June 24, 2008

Cloverfield Review


Length: 95 min

Something has found us.

Précis: Energetic monster-mayhem in NYC, filmed through a first-person account.

Review by Matt:

One of the main characters in Cloverfield, Rob (Michael Stahl-David), is having a farewell party. It is being filmed on handycam by Rob’s friend, Hud (T J Miller). It is this “home movie” that we the audience are seeing. Pretty mundane. Rob is leaving Manhattan the next day for a new life in Japan. Unfortunately, before he goes, Japan comes to him … in the form of its favourite city-smashing giant lizard, Godzilla!  BOOM!!

Actually, the enraged creature that suddenly descends on the Big Apple is not exactly Godzilla (and in a remarkable display of copyright compliance no character ever utters the world “Godzilla”). But it could well be Godzilla’s cousin. In any case, it is just as good at pulverising a cities as the famous reptile . Naturally, it quickly scares Rob and his party out into the panicked streets.

Hud keeps his handycam running. The result is 90 minutes of shaky, first-person footage documenting a small posse’s attempts to find a lost friend and escape Manhattan, while chaotic monster-action goes down all around. Cloverfield’s style basically parallels the infamous Blair Witch Project. We only see the perspective of one person and one camera throughout the entire account. Doing away with the constructed, edited narrative of other monster movies makes Cloverfield a much tastier film. We’re as confused and uninformed as our cameraman. We’re only given glimpses of the invidious invader and of the army’s desperate attempts to contain it and evacuate the city. Some viewers might find it frustrating that we do not receive a complete picture, but I liked the fact that the horror is left to brood in our minds. There are scores of other “invaded city” stories if you want to go and see a plotted explanation. I was mostly on-board with the turbulent “oh my god what’s happening?!” style because I appreciated that within the framework it sets up (mysterious monster crushes city), the action in Cloverfield is fairly realistic.

What the film has going for it is that it has picked a simple story and style and just pumped it out in a tense and exciting ninety minutes. Explosions, monsters, deaths, panic. Repeat. It’s not groundbreakingly original but that doesn’t really matter. One influence that Cloverfield has obviously plucked from the zeitgeist is the 9/11 world trade centre tragedy. The visual parallels are striking, as Manhattan buildings collapse and dust spews through the streets engulfing the city’s shocked denizens. The film’s effects are done brilliantly and for the most part it really looks like the footage of a hapless victim stuck in the thick of it. I didn’t find the bumpy hand-held style annoying or nauseating (as some viewers apparently have). If anything, the camerawork was probably too steady and convenient, considering the amount of city-stomping monster-mayhem going on around these poor sods.

The film’s biggest problem is its characters. Often acting is only ever noticed if something is amiss. Here, it is noticeable. Cloverfield’s band of twenty-somethings seem incurably two-dimensional, even though the film gives us twenty minutes of “home movie” with them before the monster even comes a-knocking. Somehow our guides through devastated downtown don’t look like everyday people who’ve stumbled into a spontaneous documentary. They just look like actors whose attempts at appearing realistic are a bit hammy. So Cloverfield’s relationship/romance strands swirl away in the New York dust, along with our potential empathy. But at least you won’t feel too guilty if you cheer a bit for the monster.

In any case, the immersive sci-fi action is still ample for a good cinema experience. Cloverfield delivers an exciting monster film that is much better than your standard “city under threat” blockbuster. Provided you don’t demand a conventional narrative and you can take a bit of mystery, shaky camera and hammy characterization, Cloverfield is worth a look as an enjoyable piece of fluff-entertainment.



June 22, 2008

Persepolis Review


Length: 95 min

Précis: Creative and likeable “coming of age” story set against Iran’s modern history.

Review by Matt:

Persepolis is an animated cartoon version of Marjane Satrapi’s popular autobiographical graphic novels about growing up in Iran.  You might already be dubious, especially if you prefer the cinema to be a place for an entertaining escape and have been burned before by contemporary Iranian films (many of which are fine films but, oh so painful!) Don’t worry, Persepolis filters this potentially depressing subject through Marjane’s idiosyncratic viewpoint and tells a story with a refreshing wit and whimsy. Iran’s modern history, dominated by the deposition of the Shah and the consequent rise of the current fundamentalist regime, becomes the backdrop to a personal tale about rebellion against repression and the search for identity. It’s a touching and funny story whose messages are universal.

The story begins when Marjane is a small girl living with her family during the last days of the Shah in the late 1970s. It’s evident from the start that she’s a feisty non-conformist, obviously influenced by her liberal family, some of whom are even imprisoned as dissidents. Part of the delight of these early scenes is the way events are filtered through Marjane’s childish viewpoint. A story about the Shah, for example, unfolds on the screen as an animated fable. As she becomes older and the regime more repressive, Marjane’s indomitable free spirit leads to trouble and a self-imposed exile to Europe. More animated adventures confront her there, but special prominence is given to her search for identity as an Iranian living in the west.

There is a lot of enjoyment to be found simply in the film’s style of storytelling. The animation is almost anti-Pixar in its grey, un-glossy, two-dimensionality. Yet it is used creatively and evocatively, sometimes reminiscent of German expressionism, and it is ideal for animating flourishes from Marjane’s active imagination. Marjane also has an uplifting joie-de-vivre that shines through the oppression; she’s the kid who would sneak into backstreets Tehran to buy contraband Iron Maiden tapes, or who just has to ask the fundamentalists insolent questions about God.

The film’s autobiographical frame means that personal experiences trump political comment, but a humorous personal account is quite an interesting way to look at a foreign history and culture, and of course it makes the politics easier to swallow. A lot is said about indoctrination and martyrdom, for example, simply by Marjane’s brief encounter with her young cousin, who has been promised a key to a Heaven full of women in exchange for military service. Some of Marjane’s other digressions seem a bit indulgent and the film meanders slowly for a while, but Persepolis maintains an entertaining ability to poke fun. The focus on everyday details of life also reminds us nicely that people everywhere are really the same – even if they hail from the ‘axis of evil’.

It’s not a surprise that Persepolis has become so popular. It scooped the Jury Prize at the Cannes festival in 2007,  was nominated for the Best Animated Feature at the 2008 Oscars, and is still touring the world, having just played at the 2008 Sydney Film Festival. It’s a likeable, unexpected gem that celebrates strength and spirit and proudly represents everyday people faced with dark times. Marjane Satrapi produced Persepolis outside of repressive Iran – she now lives in France. We’re lucky that protestations from Iran have been ignored and that we get the chance to see this exile’s unique picture of life in her former home.



June 15, 2008

Leatherheads Review


Length: 114 min

In the beginning, the rules were simple. There weren’t any.
If love is a game, who’ll make the first pass?

Précis: Mediocre modern ‘screwball comedy’ about 1920’s American football.

Review by Matt:

George Clooney’s directorial catalogue is taking us backwards in time through the 20th century. His debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, took us into a colourful 1960s and 70s. Good Night and Good Luck put us in the stifling black and white of McCarthy’s 1950s. His latest film, Leatherheads, mimics 1940s Hollywood comedies, but is set in 1920s America. These were the days when the American football league was rules-free and carefree. Clooney plays smooth, fast-talking football-wizard, ‘Dodge’ Connelly. Encouraged into entrepreneurship when his ailing team disbands, Dodge manages to kick start the trend of professional, overpaid stars by recruiting football champ and war hero, Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski). Meanwhile, feisty reporter Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger) is on Carter’s trail. She’s got the inside word that Carter’s war heroics are greatly exaggerated and she’s determined to uncover the truth and write the story of the year.

Clooney has lovingly made his film in the old fashioned ‘screwball’ style of comedy. Swinging Randy Newman numbers accompany scenes of slapstick football antics and bar room brawls in underground prohibition-defying nightclubs. It’s the kind of film where Dodge and Carter can punch each other’s lights out, bickering over Lexie’s affections, and then hop up, rubbing their jaws, and have a drink together. The film looks great, it has a bouncy comic feel, and it’s pleasant, oh so pleasant. But, while it is devoid of things that will actively rankle you, unfortunately Leatherheads is missing something as well. It’s just not that enjoyable. Like an expensive, exotic meal that is disappointingly tasteless.

Why is it so? You can tell that Clooney really loves this genre and Leatherheads is finely crafted. But perhaps it suffers from too much love. It becomes indulgent and a bit dull. There are a few too many of scenes of 1920s atmosphere, and not enough comic material. Partly blame the script as well, which doesn’t deliver the interest and impact that the triumphant directing deserves. The best scenes, as with the old screwball comedies, are when Carey-Grant-like Clooney and Katherine-Hepburn-like Zellweger engage in their argumentative banter (which really of course just masks their unexpressed love for each other). But they’re only a rare smattering in a jumpy script that lingers too long in nowheresville and then rushes through when it reaches somewhere more interesting.

There are still plenty of things to endear you to the film, if you’re impressed by individual parts. The acting is roundly excellent. George Clooney is in full ‘loveable rogue’ mode and his frenetic eyebrow-raising and smirking helps energise the pace when it flags. He and Renee Zelwegger have nice comic timing in their verbal jousts. American football fans will probably find some curiosity the tale of the origins of their sport, which in 1920 certainly didn’t look anything like the serious super-business it has become today. Fans of old screwball comedies will also probably appreciate Leatherheads more than I did, recognising a familiar 1940s freshness usually missing from films today; even the romance plot stays ‘moral’, burying references to sex in ingenious clues, as if the old Hollywood censorship code was still around (such as the romantic leads finding themselves sleeping in the top and bottom of a bunk bed).

So Leatherheads is generally charming and pleasantly nostalgic about things we’ve lost from football and films. It’s not a film to deride. However – and maybe I’m from a generation that is more distracted and demanding – I really would have preferred a film with a bit more zing.



June 14, 2008

Drillbit Taylor Review


Length: 109 min

You get what you pay for.
Budget Bodyguard.
The best bodyguard pocket money can buy.

Précis: Formulaic and disagreeable comedy about a budget bodyguard’s lazy efforts to protect some kids from a psycho-bully.

Review by Matt:

I was a bit wary, but I still thought Drillbit Taylor – a comedy film from Judd Apatow’s team (Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) – had a premise with some potential. A couple of bullied kids are sick of spending their days hanging by their underpants, so they hire themselves a bodyguard. Pocket money can’t get you much so they end up with raggedy drifter, Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson). It’s a movie that might have been charming and funny. It’s not. It’s messy, lackluster, and has a bit of a sour attitude. The film also has a funny tagline: “You get what you pay for”. You don’t. If only it were true and paying the theatre price could actually guarantee a decent comedy.

Instead, Drillbit Taylor gives us hackneyed nonsense that is dissatisfying on every level. As soon as we see a few simple plot pieces drifting toward each other, we know what is going to happen. Bullied boys Ryan (Troy Gentile) and Wade (Nate Hartley) are without father figures (or in Wade’s case, he has an unbearable ‘gotta-be-a-winner’ step-dad who philosophises that bullies toughen up weedy kids). Cash-strapped Drillbit enters the scene and initially loiters just to organize a jackpot homeless-hit on Wade’s house. But with a bit of “I hope you’re our friend forever” shenanigans, and the beginnings of a romance with the kids’ female teacher (Leslie Mann, in a perplexing nymphomaniac role), Drillbit starts to feel responsible for his little soldiers.

Sounds familiar. School of Rock also recently used little kids to reform an incorrigible slacker in the form of Jack Black, only that movie wasn’t as caustic and Jack Black was more likeable. There’s not much to like about Drillbit the wandering scam-artist, and it’s a cheat if we’re expected to like him just because he’s embodied by charismatic Owen Wilson. The film suffers from systemic unevenness. By the end, we’re not only expected to like Drillbit, but the bullying nastiness has rocketed to an over-the-top degree, and violence is suddenly the problem-solver that saves the day and gets you the girl. There ends up being a gulf between our attitude to the film and its self-perception, because its wavering plot knocks us all askew.

You could forgive the lack of originality and frayed plot if the humour was really sharp. There’s a bit of spark there with a few laughs and some amusing dialogue – mainly from the kids – but it can’t save the sinking wreck. And there are a decent amount of those mis-hit jokes where in the silence afterwards all you can hear is a cricket chirruping outside. The two main kids are good. They have a believable kid-like presence and a decent sense of comedy. They even look a bit like they’re modeled on Laurel and Hardy. I don’t know who the third, irritating, hanger-on kid (Emmit – David Dorfman) is supposed to be modeled on though. Although I loathe bullies, I found myself guiltily thinking he would have made good crab bait.

By the time the end arrives, you’re pleased to see it, and at least there is a bouncy Weezer song over the credits to help restore your mood as you exit (and for all of you wondering, the song is Photograph off Weezer’s excellent Green Album). It leaves you wondering about poor old Owen Wilson, who is a good comedic actor, but found himself again stuck in an ordinary film with mostly unworkable material. He might be a bit like the female teacher in this movie who complains that she has some kind of unconscious attraction to losers. Drillbit Taylor is also a good reminder that current comedy golden boys Seth Rogen (who co-scripted) and Judd Apatow (who produced) maybe aren’t as special as people boast. They need to work harder than this, and Hollywood definitely has a long way to go before it can claim there is a ‘comedy renaissance’ going on.


MOLIERE (2008)

June 13, 2008

Moliere Review


Length: 120 min

Précis: Droll farce about an imagined episode in the life of the father of French comedy, when he apparently gained the inspiration to write his own droll farces.

Review by Matt:

Evidently, during the early life of the famous 17th century French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as “Moliere”, there is some missing time about which historians speculate. Where did the young Moliere go and what did he get up to? French director Laurent Tirard wonders as well, and in his witty comedy film Moliere, he imagines a farcical episode to fill in the gap. Kind of like a French Shakespeare in Love, it also tries to explain where Moliere may have gained inspiration for some of his famous plays.

The fantasy history begins after the skint Moliere (played by Romain Duris) is thrown into prison for his unpaid debts. This is a true event, but historians wonder who actually paid the price for Moliere’s release. In this account, a wealthy benefactor steps up with the cash. It’s Monsieur Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini), a wealthy nincompoop with pretensions of joining French’s upper-class milieu. He offers to take care the debt if Moliere will stay at Jourdain’s château and teach him the great art of acting. Why does Jourdain need these lessons? So he can pursue the requisite French affair of course – he wants to perform a play he wrote to win the heart of Célimène (Ludivine Sagnier), an icy darling of the French court. So Moliere dons a fake priest’s collar, and a fake name, and treads into a situation which quickly starts to resemble a pastiche of his own farcical works. As well as needing to satisfy his unusual contract, Moliere needs to hide his true purpose from Jourdain’s neglected wife, Elmire (Laura Morante). But her artistic sensibilities soon start to attract him to her as well.

Farce time! Moliere serves up a blend of droll comedy and slapstick, skipping through silly schemes, affairs, and mistaken identities with a light tone. It also examines Moliere’s love for theatrical tragedy above the comedy for which he’s loved and, although this doesn’t come across as poignantly as is probably intended, the film still accommodates it smoothly. A few incongruous or flat moments of the “climbing trellises and peering into bedrooms” variety hardly distract from the overall ebullient tone. The film also doesn’t go for the sharp satire for which Moliere’s plays are often admired, but the clownish performances by the two leads – Romain Duris with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, and Fabrice Luchini with a likeable foolishness in his – make the film sparkle anyway. A few fanciful moments of absurdity, as Moliere tries to work with his bumbling benefactor, make the film especially worth it – one even reminded me of a favourite scene of mine from the UK series The Office, where David Brent gives an emotional speech in an ostrich outfit. There’s also plenty of sharp dialogue to make you grin and visually the film is sumptuous, decked out with all the ornate costumes and decor of the period.

Moliere aficionados – and likely most of the French audience – will appreciate the extra layer of meaning, as many of the scenes we watch incorporate famous lines and scenarios from Moliere’s own plays (here’s your chance to laugh knowingly at the literary references to prove your erudition to the rest of the theatre). Moliere’s fake priest “Tartuffe”, for example, is a reference to Moliere’s play Tartuffe, and the character is so famous that in contemporary language (French especially), the word “Tartuffe” means a hypocrite, especially one who fakes religious virtue. It’s funny anyway of course and – as proven by boorish old me – you certainly don’t have to know anything about Moliere or his plays to understand and enjoy the film. It avoids the literary pomp that might have dragged it down and is simply a well-told comic story.



June 8, 2008

The Orphanage (El Orfanato) Review


Length: 105 min

A tale of love. A story of horror.

Précis: Terrifying and stylish thriller about supernatural happenings at an ex-orphanage.

Review by Matt:

People in horror movies should watch more horror movies. Then perhaps they wouldn’t do things like walk out into the eerie darkness when they know that supernatural happenings have been going down. The folks in The Orphanage, a new highly-regarded Spanish thriller, aren’t immune to this horror film folly. Idiots! I hissed at them from between my hands. Now we’re all going to hit the roof again! The film also sports many other horror standards – like the sudden, shrieking startle trick, or the weird Jungian ‘icons of fear’ (creepy kids, darkness, disfigurement, masks etc). But The Orphanage is still of a much higher quality than your standard horror film. Not only is it tense and chilling, it also skilfully connects with us on a deeper emotional level.

The horror elements of the story fit fairly neatly into your typical ‘haunted house’ scenario. In this case the  culprit is an old orphanage, filled with painful memories. Spanish actress Belén Rueda gives a strong performance as the harried orphan mother Laura, whose seven-year-old adopted son Simón (world’s cutest boy, Roger Príncep) apparently becomes the favourite of the house’s ghostly inhabitants. Or is it all imagined? Either way, the happenings send Laura off on a pretty freaky journey to untangle a history of secrets. The film evokes a genuine mood of sadness and loss, as well as sets up an ambiguous reality and an intense psychological unease. It’s not all just bumps in the night.

But, oh my nerves, the bumps in the night that we do endure are spine-tingling. Literally – the tense atmosphere and nightmarish episodes had my spine vibrating like a guitar string. The Orphanage is a film that knows what scares us, and also how to make something scare us.  It even infuses the landscape with mystery (a bit like Picnic at Hanging Rock) and transforms little kids into menacing enfant terribles (a task that horror film history proves is not so hard). After suffering the brooding darkness, the inexplicable happenings, and the mysterious old shovel-toting women, I was even starting to be unnerved by that stupid orphanage’s squeaky see-saw. The Orphanage could probably ease up on the cheater’s scare – the SUDDEN LOUD STARTLE trick (make sure there’s a good distance between you and the roof). But it balances this by letting a good deal of suspense stew slowly in our imaginations. The scenes where we watch a night vision video-feed-in of a seer creeping through the mansion are the height of tension.

You can hardly miss The Orphanages boast that its producer is Spain’s darling director Guillermo del Toro (of Pan’s Labyrinth fame). He does not direct the film though – that job is handled by underling Juan Antonio Bayona. He’s got the style going on – it’s all slow, still camera work, and you better be able to hold your breath for a long time. Bayona’s music video background pokes its unwanted head in occasionally when the score swells a bit too intrusively, but he still preserves a serious mood throughout, far from the laughable horror-hysteria that infects many films of the genre.

There are decent rewards to be gained from this film, primarily in its thrills and top-notch visual style. The story is also mysterious, moving, and comparatively mature. But a few “how did that work?” moments can only be answered with the dissatisfying answer “must’ve been the supernatural”. Accept this supernatural vagueness, and the story is mostly acceptable. Get into the details and you might long for better explanations. All that aside, it simply may not be your thing to brave a film that is so viscerally and psychologically scary; though The Orphanage is a great pick if you want this experience. If it is already your type of thing, then get ye to the orphanage.


IRON MAN (2008)

June 7, 2008

Iron Man Review


Length: 126 min


Mark 1. Mark 2. Mark 3.
Suit up.
Launching May 2 2008.
Armor up. Fully charged.
Armor up.
Fully charged.

Précis: Superhero film rockets far above others in the genre with a smart, contemporary story about the origins of an eccentric self-made hero.

Review by Matt:

Iron Man is the latest piece of popular culture (a Marvel comic book from the 1960s) vacuumed up by Hollywood’s all-devouring machine, and reconfigured into a blockbuster film. ‘Here comes the crap’, you say, and you’d be right to be dubious – Hollywood’s action blockbusters are too often like a showbag: they promise so much, but ultimately they’re a bag of junk. But – holy superheroes Batman!Iron Man is actually a rare exception where Hollywood hits the mark. Sit back and enjoy a big-budget, comic-book-action extravaganza which also manages to be smart, exciting and relatively believable.

That’s not to say it’s a masterwork of depth. In a nutshell, Iron Man is a fairly simple ‘origins’ story (a la Batman Begins) augmented with some slick action and sly humour. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a high-tech weapons whiz and and amoral playboy who’s earned billions by arming the good old USA with the WMDs it needs to rule the world. Stark suffers a traumatic epiphany (so often the catalyst for a superhero transformation) that melts his patriotism and spurs him to put his techno-prowess to better use. So he constructs a flying armoured exo-skeleton suit and starts thinking about how he can do good in the world, starting by disentangling himself from his profit-hungry company.

It’s a story that is fun and interesting for most of it’s length. The best thing Iron Man does plot-wise is to lay a proper foundation. Most superhero movies would busy themselves by having their guy face off against some monstrous villain or other threat. In Iron Man, the meat of the story is the birth of the character and his transformation into a unique hero. It’s refreshing to see a story more focused on the realities that would nettle a superhero. How do you invent your super-technology? How do you deal with the messy company/military/media pressures? etc.

Spending most of your viewing time with the jocular and fast-talking Robert Downey Jr is also a joy. He brings a naughtiness to the superhero stereotype and an arch tone to the film. It contrasts to the heaviness of other superhero flicks like Hulk and Batman. The contemporary setting also provides a nice touch of realism that is sometimes missing in the genre. The technological advancements featured in Iron Man don’t require a huge leap of faith – it’s modern military technology boosted by a bit of sci-fi imagination (that’s right, his suit isn’t actually clunky old iron – technically he should probably be called High-Tensile-Polymer Man”, but that’s not as catchy). The film uses contentious contemporary issues (war, weapons, insurgents etc) as decor, but the commentary on them is fairly light-on. Also, in true Hollywood style it gently questions the profit-focus of companies, but then shoves Burger King and Audi products in our faces (please note, Hollywood: I’m not going to buy an Audi and drive it to Burger King no matter how much you show them).

Amazingly, Iron Man was one of those productions written then rewritten and assembled by a cast of scriptwriters. So how does it work so well? It’s saved by the shining centrepiece of Iron Man/Stark and the intelligent directing by John Favreau. Get away from this core and it gets a bit jumpy. Some of the more Hollywood-esque elements are disappointing. There are a few moments of questionable reality, a bit of a truncated action-ending, and some watery support characters. Poor Gwyneth Paltrow has the worst deal – and the worst name – as ‘Pepper Potts’, Stark’s prim assistant/romantic interest. The almost unrecognizable (big, bald, bearded) Jeff Bridges has the best of the secondary roles as Stark’s paternalistic business partner who starts to flip when Stark switches sides.

Jumpiness aside, the movie is done smartly, maturely, and with gusto. Which makes it easy to get into and lifts it well above your average superhero movie. Hey, who doesn’t want to see a profiteer-of-war snap out of it, acknowledge his complicity, and then start kicking butts with giant rocket feet?

Review by Adam

I went to see Iron Man on its opening night such was the grip that the hype had on me. I tried to convince my five flatmates to come with me but none would. So I went solo. When I got there the session I wanted to go to was full and I faced a 50 minute wait till the next one. I sat and waited. Boy was it worth it!

I never got into the Iron Man comics nor the little I saw of the cartoons. For some reason it just seemed lame compared to all the other mutants and super powered freaks out there. The movie however transcends that , and it’s the personal connection that viewers have with Iron Man (aka Robby Downey Jr) that makes this movie smooth to watch. RDJ carries the wit and arrogance (and later the passion) that only a weapons billionaire could, and he does it with ease. There’s something all fuzzy and warm about seeing a purveyor of death turn into a defender of freedom and all that’s good in the world. For a second it makes you think that if all the weapons manufactures in the world saw this, the world would be a better place. Then you realise that that won’t happen and you start to plan how your robot exoskeleton would hunt them down (mine would land on the bonnet of their car, freaking them right out!).

A personal highlight for me in this movie was Jeff bridges, with his bushy beard and bald head. Fifteen bucks worth it right there! Gwenyth Paltrow is kinda average in this but really her part wasn’t ever going to be much more than sexual tension and the role of precarious attractive human facing death by villains. She does face death well though.

Ultimately I wanted this movie to be everything it was. Simple plot, superhero moral complexities, explosions… Did I mention simple plot and explosions? It delivered on all these fronts in a wonderfully enjoyable way. Don’t expect more than that, and boy oh boy will you be rewarded. 4 out of 5 Robot Exoskeletons.