Monthly Archives: August 2014

Lucy

Not so limitless

“What we need is Limitless 2… but with a woman”, “No. What we need is Transcendence 2.. but with a women”, “Limitless”, “Transcendence”, “LIMITLESS”, “TRANSCENDENCE”. “Ah sod it let’s just do a Limitless/Transcendence mashup”.

I wonder if that’s how Luc Besson approached his new film Lucy. If you’ve seen the trailer then you probably think this is Limitless 2… but with a woman and if you do think that then congratulations you are half right.

The film starts with Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) being kidnapped and forced to smuggle drugs inside of her. So legend/myth/rumour/fact has it that we only use 10% of our brain although if you ask my girlfriend I’m sure she would claim that I am pushing about 3% tops. She’s probably not far off the truth. Anyway, after the packaging splits inside her she starts to unlock more of her brain allowing her to do cool stuff like feel and connect to anything and everything.

This idea of being able to feel everything appeals to my inner hippie. You’d be able to start to understand the way that the ground supports us, the way the trees breathe, the way the air floats. You might even be able to start to understand women! It’s a theme that has always deeply fascinated me.

The idea behind the drug , named CPH4, is that it is based on a growth hormone that is present during a babies growth and so essentially the drug speeds up growth and evolution. Evolution is a theme that is present throughout most of the film and tries to make sense of what is happening to Lucy and it’s a theme that has always deeply fascinated me.

However, if you are studying any sort of science don’t expect this film to be in any way factual as we soon see her develop super powers which, yeah you guessed it, is also a theme that has always deeply fascinated me.

This is when the film get’s really good. Just like limitless; Lucy’s new found power comes at a price as her extreme metabolism starts tearing her body apart and the only way to combat it is to snort a fistful of CPH4. In order to get more she recruits the help of a french cop named Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked) to track down other smuggled parcels. When he has them all Lucy races through Paris to secure them in what is the films best scene. If anyone has seen director Luc Besson’s previous film Taxi – no not the shit remake with Queen Latifah, the 1998 french film – you will know that Luc Besson can deliver some really exciting car chases.

What is really well done is Lucy’s dilemma as to what to do with all this new knowledge as her brain power keeps expanding. Lucy contacts a professor in evolutionary theory called Norman (Morgan Freeman). Norman suggests that all reproduction is evolutions attempt to pass on information so that’s what she should do.

Whilst the mission to pass on the information is key to the films climax it’s also where it falls apart. The CPH4 drug dealers are casually shooting up Paris with little consequence. The love interest with Del Rio just goes nowhere in fact it barely even starts. The scientific study with Professer Norman feels as thorough as you local takeaways cleaning routine. All of this whilst Limitless rapidly evolves into a completely different film; Transcendence… but with a woman.

It’s a shame, there is something about almost all Luc Besson films that I really like but I couldn’t get on with this. Perhaps it’s because it’s a film of two halves and neither half ever feels particularly complete.¬† The film certainly has it’s moments but I think I started loosing interest after the car chase.

Go See

  • The car chase
  • Promising concepts
  • Sco-Jo is a bad ass

Avoid

  • If you don’t like your head to be messed with
  • The ending
  • Under-utilised support characters

Overall

3-stars

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Into The storm

Let’s Twist Again!

Who doesn’t love a good disaster movie? You can sit back and enjoy some crazy visual effects, people screaming, loose plot lines and at the end of it you can safely say “well that would totally suck if it actually happened”.

I think I got about 15 minutes in before I was firmly convinced that being anywhere near a tornado would suck… really fucking suck. I guess that is the easiest starting point, let’s face it you aren’t going to watch this film for the emotional drama are you?! because if you then prepare to be massively disappointed.

Seeing those tornadoes tear open buildings like a fat man tearing open a packet of crisps was truly a terrifying experience. The physics of people floating around in the wind or being sucked out of buildings was excellent. The sound design of the tornadoes only adds to the gravity of the situation so praise should go to the sound department.

Like most disaster movies the plot is simple. Tornadoes happen, they are bigger and more numerous than they expected, everyone tries to survive. It’s all put together through ‘found footage’ of people filming the events that have happened. Thankfully the found footage isn’t shaky hand cam stuff like you see in the Blair Witch Project or something similar because that now feels about as fresh as 3 week old milk.

Even though this approach is rather worn out it does help to take off some of the Hollywood gloss from the movie and that’s a good thing. Arguably it is still too glossy but if it did the full grainy shaky camera stuff it would have lost it’s impact so I guess it strikes a good balance in the end.

Apart from the main plot the films biggest failings are when people try to open up about their feelings. These dialog sections feel forced and wedged in to the script but it doesn’t help that there is little emotional investment in most of the characters. This also has the knock on effect in that you don’t really care about who lives or dies, but who lives and who dies? It could be anyone and that not knowing keeps you interested throughout the whole film.

Go See

  • Genuinely terrifying visuals
  • Excellent sound design
  • Firenado!

Avoid

  • The rather woeful emotional moments
  • Found footage feels a bit tired
  • If you live in a stormy area!

Overall

3-5-stars

The Expendables 3

It was all under control…

When I was growing up all the best films were rated 18. You had Rambo and Predator and Aliens and anything by Tarantino. I’m not sure when all that changed but today it’s de rigueur for all films to be 12A now. The expendables is no different and quite frankly that’s a shame.

If you are not familiar with the expendables it’s an action film mega-mix that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s over the top and it pokes fun at itself. Essentially it’s a pastiche of it’s predecessors but can’t quite hit that same cult following probably because we are restricted to an available-for-all classification.

The expendables 2 was a pretty big mis-step in my book. It had over the top action scenes with little to no plot/reason behind it and dialog stolen from other films that was all put together with the subtlety of TOWIE star Gemma Collins smashing her way through a Shakespeare play.

So, when the film starts with the usual crew breaking out Doc (Wesley Snipes) in an unnecessarily over the top action scene I couldn’t help but think it’s going to be as dumb as the second film. Thankfully the Expendables 3 then takes a step back in the right direction. Once Snipes is with the crew they are hired to take down a mystery target who turns out to be Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) a ‘frienemy’ of¬†Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and someone who was previously presumed dead.

The mission goes south and Barney disbands the team out of guilt. He still wants to finish the mission so he asks Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to help him put together a new team of youngsters who don’t care if they live or die. The recruitment sequence was missing focus as Barney and Bonaparte were meant to be friends but you just don’t get that vibe from Sly. There’s also an odd attempt at “natural” dialog between the two like the royale with cheese dialogue from Pulp fiction that is just out of sync with the rest of the film.

Thankfully the new recruits all seem to have a good chemistry and when the action starts it’s more along the lines of a mission impossible action scene and breathes a fresh air into what could become a stale formula of balls out action and camaraderie.

This also affords the opportunity to have some friction and inter-character play between the new and the old teams which again feels new and refreshing to the series. In fact, the new faces pretty much steal the show. Smilee (Kellan Lutz) is a convincing leader of the new school while Luna (ex MMA star Ronda Rousey) is just bad ass.

However the real star of the show is a rather fallible Galgo (Antonio Banderas) who suffers from verbal diarrhoea. His desperation to join the expendables and subsequent ramblings are a little irritating but suddenly become endearing in the final action scene specifically when Galgo fights alongside Luna. Hell, if they had one, I’d watch their own spin off film.

Honorable mention has to go to some of the dialogue that breaks the third wall and refers to the stars older films or personal life. Listening to Snipes semi-sarcastically saying he was locked up for tax evasion tickled a funny bone and Harrison Ford saying that Sly should de-stress otherwise he will have a stroke – a nod to the fact that Stallone had a troubled birth that lead to a speech impediment and partial paralysis on one side of his face, just like a stroke, although most of the audience seemed to miss the irony. A line that wasn’t missed was Arnie shouting the classic Predator line “get to the chopper!”

The film starts a bit naff but then builds nicely to the point where both the old and new join together to grow the team of expendables. Perhaps they should have called it the Expandables.

Unfortunately we are left with the weirdest little scene that I still can’t get my head around. Jet Li has joined Arnie as he pays more and Sly does. They then proceed to do this weird whispering and giggling like a pair of schoolgirls after another whisper giggle and a surreal embrace I felt more confused than a bear wearing a tutu! What a weird way to end an otherwise pretty enjoyable film?

Go See

  • A good old fashioned action flick
  • Banderas is worth the entry fee alone
  • Hand to hand combat scenes are very good

Avoid

  • If you don’t dig 80s action films
  • The Stallone/Grammer and Arnie/Li chemistry is err… odd
  • Not enough gore to be a true homage

Overall

3-5-stars

The Inbetweeners 2

Top bunk wankers

There’s never really a lot that you can say about a TV spin-off film and this film is no different. That’s not to say it’s a bad film but essentially this is a 90 minute episode of The Inbetweeners. So if you like The Inbetweeners then this will probably be right up your street.

One interesting trope that this film touches upon is that some scenes flirt with other film genres in the same way that Spaced did. This is most noticeable in the opening scene when you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching Harry Potter but other scenes also hints at this the climax to the hilarious water park scene reminded me of Jaws for example.

There are a number of hearty laughs throughout the film which does make it worth a watch and let’s face it – that’s why you are going to see this film. The aforementioned water park scene is brilliant from start to finish but one of the highlights is Jay’s email to Neil at the start of the film. The email is visually illustrated by Jay talking directly to the camera and follows all the bullshit lies that he is spouting in his email. So we get to see Jay playing cricket on a beach, living in a mansion and hanging out with Steve Irwin and Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman, shagging endless birds, going Bruce Lee on wild Koalas and head-lining as ‘DJ Big Penis’ in one of Sydney’s premier clubs. The beauty of this scene though is that a lot of it is a continuous take with each lie blending in to one another. It’s a great scene.

We actually get a bit of background as to why Jay is a compulsive liar which makes him slightly more likeable but unfortunately there are very few other likeable characters in the film. Will’s love interest is almost bi-polar, Ben (another traveler they meet) is just a douche, Simon’s girlfriend has turned into a class 10 a-hole and Jay’s uncle is xenophobic, homophobic, sexist you name it.

The usual bad language, put downs and failings to pick up women are a-plenty and the chemistry between all the characters is still, obviously, really strong. However, all of this doesn’t make up for a rather weak plot. Essentially the plot is: they go to Australia – the sex capital of the world. There. Done. All in all it’s worth a watch if you fancy a giggle but it won’t blow your mind.

Go See

  • For Jay punching koalas
  • The water park
  • Will’s rant at the other travelers

Avoid

  • If you don’t like the Inbetweeners… obviously
  • If you like comedy to be politically correct
  • You want to see something different from the first film

Overall

3-stars

Guardians of the Galaxy

Just like Kevin Bacon!!

I love everything Marvel but let me start by being as unbiased as possible…. this film is awesome!

Guardians is probably unfamiliar territory for most so let’s start off with a quick overview. The premise is that Peter Quill aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt) is abducted from earth as a kid and becomes a bit of a intergalactic looter. After looting a very valuable relic he ends up crafting a rag tag crew built up of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a racoon called Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and everyone’s favourite tree… yes… tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) who have to keep it out of the hands of a wannabe space pharaoh called Ronan the Accuser.

Marvel have been on a bit of a streak of late. Just when people thought the Superhero film genre was getting stale; Avengers, Cap 2 and now Guardians seems to prove that they are only getting stronger.

That said Star Lord is more Star Wars than Stars and Stripes. This doesn’t feel particularly like a typical Captain America superhero film it’s actually more along the lines of Firefly or Star Wars because it is effectively a buddy comedy that is set in space. There are spaceships and laser guns and baddies with capes and even a wookie – as long as you replace the fur with bark.

Even though it doesn’t do anything Draxstically different (see what I did there) to most sci-fi films it does what it does really well. The film has great pacing so your attention never wanders as the well placed action scenes Rocket into action. The casting is superb and it leads to some nice relationships between the characters and you end up really Grooting for them (OK I’ll stop now).

The film is also funnier than it has any right to be. It’s not an outright comedy but it is funny. It’s the sort of laughter you get if you’ve ever heard someone fart in a crowded office. Sure, we’re all friends, sure we’ve all done some dumb shit but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or funny.

I walked in to the screening with Groot as a firm favourite and came out with Rocket as my favourite, no Drax, no Quill, arrgh I don’t know. Drax taking everything literally took the rough edge off of him and I’m still chuckling now about how metaphors don’t go over his head, Rocket’s over the top schemes was a joy to watch, Gamora just being epic, Star Lords dancing and Groot simply smiling.

If you follow the comics then you’ll know that the Marvel Studios films (Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Avengers) all do relatively good fan service and GotG is no different. Most characters are spot on the only let down is probably Gamora who falls for Peter Quill a little too easily and is a little too girly and Drax who is meant to be the guy who can kill Thanos but struggled to fight Ronan. It also sets up the possibility of having a Nova film and adds more jigsaw pieces to the Infinity Gauntlet film which will most likely be Avengers 3 or even Avengers 4. Even if you aren’t a fan you have to admire how far stretching the seeds are sown for setting up Thanos in whichever film he is in.

It’s all topped off with a decent soundtrack of 70’s/80’s music and thankfully it’s not the kind of garbage that you are forced to endure at most weddings. Instead we get the Awesome Mix Vol.1 which really compliments the film’s aesthetics.

If you are hoping to see a lot Gamora Star Lord and Co (sorry… couldn’t help myself) in action then good news, Marvel have already announced a GotG 2.

Go See

  • Groot
  • Because you have a sense of humour
  • You have spare change… or even if you don’t just sell your shoes. You don’t need shoes, you do need GotG

Avoid

  • If you hate trees
  • If you hate racoons
  • If you were the one who farted in a crowded office… awkward!

Overall

5-stars