I hadn’t thought that a dramedy about a elderly widower who joins a choir to honour the memory of his recently deceased wife would really be my kind of thing… but I will freely admit, I was wrong.Read More
It’s a testament to his prior work that I still call myself a Tim Burton fan. It’s been almost 10 years since he’s made a film that I can really say I liked. There have been films that were tolerable… films that were ok… but nothing actually… good.Read More
It’s been so long since I’d written anything here I had to wonder if I was actually going to remember the password. Turns out I did. All is not lost folks, I am back to give you my many apparently unpopular (if my recent stints on Cinerama have taught me anything) opinions.
I’ve decided to reopen the reviews with The Hangover part II. I’ve seen a lot of harsh reviews against it and I’m here to tell you… don’t listen to those naysayers. If you liked The Hangover, you should like The Hangover part II. It is by no means a tired boring old sequel where they get everything wrong.
Now, ok. Even I have to admit. It’s not the most original of movies. It’s pretty much the first film except it’s set in Thailand. Which is fine by me. To be honest, I don’t see how they could have improved on the first. Which is not to say I was a massive fan of the first. I liked it. I thought it was funny. I think exactly the same about this one. I like it. I think it’s funny.
I just don’t see where they could go from there. I suppose they could try and make it wackier, but I think that would be step too far… I don’t really think these actors have the talent for wacky. Bradley Cooper is no Leslie Nielsen or Steve Martin… Nah. It wouldn’t work…
So what we have is essentially a re-hash of the first. Which, in my mind, is good news.
I’ve seen many many sequels that try to do exactly the same thing as the original and completely and utterly fail. I’ve also seen sequels that do exactly the same thing as the original, just that the original was nothing anyone wanted to see in the first place. (I’m looking at you PA2). This is a sequel that’s exactly as good as the first. This is indeed a rare beast.
Hmm… oddly enough I kinda feel like I’m doing some sort of disservice to film reviewing here… championing a film that’s ostensibly cashing in on a previous film. But you know what? I genuinely don’t think that’s a problem for once.
The movie reviewing realm would generally have you believe that originality is always best and sequels should always add something to the story. Broadly that’s true… But tbh sometimes the movie going public is tired and they just want to have a laugh for two hours or so. Sometimes I’m tired and I just want to have a laugh for two hours or so. The Hangover part II engendered that laugh from me and I thank them for it. I wanted to be comfortably entertained and I was.
Sometimes familiarity is all the audience is looking for.
If you actually want to know more detail about what I thought of it, ask me in the comments
You know. I enjoy a lot of films. I rarely slate a film. I know I wasn’t particularly nice about Scre4m last week but I didn’t slate it. It was alright. I think a lot films are all right and I tend to give a lot middling ratings as a result. If I really think a film is good it’ll get a 7.5 or an 8. A relatively normal film will get around 5.5-7. It has to have problems that you can’t ignore before I’ll go below 5.
Arthur has problems that you can’t ignore.
Right that’s that out of the way.
This is an awful film. It’s terrible. It’s not just one of the worst films I’ve seen this year. It’s not just one of the worst films I’ve seen in many years. It’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. And I don’t say this kind of thing lightly.
I like to be fair to films. I am a patient viewer. I’ll forgive bad dialogue, I’ll forgive a poor plot. I’ll ignore it when things don’t make sense. I’ll wait and see, maybe a film will come round. As long as there’s some thing good about it. If it’s funny, or it looks good or the effects are cool I’ll give it credit. I mean people, I even gave Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen a good review. I’m a very tolerant film fan…
But this film… This film… This film was muck. I would never walk out of a film but oh, how I wanted to. At one point I turned to my friend beside me and asked the time. He said there was still an hour left. I could have cried. It was that painful. I started knocking my head against him. This wasn’t hard enough so I looked around to see if there was anything else I could hit my head off. There wasn’t, but the search served as a welcome distraction. I took out my phone to check what the running time of the film was. 1 hour 50 mins. It hadn’t even been an hour yet.
This has got to be one of the worst scripts I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing. It’s not that the actors are bad. They’re fine. It’s just that all they’ve been given to work with is a great steaming pile of… well you know where I’m going there. I can’t believe this guy was involved in Borat. I loved Borat. But this film… this film.
Ok, ok. I should actually say something about it rather than just telling you how much I hated it.
Right. Where to start. Well, ok. Let’s go with the plot. Arthur is the heir to a large corporation and so is very rich. He’s also a hedonistic playboy who’s always getting into trouble. So, his mother decides he should marry this women played by Jennifer Garner. Her family is wealthy by their own means and she’s…. you know what I can’t be bothered to go into the details. Suffice to say he doesn’t like the idea. There’s this vague attempt to tell us that this is because he believes in real love. Which promptly comes along, in the form of Greta Gerwig. Problem is, he doesn’t get the money if he doesn’t marry Garner, and he can’t live without the money. That’s already more that I wanted to remember but hey. I do it for you.
It’s a fairly bog standard story to be honest. It’s just done so badly. For example, him falling in love with Gerwig. He basically meets her on the street and falls in love. That’s fine, it happens all the time in movies. But this time you don’t believe it. There’s no spark between them at all… and the part where they actually build a relationship isn’t in the film. As far as I could glean, she’s a gormless fool and he’s an idiot man-child. Am I supposed to care about these two?
The mother, Garner, her father and Arthur’s driver pop up here and there to… nope, I don’t why they’re there.
The only person who gets a character that has any kind of development at all is Helen Mirren. And bless her, she is trying. They’re all trying in fairness. I don’t blame anyone actually acting in this. It’s not their fault. It’s just that, for whatever reason, the director has decided that what he wants to do is lurch aimlessly from the boring to the annoying to the mind-numbingly stupid for the whole film.
The overwhelming impression that I was left with was that they took a normal movie and cut out everything that might be good in it. I can see it now…
Major plot point *snip*
Character development *snip*
Funny dialogue *snip*
Emotional connection *snip*
Or rather, they cobbled together a film from everything any good film would leave on the cutting room floor. What the hell. I don’t know what they were thinking making this film.
Just to be clear on how bad I think this film was… Recently I’ve gone on about how much I hated Paranormal Activity 2 and The Human Centipede. Despite my hatred I still gave them both 3/10. That’s because I leave the 2s and 1s for films like Arthur.
I think it’s worth telling you this. As a warning I guess. When I was driving home after seeing this last night, I had a few blissful minutes where I had forgotten where I’d been earlier. Then the horror came flooding back.
Don’t go to this film. You will regret it.
A week or two ago I tweeted an interesting article from Awards Daily discussing some of the early contenders in the Oscar race for Best Lead Actress. Thankfully it looks like this year is going to be a much better year for women than last year and one of the movies that’s providing a lot of buzz about the category is The Kids Are All Right.
Unfortunately I didn’t really like the movie but Annette Bening and Julianne Moore both put in strong performances as Nic and Jules, the lesbian parents of a couple of somewhat angsty teenage children. I don’t know if I’d be ready to call them as real contenders just yet, so until I see more of other tipped performances all I can really say is that they’re in with a shout.
I would find it hard to believe that either of them will win though. The early talk is splitting vote I think, with some going to Annette Bening and some for Julianne Moore. It seems unlikely that both of them will be nominated for the same film. I know it happens but I don’t think the film is strong enough for it, and add to that the fact that I don’t think either of them really has a scene that’s memorable enough to point to and go “There’s an Oscar winning performance”.
The other big issue is that typically you see the Oscar going to a woman who’s carried the film on her own and neither of them do it here. That said, with the reviews this film has been getting, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility… If one of them is going to win then, even though I would dearly love to see Julianne Moore win an Oscar, I think Annette Bening is the more likely candidate. She’s the stronger character and I think they’re more likely to go for that.
By the way, if I were to call it now, having only seen 3 of the lauded performances – I am very much looking forward to seeing Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams efforts – I’d have to go with Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, her muted determination is the centerpiece of a fantastic film which really deserves to be seen by more people. I can’t imagine that she won’t get a nomination, the Academy seems to like giving Best Actress nominations to younger women, but whether she’ll win if she’s up against someone of the stature of Annette Bening, Hilary Swank or Julianne Moore is another question.
All this tells you nothing about The Kids Are All Right though.
The Kids Are All Right is about a lesbian family whose children (who both came from the same donor) decide to go look up their donor father, played by Mark Ruffalo. Simple enough premise. Perhaps too simple.
Actually no. It’s not too simple. If you’ve got the script and plot then the premise needn’t be complicated. Unfortunately this is where I think The Kids Are All Right falls down. I’m sorry, I know a lot of critics seems to think this film was brilliant but personally, I thought it was seriously lacking.
I actually thought it felt half finished. There were loose ends a go-go in the film. I don’t think these are particularly spoilers because, well, how can you spoil stuff that doesn’t tie up? But if you want to look away… What happened with Laser’s friend? What happened to Joni’s fella? Or her other friend for that matter? In fact, what happened to Paul?
Aside from Nic and Jules I dont think anyone actually learns anything in this film… And if we weren’t learning anything then why were we looking at? Now ok, I don’t necessarily have to see loads of things happening in a film. I have no problem with the whole “slice of life” concept of film-making. But this can hardly be considered an examination of a slice of life if we abandon most of the details along the way. In the end are we just supposed to pretend that half the film didn’t happen? Honestly, what the hell was the point?
And another thing. I understand, there’s no reason to not bring a bit of levity to a drama, or a bit of tension to a comedy but if you’re doing it it needs to be done well. I honestly felt like this film was quarter comedy and quarter drama. Where the hell was the rest of it? Plodding along in no-man’s land to get to the scenes with tension and levity, that’s where.
And while I’m at it. The characters too were pretty thin on the ground. Again, aside from Nic and Jules, all our players are very static. Now, I suppose it’s difficult to fully realise a character when the people they are reacting to keep disappearing into the ether, but come on. I know the two ladies are important but surely we could have given a little more time to… I don’t know, talk about what Joni and Laser get up to outside the home? I’ll give them the brief bit of rounding out of Paul’s character near the end, but that’s about it. And you know what? It was far too little too late anyway.
This film really annoyed me. I mean, I can accept the good performances from Bening and Moore. They are consummate prefessionals and they do create the one thing that I liked about the film.
Yes, there was one thing I liked about it…
…I liked that you got to see a gay family portrayed as just a normal family. They don’t make an issue about them having two moms. It’s not the elephant in the room or anything like that. It was refreshing to see a normalisation of the portrayal of gay relationships on screen. You could say that it provides a motivation for the “characters” (using the term loosely) but searching for your father is not the enclave of kids of lesbian parents so there’s no reason to pick that out.
Aside from the performances and that one thing though, I thought the film was pretty poor. I absolutely do not understand how it’s getting such good reviews. The only reason I can recommend for anyone to go see it is if you’re just really into the Oscars and you like to catch all the contenders so you can make informed predictions. For that reason alone I’m glad I saw it but if you’re not into that then don’t bother.
Or maybe first I’ll do the intro.
The ads for Get Him to the Greek have been tryin’ to sell it as this year’s The Hangover… It’s probably a fairly apt description. Looking through the slate I can’t really see anything left that’s like it. You could argue that Hot Tub Time Machine was probably a bit closer but it didn’t have the inclination (or the budget) to shout as loud about it.
Actually… IIRC they described themselves as Back to the Future meets The Hangover. If I had got around to writing that review I would have said, while I hate that X meets Y crap bs way of packaging films, I had to agree with them.
If you want to get an idea of the humour in this film then you can have a quick look over at the clip I have up in a previous article – over here – Yeah, they’re pretty basic jokes but that’s ok, nobody trying to claim anything more.
The main thing you have to bear in mind here is that Russell Brand has a starring role. For those of you who are familiar with Brand, you’ll know if you like him or not. For those who aren’t, think “rockstar comedian”, think “affected English accent”, think “recovering drug addict” and think “skin tight jeans and waistcoats”. I don’t know if that’ll really help paint a picture but it’s the best I can come up with without pointing you to one of his appearances on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Can’t believe that show’s almost over… Love Jonathan Ross
Anyway the reason you have to bear this is mind is that Russell Brand careens all over this film, playing the rockstar version of himself; the person I imagine he was before he cleaned himself up. Personally I’m happy to see him starring in a Hollywood film; but if you don’t like him, it’s not really going to be worth your while going along…
…I’ve waffled enough. I should have just skipped the intro. Bottom line, I liked this film. It was good craic. Jonah Hill is suitably likeable and able to carry his half of the film and I really like Russell Brand so nothing to complain about there. I particularly want to highlight the supporting cast, Diddy is excellent as Hill’s boss, Sergio, and Colm Meaney turns up as the usual consummate professional. Elisabeth Moss was good up to a point (you’ll know it when you get to it) but she also confused me for the whole film because I just could not work out where I’d seen her before. Just to save you lookin’ it up, she was Zoey Bartlet in The West Wing.
I liked it because it was funnier than I expect. It was a little disjointed and it was a bit wierd that one of the scenes from the trailer ended up on the cutting room floor – I’ll complain a bit more about that later – but in general I thought it all worked together. I particularly liked the songs, I’m not saying I’d buy the albums but they were nice little touches here and there that made this a very enjoyable film.
But. As much as I enjoyed it – and I did laugh out loud quite a few times – it wasn’t as good as it could have been. For one, I actually think it was a little too short. There were a few scenes that just seemed unneccesarily chopped up and they seemed to skip over bits that could have been funny, or at least functional. It was only 1hr40. It could have taken an extra 10 mins to round it out and make it gel a little better. Also, it all went a bit awry towards the end. I don’t really know what they were up to there. It was all a bit ridiculous. Not the very end, mind, just the bit before that. I think they tried to go a little too far and the gamble didn’t pay off. It did in other scenes (!) but just not that one.
Ultimately Get Him to the Greek is a relatively forgettable film. Which is not to say you shouldn’t watch it. You should; there are some really very funny scenes in it, it’s entertaining! Not every film you see needs to be a classic, I don’t always want to watch films that make me think. Looking at my last few reviews I reckon I’m on a 3:7 thinking:mindless entertainment ratio… I’m comfortable with that.
So go see Get Him to the Greek, have a laugh and don’t think too much. Particularly not about this song… Disgraceful really
I’d be extremely surprised if you haven’t heard of Kick-Ass at this stage. It seems to be everywhere I look, online and offline. Granted I hang around movies websites and cinemas a lot but I even saw the titular Kick-Ass peering at me from the window of a French Connection store this afternoon – what’s that about?
Early reviews have been extremely positive, actually it’s currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes… that kind of thing always worries me. I had the good fortune to see this film at a preview, courtesy of Simply Zesty and Universal Pictures about a week and a half ago so I hadn’t heard anything about whether it was actually good or not. That’s the way I like it, expectations as low as possible.
I have to say, I thought it was a great movie. I wouldn’t say it was an amazingly fantastic movie but it was great fun, a great laugh. I’d worry slightly that people are going to go into this thinking that this is some kind of landmark in superhero movies. It’s a solid, funny, action-packed yarn but that’s it really.
But I don’t want to put it down, I just want to keep people’s expectations in check. Particularly because I did think it started a little slowly, there’s not loads of ass-kicking all the time from the start. Which is good, because they’ve actually bothered having a story. It’s not just mindless action and wonder if that might put people off a bit. Be assured that you will see a whole load of ass-kicking but that’s not all you’ll see. So don’t expect that.
That said, I’ve started to realise that I have quite low standards… when it comes to films. I’ll let film makers away with dodgy stuff all the time. As far as I’m concerned I’ll let a bit of crappiness and stupidity or whatever go by, as long as there’s some really good scenes and a half decent plot and characters. In this case, I don’t expect action films to have much of a plot, if they have one at all. So, when one comes along with even a modicum of character building or thematic structure, I think it’s great…. and with Kick Ass I’m just a bit worried that I might have fooled myself into thinking it was great.
But I don’t think so. You’ll just have to go see it and decide for yourself.
There are two things I want to mention before I send you on your merry way though.
One. Kick Ass is rated 16 for a reason. Sure, it’s about superheroes, but it’s definitely not suitable for kids. Quite apart from the language, which isn’t something that bothers me at all, the violence is significant. I watch all sorts of films, plenty horror and slasher films and the like and I was still a bit shocked by some of the violence in this. It’s not worse than anything I’ve seen and I wouldn’t even call it that excessive, but it shocked me a bit because it was more realistic that I was expecting.
Two. I didn’t find Nicolas Cage as painful to watch in this as I usually do. It’s kind of strange because he is absolutely awful in parts of it but I’m pretty sure he’s doing it on purpose in those instances… at least that’s how I rationalised it. In any case, I know there are plenty of people out there who, like me, can’t stand Nicolas Cage and I just want to assure them it’s ok. He doesn’t ruin the movie.
So… that’s all I have to say really. As always, I’m intrigued to know what you think of it. Comment and let me know…
With Couples Retreat I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. It was pretty much as I expected. A bit of seriousness, a bit of talking and a few laughs here and there… a reasonable way to spend 2 hours or so.
I suppose you can’t help but think of Favreau and Vaughn‘s 1996 film about relationships – Swingers. The set up for this is kind of like it could be a Swingers 2… 13 years on and those young, free and single guys are married… however their relationships are getting a bit stale, things need to be shaken up, apparently. That’s kind of where it leaves Swingers though. In the end this is really just an ok romantic comedy set on an amazing looking island paradise. It really does look fantastic.
The problem with this film is really that I think a lot of critics wanted it to be, for want of a better title, Swingers 2. I wanted it to be Swingers 2. I’d love to believe that Favreau (and Vaughn) are still as sharp as they were back than. In fact I do kind believe that they are. The problem is that they could never really make Swingers 2 now. Not unless they just spend their own money and make it as a pet project. They really are too famous now. Swingers 2 would never be a big blockbuster film, and any film that these guys would star in today has to be a blockbuster… otherwise it would be considered a failure. There were a few scenes in this film that I thought were really good and that were insightful, but it just didn’t seem to be what they were going for overall. That was a bit frustrating though, that there was a glimmer here or there of a better film… alas it was not to be.
I don’t know if Couples Retreat is going to be a blockbuster but I certainly think it’s going to take in a decent amount of cash. It’s not half as bad as some are making it out to be. I mean, if you take it as just a normal romantic comedy then it does try to get a bit heavy for a while. And I do think there are too many couples in it, they could have dropped one and had more time to tell more of the stories for the remaining three, but there are some good, funny scenes in it that I think a lot of people would laugh at.
It’s not a classic and no-one will be talking about it in 13 years time, but if you have nothing better to see over the weekend and you just want a bit of a date movie then you could do worse.
The plan, on heading to the cinema for the evening, had actually been to see Pandorum… however a scheduling miscalculation meant that I missed the 6.40pm start time so had to go to Zombieland instead. And, despite being at the theatre 20 mins before Zombieland was due to start, I still managed to miss the first minute. Turns out 20 mins is not really enough time to pop down to McDonalds and get dinner… oh well. At least I got to see a film and I had been planning on seeing this one anyway so that’s cool.
If you don’t want to know what kind of zombies they are, skip the rest of this paragraph. If you do, they went for the fast-running plague infected zombie. It’s the modern choice I guess. Personally I’m not a zombie purist or anything, I accept all zombies as they come (film zombies of course, for real zombies I have a sword by my bed).
Zombieland is billed as a horror spoof and that’s pretty much all it is. It tries to distract us for a while in the middle with other, more meaningful, stuff, but to be honest you spend most of that time wondering when they’re going to kill another zombie. So you may as well ignore that bit and concentrate on the horror spoof part.
As a horror spoof it’s very good. Aside from that bit in the middle where they go soft on us, it is, as some people like to say, a “rollicking romp”. There’s blood and guts and flying words all over the place. Everything you want from a zombie flick. Well, you probably weren’t expecting the flying words (I think the last time I saw flying words in a film was Day Watch in 2006) but they looked good in the context. They also have a great cameo, so that’s cool as well.
The only real problem I had with it was that somewhere along the way they tried to be something more than a horror spoof. Now there’s nothing wrong with trying to be a little more than that but they didn’t quite pull it off. It was a little bit like they got worried that they wouldn’t be taken seriously so they tried to get a smidge serious and they slightly tried to weave a little romance into it as well. It worked for Shaun of the Dead however Shaun of the Dead was exceptional, they really worked the drama into the zombie story. My recommendation on this kind of mix is that if there’s a chance somewhere that it’s not going to work, then don’t try it. You can’t just shoehorn in a little bit and hope.
Aside from that it was strong all round. Great casting, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone seem to be two excellent up and coming actors, even if I do think there’s a good chance they’re going to be type cast for the next while (not into horror, just into their respective geeky boy and strong girl characters). Woody Harrelson was brilliant, great comedic actor and that cowboy hat really suits him. The plot made sense, which can be oh so lacking in some horror films. Characterisation… well, it wasn’t important.
All in all, Zombieland was a fun way to spend a Sunday evening and I can recommend it if you’re willing to overlook a bit of a drag in the middle. I can assure that it ends on a high.