Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Movies I’ve Recently Seen

Why all the boys (and the girls as it turns out) love Amber Heard, a top talent of 2011.

Being the lazy git that I am I’ve decided to forgo the usual longwinded reviews for films I’ve been watching. Mainly cuz for the really important ones my friend and co-blogger Rob over at http://robnolanrobrage.blogspot.com/ does a way better job than I. If you don’t believe me go check out his review for Sucker Punch which I wholeheartedly agree with. A blindingly good review. Anyway, here’s some of the better stuff I’ve seen recently, some old, most new, with a few random thoughts attached.

The Social Network: David Fincher’s film from a script by the legend who be Aaron Sorkin is without doubt a smart and excellently made film. However I found it rather hard to get in to as I pretty much hated all the characters and what it is they were all trying to do. I couldn’t root for anyone and wished they’d all fail dismally. Still, I fully appreciate the film’s pedigree and quality. I just didn’t care about the story it was telling. Sorry. 3.5 (out of 5)

Enchanted: Utter romcom fluff with a rather uninspiring third act. But what it does have is one devastating weapon that more than makes up for any shortcomings: Amy Adams. As Giselle Amy is a true Disney princess come to life but played with genuine warmth and depth by someone you just know is a truly fine actress. Plus she looks so darn cute and can surely belt out those catchy Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz songs. And good ol’ James Marsden is clearly having a ball as clueless Prince Edward. Predictable? Yes. Schmaltzy? Uh huh. Funny? Often. Charming? lots. 3 (out of 5)

The Green Hornet: Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in Michel Gondry’s oddball superhero bromance. The story is daft but Rogen and Chou make for a genuinely fab duo with Chou being especially great. Gondry directs with flair and a creative leftfield charm. The Britt Reid/Kato fight is a film highlight of the year and a definite homage to the classic Clouseau/Cato Pink Panther fights of old. Lots of Fun. 4 (out of 5)

Kiki’s Delivery Service: Hayao Miyazaki’s animated fantasy from 1989 about a young witch finding her place in the world is a sweet, fun, thematically rich coming of age fable adapted from a popular children’s book of the same name. Like all Studio Ghibli films (as with all Pixar films too) this is far too good for kids. Funny, engaging and uplifting. And a sarcastic talking cat too. What more do you want? 4.5 (out of 5)

The Fighter: Solid if unremarkable drama from David O’Russell that really only excels in the acting. Bale, Leo and Adams are all terrific with Bale and Leo winning well deserved Oscars. Apart from that it’s pretty run of the mill stuff. 3 (out of 5)

Bridge to Terabithia: A 2007 three hankie weepie from those Jesus lion botherers Walden Media, the overtly Christian production company trying to brainwash kids worldwide via talking CGI animals and the voice of Liam Neeson. Still, this one is at least a well made film with a strong cast and a rather touching story of the innocence of childhood, the escape of imagination and the power of deep and lasting friendship. 3 (out of 5)

The Ward: John Carpenter sees a welcome semi-return to form in this effective if rather familiar story of female rebellion in a haunted mental hospital. Amber Heard stars and does a great job. Carpenter directs with style and a steady hand. More please, John. 3.5 (out of 5)

The Troll Hunter: Norwegian mockumentary about a guy who goes around the country secretly hunting down rogue trolls to try and keep the public safe and in the dark of the creatures existence. It’s like Cloverfield but with a knowing sense of humour, a big dose of silliness, and a lot less budget. 3.5 (out of 5)

Rare Exports: Finnish Christmas movie with a difference. You’ll never think of Santa quite the same way again. Odd, black humoured, creative and creepy. A great export from Finland. 4 (out of 5)

Drive Angry 3D: Nic Cage complete with dodgy wig and Amber Heard complete with uber hotness star in a silly but pretty entertaining supernatural exploitationer. However its William Fichtner as the Accountant, the Devil’s right hand man, who steals the show. 3 (out of 5)

Jackass 3D: It’s Jackass. It’s in 3D. What more do you need to know? If you like Jackass you’ll laugh until you puke. If you don’t like Jackass you’ll just puke. 3 (out of 5)

Tangled: beautifully made, laugh out loud funny and immensely charming CG animation from Disney based upon the story of Rapunzel. The character animation is sublime and the script crackles with wit and warmth. Zachary Levi, Mandy Moore and Donna Murphy are pitch perfect in their voice roles. Almost as big a surprise as last years How to Train Your Dragon. Fab. 4.5 (out of 5)

The King’s Speech: Firth and Rush are both utterly brilliant in this well made and uplifting true story of the reluctant king forced to become his own man and to master his insecurities and deep seated issues in order to help inspire and encourage his nation in its darkest hour. A few historical liberties don’t subtract from a quality film and a well deserved box office smash and Oscar grab for Firth. God save the King. 4.5 (out of 5)

Paul: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman and Seth Rogen star in Greg Mottolla’s alien road movie and homage to Spielberg. Very funny and a genuine geek pleasure for fellow Spielbergologists and sci fi fans. 4 (out of 5)

127 Hours: Danny Boyle’s stylish, creative, energised, gruelling yet emotionally satisfying film with James Franco as the dude who lops off his own arm to survive. Masterful filmmaking. 4.5 (out of 5)

Burke and Hare: Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis star as the eponymous 19th century Edinbrough murderers in John Landis’s great looking, quirky and darkly amusing comedy/horror. Landis recaptures something of his old form and the cast is uniformly great. Oh, and Isla Fisher is the very definition of adorable. 3 (out of 5)

Rango: Johnny Depp is the lost lizard who becomes sheriff of a town called Dirt in Gore Verbinski’s arthouse animation that is far too good and deep and rich to be just for the kids. It’s gorgeously made and is deep in theme and subtext. Plus it’s a million times better than his two rubbish Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. 5 (out of 5)

Battle: LA: a very silly and overly corny U.S. military vs. invading alien scum movie. Independence Day meets Blackhawk Down with dialogue so awful it gives Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbour a run for its money. Still, it looks great and has some kick ass action. 3 (out of 5)

Disappearance on 7th Street: A nicely weird, creepy and ambiguous apocalyptic chiller from Brad (The Machinist) Anderson. Weirdly Hayden (I sucked in Star Wars) Christiensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo are all actually rather good. 3.5 (out of 5)

Tamara Drewe: Stephen Frears' film is fairly standard romcom stuff but the setting is beautiful as is Gemma Arterton as Tamara. Quality character actor Roger Allam is fab as an obnoxious womanising writer but it’s young Jessica Barden as the obsessed, scheming and slightly bonkers local teen, Jody, who steals the show. 3 (out of 5)

Sucker Punch: Zack Snyder’s bloody great pop video/video game/musical/art house movie is a thematically rich and visually stunning delight featuring his usual bravura explosion of cutting edge and beyond filmmaking techniques. It’s like Inception meets Shawshank Redemption meets Girl, Interrupted by way of all sorts of hyper stylised video games and fevered fantasies. A feast for the eyes and for the brain if only the lazy and the thick could be bothered to dig a little deeper. Wicked stuff. 5 (out of 5)

Hobo with a Shotgun: Outrageously violent exploitation movie with grizzled ex-replicant and Guinness salesman Rutger Hauer as a vigilante hobo cleaning up the town one shot at a time. Guns, gore, sex, murder, blood, gore, guns, more gore, even more gore… But it is all done with its huge tongue firmly in its huge cheek. And for a no money exploitationer it’s extremely well made. The director is one to watch in the same way as Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson were. 3.5 (out of 5)

And Soon The Darkness: Lovely and talented Amber Heard misplaces her cute but skinny and intensely annoying friend Odette Yustman in rural Argentina. Pretty soon Dr McCoy, er, Karl Urban turns up and may or may not be a bad guy. A nice looking and solidly made if stubbornly dull and formulaic thriller adapted from an acclaimed 1970 British movie of the same name written by Brian Clements and Terry Nation. Amber Heard was a producer here. Why did she bother? S’pose she got a trip to Argentina out of it if nothing else. 2 (out of 5)

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