Planes is an entertaining movie almost in spite of itself. A spin-off from Cars made by Disneytoon Studios (and originally planned to go straight to DVD), you can feel the competing desires behind the movie coming off the screen, not all of which are about telling an entertaining story. The wish to keep the feel of Cars results in a plot that’s a mash-up between the two Pixar movies, complete with major characters that are almost carbon copies of Doc Hudson and Mater, as well as a protagonist who may not have Lightning McQueen’s initial arrogance but still has more than a dash of his attitude. [Read more...]
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There’s a saying in Hollywood that if a film is bad critics blame the screenwriter, but if it’s good, it’s the director who gets the credit. There’s a certain amount of truth in that, and it’s something that would be easy to do with Pacific Rim. The action scenes are terrific, it looks amazing and the world building is impressive, but the characters feel a bit like action figures.
The problem is that the film tries to create archetypes more than people – the hero with something to overcome, the damaged love interest, the grizzled commander, the arrogant colleague who’s convinced the hero with fail. It’s a common tactic with big tentpole films, and writers Guillermo Del Toro and Travis Beachman have certainly been thumbing through their copies of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces to try and understand the archetypes they need to fulfil the hero’s journey – from being reluctantly called to action, to a flirtation with resurrection – however the result is characters that don’t feel quite real. [Read more...]
Chasing Mavericks is a biopic of surfer Jay Moriarty, following his teenage years when he went from keen amateur so surfing some of the biggest waves in the world. Jay (Jonny Weston) is a little bit of a misfits and often pushed around by the other kids. However he loves to surf and discovers that just up the coast from his Californian home are some truly monster waves. [Read more...]
Val (Al Pacino) gets out of prison after 28 years and is met by Doc (Christopher Walken), an old friend and former criminal associate. They catch up and Val wants to celebrate his release, which eventually involves robbing a pharmacy, finding hookers, stealing a car, and spring another of their old pals, Hirsch (Alan Arkin), from his old folks home so they can share one last hurrah.
However there’s one big wrinkle. Before he was locked up, Val accidentally shot the son of a major criminal. That had guy has been waiting all this time to get his revenge and has ordered Doc to kill Val before the following morning. [Read more...]
It seems like a normal day, but then the Rapture happens. While not something that’s particularly well-known in the UK, the Rapture is popular with the more fervent evangelical sections of US Christianity. It basically says that when the end of the world begins, the righteous will be whisked off to heaven, leaving everyone else behind to deal with the apocalypse. [Read more...]
It’s been a great year for Dwayne Johnson, who’s had hits with GI Joe: Retaliation, Fast & Furious 7 and Pain & Gain, and a smaller success with Snitch. It’s not just impressive he’s had so much box office success, it’s amazing he’s managed to squeeze that many movies into such a short timespan. [Read more...]
Grimm is one of those shows where the premise is so silly that it really ought to be dreadful, but it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s helped by some good actors and a tone that manages to be slightly contrary, as the characters take the set-up very seriously, but there’s still a sense it knows it’s often a bit daft. [Read more...]
Jason Statham’s career so far has turned him into a brand as much as a movie star – as with many action stars before him, his name has come to connote big, dumb action movies with OTT stunts and plots that are simply showcases for the action. It’s done him well and his name is often enough to sell the movie to mindless action fans, but it becomes a problem when he attempts to do something different. Hummingbird has come in for a bit of flack, not so much because of what it is but due to what it isn’t. Namely it isn’t a ‘Jason Statham’ movie. Indeed it has more in common with the arthouse than the likes of Crank. [Read more...]
Following the success of Dracula and Frankenstein, it was little surprise that Hammer decided to take on one of the other characters that Universal had success with in the 1930s – The Mummy. The British film company’s 1959 take on bandaged ancient Egyptians reunites Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and director Terence Fisher, and while the results aren’t as memorable as with the earlier movies, it is fun. [Read more...]
In the 1980s, Cannon Films became a prolific producer of low-to-mid budget movies across a whole range of genres, who were best known for cheap and cheerful action-thrillers such as Missing In Action and American Ninja. However with Lifeforce they wanted to go big, hiring Tobe Hooper shortly after Poltergeist to make them a sci-fi epic. [Read more...]