COWBOYS & ALIENS

July 17, 2012

2011

DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau

NOT A PART OF OUR COLLECTION

May Contain Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection?  NO

With a great title such as Cowboys & Aliens, is a fair to expect a great film which can live up to it? Possibly, but this doesn’t as far as I’m concerned. Jon Favreau, who’s most successful work would have to be Iron Man, manages to craft a decent homage to the Western, at least for the first 30 minutes, with an array of characters, situations and scenes which are all too familiar to the Western genre.

But then, the titular Aliens turn up and it all goes a bit Transformers! Loud and hectic action takes over at the expense of the half decent Western homages, with plays out with hammy turns from the now tired Harrison Ford, and the dark stranger from “the best left to Bond”, Daniel Craig. Overall, I was left disappointed, but only to an extent. I wasn’t expecting much more than this but the opening half an hour did tease at something better, and if they only played this a lot lighter, not so much as a comedy but as a light-hearted adventure, it would have worked a lot better.

Instead we get a film filled with two-dimensional Western caricatures, very earnestly saving the 19th century from CGI aliens, whilst combining forces with Bandits and Red Indians. Personally, I don’t think that a film with this title should have ever attempted to take itself THIS seriously and it was a real misjudgement from the team involved, especially as the screenplay was co-written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, both of which bred life and comedy into the first Transformers film, with great success.


GHOSTBUSTERS

July 17, 2012

1984

DIRECTOR: Ivan Reitman

May Contain Spoilers!

Back in 1984, I was just six years old when the phenomenon that was Ghostbusters hit. It was far from supernatural though its record-breaking box office did hint at a deal or two having been made with the Devil or possible Gozer herself! But 28 years later, Ghostbusters still has it.

It’s sharp, witty, cine-literate and knowing as it looks at a subject normally reserved for the horror genre and whist still tapping into these roots, manages to both shock, scare and make you laugh in equal measure. The comedy is great, whilst still owing a lot to the decade in which it was made, but the scares are equally so.

And in all fairness, even though the film is almost thirty years old, the effects still hold up really well, and who doesn’t want a proton pack! The ideas are fun and the execution is enjoyable but its all boils down to the ingenious characters devised by the film’s stars, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis who penned the screenplay and the brilliant portrayal of Peter Venkman by Bill Murray. But this is one of the best examples of screen chemistry as it is the relationship between our three original Ghostbusters which drives the plot and lends plausibility to the ludicrous!

All in all, this is a classic that is clearly as timeless as the ghosts themselves and something that gave me great pleasure to watch with my kids, a film which I myself, had seen and loved as a child. They don’t make ’em like they used to.


THE DARK KNIGHT RISES WITH 5 STARS

July 16, 2012

With just 4 days to go before the release of what may well be the film of the year, and possibly the crowning of Christopher Nolan’s, Batman Trilogy as the best trilogy ever compiled, the reviews are in, as the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises head off to its premier tonight.

Empire Magazine and Total Film (UK) have both given it 5 Stars with Empire’s Nev Pierce quoted as saying “God help the bloke who reboots this” and another review from Coming Soon.net giving it 8/10! I’m personally holding off on reading the details of these reviews until after I’ve seen it, as I won’t be going until NEXT Wednesday but the feeling is clear, certainly critically. This seems to have lived up to the hype so far and it is just up us now to make our judgements, but TDKR has two tough acts to follow.

For MY review of the previous two instalments, feel free to click on the posters below.

But for me, personally, roll on the 25th as either way, the finishing touch will be applied to what is for me, one of, if not the most fulfilling trilogy of films to be released in my adult lifetime. (Got to save some room for Star Wars, Indiana Jones & Back To The Future, as I was still a child when they were released so they don’t count!)


STARSHIP TROOPERS

July 15, 2012

1997

DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoven

May Contain Spoilers!

January 1998: The mega-blockbuster that was Titanic had just arrived in cinemas, and I had seen it the night before. We wanted to see it again the next night but felt that was just a bit over the top, but it still didn’t stop me seeing it a total of FOUR times before the year was out, but this isn’t a review of Titanic, this is a review of the antidote. Starship Troopers.

The premise seemed to be ludicrous, as mankind was embroiled in an intergalactic war with giant bugs. But it worked and it worked well. There was gore, nudity and hammy dialogue but there was also a solid satirical streak running throughout the entire movie. The heroes are fascists! Humans are slowly invading the galaxy and citizenship is everything.

All this though, fits into the mold of Beverly Hills 90210! The troopers are all ‘pretty people’ who are about to be dropped into the horrors of war. But helped along by the rousing score by the late Bazil Poladorous, and at the time, some breathtaking visuals, not least the CGI bugs themselves, the bombastic themes of war and duty are played out the fullest effect.

The pacing is excellent, moving from one set piece to another, with action, humour, black comedy and satire all flowing in the same direction and to beat of the same drum. The film is also fragmented with interludes which come in the form of news broadcasts promoting the state and in a very similar vein to Verhoven’s other masterpiece, Robocop, demonstrating the power of propaganda.

Verhoven has stated that he didn’t like the original source novel by Robert A. Heinlein, which was more of a genuine fascist recruitment manifesto than pure open minded sci-fi novel, but it is considered to be one of the greats, and even though he was not faithful to this in its entirety, he has managed to satire it brilliantly, twisting it back on itself.


FORREST GUMP

July 8, 2012

1994

DIRECTOR: ROBERT ZEMECKIS

NOT A PART OF OUR COLLECTION

May Contain Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection?  NO

The 1994 Oscar-winning tale of a man with learning difficulties who manages to not only overcome adversity, walking difficulties and social prejudice, but also manages to change the direction of U.S. politics and culture forever, in a minor way, at least! Tom Hanks, who is obviously a great actor, plays the part brilliantly, but the part is cypher, who’s only role is help along the fantasy of a truly “Good” and “Accepting” America, though the truth is the exact opposite.

The mere fact that Gump is forced to contend with such adversaries, racists and bigots only goes to show the true nature of the film’s heart, a wistful tale of how the world and America should be rather than how it really is.

And it is this fantasy which propels this story and its awards gravitas, spoon-feeding us the ideas but at the expense of any real narrative development. Forrest sees the world and finds himself at the heart of the 1960’s most iconic moments, meeting presidents, celebrities and sociopolitical icons.

Because that’s what people do. But I do smell a real stench of cynicism, as their attempt at conveying the magic of the common man’s abilities to achieve greatness is told through the eyes of a man who is a cliché of a “simpleton”, cute and humble, rather than someone who should be respected. He is put on a pedestal, and revered but still held at a distance.

But would you be happy for someone like Forrest Gump to date your daughter? That seems to be a nasty question to ask but I believe that this is the core problem with Forrest Gump. He is like a pet, rather than a fully rounded human being. He is someone to be mothered, and even though he achieves to so much, he still ends up on that park bench looking adorable.

Granted, this is probably the only way to tell a story like this and make it work, but in the end, it doesn’t work for me. I feel like I’m been forced fed a series of ideals that the American right would love for a U.S. citizen, and folk like me, to embrace, but I don’t.

The character is good. The world is murky but filled with decent people at its heart. That is the message of Forrest Gump. Well, thank you for spelling that out for us SO clearly…


THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT

July 5, 2012

2012

DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller

CINEMA REVIEW

May Contain Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection? MAYBE

Jason Siegel, who stars alongside Emily Blunt as the couple with The Five-Year Engagement seemed to have a lot to do with this. He has a screen-writing credit, as well as a Producer but this only serves to make this feel very much like a vanity project, certainly for Siegel and maybe even for Blunt, both of whom have worked together before, notably in Gulliver’s Travels

I quite like Emily Blunt, though I like her more as Emily than any of her characters, which doesn’t say much about my faith in her and acting, but this is in part due to her very English delivery of her lines regardless of the setting. Her voice is really starting to grate on me now, as are here inflections which seem to be there to play to the U.S. audience.

The film though, is okay. It has its funny moments but they are more gentle and fail offer enough insight in to the character’s relationships. The story is simple; Two lover meet one year, propose the next and spend the next five years putting off their wedding due to life altering events and obstacles being put in their path.

But even though there are moments of enlightenment and insights into relationships that many of us will find familiar, they are explored in a very flat manner, almost simply acknowledged rather than looked at or even dealt with. The last twenty minutes is ludicrous, out of touch with the rest of the film and is a massive contrivance, simply there to wrap the film up in a happy way (SPOILER!).

But having said that, there are some genuinely funny moments here too, as fingers are chopped off in cooling accidents, crossbow bolts are fired by children, Bambi’s mum get’s shot and the whole emotional breakdown segment of Siegel’s character. The other thing wrong with this, is all but a brief hairstyle change from Blunt, AFTER the five-year engagement has ended, there’s very little evidence of the passage of time besides being told.

But the shinning light of this film has to be Alison Brie who plays Blunt’s sister. She is an American who according to Blunt, shunned her language coach in favour of copying her. Well, she needn’t have bothered, as this resulted in Brie simply mimicking Emily which did sound a bit off, but still, besides this hiccup, she was a breath of fresh air, both comedically and charismatically in a film which otherwise, was stilted, contrived and not as funny nor insightful as it thought it was.

Jason Siegel should really stick to his second-rate TV show, How I Met Your Mother and Emily Blunt really needs to start doing more with her voice. Neither of which managed to fully hold this film as they should.


RETRO 3D COMING TO BLU-RAY 3D

July 2, 2012

Finally, after almost three years of Blu-ray 3D, the first wave of older 3D classics, such as Jaws 3-D, Creature From The Black Lagoon and the all but unseen in 3D, Dial M For Murder are due for release throughout the latter part of 2012.

So far, the list includes:

Whether or not Creature From The Black Lagoon will also be restored to its native aspect ratio of 2.00:1  is still not clear but it is referred to by Blu-ray.com as 1.85:1. But it’s defiantly a move in the right direction, finally allowing the release of so an almost lost category of cinema from throughout the ages.

Fad or not, and I do believe that it is, 3D, along with other rare and until now, difficult formats to release such as Cinerama can finally see the light of day, or the dark of the home cinema.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers