Friday, 3 April 2015

Facebook film reviews - collected 4

All my movie review under one roof - part 4
for some reason this franchise just won't quit!

So it's April now. A LOT has happened since my last blog, there has been bereavement, I've seen some terrible movies, and I've realised just how angry a man can get on two bottles of red wine! These are all learning curves, and with that in mind I'll continue with my presentation and collection of last year's Tazer-written Facebook film reviews...

Starship Troopers 2 – July 2014

Starship Troopers 2 - if you like your sequels as underfunded, over-populated and poorly shot TV movies, this is the sequel for you! Despite being written by Ed Neumier - writer of the original, not to mention Robocop - this is a toothless blamanche of mixed message genres, from TV war movie to haunted house flick to body snatchers who-is-it thriller to ten little indians one-by-one slasher as a group of disposable troopers hole up in a matte painting to avoid having to spend money, and slowly tear themselves apart. That said, fuck it - it's still an enjoyable horror flick with some nice sequel twists on the original and despite it's uneven tone, obvious sound stage setting ( little bit of reverb on the voice would go a long way, yo ), poor digital-camera direction from FX wizard Phil Tippet, TV movie acting from a cast including discount Vincent D'Onofrio and discount Bradley Cooper ( is that even possible? ) and someone who died in the original movie, and an overall feeling that they did this coz someone gave them a fiver, it comes off as self aware, tongue in cheek, silly and great fun.

This Means War - July 2014

So finally sat down to watch This Means War after throwing a strop ten minutes into it last time, removing it from the DVD player and throwing it a cat. 

This is a hideous, cynical, ugly mess of a movie, centred around a prick tease played by a cameoing radiator woman from Eraserhead, deliberately cheating on two men played by Tom "I'm totally Gay for Tom Hardy" Hardy and that cardboard box-faced berk from Star Trek. This film is nasty in premise, and grotesque in execution, and has NO idea who it's audience is supposed to be. Chicks? Well the radiator lady is a chick flick stalwart when Cameron Diaz isn't available. While the casual violence and body count is obviously aimed at us idiot blokes who like splosions.

Everything in this movie is set up with no pay-off. A lame dip in and dip out Russian bad guy plot is used to allow for the violence. It's obvious from the start who the radiator lady will end up ( box face ( spoiler alert )) with because he has the most obvious arc, from complete prick to complete prick with a dog he bought to manipulate the prick tease, while Tom "I'm totally gay for Tom Hardy" Hardy has a good looking ex-wife and little child combo he can return to at the end.

The characters, shouted dialogue, over-puddinged shooting style, and miserable acting are frighteningly awful, like having your nose-cheese grated by a laughing bare-arsed baboon, while your parents watch, and then realising you paid a fiver for it.

This is cynical, horrible film making where we're supposed to find the uber violent men cute and the bitch lead adorable, and some how give a rats cock what happens to them. All through this aborted child of a movie our supposed protagonists treat people like shit, most obvious of all the audience, in whose face they consistently piss for over ninety minutes before finally giving up, squating over our shocked and open mouths and shitting into them.

Also it was direct by MCG.


Captain America 2 : American Pie The Winter Soldier's Wedding - August 2014

Aaaah! What a strange and ultimately disappointing movie Captain America 2 : American Pie The Winter Soldier's Wedding is!

Probably the strongest directed of the Marvel movies so far, with some interesting camera work and clever editing, some great, sparkling dialogue and the always dependable Chris Evans is on great form. 

The plot - Cap becomes embroiled in a conspiracy at SHIELD, goes rogue along with Scarlett Johannsen's needlessly returning Black Widow and Anthony Mackie's shoehorned in ex-marine, yet thrilling Falcon, and does some stuff where stuff explodes and he jumps around and plays frisbee - is overly complicated yet feels strangely undernourished and suffers from the same thing all the phase two Marvel movies are suffering from - a strange sense of deja-vu and inbreeding.

It starts off so strong : low-key and treating itself with a good mix of seriousness and self-reflexive humour. The action scenes are excellent; exciting, cool, different, utilising Cap's skills without feeling TOO contrived, while the dialogue is well written and feels natural. There's an attempt at sexual repartee between Cap and Black Widow that seems weird and out of place, given her relationship with Hawkeye in Avengers, and his own sense of loss. In fact, a big problem here is that - unlike Iron Man 3, which directly addresses the events of that film - Cap completely ignores them, leading to some glaring character continuity issues.

The plot just kind of lingers, a skeleton to hang the action on, but at least there IS one ( I'm looking at you, Thor 2 and Iron Man 3! )

However, the biggest problem is what should have been it's most exciting prospect - the winter soldier himself. His introduction is thrilling, and although we all know who he is, his reveal is clever and well executed. However, it does nothing to change the tone of the movie. Given his motivations - he HAS none - the winter soldier is just another big bad. Given who he IS, and his relationship with Cap, this should have been a grudge match to beat all grudge matches. Except - well, he's had his memory erased. So what's the point? If he has no more motivation than to be controlled by puppets, why bother having him? Why not some other bad guy? It's a disappointing turn of events to have the big bad feel so anaemic, and leads to a set of over the top but dull fight scenes that contain no emotional wallop. And that pretty much describes the rest of the movie.

In the same way that Thor 2 sold itself on the relationship between Thor and Loki yet thoroughly disappoints on that count, Cap 2 sells itself on exploring the idea that Captain America meets his match, only to discover that he is... well, if you don't know I won't spoil it. Suffice to say, it's a crushing disappointment and leaves a massive hole in what had started off as an exciting action flick ( it sells itself as being in the mould of a seventies conspiracy thriller, in particular casting Robert Redford ( who is increasingly resembling an Aardman Animation puppet ) but obviously it's not; it's a Marvel comic book movie called Captain 
America. )

Lots of explosions. Lots of jumping. The lift scene is grin-inducingly awesome. The stupid ending isn't. No emotion. And an ending that is becoming far too familiar to long-term Marvel viewers. Phase 2 is becoming a disappointing fudge, as Marvel rushes to capitalise on it's insular success, and the fact that none of the actors are getting any younger.

The performers are comfortable, and if newbie Mackie lacks the charisma of a Don Cheadle, he can console himself knowing that we all lack the charisma of a Don Cheadle, and his character is very, very cool.

It's a disappointing flick, more so because it starts off so strongly. In the end, it's just another Marvel movie, and tells the same story the last seventeen hundred have. The sting is good though.

Calvary - August 2014

Calvary then – I don't know. Overhyped to the point that it's hard to say a negative thing about it without backlash. It's not bad, not exactly, but it's terribly, terribly vapid. John Michael McDonagh  likes his westerns, with this and the Guard essentially being Irish Westerns in various uniform. Where The Guard was not only blackly funny, but also a deconstruction of the form Murphy was aping, this feels like a far straighter well-intentioned, wilfully “angry” piece. By making the only good man in a bad world a priest, McDonagh sets out his supposedly controversial stall for a sequence of meandering, empty discussions about very little, with a group of self-reflexively cliched characters we never spend more than a few seconds with, and who serve little more than to act as whodunnit fodder and a sounding board for McDonagh's empty-headed and uselessly angry musings on the usual hot topic subjects surrounding religion, never truly settling for long enough to make a mark.

Surrounding the ever-excellent ( though it has to be said so unbelievable as a priest they have to create a “I wasn't always a priest” backstory for him ) Gleeson with a vastly miscast set of Irish comedians and McDonagh regulars backfires horribly, with each character sounding laughably amateurish spouting Murphy's strong but extremely theatrical dialogue. Standouts of miscasting are the flat, wooden and just completely out of his depth Dylan Moran and the I-can't-believe-they-did-that stunt casting of Gleeson's own son as a tritely written “serial killer/rapist” in the most poorly shot sequence in the movie. Oddly enough, David McSavage is right at home in his cameo, underplaying admirably. Had he had the guts to cast ACTORS, even unknowns, maybe the film would have felt less self-important.

It's hard to know if McDonagh is going for irony ( given the western-mocking title ), or really believes his bullshit – I think he's aiming for profound here but most people seem to have taken it for an ironic statement on – something important. When his dialogue is witty, it's funny. When it's aiming for profundity it's just dull, like a drunken teenage discussion on theology overheard by the barman. The film also has an irritating habit of self-reflexively referencing how hackneyed it's own cliches are every fifteen or so minutes, consistently reminding you it's a movie while trying to discuss or at least reference subjects it ultimately has no interest it except as an expression of empty anger on behalf of – who? The victims? The country? Who exactly?

The basic premise – a good priest is told he will be murdered in a week's time – is ripe with potential, but the film meanders, flopping around the lazily drawn, poorly played and overly horrid townsfolk, poring over Western cliches and over-ripe and hugely over-written discussions on life, death, and religion, something that comedian Dave Allen would have fit into a half hour television special with twice the humour, profundity and sharpness.

There are clearly overtones of a more classical structure to the movie, mythology beyond religion. But so what? I don't know what they are.

The pace is all over the shop, choppy little scenes flickering along, cutting between locations without rhyme of reason, dropping Gleeson and co into one photogenic location after another without ever seguing between. There are some scenes that could be shifted to any place in the movie, and to be quite honest it wouldn't make a bit of difference to the plot.

By hanging his self-important nonsense on a good-sheriff in a bad town skeleton he's only serving to remind us of better, far more lucid, far less pretentious spiritual westerns such as High Planes Drifter, especially since absolutely NONE of the characters are in any way believable, being as they are ciphers for John Michael McDonagh's higher-self-belief.

The ending aims for a too-late profundity it simply has not earned.

By the time the guns come out it's just another dull paddy gangsta flick.

It's not a bad movie. But it's badly acted, stupidly miscast, trite, laughably blunt, and doesn't have the balls to be what it actually wants to be about – whatever that is. A film of integrity? Nah. Just another wannabe western. A disappointment.

And on that disappointment I shall end, leaving you to linger in the limbo of sadness that is current Irish Entertainment. Hope you enjoyed, laughed, angrily spat at, or just quietly read with one of your private parts out, my bile-filled little reviews. As ever, if you disagree, and can be arsed, please feel free to argue, comment, piss in my open mouth while I sleep, or tangle me up in legal proceedings until the day I die.

Talk later you beautiful princes of maine...


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