Review: Ride Along (Cinema)

Review: Ride Along (Cinema)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: It seems all genres are racing to get out their flagship movies this month – curiously enough, it seems some of the movie studios might have incorrectly hedged their bets on what the punters want to see. Movie theatres are pulling some of the big Oscar contenders to make way for unexpected demand in the form of Lone Survivor and – now – this silly little buddy cop comedy Ride Along, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.

On paper, I guess this seems like a sure fire hit; the world-weary experienced cop having a screaming, effeminate little bitch (Hart) tag along with him for a day. Does this sound like Training Day? Of course it does. At least director Tim Story and his four writers know this and make several references to that picture in this one.

Happily, though, this is not Cop Out – there, the references may as well have been accompanied by a counter screen left within the first five minutes. As flimsy as the premise is, it works fairly well for the Saturday night crowd; Hart is a security guard who needs to prove to his brother-in-law-to-be that he’s got what it takes to join the force AND marry his sister. At first it’s a companionship built on annoyance, but as time goes on, the stakes rise; the faceless crime kingpin bad guy will make an appearance and it’ll all be thanks to the hapless moron who’s tagging along. If it was a white cast, it’d make absolutely naff-all difference.

Naturally, the films narrative punches are entirely forced and the end will be seen a mile off by anyone who’s seen – well, any movie, ever.

So, plot spoilers be damned, the question must be asked: is this a film worth seeing? Depends who you are. If you think you’d be passively diverted by 90 minute Lethal Weaponry with a light sprinkling of ‘street’ then this could well be the movie for you. Me? Well, I have a rather extensive movie collection at home I could revisit where this shit is done a hell of a lot better.

There are no surprises other than the fact that Kevin Hart makes quite an excellent annoying little prick. Closer inspection tells us that he’s in touch with his feminine side; a sort of contemporary Chris Tucker, if you will. Laurence Fishburne has gotten really old and fat. John Leguizamo has neither aged nor matured. Non-descript bad guys still look mean and fierce. Shadowy arms deals still take place.

In the middle of it all, a cutesy, annoying, little homosexual man in denial. I’m all for a modern spin on the familiar comedy cop routine, but the irony of the title “Ride Along” in view of all this is not lost on me. Don’t worry, I’m being facetious. I had a lot of time to think of that last one during the movie.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

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Review: Prisoners (DVD/BR)

Review: Prisoners (DVD/BR)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review:  I’ll keep this brief, Prisoners is AT LEAST an hour too long. This film has no right being any longer than 100 minutes – maybe 105 at most.

Admittedly, i went into this film totally blind. I thought it was a prison drama starring Hugh Jackman and Jack Gylllenehahlannalll. But, no, it’s almost exactly on a par with Zodiac, with hints of The Silence of the Lambs. It’s just over two and half hours long. It should have been titled “Another Place Beyond the Pines”.

Two young girls vanish and the fathers, played by Jackman and Terence Howard, decide to take matters into Jackman’s hands and target the local RV-dweller; a typical bespectacled nerd. Was I meant to feel more compassion toward the nerd than for Jackman? Jackman’s character really loses it, and our sympathy. it’s a fine performance; possibly even his very best, ever. Gyllenhaaal plays the cop; his introductory scene makes him out to be the abductor, but in the end he’s chasing down all the trails with that awkward blinking. He never smiles.

And rent-a-mom Maria Bello shows up as Jackman’s wife. A lot of sobbing and depressants, immersed in a bleak setting is matched equally by Roger Deakins cinematography. Quite why relative newcomer director Dennis Villeneuve feels the urge to snap-cut to a slow dolly shot on a tree/car/house* accompanied by a *PANG* sound effect is beyond me; that’s no way to draw out emotion. The actors do a fine enough job.

I am sure Villenueve and writer Aaron Guzikowski have better films in them – but they need to sack their editor. The sad fact remains that the performers are doing in a good job in a film that scarcely deserves it. it’s too long. Too, too long. It’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” all over again..

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

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Review: Pain & Gain (DVD/BR)

Review: Pain & Gain (DVD/BR)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: These three criminals are to the successful heist what Michael Bay is to storytelling; totally superfluous and completely skin deep. Miami bodybuilder Daniel (Mark Whalberg) is fed up with his humdrum gym trainer job. He’s “spotting” people day in, day out – until an eccentric asshole millionaire (Tony Shalhoub) jobs the club and Daniel gets an idea; he’ll convince two fellow bodybuilders to kidnap him and extract all his money, split it three ways and live the life of Riley.

In essence, Pain & Gain is Fargo for dickheads. If Michael Bay had directed any of the Coen Bros. material, it’d look like this.

And how does it look? Well, it looks lush as you’d expect. With a modest $25m budget, pain & Gain looks a hell of a lot more expensive than it actually is. The usual Bay traits are here; insurmountable very low-angle slo-mo shots and extremely superfluous direction accentuating the most basic onscreen activity – and most of it is Whalberg shouting at people, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson off his tits on cocaine, disappearing behind walls to take the odd key hit. Anthony Mackie plays the third genius in the gang.

Unbelievably – or somewhat unsurprisingly, considering this is set in dumbfuck Miami – this is all a true story. Yeah, these tales of utter stupidity usually are. Some of the events and altercations, dressed up as plot twist, did in fact happen. It’s based on a fairly well-known case – so if you’d rather not know how this gob-smacking endeavour actually ends, then don’t go doing any research.

Bay’s last movie that didn’t feature robots was 2005’s The Island, and it is refreshing to see him tackling a completely different subject – but still, Bay demonstrated here that storytelling is not his forte. Sure, he can use the camera and get rudimentary performances from his actors, but at an agonizing two hours, Pain & Gain does feel forced. The real offense, however, is the continual use of voice over narrative – a very lazy expository technique employed by virtually every character – even Ed Harris gets a shot about an hour in – which tells you everything you need to know; tell, but very little show. Very unlike Michael Bay.

There’s no denying that Pain & Gain has a somewhat idiotic charm. The characters are unlikeable, and deeply confused. It’s hard to side with anyone. It’s hard to see why we’d care that three imbeciles should get away with their crimes. It’s set in Miami and concerns bodybuilders and thieves and crooks, and really fit, scantily-clad BayBait – and none of this is stuff I can really relate to, and yet the massively overplayed sense of style renders this as one of Bay’s best movies. But as we all know, this isn’t really saying very much.

What struck me most on the way out was just how little action there was in the film and, all told, just how little story there actually is to tell. What’s the story here, anyway? That if you’re thick you shouldn’t get involved in crime? That you should appreciate what you have because if you aspire down a dodgy cut-corner path, you’ll lose everything?

Pull the other one, Bay… it’s got dumb bells on.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

Join the debate on our Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/Filmsploitation) or on our website (www.thefilmpodcast.co.uk)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeDYibIzS8E

Review: jOBS (DVD/BluRay- USA)

Review: jOBS (DVD/BluRay- USA)

Uncategorized

The Review:  When the sad news the Apple creator and tech wizard Steve Jobs had died, most people figured it would only be a matter of time before his life was turned into a movie.  With the popular book by Walter Isaacson released short after his death, a movie announcement followed.  West Wing & Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin would be in charge of the script, guaranteeing this studio backed film would be a must see.  But whilst almost two years later the Sorkin film is still being developed, another Steve Jobs film slipped out into the world.  And unfortunately this one stars Ashton Kutcher.

This story of Steve Jobs’, tells of his ascension from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century, through his initial tenure at Apple, his controversial ousting and his eventual return to what would become a golden age at the Palo Alto based company.

Very much an independently produced love letter, Joshua Michael Stern previously best known for his film Swing Vote with Kevin Costner (no, me neither) directs his own screenplay, in a film he produced and no doubt made the tea on as well.

And in a sentence that’s what’s wrong with jOBS… whist it flirts with being an interesting film , due to its TV movie of the week feel and overblown musical cues, it never quite makes it.  Even more so it makes the critical error of skirting around the ‘real’ Jobs, polishing the rougher edges that made the man what he was, and what he was liked and loathed for in equal measure.

If you have read Isaacson’s book (which I have), this film adds very little to the mix.  In fact what it does add is probably embellishment , rumour and supposition rather than fact and often shown through such rose tinted glasses (Steve is Good!  The Apple board were bad!)  that you’d think the renownedly difficult jOBS hardly ever put a foot wrong.

Also in compressing such a dense and event filled life, the film often skips over massive chunks of his story, leaving out the things that made Jobs the man he was, both good and bad.

It’s not all bad.  The cast is very good, not least Kutcher, who shares more than a passing resemblance  to his subject matter and manages to mostly drop the irritating ticks and traits that made his more recent career almost unbearable to watch. Whilst the film never shakes off it’s TV movie feel, the story it tells is an interesting one.  Just one that also could have been better served by a writer-director with a slightly less rose tinted view of events and people, with a willingness to do something less linear or narratively predictable (someone like Aaron Sorkin maybe!)

In short: If jOBS had been an Apple product, it would no doubt have been sent back for more refinement.  Well at least under the regime of Steve Jobs, anyway.

Reviewed By: Phil Hobden


jOBS currently has no scheduled release date in the UK.  Join the debate on our Facebook group… http://www.facebook.com/groups/filmsploitationpodcast/

Red 2: A Quick Capsule Review

Red 2: A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Inherently there is nothing wrong with Red 2.  Problem is there’s nothing particularly right with it either.  Much like the original it plays it’s tropes, stages the action and  delivers it’s one liners but it does it with such a lack of passion you can’t help but think that the film was made by a committee.  The biggest problem is lead Bruce Willis who has taken to sleep walking through these later stages of his career, taking the pay cheques but do little more than turning up.  Shame as Mirren at least looks like she’s having fun.

Best Bit: Helen Mirren is superb. Again.

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Borrow

IMDB Rating: 

If you liked this try: Expendables 2 (7/10); RED (7/10); Expendables (5/10)

Review: Now You See Me (DVD/BR)

Review: Now You See Me (DVD/BR)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: This film is proof that when one person comes up with a creative idea for a film, about six other people also have the same idea. It’s then a race to see who gets it made first.

In this instance, in one corner are the writers Boaz Yakin and Edwin Ricourt – and in the other corner, your humble critic. Yeah, me. See the thing is, two years ago I wrote a script on spec about a bunch of magicians who spend the night in a haunted mansion and have to use their wizardry, mentalism and general apt for diversion of attention to defeat malevolent spirits that harass them during their stay. In Louis Le Derrier’s “Now You See Me” the same bunch of whack jobs are using their skills to rob banks and shit, and spread the money among their audiences. Great. Did I mention, also, that I came up with “Monk” a full four years prior to that TV show being made? Well, my own screenplay “Dutch Curridge” (about a detective plagued with OCD) hit the circuit in 2000. I’m not bitter. I’m not even pointing fingers. What am I doing? I am merely referring you to my opening sentence.

See, the additional thing is, why do films these days have to be so gosh-darned “clever”? You all know what I mean: take a fun concept and in the closing act, unfasten everything you’ve set up in order to have “pulled one” on the audience. I know this film is seemingly steeped in the concept of “pulling one” on audiences, and so its artistic licence is somewhat valid – but it’s still far too clever for its own good.

I only really have two more points to make about Now You See Me.

First, the “Four Horsemen” – that is to say general hothead Jesse “That’s It, I’m The Social Network Character Forever, Thank You” Eisenberg, water tank/killer fish-dodgee Isla Fischer, mentalist Woody Harrelson and confidence trickster Dave “No Relation” Franco – take a surprisingly large back seat within the overall plot construct. They’re effectively barely in the film. As someone who’s researched heavily into this topic of magic, written a screenplay on it, I take exception to having to sit back and watch this film just throw the conceit away in favour of some daft cat-and-mouse hunt with Mark “Yeah, I do look like Zack Snyder, Don’t ?” Ruffalo and some French bit. The film unwisely concentrates on the extended cameo from Michael Caine and Morgan freeman trying to out-Nolan one another as the ultimate good and bad guy. That’s just silly. There are four more interesting characters set up here, and are consigned to pawns in another otherwise unremarkable film. It’s as if the film needs to be held up against The Prestige. It doesn’t. It should be entitled to some confidence.

Which leads me nicely to my second gripe – the director, Lewis Le Derriere. Oh, I already cracked that joke, didn’t I? I wasn’t technically kidding, though. He handles his camera like an asshole – I lost count how many times he twirls his camera around the faces of people while they’re standing/contemplating/talking/shouting that I started to feel dizzy. Have more faith, Derriere! The dialogue may work well enough that you do not have to enhance it with swinging jib-related camera movements. We get it, you’ve been given a budget. Use it wisely, sir! All the more ironic, really, considering the title. Not so much a case of “Now You See Me” as it is “Now You… Hold On, Where’s He Gone… Oh, There You Are”.

Now, you don’t. I am sure you can wait for the DVD if you absolutely must

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay


NOW YOU SEE ME is out on Home release now.  Join the debate on our Facebook group… http://www.facebook.com/groups/filmsploitationpodcast/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MHDYZJWLXA

Review: The Kick (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review: When a gang of robbers steal a priceless Thai artefact from a museum, they run into more than they can handle in the form of Master Mun and his family of taekwondo experts who quickly foil the robbery leaving only the criminal mastermind able to escape.  The family soon become national heroes and are invited to perform at the opening of the museum. Everything seems to be going well until the youngest family member is kidnapped and the family are forced into stealing the artefact that they helped save.

Director Prachya Pinkaew won plaudits a decade ago for Ong Bak and his discovery of Tony Jaa, he repeated this with JeeJa Yanin in Chocolate and now with The Kick gives the world Tae-Joo Na, a teenage martial artist who is more akin to Jackie Chan than Tony Jaa.

The kick is squarely aimed at the family market with its faced paced and non lethal violence as well as its tongue in cheek slapstick; my only concern is that it tries too hard.

The action set pieces are well choreographed and executed only to be let down later in the film by some dodgy wire work and shoddy effects. The film goes off on too many tangents trying to get the audience to like every single family member whether its showing their Olympic defeat, teaching martial arts, becoming a famous pop star or getting the popular boy at school to like them, it is all too much.

Genre stalwart Petchtai Wongkamlao plays a carbon copy of the comedy role he has played in every Pinkaew film, Chocolate’s star JeeJa Yanin crops up for what can only be described as an elongated cameo and leaves most of the fighting to the others.

I worry that Pinkaew is running out of ideas as the majority of his films have revolved around priceless artefacts being stolen and must contain at least one obligatory elephant. The action has become sedate and family orientated and is missing the rawness and jaw dropping spectacle of his previous work

Reviewed By: Matt Duddy

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Review: Borrowed Time (DVD/BR)

Review: Borrowed Time (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review:  The story of two totally contrasting figures who come together in the most hostile of circumstances, only to form an unlikely bond that will help them both find a way out of their respective troubles. It is a bittersweet comedy about growing up and rediscovering youth in parallel, united by the subconscious desire to seek out the missing elements in their lives

This is an good debut from writer/director Jules Bishop,that clearly has a sweet heart and the ambition to tell an unconventional original story, but it is not without flaws. An awkwardly sporadic tone is its major downfall, veering between overly broad comedy and heavy drama. It remains both funny and emotive, but only infrequently, leaving the film as a whole feeling a little inconsequential. It is refreshingly ‘uncool’ though, a step removed from cynical bargain bin urban dramas that it shares it’s setting with. It attempts to go against the grain, and for that it should be commended.
Borrowed Time shows potential for a number of different scripts, but unfortunately when things are all rolled into one it loses a lot of the charm and wit. A decent cast struggles to lift the film up, and the runtime feels bloated despite being under 90 mins. Some inspired moments, yes, but nowhere near enough to make this a film a must see.

 

Reviewed By: Julian Connelly

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Review: Everybody Has A Plan (DVD/BR)

Review: Everybody Has A Plan (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review: I have done more with my weekend, than just watch films. Its just didn’t have time this week to post these reviews as they have been watched.

Mortensen plays Pedro, a beekeeper living on an island in the Tigre Delta. His life appears to be simple: He seems to spend most of his time taking care of his bees, with the help of an assistant, a dark-eyed young woman named Rosa (Sofía Gala). It appears, though, that Pedro may be a little too close to a childhood friend, Adrián (Daniel Fanego), who’s involved in some shady schemes.

For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, one day Pedro pays a visit to his twin brother, Agustín (also played by Mortensen), a straight-arrow pediatrician living in Buenos Aires. The two have long been estranged, but Pedro has some urgent information for his brother. What follows is a twisted identity swap that gives Agustín the chance to escape the life that seems to be suffocating him.

Mortensen digs into this dual role with gusto, but it’s the quiet kind: Pedro is a mystery, a man who gives nothing away except with his eyes – there’s something haunted and hungry about them, but they also betray the desire to be honorable, as if this man has taken the wrong path and knows it. Agustín, in contrast, is the upstanding citizen. But we can immediately see that he’s a problem here. His wife (Soledad Villamil) is set on adopting a baby; every cell in her body is getting her ready to be a mother. But when she talks about the child, Agustín looks on, blankly. For some reason, the future seems unbearable to him, and when we see him at work in his clinic, we know why: Children, with their tendency to laugh and shout and knock stuff over, make him a little crazy.

Mortensen plays these roles as two sides of the same coin. Both brothers are extremely opaque; but when Agustín slips into Pedro’s identity, something kicks loose in him – it’s as if both men have been harboring a desire for openness that they’ve never been able to kickstart.

In Summary even if you put the ‘double trouble’ element to one side, Piterbarg’s film is awash with pregnant pauses and lingering shots of the quiet outdoors. It probably has a certain visual poetry that some will appreciate, but I felt it was all a little dreary.

As you would expect from Mortensen he puts in two good, brooding performances but the drawn out story just isn’t substantial enough to wholly enjoy.

 

Reviewed By: Julian Connelly


EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN is out at DVD now.  Join the debate on our Facebook group…http://www.facebook.com/groups/filmsploitationpodcast/

Review: Pain & Gain (Cinema)

Review: Pain & Gain (Cinema)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: These three criminals are to the successful heist what Michael Bay is to storytelling; totally superfluous and completely skin deep. Miami bodybuilder Daniel (Mark Whalberg) is fed up with his humdrum gym trainer job. He’s “spotting” people day in, day out – until an eccentric asshole millionaire (Tony Shalhoub) jobs the club and Daniel gets an idea; he’ll convince two fellow bodybuilders to kidnap him and extract all his money, split it three ways and live the life of Riley.

In essence, Pain & Gain is Fargo for dickheads. If Michael Bay had directed any of the Coen Bros. material, it’d look like this.

And how does it look? Well, it looks lush as you’d expect. With a modest $25m budget, pain & Gain looks a hell of a lot more expensive than it actually is. The usual Bay traits are here; insurmountable very low-angle slo-mo shots and extremely superfluous direction accentuating the most basic onscreen activity – and most of it is Whalberg shouting at people, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson off his tits on cocaine, disappearing behind walls to take the odd key hit. Anthony Mackie plays the third genius in the gang.

Unbelievably – or somewhat unsurprisingly, considering this is set in dumbfuck Miami – this is all a true story. Yeah, these tales of utter stupidity usually are. Some of the events and altercations, dressed up as plot twist, did in fact happen. It’s based on a fairly well-known case – so if you’d rather not know how this gob-smacking endeavour actually ends, then don’t go doing any research.

Bay’s last movie that didn’t feature robots was 2005’s The Island, and it is refreshing to see him tackling a completely different subject – but still, Bay demonstrated here that storytelling is not his forte. Sure, he can use the camera and get rudimentary performances from his actors, but at an agonizing two hours, Pain & Gain does feel forced. The real offense, however, is the continual use of voice over narrative – a very lazy expository technique employed by virtually every character – even Ed Harris gets a shot about an hour in – which tells you everything you need to know; tell, but very little show. Very unlike Michael Bay.

There’s no denying that Pain & Gain has a somewhat idiotic charm. The characters are unlikeable, and deeply confused. It’s hard to side with anyone. It’s hard to see why we’d care that three imbeciles should get away with their crimes. It’s set in Miami and concerns bodybuilders and thieves and crooks, and really fit, scantily-clad BayBait – and none of this is stuff I can really relate to, and yet the massively overplayed sense of style renders this as one of Bay’s best movies. But as we all know, this isn’t really saying very much.

What struck me most on the way out was just how little action there was in the film and, all told, just how little story there actually is to tell. What’s the story here, anyway? That if you’re thick you shouldn’t get involved in crime? That you should appreciate what you have because if you aspire down a dodgy cut-corner path, you’ll lose everything?

Pull the other one, Bay… it’s got dumb bells on.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

Join the debate on our Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/Filmsploitation) or on our website (www.thefilmpodcast.co.uk)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeDYibIzS8E