knife slash to the side of your mouth doesn’t kill you.

There were plenty of other things that mystified me about this awful film, but I’ve had enough of thinking about them. If you want to waste your money on an up-its-own arse, overlong action movie that contains hardly any action but does contain Eric Roberts, then by all means waste it on The Dark Knight. If, however, you want to spend your moollah on a comic book movie that won’t bore you, insult you, and annoy you, I’d recommend you wait for Iron Man to come out on DVD. At least that film was stupid but fun. The Dark Knight is just stupid.

And it’s got Eric Roberts in it.

Flight of the Living Dead (Plane Dead)

June 2, 2008

Flight of the Living Dead

I love zombie films, me. They don’t scare me, but I can’t think of anything more horrific. You want ‘horror’? Think about it, re-animated rotting corpses walking about, and in some recent cases; running. Think about the smell. Zombie Diaries wasn’t the best zombie flick I’ve seen but I liked the idea and one thing they got spot on (I imagine, I’ve never seen a zombie holocaust in real life) was the horrible buzzing of all flies when the living dead are bumbling about like walking sides of off beef.

I’m no zombie flick aficionado though, there’s plenty of those on this very blog…and I’d like them to email me with a list of recommended zombie films please. I’ve seen the obvious ones (Dawn of, Day of, etc etc) and some were good, some were bad. The remake of Dawn of the Dead fr’example, ace. Some were shit; 28 Weeks Later; big let down after 28 Days Later. I know some people don’t consider the “28” series to be proper zombies and that but I’m including them anyway. Not to is just too nerdy for me.

Anyway, in my quest to find good zombie movies to watch I’ve seen some fucking turkeys, let me tell you. You know the ones, the strange, lazy hybrid ones where people have made a shit film and haven’t even bothered with a title… “Dawn of the Living Dead” remains unwatched on my shelf six months after I bought it for £1.99 in Sainsbury’s. My brother, 13 years my junior saw it in my collection and said “you’re not seriously going to watch that piece of shit are you?” in such a sneering tone I took his word for it and haven’t bothered. Actually, I didn’t really need to take his word for it. It’s called Dawn of the Living Dead for fuck’s sake. Anything that splices the titles from successful films together and costs less than two quid can’t be good. Like cheap porn…don’t fucking bother.

Anyway, there I was the other night in Blockbuster with my girlfriend. She wanted to get a movie to watch with her son that night and I was on the verge of getting that Will Smith movie that’s just out on DVD, the one where he’s the last man alive or something. I’ve not seen it so thought I might as well…I Am Legend, that’s the fucker. Just as I was going to get it I suddenly saw a DVD looking at me from the cheap-as-shit shelf. My girlfriend had just selected Lake Placid 2 on the basis that the first one was shit but made her laugh (it’s awful apparently, so don’t get it) and I thought “what the fuck eh? I mean, what could go wrong with a film called FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD?”

What indeed.

It’s mind bendingly awful. Don’t watch it. Please God don’t watch it. This contains spoilers, and since you really don’t want to see this movie it doesn’t matter. I’ll make it briefer than my last review.

Flight of the Living Dead (Outbreak on a Plane) has a fairly simple plot. No it doesn’t actually, it’s got a fucking simple plot. There’s this 747 right, and it’s flying from the States to Paris. Brilliant. Some scientists have put ‘something’ in the hold. Gasp, what could go wrong?! Here’s the main players:

  • Pilot: Old, it’s his last ever flight! (he’s fucked then)
  • Co-pilot: quite handsome in a B-Movie kinda way. He dies, which surprised me.
  • A cop with a prisoner handcuffed to him: They tend to crop up in most air disaster movies don’t they. It’s ok, the prisoner is a good egg really. And the only person in the film worth watching because the others are so shit.
  • Two couples of teenagers. The girls are both slags and the boys are both jocks. So they’re zombie fodder.
  • Three scientists: All dodgy, the leader’s the worst. Munch munch.
  • A nun. Fucking EVERY time…nuns infest the air.
  • A black golf pro and his arsey missus. We know he’s a golf pro because he’s brought his fucking putter on the plane to polish. For about eight hours!
  • Some air hostesses. The slutty ones die first of course.
  • A weird bloke, who, fuck me, turns out to be a bit of a saviour.
  • A zombie who kicks off and turns everyone else into zombies.

You can fill in the rest yourself. It’s utter shit. Yeah anyway, like, the zombie shit kicks off and there’s all these zombies multiplying and coming through the floor of the plane and that, and there’s blood and shit everywhere, and people don’t die very convincingly. Oh, and you’d think people would be able to act like zombies at least. They can’t.

I’m a bit of a stickler about how my zombies behave. They either shuffle along moaning quietly a-la George A Romero, or go run-around apeshit like the remake of Dawn of the Dead. These ones sort of try being fast zombies but they’re not nuts enough, and they hiss a lot. Hiss. Zombies don’t fucking hiss! I’ve never even seen a real zombie and I know they don’t hiss!

Anyway, take it from me, it’s utter shit and if you go and watch it it’s not my fault. I’ll save you the effort; the last survivors are the cop, the criminal (who can sort of fly a plane), the main hostess who wasn’t slutty so didn’t die, and the weird bloke who turned out to be an air marshal. The black golf pro nearly made it but he and his wife sacrificed themselves like the heroes they were. The plane crashes in a desert near a small town and the survivors walk off laughing and joking…only to be followed by loads of zombies what survived the crash! Thus leaving room for a sequel which I’m betting is never ever made.

Please, somebody (that’s you Swineshead) put a list of decent zombie movies on the reply section because I’ve watched all the Romero ones and very little else satisfies…and I’m sure there’s loads I’ve not seen.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

May 6, 2008

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd

Christ, Tim Burton’s gone down the pan recently, hasn’t he?

After the fantastic Ed Wood and the ridiculously enjoyable Mars Attack, he went crazy on the remakes, failing to recreate Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with any flair and making the more original Sleepy Hollow and Big Fish to a universal ‘so what?’

Now he’s remade a musical that nobody had seen in the first place. It also got an indifferent response from the critics. It doesn’t get a response from me at all, as it happens. It gets a deep, heavy snore. One hour and ten minutes in, I fell into a fantastic sleep and upon waking, it had ended. But what was the reason for my lapse into unconsciousness? Why did I plop into slumber? How could the work of this commercial auteur fail to inspire me?

If you haven’t seen it, you won’t know that half an hour of the film is devoted to Johnny Depp doing a sixth form impression of Bowie whilst singing the same lines over and over and over again. He sings to his razor blades that they are ‘his friends’. ‘His friends’. They are ‘his friends’. Instrumentation. ‘They’re my friends’. ‘His friends’. It never bloody ends! Honestly, the amount of time devoted to this section almost drove me to a monitor-smashing incident. Add the occasional intrusion of Bonham Carter doing her best Rada-actress-landed-in-Walford accent and fists become clenched and teeth get themselves gritted. It stinks.

Also repeated until it bores into your head is a song where the word ‘beeeautiful’ features a billion times. ‘Oh, she’s beeeautiful’ the young lad sings, until you’ve bitten your bottom lip off. ‘Beeeeautiful!’.

You just want it to end suddenly.

Even the bit with Sacha Baron Cohen fails to amuse. He arrives in the midst of heavy, intoxicating boredom, sings a bit whilst wearing tight trousers, then dies as quickly as he arrives. Even the bit where he gets his throat slit wide open is dull. The whole thing is as BORING AS FUCK.

*nods off just thinking about it*