Posts Tagged ‘Movie’

Hancock

October 27, 2008

HIDDEN SPOILER AT THE END

You can say a lot of things about illegal downloads; that they constitute theft, that they ruin the entertainment industries, that they weaken the cultural effect of movies and music – but one criticism that can’t be levelled at them is that they don’t half save you from paying good money to watch utter shit.

If I’d paid £7 to watch Hancock at the cinema, for example, or handed over £4 to rent the DVD and subsequently watched this tower of crap, I would have been angry and upset. As it stands, with a bittorrent at my fingertips, I was left with no resentment towards the filmmakers or cinema – just a sense of guilt and regret and a new found resolution to not give my time up so willingly in the future.

Will Smith is Hancock, an alcoholic superhero who is more of a hazard than a help. Flying drunkenly around the city he destroys pretty much everything he comes into contact with and costing the city millions of dollars in damages. So far so good.

He saves the life of charity PR man Jason Bateman who then sets about restoring his image and making him a better superhero. Also so far so good. He goes to jail voluntarily and returns as a reformed man, and begins to do battle with uber-villain Eddie Marsan. Equally so far so good.

That’s half the movie and it’s pretty good – not great, but pretty good; Will Smith isn’t exactly a bastard but he’s kind of fun, the story is pretty interesting and there’s some good jokes and action to keep you involved. Jason Bateman doesn’t come close to the highs of Arrested Development, but as anyone who’s a fan of that show will know that just having him onscreen is a pleasure.

At this point you’re enjoying the movie and all is well. Then they do something*; something that some people may call a ‘daring plot twist’ and others may refer to as a ‘brave story development’ but that I will simply describe as a ‘rubbish and stupid contrivance that utterly ruins the movie’.

Suddenly everything changes; characters are forgotten, storylines abandoned, the rules of the world alter and you find all your interest and curiosity dropped instantly. The film becomes about something else and changes tone, almost as if Bryan Singer were replaced by Brett Ratner half way through shooting. It becomes really boring.

Much like with Will Smith’s last rubbish movie – I Am Legend – everything starts out well and then turns shockingly bad. Does he no longer read scripts all the way through, or is it a deal with the studio where the first part can be all moody and slow as long as the second can be loud and stupid?

What makes this film so bad is not that the two halves are that terrible – they’re not – it’s that together they count each other out. That you enjoyed the first half is forgotten by the end of the second, so annoyed you are at the instant switch that occurs. All the goodwill and fine work thus far is obliterated by the silly story.

And so it ends. By this point I was playing with the cat and my lady was doing the washing up. I have no idea what the point was, just that I know I’ll never get that time back – but thank god I didn’t pay for it.

HIDDEN PLOT-SPOILER NOW

*Want to know what happens that makes it all stupid? Highlight the text below.

It turns out that Hancock has amnesia and forgot that Jason Batemans wife is actually his wife who is also a superhero and his greatest weakness because they are actually 3,000 year old gods who were built as a pair but lose their powers when they’re together and they have to team up quickly to fight Eddie Marsan who has inexplicably learned all of this whilst in prison and is trying to kill people in a hospital he is killed and they must part to keep their powers and so Hancock flies to the moon to print Jason Batemans charity logo on it and thus save the world through the power of branding.

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NewsGush – I’m On The Corner of Baker Street

October 14, 2008

Terrible news for fans of literature / all that is decent. The rumour about Guy Ritchie’s plans to piss orange urine on the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fine creation appear not only to be founded, but also somewhat advanced.

And it looks like they’re out to make Holmes an all-action kind of a character – when (from what I remember) in the books his physical attributes were only alluded to. Empire magazine says:

…this version looks to be more action packed than the traditional adaptations, with the filmmakers promising to make use of Holmes’ bare-knuckle boxing and martial arts skills (it’s OK, they’re skills mentioned in the books).

And, to add insult to injury, that complete and utter cock-end Jude ‘I am the’ Law is in it.

So thanks, Ritchie. At least with Revolver and Rocknrolla you were only fannying about with your own two-bit stories. What made you think you could mess with the big boys?

The Orphanage

April 7, 2008

Tomas

Warning – probably contains very slight spoilers that would irritate someone as sensitive as I am to them (despite the fact I’ve tried to eradicate them where possible and don’t want to spoil it for anyone).

Glaring plot-holes abound in this moderately entertaining but not-quite-horrific-enough-to-be-called-a-horror movie. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this was always going to be better than your average heebie-jeebie unsettler – but first time Director J. A. Bayona doesn’t seem to have read his own script through properly, as several scratch-your-head issues aren’t cleared up come the credits.

I watched those gasbags on Newsnight Review going on about how this was a meditation on maternal and paternal fears and discussing how it really gave them the jitters. Apparently the idea of being separated from your child is a concept Mark Kermode, an Evening Standard editor and the host bloke who’s not as good as Kirsty Wark can’t stomach. Well I haven’t got any kids, so I actually felt the adopted parents of Simon were bloody lucky to have got shot of the little swine. He looked exactly like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years – and the similarity was completely distracting for the casual viewer. I can’t imagine what it must have been like having to look after the poor sod with that hanging around his neck.

The plotting problems kick in late on in the picture, which is annoying, as up to then everything’s set up for a cracking finale. Creeping unease and nasty indications of what’s to come crop up when Tomas – a nasty little bag-headed ghost – shows up intermittently and a very upsetting incident occurs in town – of which I’ll say no more. But we could’ve done with more of that-type-of-thing. It left unshiftable skids on my Y fronts.

And so to the glaring plot-holes. I’m going resolutely spoiler-free with this review so I’ll not be specific but – when the climax starts unravelling – if you’re an active observer rather than the sort of cinema-goer who swallows everything they see like so much sugared, overpriced popcorn, you’ll be turning to others and saying ‘Now hang on a minute…’ as three or four clear errors aren’t addressed in favour of a schmaltzy (if slightly morbid) ending.

Interestingly, Kermode was asked by a listener to Simon Mayo’s radio show about one of these inconsistencies (the wallpaper one) and his response was along the lines of ‘I’ll email the enquirer to tell them, but I shan’t say as it’ll ruin the film for others’. Well, Kermode: I don’t believe you can explain it as it doesn’t make any sense. Feel free to mail WWM and tell me why I’m wrong.

Still – worth seeing. And apologies if my tentative dance around plot details has spilled into spoiler territory. I’m glad I don’t do this for a living, it’s like working on a knife edge between being a cultural observer and a spoilsport shitbag.

Juno

March 31, 2008

Juno 

Warning – contains spoilers

It’s taken me a week to get over Juno. I saw it last weekend, geared up by the glowing reviews and Oscar receipts. I found out The Moldy Peaches were on the soundtrack well in advance, being a reader of Pitchfork who’s admired the lo fi twosome since their album came out in 2001. It’s fair to say I was looking forward to this film. It’s also fair to say I was massively disappointed by what I saw. I’ll go further… I was bloody annoyed by how utterly shit it is.

First off – Ellen Page’s performance as the eponymous Juno. Ok – so the dialogue she had to work with is soul-crushingly leaden and heavy on the half-arsed witticisms. Fine – she was dressed like the most unconvincing ‘geek’ you’ve ever seen… None of this makes up for the fact that she felt the best way to portray an outsider was to walk like a forty year old man and talk like a sarcastic five-year old. Possibly the most unendearing central performance I’ve seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. This probably explains how she only has one friend in the whole movie – an unreconstructed airhead character who is treated completely one-dimensionally. Probably the only kind of chum she’d ever be able to make considering she speaks like a written-out Dawson’s Creek extra.

And that dialogue somehow won an Oscar. There is something inherently wrong with the world when critics and the Academy decide that overwritten rubbish like Juno deserves such an accolade. In one of her first exchanges, Juno says something along the lines of ‘I am fo’ shizz pregnant’ whilst speaking on her oh-so-amusingly-kitsch hamburger phone to aforementioned braindead pal. How amusing – a fifteen year old girl appropriating hip hop language. In the same piece of dialogue she says ‘silencio’ instead of shut up. Another example of how swamped this movie is with clunky, unappealing, unrealistic, smugly self-aware speech.

Page’s conversations with Michael Cera – the father of her unborn child – are supposed, I guess, to be charmingly innocent. He is a dork on the running team who can barely communicate. A mummy’s boy, in essence. A character who pretty much shrinks into the background of every scene. Not his fault, really – his dialogue is limited to yelps of unfunny reaction. Their relationship is unbelievable. I never for once believed that they’d met before, let alone procreated.

As the film drones on, Juno’s parents appear to speak in exactly the same kind of cliched child-speak she herself waffles in. So at least we know where she gets it from. But their acceptance of her having become pregnant, again supposedly meant to be endearing, actually stretches credibility to breaking point and from this point on, the film loses any grounding in realism it had already abandonded from the off.

When Juno meets the people she’s giving her baby up for, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, we see that they are yuppies with a lovely house and many, many rules of behaviour. It turns out that Bateman is actually a bit of a child at heart – he becomes friends with Juno away from the prying eyes of his control-freak wife. They watch horror movies together and discuss grunge music. It is entirely unlikely. And creepy by the end – specifically when we see them slowdancing together, sharing trust that really wouldn’t exist in that set of circumstances.

Bateman leaves his missus, just to add to his character’s bizarre air of creepiness and the baby is eventually given to Garner. This is exasperating. The only point at which she’s been able to attempt to convince us that she’s not an OCD-ravaged bundle of neuroses is when she puts her head to Juno’s swollen tum-tum and goes all maternal. With that one brief scene in mind, we’re meant to believe she’ll make a great mother.

This is patently bullshit. And convenient too, as it means Juno has offloaded her ‘problem’ without having to upset the anti-abortion critics (personified by an offensive Chinese stereotype who can’t say ‘born’ without saying ‘borned’). It also sets up the happy ending perfectly without anyone actually getting damaged by the experience. Indeed, the only result is happiness. Juno gets with her boy and Garner gets her babby (and is somehow miraculously transformed into a great Mum).

The final scene really made me gag on the booze I’d been driven to drinking. A wonderfully understated song on the Moldy Peaches debut album named ‘Anyone Else But You’ is pissed on by Page and Cera, who attempt to reinvent it for the purposes of the movie using badly tuned acoustic guitars. They somehow manage to make a lovely, charming, badly-recorded gem sound like a work of evil. Actual, atrocity-level evil. Page tries to embellish the half-spoken lines with Tori-Amosesque shrieks whilst Cera is devoid of charisma and it is woeful beyond explanation.

It’s a fittingly crap end to a mystifyingly celebrated movie. I advise you to avoid, unless you’re willingly swept-away by faux-quirky fakery on the back of misguided recommendations from film critics who should know so much better.