Or …. let’s not, as it’s been done a million times before and there’s nothing remotely original or funny here at all. This is of course another buddy cop film, starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson as the central crime fighting duo, with the twist that the characters aren’t actually cops, they’re just pretending to be. Initially, it’s all for a fancy dress party, but when people mistake them for the real thing it goes to their heads and they find it difficult to give up, instead buying a real squad car on eBay and going out on the beat, which unfortunately lands them in deep water with organised crime but of course this somehow manages to sort out all of the things wrong with their lives in the process. The overwhelming problem is that Wayans’ character relentlessly complains about what his partner is getting him into, and in a number of cringe worthy moments tries to dissuade or prevent him from going further before inevitably joining in anyway, and his mumping and moaning literally lasts the length of the entire film, even inclusive of the closing moments. That, combined with consistent mediocrity, predictability and tame humour cement this as yet another instantly forgettable instalment in the genre.
Wow. I don’t believe I have ever seen a film where the lead actress’s breasts are essentially the main character and focus of the visual narrative, to the point where significant discussion and storyboarding must have taken place as to exactly how to shoot them in each scene, and just how much exposure to give them each time. The actress in question, and the appropriately titular dame to kill for, is Eva Green, who is running a fairly impressive bare breastage to big screen appearances ratio so far (see ‘The Dreamers’ 03 and ‘300 : Rise of an Empire‘ for two exemplary examples), possibly giving Penélope Cruz a run for her money, and my goodness you can see why, with a visage of sassy and tempting perfection that surely leaves all mortals of both sexes in silenced awe.
This is the long anticipated (too long really) sequel to 2005’s monster hit ‘Sin City’, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novels of the same name and both produced in strong collaboration with Miller himself – director Robert Rodriguez wanting to create as faithful a rendition as possible, to the point that only Miller is given any of the writing credits for either film and they shared the directing duties on both (they have a brief cameo scene together here too). Again, it’s a compendium of interlinking stories which take place chronologically both before and after events in the first film, with two of the sections written solely for the screen this time around (alas, these are the weaker chapters). Lots of familiar faces return – Mickey Rourke wonderfully portraying Marv again, for example, and Jessica Alba as high class striptease Nancy (who does an especially memorable routine, also one of the highlights of the film), although Clive Owen is replaced by Josh Brolin as Dwight, Jamie Chung takes over from Devon Aoki as Miho, and of course tragically both Birttany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan have passed away since the first film, with Dennis Haysbert taking over the latter’s role of Manute.
It’s not as accomplished as its predecessor, with a jittery start and less compelling stories, and although they have remained true to the green screen noir style of the first one and have certainly paralleled its violent and bloody body count, it is within the depiction of the lavish and diverse femmes fatales that the film is singularly successful. Initially Green’s womanly assets are nude but partially obscured, inducing The Red Dragon to muse ‘Oh come on, that’s crap’, you don’t have to wait too long until they are revealed in all their glory though, to the point where even I had to concede they probably dominate one scene too many. I’m not sure though, I think I’ll have to go and see it again. Too much is always better than too little anyway ….
For a review of the film, click here.
The film opens with Kristen Stewart mumbling about never growing up and taking responsibility for anything and then moves to teenage mutant dog Jacob, one part of a love triangle that took three previous films to establish, receiving a letter from the object of his affections, Kristen Stewart…
“Dear Jacob, I cordially invite you to my wedding to the guy you can’t stand. Edward Anthony Mason Cullen. No matter how much you work out, I will never leave him for you. This is because he can make me into a vampire, and you cannot. If you can think of a way to turn me into a werewolf though, let me know and I may reconsider. Also, you can’t bring a plus one as my new friends will probably kill them.”
P.S. Please wear a shirt to the wedding (and keep it on throughout).
Determined to win her over with brute force and also not to be told what to wear, Jacob, upon reading the letter, quickly pumps some iron and runs out into the rain, tearing his shirt off in the process in the off chance K-Stew was walking past his home. We also learn the news of the impending wedlock has turned the bride-to-be’s father into an alcoholic. The groom decides to pay his better half a visit the night before…
ED A.M. CULLEN : Just checking for cold feet.
KRISTEN STEWART : No, I’m still tota – O wait, were you trying to be funny? You really shouldn’t Edward. I’ve already talked to you about that. Please don’t make any jokes at the wedding Ok?
ED A.M. CULLEN : There’s something you need to know about me Bella, something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time.
KRISTEN STEWART. : You’re gay? It’s Ok Edward I’ve known for a while now. It’s fine, once we’re married and you’ve made me into a vampire we can –
ED A.M. CULLEN : What? I’m not gay, just because I’ve waited for a century to have sex with a female doesn’t mean I’m gay. Goodness! No, it’s much worse than that I’m afraid.
KRISTEN STEWART : Really? It’s worse than me marrying a gay vampire?
ED A.M. CULLEN : I … I … I’ve killed people! I killed murderers and rapists, and I drank their blood!
KRISTEN STEWART : Jesus fucking Christ Edward. Stop being such a fucking pussy! You’re a VAMPIRE for God’s sake, I expect you to have killed a whole army of people by now. Seriously, once you’ve turned me into one you’re getting the bitch slap of your life. Now, aren’t you going out for your bachelor party?
Edward’s face contorts in anguish as he recalls his misspent eternal youth, and we see a montage of him biting young attractive men that he stalked as prey, but not before conveniently dropping ‘incriminating’ weapons at their feet. Pulling him out of his morose reverie, his pals arrive and proceed to fondle each other and make libidinous gestures to him from the window whilst panting animalistically.
EXCITED CULLENS : Oo ooo eee ee aaaa aa aa!!!
ED A.M. CULLEN : O that’s my signal. I’d better go, I wish you’d take this whole murdering of God’s creatures a little more seriously Bella, think over it a little won’t you?
KRISTEN STEWART : Whatever. Hey – there won’t be any girls there tonight, right?
ED A.M. CULLEN : Euch! No way, just some wild animals we’re going to spit roast between us. Don’t stay up too late now. I’ll meet you at the altar.
KRISTEN STEWART : Yes, well I should think so.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Ooo eee aa aa aa!!
With that the young vampires go off into the night to indulge in practices they first encountered in the Black Forest.
The lavish wedding takes place, during which Kristen Stewart practically orgasms while walking down the aisle and thinking of how close her dream of unholy immortality is, not to mention how much money her new family clearly has, and everyone extols the virtue of the bride, well, almost everyone …
MAGGIE GRACE : She’s responsible for the death of the man/vampire I loved!
KRISTEN STEWART : Purrrrrrrr. Purrrrrrrrrr.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Bella? No, nothing bad could ever happen because of her, look how sweet and innocent she is!
KRISTEN STEWART : Purrrrrrrrrr. Purrrrrrrrr.
Then, in order to pretend he had a choice in the matter, Edward gives Kristen Stewart her ‘wedding present’, which turns out to be Jacob, in a shirt.
JACOB : There, are you happy now? I’m wearing this only because it’s your day, although really, I think your day would be a lot better for you if you could see my ripped body.
ED A.M. CULLEN : It was kind of you to come.
JACOB : Kind is my middle name bitch.
ED A.M. CULLEN : I’ll, erm, see if Rosalie wants a dance.
JACOB : Cool, beat it.
KRISTEN STEWART : Where have you been? We were going to put your face on a milk carton.
JACOB : Eh?
KRISTEN STEWART : Never mind. Come and let me dance with you, I want to smell you and get worked up for my honeymoon.
JACOB : Is that a sick joke? It’s not like you’ll be getting any from fish dick over there, is it? Is it Bella?
Kristen Stewart gives Jacob a knowing wink, inducing RAGE in the young put upon werewolf.
JACOB : AAAAAAARGH! Are you of your mind?!! While you’re still human? Have you any idea what the consequences will be?!
KRISTEN STEWART : What, it turns me on Ok? Jesus, get over it already. Edward …
ED A.M. CULLEN : Calm down Jacob.
Enter the leader of the wolf pack, Sam, who has been skulking around in the bushes.
SAM WOLF : Calm down Jacob.
JACOB : AAAAAAARGH! Why is everyone always against me?!! The shirt – it burns! It bites!!
KRISTEN STEWART : I’m really, really, really stupid.
ED A.M. CULLEN : No that’s not true. Nope.
KRISTEN STEWART : You’re right. He can suck it – I’m off to say goodbye to my folks now before I become a vamp. I can’t wait to see their faces when I get back.
Edward takes his new bride to his seduction suite in Brazil, passing through the Carnival in Rio but not stopping in case she changes her mind. K-Stew realises she forgot to shave her legs before the wedding and decides she’d better make an effort, leaving Edward to his own devices for several hours before skinny dipping with him in the sea in a romantic idyll.
KRISTEN STEWART : Are we going to screw now or what? This water’s fucking freezing Edward.
ED A.M. CULLEN : I’ll try.
KRISTEN STEWART : What do you mean, ‘you’ll try’?
Returning to the boudoir it becomes evident that Edward has a lot of trouble in the bedroom department, possibly due to lack of blood flow to certain organs. Edward smashes the bed frame in frustration. Then he smashes everything else in the room too.
KRISTEN STEWART : Well done. You’ve successfully managed to fuck everything in this room except for me.
Edward sobs quietly to himself in the corner.
KRISTEN STEWART : Jacob gets hard as soon as he looks at me.
ED A.M. CULLEN : (Sobs loudly)
KRISTEN STEWART : Oh but you know I’m only teasing sweetie, you know I love you… would it make it easier if I put a picture of One Direction over the bed?
ED A.M. CULLEN : Grrrrrrrrrr (sob)
KRISTEN STEWART : That’s it Edward, get angry, use it! Now stop trying to fuck me and fuck me!
K-Stew flits her eyelashes in a move well rehearsed in front of the mirror and eventually her combination of psychological abuse and sex appeal overcomes Edward’s nerves.
KRISTEN STEWART : That was totes awesome!!! When are we doing it again, like, right now maybe? Prrrrr. Prrrrrr. Wait I need to tweet about it first … ‘Finallygotitinme#ouch!’
ED A.M. CULLEN : I can hear the death wail of Jacob’s clothes from here.
KRISTEN STEWART : Lolcats! He doesn’t know how to use a phone though, silly.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Hey wait a minute, I’ve hurt you – look at those bruises!! I feel so ashamed …
KRISTEN STEWART : No no, I like it rough! I don’t mind, seriously. Oh shit, you aren’t going to touch me now are you? Come on, touch me, touch me Edward – right here where it’s all mushy…
ED A.M. CULLEN : It’s not safe. I won’t do it. Here, we’re going to play chess instead.
KRISTEN STEWART : Em, what?
ED A.M. CULLEN : Chess. Come, I’ll show you how to play, you’ll love it.
KRISTEN STEWART : I don’t want to play chess you wet fanny! I want to fuck!
ED A.M. CULLEN : Right, that’s it, one more insult like that and I’m drowning you in the bath like a spare kitten. You’re white.
KRISTEN STEWART : Hmphgrrrrrrrrrrr.
One minutes passes.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Checkmate
KRISTEN STEWART : THIS GAME IS RETARDED!
Kristen Stewart launches the board across the room.
K-Stew then pounces at Edward who spends the rest of the day flitting away from her clutches, until she collapses exhausted. Upon awakening the day after ….
KRISTEN STEWART : OMG I just had, like, the best dream ever – I BEAT YOU AT CHESS. I’m totally gushing right now. Pleeeeease fuck me now, pretty please???
ED A.M. CULLEN : OK fine, so long as you play chess with me again later and don’t lose your head again.
KRISTEN STEWART : Deal!
After numerous erotic encounters, two weeks pass and the apple of Edward’s eye realises she’s missed her period.
KRISTEN STEWART : I think I might be, like, pregnant Edward.
ED A.M. CULLEN : ?
KRISTEN STEWART : Can that even happen?
ED A.M. CULLEN : I’ve no idea, I’ve never had to think about it before – the birds and bees talk was a pretty long time ago for me. I’ll call Carlisle, he knows everything.
CARLISLE : Did you use protection?
ED A.M. CULLEN : Em .. well, I was having difficulties so …
CARLISLE : (Sigh) Then, yes, of course it’s possible. Indeed, likely even. Best you come home.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Oh why couldn’t we have just played chess!
KRISTEN STEWART : Aw I’m going to have a little baby!!! Woohoo!!! Wait, you’re still going to turn me into a vampire right?
ED A.M. CULLEN : I’m not doing anything until we get that THING out of you!
KRISTEN STEWART : Don’t talk about baby like that! Besides, I already love it more than you! If it’s a boy I’m calling it Jacob. If it’s a girl it’ll be baby K-Stew after her mommy. I can hang out with the local girls at the supermarket now too. Legend.
BRAZILIAN CLEANING LADY : Monster!!!
ED A.M. CULLEN : Yeah, yeah, yeah – I was having issues OK? It’s not my fault, when it comes out I’ll clobber it with a baseball bat, that’ll sort it out. Problem dealt with. Right, lets go.
The happy family return to their satanic lair in the forest, whereupon Jacob visits them and sees a gaunt Kristen Stewart lying under overalls on the couch.
JACOB : You look like shit.
KRISTEN STEWART : Thanks Jacob, it’s nice to see you too.
K-Stew pulls the overalls aside to reveal her bulging abdomen. Jacob immediately punches her full in the stomach.
JACOB : Sorry, reflex, I thought I was under attack – what the fuck is that!
CARLISLE : We’re not sure, it could be anything, no scans known to vampire or humankind can penetrate her belly. I’m really curious to see what comes out of her.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Maybe it’s a squid.
KRISTEN STEWART : Maybe it’s a baby unicorn!
ROSE : Maybe it’s just a baby for goodness sake.
ED A.M. CULLEN : I’ll be ready with the bat regardless.
Jacob begins to bristle and looks about ready to disrobe again, when Edward takes him to the side.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Jacob, I need your help – I want that thing dead. You seem to be able to communicate with her on a level I can’t, see if you can get through to her before it drains her of all her blood.
JACOB : Sure I’ll talk to the stupid cow, but for her sake, not yours.
Jacob soon realises Kristen Stewart is set on keeping her baby, forcing him to take off his clothes and run into the forest in JACOB WOLF form. He decides to approach the leader of his pack for advice.
SAM WOLF : We have to kill it now before it’s born – that thing could be Godzilla when it comes out and wipe out all life as we know it. We have to face the foetus while it’s still weak!
JACOB WOLF : Wait. Aren’t we overreacting a little? I’m beginning to have my doubts.
SAM WOLF : You will kill it Jacob, because I say so and I have bigger teeth than you.
The two fight and Jacob runs off in sedition, now ostracised from wolf society, leaving him no choice but to side with his arch enemies the Cullins. Meanwhile, Edward decides to research vampire babies, but instead of using respectable literature he uses Google picture search, becoming increasingly alarmed at what he may have spawned.
CARLISLE : It seems the growing thing has cracked several of your ribs Bella. Whatever we’re dealing with, it isn’t compatible with your body, it is slowly killing you.
ED A.M. CULLEN : Oh my goodness, it’s going to be just like Alien. I’m not going to live through that scene in real life.
CARLISLE : Actually Edward, I always found the baby alien to be quite cute. I’m happy to have one of them skipping about the place for a while, calling you dad.
KRISTEN STEWART : You have to accept what is Edward.
ED A.M. CULLEN : This marriage was supposed to be about equal say in all things – and I want that thing dead!!! Can’t you see how unreasonable you’re being?!
Time passes and Jacob comes to like the Cullins, largely because he has little choice now, and the young lovers discover their unholy child needs to be fed blood regularly. Edward pretends to make amends and feel the baby kicking, but secretly tries to crush it a little. Kristen Stewart reveals some terrible baby names which everyone pretends to like, when suddenly THE MOST AWFUL CRACK YOU HAVE EVER HEARD resounds throughout the demon mansion as the child of Osiris breaks Kristen Stewart’s spinal column in its demand to be born.
A rush delivery ensues wherein everyone is relieved to find that the baby appears to be normal, though unfortunately it does kill Kristen Stewart in the process of being born, conveniently giving Edward NO CHOICE but to inject her with his venom and begin the process of the eternal damnation of her soul in order to save her hot body. The wolf pack begin their attack, but initially mainly just get smacked in the jowls by the vamps proving largely ineffective, giving Jacob the time to approach the young childling, possibly to kill it in a jealous rage – but when he comes near, he sees a vision of the creature in the future and discovers that she is destined to become a SMOKING HOT REDHEAD.
JACOB : ‘Hmmm, she is going to be totally fucking gorgeous. Wait a minute, no one’s watching. I could imprint on her and she would be mine forever. This would be A) a great investment for the future, B) would mean the Cullins would have to be nice to me, C) would mean the wolf pack would have to bugger off as they can’t harm anyone that’s imprinted with one of their own, making me the hero, and D) would make me a permanent member of Bella’s family where I can do all sorts of damage. Hmm … JACOB WINS!’
Jacob then proceeds to put into action the best idea he’s ever come up with, although it isn’t clear exactly what imprinting with someone actually entails. The day is thus saved, and Kristen Stewart’s body becomes plush once more as the venom takes hold and everyone eagerly awaits the arrival of Bellavamp.
COMING IN PART TWO
BELLAVAMP : You did what? YOU DID FUCKING WHAT?!!! EDWARD YOU ARE AS FUCKING USEFUL AS A WOODEN TAMPON!!! You let the guy you hate most in the entire fucking universe imprint on your newly born child in your fucking home and now she belongs to him?!!!!
JACOB : Oh yeah!
BELLAVAMP : YOU ARE PATHETIC!!!!
Bellavamp bitch slaps Edward in front of his entire family, plus their extended family of Jacob.
Later on, everyone dies.
Except they don’t. Except they do, kind of.
A modern horror film that has not only a story but … acting as well! No one could have been more surprised than The Red Dragon by this, indeed it’s quite an interesting plot despite being littered with various tropes of the genre – lots of sustained flash light scenes in dark places, exorcism and little girls with music boxes (I mean seriously, who in their right mind would buy a child one of those – here you go my dear, this will practically ensure you will one day be enslaved by a demon who will give you your first sexual experience, or at the very least you’ll have regular nightmares for the next ten years). Eric Bana plays an NYPD cop who, along with his partner Joel McHale, must investigate several mysterious and violent events in the city, all of which lead back to a tour of duty in the Middle East for three ex-military personnel, and their discovery of some ancient ruins ….
Part of the reason for the grounded structure of this is that it’s actually based on the 2001 novel ‘Beware the Night’ by none other than the officer Bana is playing, Ralph Sarchie, who gave up fighting a life of crime to fight against another type of evil, becoming a demonologist (not a dermatologist, as Wikipedia currently suggests) after tutelage and inspiration from father Mendoza, here played by Édgar Ramírez (who has played not only Simon Bolivar and Carlos the Jackal, but was of course the lucky duck who gets it on with Keira Knightley in ‘Domino’ 05). So all of the events in the film are purportedly real from that perspective, but director and scriptwriter Scott Derrickson does a very good job of creating tension and has the right tempo for the story, although it should have been trimmed by maybe fifteen to twenty minutes as the overall length and that of some of the scenes starts to undermine the otherwise taught atmosphere.
There are quite a few throwaway aspects to the narrative too, such as the police connecting events they don’t yet have the information on to be able to do and references to the music of The Doors which seem somewhat spurious. Possibly Derrickson is just a fan, and ultimately the good acting and story make it easy not to mind these faults, especially if you also happen to like The Doors. For some reason, when they are trying to force a demon in possession of a body to reveal its name I could have sworn it replied ‘Jimmy’ (imagine, ‘Hey you, Jimmy! Get oot ya fanny!!’) which would have been awesome, and there are more than a couple of moments when the film is knowingly poking fun at itself to slightly lighten the tone. Worth going to see if you are a fan of the genre.
The latest movie written and directed by Luc Besson is a polished and accomplished action film with a number of surprisingly dynamic and inspiring visuals, although it does almost inevitably stumble on occasion with its over the top storyline. Scarlett Johansson plays the titular Lucy, initially a normal young woman living in Taipei until she’s inadvertently kidnapped one day and forced to smuggle a new synthetic party drug into Europe for the local mafia, only an enormous dose of it accidentally spills into her bloodstream allowing her brain to access more and more of its potential – facilitating her escape, revenge and subsequent attempts to thwart their plans for the other mules, all converging in a number of shootouts in Paris.
Her powers are extreme (they manifest much like they do for Bradley Cooper in ‘Limitless’ (11), but quickly escalate into being able to control and contort matter and thought), and initially this does jar a lot with the narrative, but Besson keeps things flowing apace and with enough skill and artistry that it soon becomes easy to look past its exponential structure. More than this, however, lots of shots of nature interspersed with the drama not entirely unlike a Terrence Malick film, and a fascinating if very tenuous grounding in science, running the gamut from a dolphin’s advanced sonar ability to the fact this ‘CPH4’ drug has had its name changed but is a chemical naturally produced by pregnant mothers, albeit in much reduced quantities – all ask questions about our own potential and its place within the fabric of nature generally, fascinating when we consider just how much energy can be released by but a few atoms undergoing nuclear reactions, and although its central premise that we only use ten percent of our brains has been largely debunked as urban legend, many of the other scientific titbits thrown in seem much more plausible and it is certainly very true to say science as yet does not truly understand all the workings of the human mind. It’s cut to a nice length and is directed in a suitably cinematic way resulting in an enjoyable and interesting sci-fi action flick, all with solid acting from the likes of Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked and Choi Min-sik (the protagonist in ‘Oldboy’ 03).
The title (both versions – it was released as ‘The F Word’ in Canada) of this Canadian set romcom kind of sums up the very stretched premise behind it – what does one do when one really connects and falls in love with a girl who’s in a relationship, as if the writers were trying to think of a twist on the otherwise extremely formulaic and banal set-up and one of them thought ‘well, what if we do the same as usual but we make one of them unattainable so the other is tortured and that will form the tension, and we can get some young, up and coming actors in order to sell it as something worthwhile.’ The two actors in this instance are Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, who both do a pretty good job and both have recent success stories with ‘Kill Your Darlings‘ and ‘Ruby Sparks‘ respectively, but in terms of raw sexual and romantic chemistry the fireworks never really go off here.
There are a few nice and witty moments, and overall things are balanced enough, but it never escapes from the sort of desperate nature of the writing trying not to make the central pair out to be cheating scumbags, and yet portray ‘the boyfriend’ character (played by Rafe Spall) as being a bit of a douche, but not too overtly bad either. It purports to play with fire, but extinguishes it in fear of losing control, as ultimately it’s pretty dark and depressing territory they’re heading into, and they don’t really want to challenge the young couple demographic that they are hoping to appeal to. It’s kind of like a Nicholas Sparks take on an Ingmar Bergman film, and although there are moments of decent comedy, it feels like they arose through the invention of the actors themselves rather than the team behind the film – a resultant sweet distraction rather than something with deeper meaning or any resonance likely to be found.
Who doesn’t like a good disaster film? If for no other reason than one can sit and enjoy it thinking ‘thank fuck I am not there right now’, and indeed real life potential perils can often be more terrifying than anything within the domain of the horror genre. This follows a group of storm chasers (à la ‘Twister’ 96, in fact I’m pretty sure you can hear the voice of Bill Paxton as the weather man at one point) as they descend on the small town of Silverton Oklahoma, and although the weather is taken to extremes it is entirely justified by global conditions, like Katrina as they mention, regularly going to pot. Even in the UK we just had the remains of hurricane Bertha hit our shores for unseasonally windy and wet conditions, completely ruining The Red Dragon’s ultimate frisbee season, and in fact coming out of the cinema after this there were booming, ominous peals of thunder echoing overhead, which, naturally, is just what you want after seeing this. Indeed, Britain has one of the highest numbers of tornadoes in the world relative to its land area – though they’re mostly just totty little rubbish ones that don’t do anything, not withstanding the twister that obliterated parts of Birmingham last decade.
This is actually part of the handheld camera genre, for the most part, but they have made a really good job of it compared to many of their contemporaries, moving things along quickly and without irritating the audience with pointless explanations for cameras and poor viewing quality. The action flits between the professionals, some amateur YouTube daredevils, and a father with his two sons due to film the highschool graduation ceremony until one of them bunks off to help a local girl with her own project – and when you see the girl in question (Alycia Debnam Carey) you will understand why. Overall, the effects are dramatically immersive and the tension feels suitably real, there are no Oscar worthy moments but the ensemble cast (of whom probably Richard Armitage and Matt Walsh are the most recognisable faces) make it seem believable. It kind of feels like a ‘Twister’ reboot, but nonetheless it is good fun and with the technological advances since then it also stands as an improvement on some of those late nineties waymarks that the filmmakers were no doubt inspired by.
Whatever your reaction was to parts one and two of Stallone’s collaborative bullet fest that is the Expendables franchise (part four has been more or less confirmed), you can be pretty sure you will feel exactly the same about this one, largely because the formula has just been reapplied once again replete with the expected increase in the amount of famous names gracing the screen and the number of explosions and bodies they strew each scene with. It’s a series of films that never manages to be as good as it should be, with no real tension and a humour level that always falls short of where you wish it would get to.
To be fair, the writers (Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt and Stallone) have more or less done the right thing with the story. Terry Crews is brutally injured during an op gone wrong (presumably penance for appearing in ‘Blended‘) and the team suffers the double whammy of realising an old arch nemesis of Stallone’s is still alive – Mel Gibson (who is arguably the best in the film, relishing in the role of the villain much as he did in ‘Machete Kills‘). Thinking it’s time to protect his, only slightly, aged crew Stallone gives them the elbow and hires new blood in the guise of Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz and female recruit Ronda Rousey – the mixed martial artist and Olympic medallist in her first film role. You can probably guess how the old hands take the news as everything builds to the inevitable finale at Gibson’s complex in, wait for it …. Assmenistan (the suffix ‘stan’, incidentally, means ‘land of’, so this literally means ‘land of the Assmen’).
The action manages to put even the scene in ‘Hot Shots! Part Duex’ (93) where there is a running tally of kills to shame, as enemy soldiers drop like flies every time one of the Expendables points any weapon in roughly their direction. Not content with this basic annihilation though, the various stars of the action genre’s yester year seem to have had a running competition on the go of ‘see who can deliver the most ridiculously self referential line in the weirdest way’ as we witness Schwarzenegger cry ‘CHOPPA!!!’ multiple times and watch Harrison Ford’s government agent Max Drummer say ‘don’t worry about Church, he’s out of the picture’ (Church was previously played by Bruce Willis, but he reputedly asked for a huge fee to come back, and so they just axed him instead. I think they should have at least offered him one dollar for his services first).
The references run the gamut from fun to cringe worthy – as do the one-liners in general. At the beginning the team are trying to break Wesley Snipes out of incarceration, and of course he did just recently get released from jail after a three year stint for tax evasion, so that was a nice touch. Ford saying from a helicopter as he drops a bomb on enemies below ‘Drummer is in the house’ not only must have had the people in the back of the chopper concerned about the sanity of the pilot, but he also delivers it in the sort of matter of fact way you’d say something like ‘there’s milk in the fridge’ – and that kind of sums up the mix that exists for all the cast at one point or another. There’s no Chuck Norris this time around with Antonio Banderas as the other note worthy addition to the crew, and despite some decent action scenes there is a definite lukewarm feel to everything, although given the premise perhaps more credit is due for at least treading water and not letting the series nosedive into complete farce. Here’s hoping the fourth one is more worthwhile.
A crummy, sentimental, almost boorishly stilted ‘life affirming’ film centred on yet another bumbling and repressed central geek character from Simon Pegg and one which will deliver no surprises whatsoever in terms of its resolution, although having said that the ending was quite nice – indeed that, a wonderful albeit too brief cameo from Christopher Plummer, and Rosamund Pike slapping her ass on Skype are the only things that saved this from incineration.
This is basically Britain’s take on ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘, with Pegg living out the same daily routine with his smoking hot girlfriend (Pike) and going through the motions with the patients at his psychiatric clinic. Essentially having a boredom induced mid life crisis he decides to go travelling, partly due to a boyhood obsession with Tintin (ironic, as Pegg also starred in ‘Tintin : The Secret of the Unicorn‘ and it was also terrible). This obsession fits the story well as it uses many racial stereotypes that wouldn’t be out of place within the pages of the comic (Tintin was one of the most popular comics of the Twentieth century for those unfamiliar with the Belgian boy detective, but initially it contained various caricatures that would never make it into print today), most notably when he goes to ‘Africa’, not a country within the continent mind, just ‘Africa’. Reason being his destination is shown to be run by drug barons and random people with guns who seem to have been educated at Cambridge and speak the Queen’s despite none of their goons knowing a word in English.
Seems a bit strange, travelling to but a single destination in Africa and yet picking one that is completely unstable and commonly plays host to Western abductions. The fudge to facilitate this is Pegg’s old uni buddy who seems to have been there the whole time and naturally as a white Westerner is the only thing stopping all of ‘Africa’ dying from disease or gunfire as the lions prowl quite literally ten yards away from the outdoor operating table, then, in a two pronged attack, this friend painfully creeps his arm around his black bodyguard revealing that he is also the man’s gay lover and that he has stayed as it’s the only place where he feels accepted as himself, despite the fact that the West has very effective and largely victorious gay rights movements and he clearly felt the need to run away and hide as far away as possible from everyone he knew to live out his repressed colonial fantasy of bumming an armed black man and was at great pains to keep this relationship hidden from everyone in the region until they and Pegg were in the middle of nowhere by themselves – I mean, that is both a politically correct and incorrect sandwich gone completely berserk, I’m surprised he didn’t have an offshore dolphin retreat for feminists recovering from troll bashing that doubled as the continent’s first pro bono transgender surgery.
Pegg’s other destinations are Shanghai, where he gets it on with a prostitute who then claims he used her which I still don’t understand, a monastery in an undisclosed location, and …. Los Angeles, that top destination to visit when you are searching your soul for a higher meaning and keeping a journal, as he is, of what makes different people happy. Alas he doesn’t ask any gangbangers, but whilst in ‘Africa’ he does get kidnapped, which at least brought a level of consideration into things, but then he gets out of it via another hopeless fudge.
Although the ending was done quite well for what it is, the fact that the girlfriend he leaves in limbo whilst travelling is both a nice person and very beautiful means there was only ever going to be one outcome to his ill conceived meanderings and one inevitable conclusion to what it means to be happy – sex with Rosamund Pike, and a considerable amount of money that allows you to live in posh splendour in London meaning you never, ever have to think about the hellholes you foolishly decided to travel to and get kidnapped in and where you can quickly turn a blind eye to the problems in the rest of the world as your near death experience has finally convinced your lady to accompany you whilst you engage in your hobby of flying remote controlled planes. Watch ‘Mitty’ instead.
Continuing Australian film’s long standing love affair with outlaws in the Bush, David Michôd’s latest directorial effort following 2010’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ lands us in a dystopian Outback ten years after the world has gone to hell (we never really learn the details as to how, why, or to what full extent) as we watch Guy Pearce stop at the surviving remnants of a bar for sustenance, his soul exhausted and heavy with despair, barely noticing the liquid he consumes as his car is nicked in the background, instigating his search for both it and the perpetrators for the rest of the film. The thieves are already making a getaway after a robbery gone awry, with the sibling, Robert Pattinson, of one of their number left inured behind, thus becoming the primary lead for Pearce to follow up on.
Ultimately this is simply a very ill conceived ‘buddy’ film, as the two leads begin to bond and look out for one another, despite it originally being a hostage situation, but as time goes on we realise that these characters are basically both scumbags with an approach to violence not justified by the setting – we learn, for example, that law enforcement still operates in the country generally and indeed in the remote settlements where the action takes place. The main point behind this post apocalyptic future is that it sets up Pearce’s character arc – when everything went south globally he committed a horrific crime and nobody chased after him for it. The idea is that his conscience has been tormented by this ever since (both the deed and the lack of ensuing consequences) to the point that now acts of brutality against anyone in his way are done almost without having to think twice about them, as if he were trying to fast-track his own way to hell for the punishment he craves, punishment necessary for the absolution that he hopes will somehow accompany it.
In this respect, the film does have some success and a few notable moments, largely due to another great turn from Pearce (he is consistently impressive, in fact he had back to back cameo appearances in two best picture winners at the Oscars a few years ago with ‘The Hurt Locker’ 09 and ‘The King’s Speech’ 10), but the difficultly lies with every other aspect of the film. I wouldn’t describe Robert Pattinson as a particularly natural actor, in fact I think his spattering of roles since Potter and Twilight have been justified not by his prior work but rather the media status that stalks him, and although it’s true that whilst watching this I did have a large internal debate as to whether or not I was being too harsh on him, I was similarly continually bombarded with the feeling that ‘something just isn’t right here’, eventually coming to the conclusion that his performance is … well, laughable actually, partly because I did laugh at it at the precise moment when the story called for a polar opposite response.
He sports what passes for a good American accent from somewhere in the South, and he is supposed to be not quite mentally handicapped but not too far off it either, but it just constantly feels like he’s trying way too hard, and why after presumably a number of years in Oz (I think he offers some explanation for their current appearance in Australia but he was mumbling so badly I couldn’t make head nor tail of it) is his accent still that strong? Not to mention the fact that his brother sounds nothing like him. Did he fail to pull off an Australian accent during the interview and this was his alternative? When one half falters the whole must suffer, especially when it’s both the character and the actor playing them – and things aren’t helped by the pace and music, which starts off by nicely setting up tension and anticipation but then just becomes monotonous and at times silly (a number of people walked out of the screening, possibly because of the gratuitous violence but likely because it is also peppered with tediousness).
I suspect writers Joel Edgerton and Michôd started with Pearce’s character and his issues as a core concept and then just contrived the rest around it, leaving a hollow feeling, as if some of the violence is in there for its own glory’s sake, and when you finally find out exactly why the protagonist is so ruthlessly hunting his stolen car, well, let’s just say it probably would have provoked more unintentional laughter from The Red Dragon if I hadn’t been beyond caring by that point.