Monday, January 17, 2011

Film Review - Tron Legacy




28 years after the film Tron graced cinemas, its sequel finally comes out, along with one of the biggest viral campaigns in history, second only to The Dark Knight’s legendary advertising behemoth. Receiving rave peek-previews at the San Diego Comic Con three years in a row, this film has clearly been a labour of love for newcomer director Joseph Kosinski. But does that make it worth the wait?

Tron Legacy begins roughly 8 years after the end of Tron. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is putting his son Sam to bed, all the while telling the story of the first film. It’s a warm and comfortable intro that invokes nostalgia in fans of the origi… Oh sweet Christ-on-a-bike its Shrek!


GIT OUTTA MAAA SWAMP!!!

Wow, for a film with a huge effects budget, the de-aging effect used on Jeff Bridges is simply woeful. While you may forgive this effect later when the film moves to inside the virtual world of Tron, here in the supposed real world it is terrifying, the marked uncanny-valley effect being scarier then anything in Paranormal Activities 2. Why does the world of Tron look so amazing yet de-aged Jeff Bridges look like he belongs in a cartoon?

Ahem, so after that rather unsettling opening we cut to 20 years later. Kevin mysteriously vanished long ago and we are introduced to grown-up Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund). Sam is now the majority Stockholder of Encom, his fathers old company. This doesn’t seem to stop him breaking into it and stealing technology he technically already owns. Sadly, this is the most minor plot-hole the film will expect us to over-look.

One mysterious beeper message later and Sam is off to his father’s old arcade where he discovers how to access Tron by mistake. Sadly, some things have changed in 28 years. Clu, the once benevolent program from the first film, has become a dictator striving for a perfect utopia. Kevin Flynn is now a fugitive and the character of Tron is nowhere to be seen…

One of the great things about the original Tron was how far it pushed boundaries, not just technological ones either. Questions ranging from the nature of technology itself to the basis of religious superstition were all asked. So could the sequel, as well as highlighting the huge jumps in technology, potentially ask even more questions about technology and the human condition? Could Tron Legacy prove itself a blockbuster with smarts, an Inception 2.0 if you will?

Oh goodness no.

Instead it’s just another loud, flashy and very pretty piece of popcorn cinema. Sizable portions of the world established in the original Tron are not referenced here. Everything from the concept of programs unwinding at gladiatorial-style games to Martin Sheen’s appearance as a David Bowie-esque nightclub owner all seem silly inside a fascist perfection-obsessed virtual world. A potential interesting side-story about internal program genocide is passed over quickly. Characters allegiances are switched without any real forewarning. The film is awash with plot-holes that range from irritating to almost insulting. While Quorra (Olivia Wilde) is a pretty and ass-kicking addition to the cast, it’s never good when a central character with a tragic past is given little to do beyond look pretty.

Admittedly the visuals are breath taking, particularly during the cyber-cycle scenes. The score by Daft Punk (who have a fun cameo) is also excellent, up there with The Social Network as the best score of 2010. While the film does have its plot issues, they never become bad enough to derail it, mostly down to a brisk pace and several smart little scenes, including a form of cyber-surgery that is strangely beautiful. The greatest strength of Tron Legacy is Bridges however, who runs away with the film by playing Kevin Flynn as though he were the Dude 2.0 (now with added Zen protocols) from The Big Lebowski. Its a glorious nod to Bridge's most famous performance that could almost make a grown nerd cry.


"What The Fuck Has Anything Got To Do With Tron?!"

It’s not like Tron Legacy is a hard or unpleasant film to watch. There is fun to be had and set pieces to enjoy. It’s a treat for the eyes and a 127-minute smoke break for the mind. However it falls far short of its potential and is an inferior sequel to Tron, which you’d be better off catching instead.


Final Score : 3 out of 5 - Apologies For A Late Review (Sorry!)
See If You Like : Tron, The Dude, The Best In French Techno.

Til next time!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Contributor - Slewth's Say - The Green Hornet


Hey all!

In a move that will probably make me look bad by proxy, my good friend and published film critic Slewth (not actually his real name fact fans) has agreed to review films for this blog. Before we start the review, I'd just like to thank him and point out that he still has my copy of Stephan King's The Gunslinger. The stealing prick.

Anyhow, onward!

Dir: Michel Gondry
Writ: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg

Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson and
Edward James Olmos.
Runtime: 115 mins
Release Date: January 14th
Cert: 12A
Rating: 3 stars ***
The start of the year is a time for going to the cinema. In the summer it’s a time for going to that movie that looks really exciting, the end of the year is about going to that film that might win some awards, but the start of the year is just about going to the cinema, checking the listings and saying “that’ll do”. Over the next few weeks many people will check the listings, spot The Green Hornet and decide, ‘that’ll do’. And The Green Hornet will live up to these expectations. It will indeed do.
Based on the radio series created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker in the 1930’s, The Green Hornet pre-dates Batman as a masked vigilante and pre-dates Superman and Spider-man for having their alter-ego work at a newspaper. Britt Reid (Rogen) is the rich heir of The Daily Sentinel newspaper. After his dad dies he meets Kato (Chou), who is a decent fighter and mechanic. Reid becomes inspired to fight crime with Kato at his side. The motivation goes no deeper than the fact that fighting crime seems kinda cool. So the pair go out in their souped up car and beat up bad guys until the really big bad guy (Waltz) gets annoyed and draws the film to an adequate climax. Along the way they hit the points of beautiful woman (Diaz) and partnership falling apart. And it all works. There are some holes to be sure, not least of which is that in this movie, Kato really doesn’t need the rather bumbling Reid. In the original radio series Kato was the fighter and driver of the awesome car, while Reid was the master detective, and their partnership worked perfectly, but here Reid hasn’t become the great detective yet, so he’s kind of useless. He’ll get there by the sequel, but he’s not there yet.
As for Kato, the portrayal of him as a martial artist seems to be suggesting that having instincts is the same as being a cyborg. Which is odd. When Reid later develops some instincts of his own, he gets the same weird cyborg vision, but it doesn’t work as well. . . So instinct-cyborg-vision is just Kato’s thing, it’s just odd.
The climax is also a wee bit pointless, involving a mad dash to one particular computer, when any computer would do, perhaps even a computer in the high-tech car. Then there’s the twist at the end, which isn’t an exciting twist, it’s a limp pointless gesture which makes the entire climax even more pointless. It all looks good though. It’ll do.
Christoph Waltz as Chudnofsky, the villain, is interestingly excellent. He is proper comic book villain and an appropriate enemy to the Hornet. Chudnofsky is a genuinely interesting character, very powerful and dangerous, but also very insecure and out of touch. Waltz balances these two sides excellently and steals every scene he’s in, though his last exit is just a little bit over the top.
3D is used admirably in the movie, proper subtle 3D rather than the horrible in your face kind. One particular sequence uses 3D to great effect as various split screen panels are displayed at different levels. Though the expert use of 3D in that sequence fades next to the genius technique involved in turning one continuous shot seamlessly into roughly a dozen continuous shots. The sequence is one of director Gondry’s most inspired.
Overall, The Green Hornet works, it entertains, it’s a fine way to spend an evening, just don’t expect to remember it in a few months’ time.
Slewth

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.1 - Alice In Wonderland (2010)


Plot:

Years after her whimsical and not entirely sane original adventures (which were always implied were just a dream to begin with) Alice is now 19 years old (and played by Mia Wasikowska). In a surprise move for a Tim Burton film, the protagonist finds herself bored and alienated by the real world. Cue another return to Wonder... oh sorry Underland (Ugh...), an all-too-familar world ruled by the Red Queen (Helana Bonham Carter) who now has elephantiasis of the acting. Oh and skull. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) meanwhile has become incredibly annoying, developed a Scottish accent and has a sword in what obviously is a perfectly logical evolution of his character from the first adventure.

So Aslan... Sorry Alice must rally the peoples of Narnia... Sorry Wonderland... Sorry Underland to defeat the Red Queen and the Jabberwockey in a tale that doesn’t at all betray it's literary nonsense background. Or stab creator Charles Lutwidge (Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym) squarely between the shoulder blades. Oh no, making one of the greatest ever novelised attacks on story structure into a bland three act piece of day-glo pig shit is totally respectable and above board. Yup.

Reasons it’s on the list:

My hatred for this film still simmers at the memory of sitting through the 103 minutes running time, stumbling into the light outside the cinema and being amazed the apocalypse wasn't underway. I struggle to even think where to begin. Every other film on this list had some small redeeming factor, some scene I admired, some shot I thought interesting, some failed concept that was still admirable in its attempt to actualise. But here... Firstly why get Tim Burton to direct it? A director who freely admitted numerous times before that he never got the book (even though people always expect it to be one of his favourites according to him) is probably not the first director I'd turn to. That combined with Tim Burton's terrible track-record of remakes (Planet of The Apes or Charlie And The Chocolate Factory anyone?) should have had Lewis fans everywhere cowering in fear. But no, the world went nuts for this concept, critics began eagerly adding it to the must see movies of 2010 and this culminated in Alice In Wonderland (2010) having the fifth highest grossing film of all time. Still doesn't stop it being absolutely horrid.

Presented in 3D to allow the images more dimension then the film itself, lets first look at the visuals. This is Tim Burton at his laziest and least imaginative. Imagine if one took the world of Pandora from Avatar and spray-painted everything aggressively bright colours. Did you notice all the bits in the book where Alice walked through the radioactive green and ultramarine blue forests? Of course you didn't, that version of the story would look stupid. The 3D is exceptionally flimsy and clearly was not given the correct treatment in post-production, some scenes seeming to lack the effect altogether. When its not trying to distract your children with the retina-scrubbing primary colours the film instead attempts to truamatise them for life instead. Alice uses severed heads as stepping stones, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) gets his head lopped off (not that it shuts him up for long mind you) and the characters designs lack the Burton warmth and mis-understood nature he was once so good at. Its hard to sympathise with most of the terrifying contorted and deformed cast, Matt Lucas's Tweedledom and Tweedledee being especially hard to stare at without hearing the voice of Cthulhu in one ear calling you to madness. To make this worse, none of the actors seem to have any idea whats going on, falling in and out of scenes like they were being fired onto the sets with cannons. They struggle under dialogue that is by turns cheesy ("It's you! It's absolutely Alice, I'd know him anywhere") and stupid (anything the Mad Hatter says, more on that later)

When There Is No More Room In Hell...

Now to the story. And there's the problem already, the fact that there is a story at all. Try if you can to remember the story of the original film? Hard isn't it? That's because there was no real story, Alice instead wandering through Wonderland and making the best of whatever strange scenario she found herself in. The book is even more extreme in its lack of established structure. Alice is not here to learn life lessons or to lead epic rebellions but to experience all that this bizarre world of imagination and madness has to offer. The concept of evil didn't even exist in the book! In the Wonderland of the book, people simply are what they are and very little moral judgement is passed beyond everyone being "mad". The three act tale of Alice In Wonderland (2010) ends on a battle that is more like something from The Chronicles Of Narnia then the Alice in Wonderland book. Curiouser and curiouser.

Witness how in the book the Cheshire Cat had the power to save Alice at any time he wished, his powers being basically limitless, yet instead enjoyed watching how events unfolded. If he is any kind of metaphor, he is one of the uncaring but curious god. But in Alice In Wonderland (2010), said cat (voiced by Stephan Fry) fights for good. But surely he doesn't need to fight at all, he could teleport to the Red Queen instantly and destroy her. Moving beyond that massive plot-chasm, Alice has no reason to be vital to this tale, she's generally very out of her depth in Underland. She is in fact possible the most under-powered character on the side of good. And why is the side of good led by the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) when she herself seems aloof and uncaring to more or less anything that goes on around her? She seems more confused then out-raged at what has happened to Wonderland and her character is not developed or explored in any way, making her just another padding device for the thin, flimsy story. Why do the Red Queen's forces follow her when she is a psychopath that is all too likely to kill them out of boredom? For that matter, how did she remain Queen when it is clear all her subjects seem to hate her and quite openly discuss over-throwing her all the time? What's wrong with her head? Why does Alice In Wonderland try to cram every poem that Carroll ever wrote into its short, over-stuffed yet mind-numbingly tedious running time (see if you spot the reference involving Alice's sword)? Why does the final battle take part on a chess board when the symbolism makes sod-all sense? Why did Crispin Glover (one of my favourite actors) agree to appear in this? Why can't I feel the emotion of love and joy anymore? Why don't Canada adopt the Metric system? Why?!?!

But Johnny Depp... oh Johnny Depp, what have they done to you, you used to be so charming and eccentric. Did you forget that SHOUTING AT RANDOM in a SKOOTISSSSHHHHH accent does NAAAAH make you all that likable? It just makes you come across like you lack any direction and are hopelessly at sea. Playing an unhinged character is difficult, insanity can take many forms after all. If you were looking for a character with multiple personalities maybe you could have done some research on Gollum from Lord Of The Rings first. If you wanted a damaged military leader, you could have looked at Patton for the intensity and drive. If you wanted to play an irritating dick-head then good job, you come across like Pee-Wee Herman playing William Wallace. Seriously, the Mad Hatter with a sword, are you fucking insane Tim Burton? I know you don't like the books but you really even attempt to read them? Oh and the Fubberwacken, the little dance the Mad Hatter does near the end? That may well have been the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my entire 24 years of life. Thanks for that.

They May Take Our Lives But They Will Never Stop Us From Being Fabulous!

At its heart all Alice In Wonderland (2010) really wants to be is a coming of age story. While just that might be all the rage in popular culture (one only has to turn to the Harry Potter and *shudder...* Twilight movies to see it in action) it doesn’t quite work here. The emotional arc (shallow as it is even for a coming of age tale) competes with the film’s lack of structure, something Carroll himself faced in his own writing. How he overcame it was with wit, satire and imagination, and so while on paper you’d think that his mind would be perfect for Burton to tap, it oddly isn’t. Burton is unsuited for this project. The visuals are coloured too bright yet hit us with images too dark, the characters are all universally annoying and unlikeable, the Mad Hatter is one of the most poorly written and executed characters I have even seen and the film can't even pick the easily labelled box it wants to be slotted into. This is in spite of Alice In Wonderland robbing most of its story from a list of other films but not the book its based on. It also finds time to mangle and distort all the best ideas of one of the greatest children's writers of all time. I hate this film because there is nothing of merit or redeemable here, its all an emotionless mess of colours and shouting. Tim Burton has lost his way and clearly the White Rabbit isn't the one he needs to follow.

Watching this film feels like: : Oblivion beckoning for you. In painfully bright pink pants and screaming in a silly accent.

Well thats the list. Sorry that this review didn't have as many laughs but even thinking about this one makes me upset frankly. Please let me know what you thought of the list. I'll be back next week with a shorter recap of some of the best films of 2010. Til then!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.2 - Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

Plot:

You can burn him, chop him up and even make him sell Italian crisps (no joke) but you just can't kill him. Maybe he can be milked to death though, as this 'gritty' remake attempts to do. A slightly updated retread of the original, here we see child-killer Freddy Krueger (here played by Jackie Earle Haley) returning for vengeance against the parents of children he abused (as opposed to murdered in the original, in one of many pointless changes). It should be noted the parents burned Freddy alive and he is now an entity that exists almost exclusively in dreams. While we could go into an examination of the metaphors for childhood fears, the nature of nightmares and the exploration of evil all around us, instead I think the plot here is better summed up as 'Freddy's gonna get you... to waste money on another moronic remake.'

Reasons it’s on the list:

The one saving grace of the Nightmare On Elm Street series is that they always has a firm sense of tongue in cheek. It juxtaposes this with a exceptionally direct and in-your-face approach to slasher death scenes, other making great use of Freddy's abilities to infiltrate dreams. Classic deaths from the series include the infamous bed spraying blood and Freddy appearing as spiders and other nightmarish creatures. He even attempted to be a scary slug in Freddy VS Jason. It didn't quite work.

Yet a problem with this formula is over time it makes Freddy appear almost cartoonish, especially as the budget for effects diminished. It doesn't help that original actor Robert Englund was a hammy actor who always seems to play roles by first deciding if he wants Crack or Ecstasy for breakfast. So brown fedora's off to Jackie Earle Haley. Fresh off his jaw-dropping turn as Rorschach in The Watchmen, Haley plays a very different type of sinister here. Less flamboyant, his Freddy is an evil, malevolent force that one can imagine to be utterly terrifying if encountered in the horribly burnt flesh.

Or rather, you would imagine this if it weren't for the fact that this film is lacking a noticeable scare anywhere. This is especially tragic when the script introduces the concept of 'micro-naps' (a few seconds of REM sleep randomly whenever someone is exhausted). It's a silly concept surely but one that allows Freddy to now appear wherever and whenever he wishes. This should have the audience primed and nervously watching the screen as if it may explode but instead theres just the heavy feeling of absolute apathy. The film gives the audience nothing to be unsettled by, every horror moment telegraphed well in advance. Its a testament to how talented Haley is that Freddy carries any menace at all, the script lacking anything for him to do beyond chuckle. The new make-up work that has gone into Freddy is impressive but doesn't allow for anything bordering on expressions, meaning Haley is forced to act with his teeth half the time. The artificial deepening of Freddy's voice didn't bother me but it does feel pointless when his voice wasn't very especially deep to begin with.

Moving beyond the tragedy that is Haley's best efforts to salvage this mess, you run into the major problem. Haley is the only thing of merit here at all. Everything else is just so dull, lacking not only the scares but also the humour. Michael Bay's production studio Platinum Dune does what it does best and sucks all the soul out of the remakes it handles (see also Texas Chainsaw Massacre). There are gruesome bits, chases and many actors mugging but where-as this all combined to equal fun and frights in the original series, here it flatlines spectacularly.

No actor emotes quite enough to make you care and when we see several of them attempt the Rob Zombie school of how modern young people speak (entirely in sexual slurs and swearwords) its grates on the nerves worse then anything Freddy's gloves seem capable of doing. The body-bag scene in the school (which terrified me when I saw it in the original all those years ago) is now a moronic gore-fest, played for a cheap 'boo' instead of the genuinely unsettling moment it should have been. The camera work and shooting is admittedly very slick, which is exactly how you don't want to shot a tense, atmospheric slasher. This should be grainy and rough, instead of looking like a music video (which co-incidentally, Director Samuel Bayer has done a lot of)

Its entirely forgettable beyond one scene lifted from the original film where Freddy claims he 'was only petting' a butchered dog. Other then that its all a well-shot and decently acted cure for insomnia. Where as The Wolfman (2010) was always going to be weak after its troubled and broken production, Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) had no reason to fail. An excellent lead man, a solid budget, a decent advertisement campaign, its frustrating that all the elements mis-aligned so badly. This was such an aching disappointment, such an incompetent re-make, that the fact it only got No.2 scares me a little. As it should you. One, two, Freddy's boring you.

Menstruation Joke Anyone? No? Ok.

Watching this film feels like: : Every nightmare you have ever had... If all your dreams involve mathematics.

No.1 is fast approaching, has anyone guessed what it is yet? You'll find out tomorrow at 4pm, til then!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.3 - Sex In The City Two

Plot:

An amazingly insightful movie, looking at the potential dangers of same sex marriages, the plight of women of the Middle East and of course, women suffering the horrible indignation of having their husbands not wanting to go out every night. The solutions?

Well its ok for gay married partners to cheat because they are gay and therefore utter whores. Women in the Middle East can reasonably afford and obtain the latest in fashion wear (which most people in Ireland can't afford or obtain btw). As for fears of your marriage going stale, why the cure is clearly an affair! Be sure to cheat on your husband to encourage him to both go out more and buy you expensive jewelry, which as we all know is the only thing the average woman cares about at all. This film highlights modern feminism perfectly. Theres even an Irish babysitter who doesn't wear a bra, go girl power!

Reasons it’s on the list:

I loved Sex In The City as a TV show, I really did. I know that isn't a macho thing to say but its true. It had amazing writing, relatable drama and despite being shown from a female perspective it never demonised men any more then it did women. But that was then, back between 1998 and 2004. Come 2008 and we saw the film of Sex In The City which was basically American Pie with G-MILFS (Go google it, don't blame me though). Puerile and low-brow where the TV series had been insightful and intelligent, the film was a pathetic medley of the stereotypes the TV show had fought against. Sex In The City 2 doesn't just continue this trend, oh no. Sex In The City 2 evolves it.

Right off the bat the film opens with an air-headed backstory to how the girls came to love New York. May I add that the city will not feature in this film after the first act, despite being in the title and indeed regarded by many as the fifth main character in the TV show. But aside from the largely absent New York (NY) city, what has changed with the other characters? For starters, Sarah Jessica Parker seemingly has forgotten not only what made her character Carrie likable in the TV show, but also who Carrie was at all (more on that later). Kim Cantrell at least tries to maintain her character Samantha's promiscuous nature but in doing so makes Samantha now something of an idiot, sex obsessed blonde (where-as in the TV show she was a highly intelligent sex obsessed blonde/baldy).

Charlotte (Kristen Davis) is afraid her husband Hank will cheat for no reason beyond the fact her baby-sitter has breasts. Also, Charlotte wears a vintage Valentino dress while making cakes with her two little children then cries about the dress getting ruined. Don't you hate how kids your supposed to be raising destroy your chances of looking fabulous while you bake? Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) throws away her career in Law to spend more time with her family, something that would have been unthinkable for the workaholic and somewhat removed Miranda in the TV show. Despite this she's not really shown to be a very caring mother or partner at all really, even after she quits her job. Who are these strangers I'm watching? Whats going on?

Ah. I Get It Now

This re-working of the main characters is bad enough but what the film does to its supporting cast is just cruel. For example, if you watched the show you will know that the two main gay characters, Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone) disliked each other. It was an interesting and funny play on the stereotype that if two people are gay they will obviously get together. So naturally they get married at the start of this film but not before we see Anthony freely admitting he plans to cheat because hey, he's gay and italian, Mamma Mia! Even if this scene is extremely insulting to whats come before in the TV show, its also sadly the best part of this film. It manages this in spite of featuring Liza Minnelli singing Beyonce's 'All The Single Ladies'. Yes that actually happens. The patron saint of homosexuality butchers an already awful R&B song and its still one of the best part of the film. Oh you have not known hell yet dear viewers.

For the most part the plot is thinner then the average super model. Samantha managed to impress a wealthy Sheik who flies the girls first class to Abu Dhabi. While there they manage to point out that Arab women being forced to wear abaya's (Muslin black religious veils) at least removes the need for Botox. I'm sure all the oppressed and downtrodden women of the Middle-East are declaring the girls prophets after that totally respectable comment. The girls also go to a karaoke bar and instigate more feminism with a rather tortuous rendition of 'I Am Woman'. Just so long as they don't sing it in public where they would be arrested by Arab laws, that would somewhat interfere with the intelligent and well thought out empowerment. Im sure the fundamentalists Arab leaders are shaking in their sexist boots now.

Carrie mets her ex Aidan (John Corbett) in a market-place. In Abu Dhabi of all places, what an amazing and not at all contrived co-incidence. She then proceeds to go to dinner with him, have an awkward, stilted conversation and then kisses him. Luckily, her husband Big (Chris Noth) not only forgives her but also buys her jewelry because her infidelity was Big's fault or something. This is the same Big that Carrie struggled to get with for almost 6 years? Did it hurt when she stuffed his testicles into her designer handbag I wonder?

Samantha later manages to break Muslin law by almost have sex in public (but its ok, she was hormonal, not disrespectful to an entire culture or anything) and they get sent home but thank god, they manage to avoid traveling... gasp... COACH! But before that they get aid from helpful Muslin women who show them that underneath their veils they are shallow and materialistic too, secretly wearing designer clothes even in plus 45 degree heat. The girls fly home, all get happy endings and no one is forced to learn anything, not even that dressing like a model for Anne Summers might be a tad disrespectful to a society with a deeply engraved moral dress-code.

Getting back to Carrie, the film alludes to strife in her marriage but its gotten to the stage where its impossible to take seriously. For one thing, Carrie has EVERYTHING. A loving husband who breaks his back to ensure her every whim is catered to, a loyal group of friends, more shoes and clothes then a dozen sweatshops could provide and two apartments, one decorated beautifully and one exclusively for her when she needs a 'break' from being a spoilt, precocious little madam. Yet all her husband Big wants to do is have nights in where they watch black and white movies. What an awful partner, life sure does suck for Carrie! Theres a two-tone problem here. Aside from Carrie being impossible to relate to on any level, she's impossible to like on any level either. You crave her misfortune and long for her downfall from her ill-informed ivory tower. This is not the Carrie from the show, just some ego-tripping alien who killed her and stole her identity.

The film is shot in a lifeless and dull fashion, with the camera static and the shots not showing us anything spectacular or unique about Abu Dhabi, the jewel of the Middle East. Mind you, that could be due to filming Sex In The City 2 in Morocco due to trouble getting into the United Arab Emirates (Gee, I wonder why?). Narration, such a core element of the TV show, is now used as an audio guide for the blind, with essential information such as "Later that day, Big and I returned home" relayed to us as the events occur on-screen. Thanks Carrie, I wasn't sure if you guys had teleported home and the film reel wasn't just lying to me. Speaking of lies, consider the name of this film. Not much time in the city (New York) or for sex (except when its used for comedy purposes at the start), it may as well have been called 'Washed-Up Old Bags In The Desert'.

The Result Of Anthony's Pregnancy Scan Was Surprising To Say The Least.

Watching this film feels like: : Your IQ is melting, running out your ears and ruining your designer shoes.

Down to the last two and still no one has guessed them properly, can you? See you tomorrow at 4pm for No.2, til then!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.4 - The Wolfman (2010)


Plot:

It's a remake of The Wolf Man from 1941! You know, Lon Chaney Jr's finest hour, a classic of the silver screen, not just an amazing horror film but a genuine work of art, about a man who changes into an upright dog whenever the moon tells him to. In all seriousness, Larry Talbot's struggle and ultimate inability to tame to beast within has rich undertones, elements of Greek tragedy (what an ending) and is undoubtedly the one werewolf film you simply must see. That, however, was the original.

Reasons it’s on the list:

If the rule of thumb for remakes of classics reads 'don't even watch the original' then congratulations The Wolfman (2010) because you have no idea what kind of film the original was at all do you? Did you suspect it was a documentary, an examination of a creature in the wild? Is that why you show us the monster in the opening sequence, within the first 45 seconds? Is that why he looks stupid, to make it feel more natural or something?

No wait, now you want to be a searing psychological thriller. You can hire Benicio Del Toro's massive bushy eyebrows to play Lawrence Talbot. Oh dear, the eyebrows contract states that he will only work if his partner Benicio gets hired too? Good luck keeping him awake! You'd never guess he was a huge fan of the original would you, considering how stoned and lazy he plays this role.

To add some spice, it might be a good call to get Anthony Hopkins to play Sir John Talbot, he's an amazing actor would can do subtle very well. What on earth do you mean he shows promise at playing crafty, evil types? In the original Sir John wasn't evil but more of a father at ends with his son. Screw convention you say, lets tell Hopkins to act like the villain at a pantomime and deliver his lines with so much ham that no-one of Hebrew background will be able to watch? Well it is your movie I guess.

Have you ruined enough important characters yet? oh now you want to hire Hugo Weaving to play policeman Alberline like he was on the set of Taggart? Please tell me your all set now...Oh and your going to hire Emily Blunt but give her nothing whatsoever to do, wouldn't want actual chemistry or a sense of relatable loss and hopelessness now would we? Gentlemen, you have achieved that rare singularity of very good actors doing awful jobs with their poorly written roles, give yourselves a pat on the back and go jump under a train.

Are you clumsily morphing into an action film now? Oh its ok you don't have to make excuses, I'm sure writing characters is hard. Ok now to keep the teenagers interested, you want to do that shaky camera action scene stuff that was the absolute worst part of films like The Dark Knight and not even use this trick to conceal the monster? Speaking of, the wolfman himself looks like a large badly made teddy bear, did you build him out of carpet and the restless souls of the originals crew? You would never guess that The Wolfman (2010) managed to get the same special effects guy (Rick Baker) that worked on the 'film' Norbit would you? Making monster movies is hard too isn't it? Why keep adding more un-rendered CGI, do you want the transformations to cost a fortune and still look like something out of a PS2 game? As for adding more blood and making it insanely gory, wouldn't that kill the teenage demographic this film seems desperate to impress or are you now making some kind of torture porn horror film?

Good thing you fired that first director Mark Romanek after his concerns that the effects would look cheap eh? Then you end up releasing the film almost three years later then projected due to looking for director Joe Johnston, genius! I've got to hand it to you brave people at the modern day Universal studio lot, you sure do know how to deliver your horror/psychological thriller/slasher/torture porn/monster movie/love story/vaguely historical mental care examination/wild-life documentary/extended episode of The Bill don't you?

Think it might be a bit messy for the average cinema goer? Ah well, at least horror is a relatively secure cinematic market these days... oh but you forgot to make it scary or disturbing in any way, oh dear! Let's hope nostalgia won't make this film appear even worse then it already is or you might end up on some snotty critics "worst of 2010" list or something.

Him? Evil? Did Not See That Coming.

Watching this film feels like: Rape by the worlds most sexually frustrated and poorly dressed grizzly bear.

So weak... so much awful... must fight good fight against... cinematic void, film No.3, tomorrow at 4pm, til then...


Friday, January 7, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.5 - Jonah Hex

Plot:

A cowboy bounty hunter with a horrifically scarred face and a borderline sociopathic attitude to the world but holding a strange set of moral principles seeks merely to survive in the brutal old west... Oh wait thats the recent Jonah Hex comics, one of my favourite comic revivals of all time. The film Jonah Hex is some crud about voodoo zombies and the spirit world.

Reasons it’s on the list:

Put simply, do you think that Mastodon (an avant-grade Metalcore band) should score a western? If you answered yes then you sir are an idiot. You may also be Jimmy Hayward, the director of the abomination known as Jonah Hex. While one would think it obvious to not have heavily distorted 7-string guitars wailing over the wild western landscape (although its arguably a better choice then hip-hop, am I right Wild Wild West?) its a masterstroke in comparison to the other choices that went into this film. Josh Brolin plays the titular character through some of the worst prosthetics this side of questionable surgery. The plot is not made any easier to follow thanks to Brolin's constant enforced mumbling, although the plots main problem stems from ignorance of such standards of film as 'coherent story-telling' and 'basic three act structure' and 'sense'. The only genuinely average moment (yes, its that bad) is an animated opening segment done in very pretty cell-shading style.

The amount of changes from the comic are staggeringly large and unnecessary. Hex can speak to the dead after a near death experience, something that even in the comics he couldn't do, because its stupid. His nemesis Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) is no longer a slavery with a rich and even sometimes sympathetic backstory but instead a pale terrorist metaphor with a silly beard. As for the prostitute, thats Megan Fox, who also portrays a prostitute in the film (boom boom crash!). In the comics, she would be playing Tallulah Black, a female bounty hunter. Also very badly scarred much like Hex, she shares a violent and very complex relationship with him. Here Megan Fox plays Lilith, a sassy and beautiful prostitute that loves Hex in a boring and poorly acted way instead.

Why change the characters from the comics? Whats wrong with the tales of a gunslinger who was also a total bastard, killing all who got in his way and doing good in the most brutal ways possible. But if theres one thing, beyond even the difference in plot, backstory or style that should never have been changed in that transfer from comics to silver screen, its the violence. The comics of Jonah Hex are remarkably violent and vicious, often showing Hex do such lovely things as show a gentleman the head of his former bodyguard to prove that Hex is serious. Here the censors scissors are attacking every 8th frame. Even scenes involving tomahawk-related murder are toned down to a kid-friendly PG13 rating, which up until now I didn't imagine was possible. I despise this movie and its utter lack of respect for its source material and the audience in general.

A Real Man, Making A Crocodile His Bitch.

If you hated this, also avoid: Stop. Seriously, hold on a second.

This section applied on the earlier films on this list. But not from here on in. Im convinced that from Jonah Hex onward the No.1, the films I'll be listing are so awful that they are literally without peers within their respective genres. So instead...

Watching this film feels like: Having your face melted off by indians who feel you have shamed their culture. Like what happened in the comic. Damn film retcons...

Afraid? You should be, especially with No.4 coming tomorrow at 4pm, til then...


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.6 - Killers

Plot:

Ever seen Mr & Miss Smith? No? Ok then, lady meets attractive and slightly mysterious man while on holidays. Cue whirlwind romance and marriage, cue people trying to kill them, both in the movie and shortly after the first audiences leave the theaters.

Reasons it’s on the list:

Oh goody, a film featuring two of my least favourite actors, the gormless idiot from Mtv's Punk'd and the blonde one from Grey's Anatomy. Ashton Kutcher has always been an actor whose luck is grossly disproportionate to his skill. From having Harrison Ford point out his lack of any talent on Hollywood Homicide (a film they both co-starred in!) to being the frontman of the worst tv show of all time (ok aside from Wifeswap, seriously what the hell?) Kutcher's continued appearance on the silver screen confuses me. On the other hand Katherine Heigl at least started strong by appearing in the smart and funny Knocked Up. She has just gotten lazy since then however and now seems to live on a diet of drivel like Killers.

As for the film itself, let me describe a typical scene. Some bad guys will show up, only to get brutally murdered by Spencer (Kutcher). Jen (Heigl) will then make a weak rom-com pun about it and we are expected not to get vicious whiplash from this utter tonal shift. That goes on for most of this film. Director Robert Luketic seems to try to be splicing his only major hit (Legally Blonde) with The Bourne Legacy. I shouldn't need to point out how little this formula works. As with any film where the tone is unsteady, no real connection is formed and instead the film quickly grows tedious. Even the talents of Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara as Jens parents cant save this, which would be hard in either case as they are not used at all beyond adding more names to the credits.

This would just be a disappointing trip to the cinema were it not for the lack of anything memorable in the entire film. Seriously when I wanted to write this review I first had to re-watch this film and when I sat to write this review a few days later I'd forgotten it all over again. Its a black hole of a film that lacks anything remotely interesting. Its worse then just a weak bad film, its an absolute waste of time. For me personally there is very little in the world quite as awful. Say what you will about the other films on this list so far but I do recall The Last Airbender. Try as I might not to.

Yes This May Be Slightly Lazy. But Tell Me I'm Wrong, I Dare You.

If you hated this, also avoid: The Bounty Hunter

The Bounty Hunter is just strange and upsetting. Gerard Bulter couldn’t be more aware his film sucks as he goes after his ex-wife, Jenifer Aniston (who at least can act like a stung ex pretty well, zing!!). The music in this film is oddly just out of place with everything going on in every scene as to remind one of nails on a chalk board. Its inept to the point of maddening. Gerald looks so uncomfortable you want to give him a hug and the script is painfully full of cute moments and little else, all of which are annoying. It is at least far more memorable thenKillers, as I remember wanting to leave the cinema.

Now it gets serious. The top five worst films of the year, No.5 coming up at 4pm tomorrow. Til then!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Worst Films of 2010 No.7 - Cop Out


Plot:

It’s got Tracey Morgan in it, being Tracey Morgan. Also Bruce Willis playing yet another old and worn out cop. Something about Baseball cards. Look its a buddy cop film, this isn't Shakespeare.

Reasons it’s on the list:

I typically love a good genre film. There is nothing wrong with being a little predictable if you can be fun as well. Kevin Smith as director for Cop Out therefore (initially) sounded like a great idea to me. Having a long and proud history of making us laugh... well ok maybe that's a grotesque exaggeration, more like a small cluster of interesting, funny films and 10 years of wandering the cinematic wilderness... Cop Out doesn't change this.

Seriously why are Kevin Smith films still cultural landmarks? Aside from Dogma, Clerks and the excellent Chasing Amy Smith has released repetitive stoner-culture nonsense films that boast about how clever they is and never actually prove it. In fairness, he has always had an ear for hip, quotable dialogue and he's still a better film writer then he is a director. So therefore I admit I was wrong, having Smith take someone else's script and direct it should have sounded like a terrible idea. Because it is. Silly me.

Enough on Smith and the overly long point that the film is shot in a dull manner for a buddy cop film, why is Cop Out really on this list? Well Tracey Morgan is a major reason. Playing a low rent version of himself from 30 Rock, his dumb black man in a white mans world routine is lazy and tired, not to mention majorly offensive. He single-handedly is undoing years of positive race relations by playing this character that en-compromises all that is worst about cinema's depiction of an entire race. I hate this actor and the fact he can play exactly one character, his unlikable self.

Moving beyond Tracey, Bruce Willis continues the trend he has been on since Unbreakable of just not caring at all. He is boring and bored in this film, which I would be too if almost a quarter of my movie was spent swapping lame one-liners with Tracey Morgan dressed as a cell-phone. The villain Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz) is one of the most pathetically laughable thugs I have seen all year. Even worse, he is not played for laughs at all and instead we are supposed to be scared of this character who makes Jesse from Breaking Bad seem legitimately street. Oh and Seann William Scott doing awful Bugs Bunny impersonations was just the icing on the cake.

Kevin Smith has done himself no favours whatsoever here, even goes so far as to suggest to charge film reviewers in to see future films of his after the critical drub-down Cop Out received. That's kind of telling wouldn't you say? This is like a half-baked bad TV show that just goes on too long. Smith, you have lost your way and made a film that as easily could have based for Beverly Hills X, for shame.

No I'm In A Film. No It's Shit!

If you hated this, also avoid: The Other Guys

I did struggle with which one of these films to include, but the choice was made for me when I remembered the excellent cameo that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Samuel Jackson have in The Other Guys as super-hero police men. Aside from that this film is a weak Will Farrell vehicle at best and watching Mark Wahlberg play a far more mainstream-friendly version of his incredible performance in The Departed really hurts. More-over, its hard to think of a good reason to even watch the damn thing. We all know what Will Farrell movies involve and if you desire that kind of film just go watch Anchorman. Not quite as annoying and flat as Cop Out but that is faint praise indeed.

Oh I'll bet your all very excited about No.6 aren't you? 4pm tomorrow, be here! Til then!