Archive for the ‘Adam’s Crapfest’ Category

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QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2009)

March 31, 2009

Quantum of Solace Review

James Bond, Quantum of Solace
James Bond. “Mm, that chocolate cake was delicious”

Adam: Three stars

Length: 106min

Review by Adam:

The latest in the Bond films has what I think is one of the better titles for a film in this franchise. Not that it makes all that much sense, but then again, neither does the film. For those who haven’t seen the first Bond film with Craig Daniels playing the world’s saviour, then you’ll be in for a rude shock. Bond has changed. Gone are the cheesy one liners, the elaborate spy gadgetry, the promiscuity. We now have a brooding, jaded, and rather ruthless spy killer.

This movie picks up where the last left off. Heart broken, betrayed and out for vengeance, Bond is hunting the people who brought this upon him. Turns out there is a highly organised entity called “the organization” that is apparently running wild schemes and the British secret service knows nothing about it. So the hunt is on. Who is a traitor and who isn’t?

The hunt takes Bond to a guy who is using a land conservation charity as cover for an elaborate scheme to overthrow governments and gain control of water resources. There is one great scene where it’s explained to a General who is plotting a coup that if he doesn’t cooperate, then someone else will. Hello corporate hegemony!

As far as a mindless action film goes this isn’t so bad. Bad guys abound (and they’re typically bad shooters!), as do car chases, fisticuffs, tuxedos, and product placements. For anyone expecting more than that, maybe don’t bother. The film falls prey to too many sub-plots. There are two stories of revenge going, one about what the bad guys are planning, and the other about whether or not Bond is off the rails. You end up walking away wondering exactly who x person was and why they did what they did.

Of course, the politics in this movie is very average. But seriously, it’s James Bond, what were you expecting. I would write about the gender representation but really, it’s not too hard to imagine what it was like. It is Hollywood after all. As long as you remember that and leave your political analysis at the door you could find something to enjoy here.

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MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2008)

September 11, 2008

Margot at the Wedding Review


Adam:

Length: 93min

Taglines:
One family. Infinite degrees of separation.

Review by Adam:

This movie was recommended to us from some good friends but I would be loath to do the same. It wasn’t until we put it on that I realised that Nicole Kidman was in it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like ‘our’ Nicole has become all ditsy over the years, something that now I can’t shake from whatever role she takes (except maybe Dogville).

The plot revolves around a reunion between two estranged sisters for a wedding. All the personal issues that had driven the sisters apart eventually resurface, causing everything to fall apart. Everyone in this movie seems to have some major personal interaction malfunction. In Jack Black’s character at least, it is mostly funny. His wonderful no-hoper attitude is the only thing that makes this movie bearable.

Since there isn’t much plot, and the focus is on character, it’s a shame that every character is largely unlikeable. Nicole is particularly horrible. So self-righteous but so hypocritical. Jack Black’s character sums it up best by saying something like this to Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character: “you’re fucking crazy, your sister’s fucking crazy. No I’m not overreacting, when people look back they’ll see that this is a completely normal response”.

He also said that he would punch Nicole in the face, something that would have made the film more interesting.

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HANCOCK (2008)

September 6, 2008

Hancock Review


Adam:

Length: 92min

Taglines:
There are heroes. There are superheroes. And then there’s…
Bad Behaviour. Bad Attitude. Real Hero.
Meet the superhero everybody loves to hate.
He is saving the world whether we like it or not.

Review by Adam:

I wanted this movie to be good. I don’t know why really. Maybe I’m just sucker for hype, and apparently the Fresh Prince is now one of the most bankable and successful (in terms of ticket sales) stars around. That, and I love a good story of redemption.

Hancock (Will Smith) is an alcoholic super hero who spends his time being jaded, getting wasted, and seemingly only responding when people call him an asshole. He’s despised by the local population for his reckless acts of kindness, that is, smashing everything in his way to stop criminals. As the only one of his kind, he’s built some pretty distant people skills, which haven’t been helped by the vicious serves he receives from the general population. Eventually Hancock saves a struggling PR man (Jason Bateman) who offers to help him change his “public interfacing”. Thus a story of redemption starts…

The characters in this movie are as shallow as anything we would have seen on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The plot is about the same depth, save for one nicely unexpected twist. Smith manages to crack some good jokes, but it all gets swallowed up by the weak storyline. By trying to get a balance between action hit and comedy hit, the filmmakers managed to avoid them both. Even the ‘baddies’ are pathetic in this film (and everyone also knows it’s the PR people that are pure evil, not the Hispanic gangsters!).

Before I saw Hancock I wondered what would be the evil counterbalance to Smith’s superhero. This is the film’s problem. There’s no great rivalry. No Superman and Lex Luther. No Spiderman and the Green Goblin Family. No Keanu Reeves and Anthony Kiedis from Point Break. There’s only a weak love story that moves this film forward, and even then it doesn’t move it very far.

We can only pray that there is no sequel.

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HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008)

September 5, 2008

Hellboy II Review

Matt:
Adam:

Length: 120min

Taglines:
Saving the world is a hell of a job.
Good never looked so bad.
Believe it or not – he’s the good guy.
From the visionary director of Pan’s Labyrinth.

Précis: Lighthearted action fantasy about a grumpy hellspawn and his mutant friends, battling to save humanity from a magical evil threat.

Review by Matt:

There’s a big red demon, a looming threat to humanity, and scary gun-toting freaks all around. Is it the 2008 Republican Convention? No, it’s Hellboy 2, the new film written and directed by much-admired Mexican filmmaker, Guillermo Del Toro. He’s dropped the nightmarish atmosphere that characterised his recent films. Hellboy 2 is a fluffy action/fantasy flick about FBI-employed mutants saving the world from a mythological army of death robots.

Ron Perlman is Hellboy, a macho, half-human hellspawn who is a bit like a bigger, redder Han Solo. He’s out to save humanity from the villainous Elf Prince Nuada (played by Luke Goss, who has already endangered humanity once, as part of the awesomely rubbish 80’s band, Bros). Hellboy is helped by key team mates: his pyro-kinetic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), and a psychic creature called Abe (Doug Jones), who has an uncanny resemblance to C3PO in a fish suit. Further assistance comes from a German ectoplasmic spirit called Krauss (voiced by Seth McFarlane, emulating Klaus from American Dad) and the beleaguered human minder of the group, Agent Manning (Jeffrey Tambour, who is wasted in this excisable role).

Robots, monsters, Bros. It might sound great to you. But be clear about what you’re getting here, because Hellboy 2 won’t be for everyone. There are things to enjoy. Most noticeably, the film has a hammy likeability, unselfconsciously displayed in Arnie-like one liners and other silly, sometimes funny, dialogue. It also sports an impressive visual style; Del Toro has a talent for composition, and a rich imagination. You get a sometimes crazy mesh of towering monsters and flashy fights, and even a liberal promotion of interspecies marriage (there goes the Republican Convention comparison). You have to admit that in some respects, this is a film that has got it going on.

But the film’s bad side soon engulfs the positives. Hellboy 2 just lacks the qualities to make us invest in its story. The plot is recycled, rushed and disjointed. In some places it is jarringly sloppy. Behind the characters’ striking appearances, they are truly shallow, and most of the acting is accordingly stilted. The romances and conflicts are annoyingly clichéd, and may as well have been left out. The more it goes on, the more it feels over-busy and self-indulgent, as if Del Toro was obsessed only with his scattered ideas and ingenious style.

When even Guillermo Del Toro’s fantastical style starts to appear decidedly undazzling, you know there is something missing. I am an enthusiast of monsters, robots and other curiousities. But Hellboy 2 is a reminder that you’ve got to put them in the right vehicle before you have a winning film.

Review by Adam:

I didn’t even know this movie was coming out until I saw it previewed at The Dark Knight. My company immediately complained about how lame it looked. From that moment I was convinced that this would be awesome, and it kinda is. I was hanging to see this movie and at the end of a busy weekend. I even ended up dodging a dinner invitation with a visiting foreign celebrity so that I could see it with an old flatmate.

So the story doesn’t really pick up from the first movie. There is no reference to the previous happenings, or to the fate of the previous human agent assigned to Hellboy. Maybe he just died of an obscure disease.

The plot happens all very quickly and you’re guaranteed to think that it went from the first instance of slaughter to the final battle with very few events in between. The beauty of the film is in the characters, or better put, the creatures. If you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth you’ll know the beautifully creative mind of Guillermo Del Toro. This film gives him plenty of opportunities to showcase that. Kind of like that Tatooine bar scene in Star Wars Episode 4 (you know, the one where that dude tells Luke what all of us are thinking – “I don’t like you” – and then Obi Wan sabres him). It’s also nice to see that not everything these days is computer generated and some nice work has gone into the costumes.

Despite the supernatural realms and the whole threat of total destruction of humanity, this film is pretty light on. It never seems to take itself too seriously, and that’s a strength. The love stories are hammed up in all the right places (including one unforgettable sing-a-long) and only at a few moments are a bit over the top. The theme to the love story is that the destruction of the earth is fine, just as long as you are with the one you love. Easy to say if you have super-awesome mutant powers I guess…

Basically, go and see Hellboy 2 if you want something light. Don’t expect much and you’ll be delighted with a film that is entertaining, funny, sometimes beautiful, and has guns and big red dudes. Apparently there is another one planned – I can’t wait.

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THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

September 2, 2008

The Dark Knight Review


Adam:

Length: 152min

Taglines:
Why So Serious?
I Believe In Harvey Dent.
Welcome to a world without rules.

Review by Adam:

Ever since I saw the previews for this movie I knew I was going to see it on the opening night. When the night came, I managed to drag along my flatmates on the promise that this was ‘arguably’ the best Batman ever. I told everyone that they weren’t excited enough. The level they needed to be at was “oh my god, I HAVE to have the giant Batman cup.” Thankfully common sense prevailed and no one paid a ridiculous price for such plastic crap.

The movie itself is pretty awesome, thanks largely to Australia’s latest deceased movie star, Heath Ledger. Basically his Joker character is an extension of the troubled Aussie kid, Patrick, he played in 10 Things I Hate About You. You know that scene where he is playing with the bunsen burner? Well, the Joker is what would have happened if Patrick had ended up with a broken heart (and had needed major facial surgery from an accident). Heathy plays the Joker so well it makes you squirm in your seat. He manages to adopt all the mannerisms and expressions you would expect from some maniacal, super villain. He captures the chaotic logic that is central to the Joker, and it’s that unpredictability that makes you uneasy. Without doubt, if it wasn’t for Heath, this movie would only be average.

The Dark Knight has quite a complex plot that always leaves you guessing as to exactly what is happening and if it is being deliberately planned. The only down side to this is that the film tries to cram a bit too much in. Two villians in one movie – doesn’t that undermine the principles of a movie franchise?

Christian Bale may be the greatest Batman yet. He carries the worries of the metropolis like only a billionaire playboy could, with lots of brooding looks and a special voice for when he’s in his Batgear. What makes him great (like Michael Keaton) is that he exists in a grim time. From this, the story becomes one about redemption and the attempt to make things right. From heroes that is all we can ask.

The extras in this movie are also fantastic. Gary Oldman, as the police commissioner, is probably my favourite character in the whole movie. There’s just something so wonderfully incorruptible about him. Maybe it’s the moustache.

The movie deals with issues of uncontrolled power, fear, and what it is that drives us as humans (it’s not bat-mobiles). I thought the ending was mostly good, except for the moralising about society needing leaders/good examples. To hell with that! The Dark Knight shows us that the most respectable characters are in fact those society is willing to lock up.

4.5 Batmasks.

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WHOLE NEW THING (2005)

February 3, 2008

Whole New Thing review
Whole new thing screenshot

Adam: Two and a half stars

Length:92 min

Tagline:

Who was YOUR first crush?

Review by Adam:

I’ve seen lots of movies lately that deal with issues around queer-identifying individuals, which I think is great. I appreciate their difference (as opposed to almost every other movie that is hetero-normative and involves marriage and monogamy and everything that is ‘standard’ in society). A lot of these films, however, seem to have the protagonists as emotional morons. Maybe this is reflective of the potential for emotional trauma from living in a society that either ‘accepts’ your sexuality (like it’s something that’s abnormal but ok) or outright degrades it (as opposed to being celebrated and encouraged like it should). As someone who isn’t queer-identifying maybe I’m missing the subtle characteristics that need to be portrayed in these characters.

Whole New Thing revolves around the talented 13-year-old, home-schooled Emerson, who has to venture towards institutional schooling. The story follows the growing infatuation between Emerson and his English teacher, Don, a man dealing with mistakes he has made in previous relationships. While Emerson’s family life is being plagued by the mistakes previously made by Don, Emerson develops a crush on his teacher.  For Don, any acknowledgement of his feelings would clearly result in him losing his job and alienating an already lonely man.

Don, played excellently by Daniel MacIvor, holds this movie together with his restrained acting, in contrast to the wordy, moronic excesses of his fellow actors.  And this is my beef with this movie: I personally can’t stand to watch a movie about people who continue to knowingly make the wrong choices that inflame situations.  At one point, the movie hits an unbelievable point in that no one in their right mind (even a 13-year-old) would do some of the stuff that happens. Emerson gets totally out of control and his hormones seem to take control over his entire thought processes.

So I found myself disengaging from the storyline and not even really wanting closure (that actually doesn’t arise). Whole New Thing touches nicely on what it must be like to have what is common surrounding you in a way that doesn’t allow for questioning. Emerson is at his peak in his free thinking and his ability to cut through social norms in a way that has a subtle and striking brilliance (particularly on gender and sexuality). That is the best part of the movie but it is sadly undone by the escalating craziness of Emerson and his parents.

Maybe I’m too embedded in the ridiculous Hollywood style of blowing stuff up or paper thin characters. Despite my hatred of this, I can stomach it. I know it’s not real, it never promoted itself as something else. Whole New Thing touches on real issues and has the potential to portray them in a meaningful way.  Yet it gets carried away in trying to make it gripping. Perhaps Whole New Thing  is a case of focusing on the message and not the medium.

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LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (DIE HARD 4.0) (2007)

January 13, 2008

Live Free or Die Hard review
Die Hard 4.0

Die Hard 4.0: Just another typical day on the beat. 

Adam: Two and a half stars

Length: 130min

Tagline:

Yippee Ki Yay Mo – John 6:27

Review by Adam:

Men going through a mid-life crisis try and emulate their youth. Some buy sports cars. Some think that they can reclaim sporting greatness. Movie stars, however, return to the franchises that made them famous. We’ve seen Rocky, Rambo and Indiana Jones. Now it’s time to indulge Bruce Willis for Die Hard 4.0. The ‘.0′ is because it’s about computers…

So everyone’s favourite Republican-voting, ends-justify-the means, ‘I blow shit up for a living’, alcoholic cop is back. Gone are the Germans or the other highly organised terrorists. This time it’s cyber-war.

The plot to Die Hard 4.0 revolves around super computer hackers (turns out they’re former government employees) who are intent on causing a ‘fire-sale’. For the non‑geeks out there this basically means completely imploding the country by screwing up the power, transport and other major utilities (and yet another action film has absorbed the administration’s current concerns – the threat of cyber-attacks has induced much Governmental sweat recently, especially since the attacks in Estonia last year). Brucey-Boy ends up being the wrong cop in the wrong place and is drawn into the escapade by a geek he was assigned to escort to DC. Turns out the geek was somehow unintentionally involved in the plan, so now he’s helping Captain America Willis to fix the world (not that he needs help, surely – he is fifty-six and perfectly capable thank you!).

Die Hard 4.0 does have a good pace to it. That is, something either blows up or someone gets shot every few minutes. My friend sold me this movie by saying that it “is so bad it’s good,” and yes, I’ll admit the constant action did satisfy that for me. It does degenerate into farce by the end of it though (think Semi-Trailer vs. Fighter Jet and, yep, the truck wins…).

My problems with this movie (apart from the plot and acting) lie in two areas. Firstly, bad guys seem once again to be amazingly poor shots, particularly when it comes to Bruce and his geek mate. Sure it’s cool the good guy doesn’t die but to dodge 1,000,000 bullets is a little much. I like the much more harrowingly realistic approach adopted by movies such as Children of Men.

My second gripe is the fact that in the space of 36 hours Bruce is hit by a car, shot at, survives an explosion, jumps out of a car, is shot at again, falls multiple stories multiple times, gets beaten up 4 times, survives a rocket attack from a jet fighter and finally is shot numerous times… yet once it’s all over he is sitting in an ambulance with what looks like minor injuries!!! Mm, that kind of machismo really soothes the mid-life crisis.

In summary though, watch the movie only for the eye-candy explosions that it’s known for. Do as I did: ignore the plot and characters and bask in the sheer ridiculous nature of it all. Just remember, that it could just as easily have been called “Die Hard 4-point-Crap.” And don’t forget the good deed you’re doing for poor old mid-life-crisis Bruce.