Cinepub


Review: The Big Wedding by Jamie

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Weddings! They’re a joyous occasion that bring people together to celebrate the love of two individuals! Or they’re a ridiculously outdated concept that go against the natural instincts of the human animal! Whichever way you slice it, I think we can all agree that weddings are a thing that exist. And because of their existence, Hollywood makes movies out of them. The wedding comedy is a cinema mainstay that will probably around as long as the ridiculous tradition itself. It makes sense. Weddings are big, meticulously planned affairs where strangers are forced to mingle and there’s a great deal of alcohol. Any number of things can go wrong. It’s perfect comedy fodder.

It’s because of the familiarity of the setting and an almost inborn understanding of the premise that so many wedding comedies get produced. These are movies that will play to the largest possible audience because everyone understands them. Also they can be produced relatively cheaply. This combination of cheap production and large audience draw means that these kinds of films are always guaranteed to make some kind of money. They don’t even need to be big box office smashes. They just need to exist.

And so we come to 2013s entry in the big wedding comedy genre titled, erm, “The Big Wedding”. Has it got stars? It’s got Robert De Niro! Susan Sarandon! Diane Keaton! Robin Williams is there also! And you know what? Everyone in this film does a perfectly fine job. No one is terrible, nobody sucks. Everybody does just fine. It’s just that when you get a big cast together, they really should have something great to work with. The Big Wedding leave them with nothing.

Well, not entirely nothing. You’re average wedding comedy is generally not excessively crude. It’s the kind of thing a woman, her grown up daughter and the grandmother can all enjoy together. The Big Wedding decides not to go that route. Within the first twenty minutes or so, Robert De Niro has nearly eaten out Susan Sarandon and called his ex-wife (Keaton) a cunt. Am I shocked by this kind of humour? No, of course not but you know who hates the word cunt? Particularly when it‘s being used to refer to a woman? My mum. And that’s the problem with this movie.

Who is the target audience? You can’t have sophomoric, sub-frat boy jokes based on curse words and cunnilingus and expect an older crowd that would be attracted by the casting of De Niro, Keating and Sarandon in a wedding comedy and expect them to enjoy it. You can’t have a wedding comedy and expect a bunch of young guys who might be more inclined to laugh at your crude humour to show up. This movie does not know what it wants to be who or it wants to appeal to and therefore it ends up appealing to nobody. It’s like an adult version of the Smurfs movie. No, I don’t mean it contains Smurf porn but in The Smurfs they made a movie about tiny, blue cartoon characters but included a subplot involving an ad-exec who’s not doing great at a job, has a pregnant wife and he’s not sure if he wants to actually have a baby or not. You know, the kinds of things kids love!

So yes, just who this movie is aimed at is a massive problem but then so is everything else. It’s the same old tired plot line we’ve seen a thousand times before from exactly these kinds of movies but with a thin layer of crude comedy painted on top to make it seem freh. There are two characters pretending to be married, parents disapproving of the groom, a girl who doesn’t get along with her father, a boy trying to lose his virginity. Everything is telegraphed and you know exactly from the opening few scenes just where this movie is going to go.

In conclusion, it’s like I said nobody is terrible in this movie but no one is exactly acting their socks off. It’s pretty clear that this is a pay check for everyone involved. I’ll admit that I chuckled here and there but that’s about it. I saw this at a pretty full screening and I can’t really think of any times when everyone laughed out loud. In fact, it was kind of weird just how quiet the audience remained throughout. There was definitely a bad atmosphere projected from the crowd toward the movie and it did end up feeling weirdly uncomfortable. I will say that I kind of enjoyed Topher Grace’s performance the most but that’s because he was basically playing a thirty year old version of Eric Foreman, his character from That 70s Show and I used to love that show growing up. Oh, and I did enjoy some of the humour about Catholicism but I’m a sucker for jokes about religion so take that with a grain of salt. Overall there’s just not that much to recommend though. One pint out of five. Laterz. And yeah, I know I didn’t do a synopsis. Do you really care what it’s about. If you do then just watch the trailer below and you have my pity.

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Review: Epic by Jamie

I often moan about 3D. I find it unnecessary and it generally takes away from the cinema experience rather than enhance it. When I saw Toy Story 3, for example, I’d forgotten that I was even watching it in 3D after around ten minutes. If that’s the case, then what’s the point? Of all the 3D movies I’ve seen, only two have ever impressed me. Piranha 3D which used the 3D as the gimmick it is, and Transformers 3 though that may have been me trying to grasp onto anything I could possibly enjoy from that shit pile.

And so it is that for the most part I see movies in 2D whenever possible. But sometimes that isn’t possible like when a preview screening of Epic sells out in 2D because the world is an annoying place. So after much bitching and moaning I buckled down, paid the extra money for the “3D experience” and the stupid 3D glasses as well. And goddamnit, it was actually worth it this time. For the first time that I can remember, the 3D actually added something. It probably has to do with the nature of the movie. In a forest, you really can make a depth of vision that’s noticeable especially when you’re experiencing it at the height of a bug. So yes, first off I’ll admit that the 3D was actually good throughout and I’d recommend seeing it this way if you do choose to see it.

Still 3D isn’t the reason people go to the cinema. They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. Epic succeeds on the first part, the second well kinda. Obviously this is a story we’ve all seen before, inhabitants of a forest trying to save said forest. An outsider being shrunk down and helping in that battle is also something we’ve seen before. Yes, Epic is very, very similar to “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” except now we have a snail and a slug instead of a bat as the comic-relief.

So yeah, you know the story. There’s a scientist named Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) who’s obsessed with discovering a race of tiny men that he believes live in the forest. His daughter MK (Amanda Seyfried) comes to stay with him after her mother dies but believes him to be insane because of said obsession. Events unfurl that lead to MK being shrunk, finding out that her dad was right and having to help the tiny race known as the Leaf Men fight their enemy, The Boggans, who spread rot.

Honestly, the film sounds like it’s literally been reassembled from the assorted carcass of other movies like some kind of Frankenfilm’s monster. Take a bit of Ferngully, a bit of ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’, a little ‘Lord of the Rings’, stitch it all together and you get Epic. Despite all that there is an enjoyable story here and there’s some innovative stuff that I’ve never seen on film before like the theory that Bomba comes up with that we can’t see the race of little people because they live faster than we do. Hence when MK is shrunk, all the larger animals seem to be moving in slow motion. It’s not completely insane. Pigeons, for example, see in slow motion. That’s why they leave it until the last second before moving out of the way of danger. They’re not completely stupid… Just partially stupid.

The voice talent is all pretty good. Biggest surprise was Steven Tyler as an old caterpillar (caterpillars do not work that way) called Nim Galuu. His voice fit the role well and he did a pretty decent job. The slug and the snail voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd respectively were entertaining enough. Sure, they had a few jokes that fell flat but the kids in the audience seemed to enjoy them so fair enough. The stand out, however, is of course Christoph Waltz as Mandrake, the villain. What can I say? He’s Christoph fucking Waltz for fucks sake, of course he’s good. Perhaps most interesting for the character itself was that he has a son and he actually seems proud of him. This is surprising because normally when a villain has a child, they find them bumbling or incompetent and quite an embarrassment. This was a nice change. Also Mandrake wears the skin of a bat which may have been a mistake on the film makers part. You expect me to root against a character wearing a bat cape and cowl? For shame.

Another big surprise was Colin Farrell as Ronin, the leader of the Leaf Men. He brings a lot of humanity to a character that, in a lesser film, would just be a gruff hard ass who’s always getting on the case of the male lead, Nod (Josh Hutcherson). Instead he’s a layered character who cares about Nod due to his relationship with Nod’s father and it’s his unresolved emotional feelings towards the Queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) and his strong sense of duty that really drive him on his quest.

So yeah, overall a perfectly enjoyable film and one that is actually improved through it’s use of 3D. There’s a battle sequence early on between the Leaf Men and the Boggans that’s fast paced and extremely lively just because of the way they’ve used the depth and vibrancy that the 3D provides them and I applaud them for it. Still, it probably doesn’t quite deserve the title Epic. Maybe Good but who’s going to see a movie just called Good? No one. There are moments where the film seems to slow down just a little too much and he relationship between the two leads never really develops naturally like it should. I’d probably rank this just below your better non-Pixar CGI films. It never really reaches the heights of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ or ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’ but it’s certainly better than stuff like the Ice Age or Madagascar sequels. Three pints out of five. Laters.

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Review: The Great Gatsby by Jamie

Warning: This review may feature spoilers for a book that was first published in 1925 and that you can easily read in an afternoon…

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any film,” he told me, “just remember that all the movies in this world haven’t had the advantages that Jaws had.”

In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has led to the discovery of many curious hidden gems and also made me the victim of not a few films that were best left not viewed by the eyes of anyone.

And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit… I’m sorry, I’ll stop now. The point is that I saw ‘The Great Gatsby’ after reading/listening to the book and watching all four of Baz’s previous films. At the end of all this preparation I came to two conclusions. The first was that I really liked F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 book which is beautifully written and a mesmerizing account of regret, the decay of the American dream and unfulfilled hope and a stunning portrayal of decadently rich youths during the 1920s in America. The second was that for the most part I really like Baz Luhrmann films. There are quibbles here and there and none of them are making it into my top ten but for the most part all four films are entertaining in one way or another. So it was with somewhat raised expectations that I went into the Great Gatsby.

I shall spare you the normal lengthy synopsis because, as I believe I may have mentioned earlier, The Great Gatsby is based on a novel from 1925 which can easily be read in the course of an afternoon. Now the important things. Is it any good? Well, yes and no. As a film it’s certainly the kind of entertaining thing you’d expect from Baz Luhrmann. It’s bright, it’s brash, it’s glitzy and it’s glamorous. It’s a visual feast that’s at times reminiscent of ‘Moulin Rouge’. As an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, however, it’s woefully inadequate. Sure, the major beats of the story are there but that’s all it feels like Luhrmann’s doing, making sure he hit’s the very basic beats of the story without any of the substance. It’s as though he brought in an exorcist that removed the soul from the story.

At it’s very worst, the framework of the novel feels like it’s being used as a means for Luhrmann to get from one elaborate, raucous set-piece to the next. At it’s best you’ll walk away from the film knowing what the story is without really knowing what it’s about.

In the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald manages to make you feel something for the characters be it revulsion, sympathy or at times a strange mixture of the two which I have dubbed revulpathy. In the film I end up feeling very little for anyone, not that it’s any of the actors fault in particular. They’re all perfectly serviceable with the exception of Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. To me, Maguire almost seems like he’s just playing his Peter Parker but in 1920s era costume. Somewhere along the line, Maguire seems to have been the go to guy for wide-eyed naivety but to me he always just seems to come of more as something of a gormless buffoon.

DiCaprio, on the other hand, is on the other end of the scale. He does more than a serviceable job. He’s the one bright star in the film in that his portrayal of Gatsby is pretty damn great. Out of the whole thing, his was the character I came closest to caring about though still the nature of the movie left me just short of that.

As for Debicki, well, she’s actually fine it’s just that the character of Jordan seems to be almost completely cut from the story after Gatsby’s first party and any further relationship between her and Nick is barely even hinted at.

The same goes for other characters who have vital scenes in the book such as the Owl-Eyes and Meyer Wolfsheim, both of whom I would argue are vital to the books ending, who are here little more than cameos early on in the movie. Then there’s the case of Henry C. Gatz who is cut altogether. The fact that Luhrmann seems to pay far more attention to the beginning of the book rather than it’s conclusion just seems to add more weight to the accusation that the director cares far more about putting scenes of big, glitzy 1920s era parties, most of which occur in the first half of the book, on film than he does the actual story he’s supposedly adapting.

Then there’s the music. Oh boy. You see, these big, glitzy 1920s era parties all feature music which blends jazz of the time with modern hip-hop and other modern music styles. I can understand what they were going for. I get that you wanted to get across the point that hip-hop today is like jazz was in the 20s. And I liked the use of modern music in Moulin Rouge. It fit there because the 1900s of that film is portrayed as some kind of insane, cartoonish reality, it shows the characters as being really ahead of their time and it just works. This, however, is supposedly an adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It’s jarring. Really jarring and it completely took me out of the film every time. Don’t get me wrong either. For the most part, I really liked the music. It just doesn’t fit.

And so we come to the end the review and what’s left to say? Well, like I said, as a film it’ll keep you entertained and it’s pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from Baz Luhrmann but as an adaptation of such a wonderful book, it’s a miserable failure. There was nothing stopping Luhrmann from making an original film set in the 20s with an anachronistic soundtrack. Hell, he could have made it a spiritual sequel to Moulin Rouge and everyone probably would have been perfectly happy with it. Instead it feels like he wanted to make a film set in the 20s but didn’t want to go to the work of developing a story for it so he took The Great Gatsby and filmed the visually stunning party scenes he’d been dreaming of. Then he realised that shit, he’d probably better try and actually adapt the actual story too and he did so, paying lip service to it and stripping away anything that made said story special in the first place.

As far as I can tell none of the various attempts at adapting the book into a film have been particularly successful with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald themselves famously walking out of the 1926 effort. Maybe a good adaptation will come some day. Maybe not. It eluded us this time, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Two pints out of five. Laterz.

It's The Great Gatsby, Old Sport!



TelePub: Zombieland Pilot by Jamie

The popularity of the Undead gained new unlife in 2004 with the double header of the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake and ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Yes, zombies as we know them had been shambling around since 1968 with the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘28 Days Later’ had started the trend somewhat in 2002 but they weren’t even really zombies in that film so I’m not counting it. No, it was 2004 where zombies went viral and the world hasn’t really been the same since.

In 2009, already five years into this zombie resurrection, a little comedy film came out called ‘Zombieland’. Sure, it was no Shaun of the Dead but I for one enjoyed it and it had one of the best surprise cameos in all of film history.

It was a film that originally began life as a script for a pilot for a TV show about survivors of a Zombie Apocalypse seeking shelter in their devastated world. Well, it seems as though those small screen dreams are finally coming true as Amazon ordered a pilot, no doubt wanting to get into the scripted original content business like Netflix, and it’s now available to watch online completely free of charge. See, here’s the link for UK people who can watch it on Lovefilm even if you’re not subscribed to their service.

Of course, the question is, even if it is free your time is not. Should you spend that precious half hour watching a televisual internet adaptation of a movie that came out three years ago with a completely different cast playing characters from said movie. Well…

“It’s the tiniest bit funny.” This is a line spoken by Wichita (Maiara Walsh replacing Emma Stone) and I was tempted to use it to describe the show but honestly, that’s being a little bit too hard on it. I will say that the opening scene is one of the most god-awful attempts at comedy I have ever seen in my life. It involves two employees at an unspecified job discussing the bad morning one of them has had whilst the Zombie Apocalypse occurs through a window behind them. It’s awful and laced with profanity which, hey I’m all for, but you can tell when layering something with fucks is forced in an attempt to illicit humour and it just falls flat. It’s truly fucking abysmal.

Still things do pick up after this very, very lacklustre opening scene when we’re “reunited” with the characters from the first film. There the aforementioned Wichita, Little Rock (Izabela Vodovic replacing Abigail Breslin), Columbus (Tyler Ross replacing Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Kirk Ward replacing Woody Harrelson). Kirk Ward probably comes off best here. Sure, he’s no Woody and no one ever will be, but Tallahassee is a fun character and though I disagree a little with the direction here, seeming to bring him to almost Homer Simpson levels of stupidity, I think that he’s probably be the easiest character to step into the shoes off and Ward is certainly likeable enough in the role. Perhaps the biggest loser in this is Tyler Ross who is doing something of a knock off of pre-‘Social Network’ Jesse Eisenberg which consequently makes him seem like a knock off of a knock off Michael Cera. It worked for Eisenberg because he’s at least good at that schtick. Tyler Ross, not so much.

Perhaps the biggest casualty of the shift to the small screen is the effects budget. In the opening sequence a plane crashes in the background and it looks like something someone might have made while pissing about with After Effects for the first time. And the zombies? Oooh, the zombies take a nasty leap down in quality from what we saw in the movie and from what we expect from television Zombies thanks to ‘The Walking Dead’. They just look like someone splashed a bit of fake blood on them and stuck a few plasticy scabs on. They are not good, is what I’m trying to say.

Still despite all there is bad to say about this, there could be something good in there. The humour in this pilot is certainly a little more slapstick than I remember the movie being but that’s not always bad. If it gets picked up, I’ll give the next episode a watch just to see since there’s also a chance that getting picked up could improve their budget a bit which would solve some criticisms. I will say that I’m annoyed that the show undoes the end of the film my having had Wichita and Columbus break up but I suppose you need some kind of conflict to keep the story going in a series and yeah, it makes sense. So this pilot, not so great but I can see the potential in it and would be willing to give it another chance if it made it to a full series. Two and a half out of five. Laterz.

Zombieland Cast



Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone by Jamie

There are certain movies out there that you can tell were written with a different actor in mind than the one they ended up with. Films like ‘Balls of Fury’ which stars Dan Fogler because they obviously couldn’t get Jack Black or ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ being written for the invention of time travel so a young Bruce Campbell could have been cast as the lead. ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ may not be one of these movies but it sure as hell feels like it is.

Burt Wonderstone really, really feels like a second rate Will Ferrell character to the point where at times it even sounds as though Steve Carell is doing a half-arsed Ron Burgundy impression. And when I say a second rate Will Ferrell character I really mean that. I’m talking ‘Semi-Pro’ levels of comedy here. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not great, is what I’m saying.

Unfortunately Steve Carell really is the problem here. Most of the other characters in the film provide small bright spots of comedy here and there but the film seems to go through long stretches following Burt Wonderstone and nobody else. This doesn’t really help with the Will Ferrell comparison because it’s so incredibly blatant in scenes when Burt is by himself, talking to a throwaway character or complaining on his phone about how small his bed is.

Like I say the other characters do bring some funny moments here and there but they’re used so sparingly that you just end up feeling disappointed. There’s Steve Buscemi as Burt’s partner Anton who has a pretty good subplot wherein he visits poor, staving people in the third world and rather than food or clean water delivers the gift of magic. Jim Carrey occupies the villain role as a magician in the style of Criss Angel and he steals every scene playing something akin to a douchier version of Ace Ventura with a masochistic streak but you can’t tell if it’s because he’s actually being really good or everything around him is so lacklustre. Alan Arkin is pretty enjoyable as Burt’s role model but again he gets so little actual screen time that it feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is there because Steve Carell’s character needs a woman twenty years younger than him as a romantic interest. Otherwise how would I know he’s successful?

Hell, honestly I could maybe even forgive a middling comedy if there were anything original about it but sadly there isn’t much here we haven’t seen before. It’s the story of someone famous for doing something but soon finds himself being replaced by someone younger and edgier coming along. He finds himself at the lowest he can possibly get until he decides to try one last time to pull himself out of the gutter and beat his rival. Will he succeed? Have you ever seen a movie before? So yeah it’s that plot and this time it’s with magicians.

Even the jokes are old, things we’ve seen a dozen times before. For example there is one scene where Burt and a groupie walk into a room with the promise of sexual acts about to take place. From outside the room we hear the groupie exclaim “It’s huge!” Cut to inside the bedroom and it reveals that she’s talking about the bed (Apparently it can sleep two dozen adults). Oh the hilarity!

I will give it a little credit as early on it shows Burt talking to the owner of a casino and being old he will only hire Burt if he drops Anton from the act. I thought ‘Oh great, it’s gonna be a film about two partner’s who separate because one gets greedy but then they realise they need each other and come back together.’ However Burt refuses and the casino owner relents and hires them both. ‘Oh,’ I thought ‘The film knew that’s what I was gonna think this was and cleverly fooled me. Maybe this will be something original after all! Great!’ and then it basically threw that in as a subplot later anyway. So yeah, thanks for tricking me movie.

Overall the movie is really just a meh. If you find yourself considering watching this I recommend watching a good Will Ferrell movie instead. You’ll be glad you did. One and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone



Review: The Host by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead! You have been warned.

Fresh from poisoning the minds of one generation of young girls and another generation of creepy older women, the deranged writings of Stephanie Meyer are brought once more to the silver screen in the form of ‘The Host’. This time Meyer takes on the world of parasitic aliens ala ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and I know what you’re asking already: “Does she bring the same level of creepiness to these alien parasites that she brought to Vampires and werewolves what with the silently watching a girl sleep in her room and the falling in love with a baby after it’s been torn from it’s mother by it’s father’s vampiric fangs?” Don’t worry dear reader, all will be revealed.

The story itself concerns a future in which most of humanity has been invaded by a race of aliens who lodge themselves somewhere near a persons brain and take over their body. There are few non-infected humans left, scattered around into various resistance groups. One girl, Melanie, is trying to get to one of these resistance groups with her younger brother Jamie and her boyfriend Jared when she is captured and has an alien implanted inside her. This alien, calling itself Wanderer, is questioned about the memories stored inside Melanie’s mind in an effort to try and find the resistance’s location.

Not all is right with Wanderer however. It turns out that Melanie is special and has such a strong will that she can’t be entirely subsumed by Wanderer which causes conflict in the mind of the alien. This conflict is played out by Wanderer talking to herself whilst Melanie’s voice is dubbed over with some of the worst voice over acting I have ever heard in my life. It’s incredibly over the top and makes the whole concept of the movie seem even more ridiculous than it already is which, and I remind you that this is a movie based on a novel by Stephanie Meyer, is already pretty fucking ridiculous.

Wanderer/Melanie manage to escape from the other alien infected humans and find their way to the desert base of the resistance led by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb. She is instantly met with mistrust but eventually, as more and more come to realise that Melanie is still alive inside her and that she is different from the other aliens, Wanderer comes to be accepted by the group and her name gets shortened to Wanda. This, of course, leads us to the romance that Stephanie Meyer is so renowned for making awkward and weird. In the Twilight series we had the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob and in The Host we have a four-way romance. What is that? A love square? A love quadrangle? Whatever. We have Jared who is in love with Melanie and eventually Wanda falls for another resistance member by the name of Ian. Of course, since Melanie and Wanda share a body the whole thing is very awkward and silly with Melanie occasionally taking control of her right hand to slap Ian when he’s kissing Wanda and the like. You know, the kind of thing you might see in a wacky body-sharing comedy like ‘The Thing With Two Heads’ or, you know, an adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s adult romance novel ‘The Host’.

All the while Wanda is being sought by an alien called ‘Seeker’ because we might as well keep things simple for this movies intended audience which I assume is the severely brain damaged and those who like to keep fire as a pet. The other aliens tell Seeker that she should just give up, after all the resistance is small and will eventually die out by itself. It’s just not worth bothering with. It turns out however that Seeker is hunting Wanda because she too is having problems controlling her host and so she wants to find Wanda in order to… Well, I’m not sure actually. I’m sure there must have been some reason. Meanwhile Wanda finds out that the resistance are cutting the parasites out of the infected and killing them in order to try and make them human again. She is disturbed by this and instead shows how to do it in a way that leaves both host and parasite alive, an operation they eventually carry out on Seeker, sending the parasite back to the stars.

Anyway the whole love quadrangle is resolved when Wanda is removed from Melanie and placed in a braindead body, thereby bringing life to a body that had none. And so everything is wrapped up in a nice little package and the movie ends with more aliens and humans learning they can live together in harmony thereby giving hope to the future of our two species or some bullshit.

Jesus Fucking H. Testicle Blasting Christ this one was a struggle. As a film fan I’ve poked my fair share of fun at the Twilight series but, honestly, those things are fucking masterpieces compared to this piece of shit. I tried taking notes during it but they eventually just devolved into me writing THIS IS THE STUPIDEST FUCKING THING I’VE EVER SEEN over and over again. At least you can have fun taking the piss out of the Twilight films, I will give them that and Michael Sheen is awesome for the small amount of screen time he has but this… This isn’t even worth sitting through to try and make fun of it. There’s just nothing redeeming here. It’s a poorly acted, poorly written, though admittedly nicely shot, mess. Friends I have gazed into the mouth of madness and what I found waiting was The Host. Nothing really makes sense. The aliens claim that of all the bodies they’ve inhabited humans are among the trickiest because of their strong physical desires. I assume that they’re talking about our sex drive which, assuming that they’ve inhabited other species that reproduce sexually, should be a pretty common problem throughout the universe. Sex is what drives any species that reproduces that way, for fucks sake!

There are two problems which I consider to be insurmountable when it comes to this film. The first is that this is actually a fairly interesting concept. A human and an alien sharing a body and the complications they face could make for a really good film but here the story is so lacklustre and the whole thing is handled so poorly that it results in one of the worst science-fiction movies that I’ve ever seen. The second problem is that this film shares a title with an awesome 2006 South Korean film and now whenever I say “The Host is awesome!” I’m going to have to qualify that I’m talking about that film and not this pieces of shit.

Half a pint out of five because, again, it is shot quite nicely. Has Stephanie Meyer written anything else of consequence? Not really? Good. Hopefully that’s the end of that chapter. Laterz.

The Host



Review – Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) by Jamie

It seems as though I’m stuck in a world of watching adaptations of books I haven’t read at the moment. First of it was the surprisingly entertaining The Hunger Games, then Disney’s alright but somewhat lacklustre John Carter and now we’re back with another Disney attempt with Oz the Great and Powerful. It serves as a prequel of sorts to the 1939 original movie and takes elements from L. Frank Baum’s novels as well as bits from Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ as near as I can tell.

It basically tells the story of Oscar Diggs, stage name Oz, a magician/con-man with a travelling fair who is accidentally transported to the Land of Oz when he and his hot air balloon are caught in a tornado in Kansas. He finds out that there is a prophecy foretelling the arrival of a great and powerful wizard bearing the same name as the land itself. Oz decides to take advantage of this fortuitous coincidence when he discovers that the prophecy states that the Wizard will be named King and get mountains and mountains of treasure. He soon finds himself caught up in a war between three witches and has to decide whether he is going to try and get home or become the man he’d like to be and he has fooled others into believing he is.

My, it almost sounds like a fantasy version of John Carter when I write it out like that…

Anyway that’ll do for a synopsis since the film’s currently out at the cinema and that. The question is, is it worth you plonking your hard earned cash monies down on a cinema counter in order to go see it?

Well up front I’ll say I saw it in 2D because in a 3D film your eyes spend ten minutes adjusting to it and then you forget that it’s even in 3D in the first place so what’s the point in wasting that extra couple of quid? Still there were scenes that definitely seemed to be built for the medium so who knows, it might add something to it. Of course the film is also very, very colourful, something that tends to get lost in the 3D films I have seen so I guess it’s swings and roundabouts.

The film itself was surprisingly entertaining. I guess the surprise shouldn’t have been so great because it is Sam Raimi directing and, generally speaking, the man does good work. Franco is also generally entertaining as the titular Oz, in fact all of the actors are pretty good though for the first half of the film Mila Kunis seems bizarrely wooden like she’s trying to pull of naïve but isn’t quite getting it and comes of instead as someone who may have suffered a very, very slight brain injury. I mean, she’s still good but something seems a little off.

Still this film could have been a lot worse. Hollywood’s track record with prequels hasn’t exactly been great. The Hobbit left me wondering why the hell it couldn’t have just been one film, perhaps two at the most. Prometheus should have been a lot less stupid. And then there’s Star Wars. Oz manages to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that these other films fall in to and I think the reason possibly is that there really isn’t that much to the original Wizard of Oz film itself (I mean with regards to plot. Of course there‘s all kinds of deeper meanings that can be read into it). It’s a fairly straight forward story about a girl on a journey of discover through a weird and marvellous world. You get the sense that there is a back story, from the brief scene when the Good and Wicked Witches are in the scene together in Munchkin Land and of course with the Wizard himself, but none of it is really explored within the film itself. There’s a lot to explore there and you can do it without really stepping on the originals toes too much.

The film does have its problems. Perhaps most distracting was, whilst it was referencing the original film just fine, how it almost seemed as though it was trying to be every other movie. One character is deceived by someone they trust, becomes disfigured and turns to the dark side. At one point Oz says something like “I may not be the Wizard you were expecting but maybe I can be the Wizard you need.” Also he spends a lot of time acting opposite a digital monkey. I know that these may rather be more a problem with my film obsessed brain rather than the movie itself but it all just seemed a bit, well, obvious. I think the broader point that I’m trying to make here is that this film suffers from a similar problem to John Carter. It’s all very pretty, and I mean very, very pretty, but once more it never feels as though it’s anything we haven’t seen before. Oz get’s away with it a bit better though since it has a) a more likeable lead and b) it doesn’t seem to be taking itself to seriously like Carter did at points. It’s all just a bit of a fun romp through a weird fantasy land with a con-man.

Speaking of Oz’s character, there’s something about him that puts me in mind a little of a more family friendly version of Ash from the Evil Dead series. In fact, since this is a Raimi film, I wouldn’t be surprised if the character was thought of with how he might have a young Bruce Campbell, who of course gets a cameo, play it in mind.

Despite it’s flaws, like the makeup of the Wicked Witch of the West looking like a cross between the Mask and the Green Goblin, Oz the Great and Powerful is a pretty enjoyable return to Oz. Speaking of which, would it have killed you to have some references to that film in here Raimi? Maybe Tick-Tock or, God forbid, some Wheelers? Anyway, it’s certainly more enjoyable than John Carter or the film it has been most compared to, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Three out of five. Laterz. Oh, and if Zach Braff’s character Frank from the Baum Brothers Circus at the beginning of the film is shown in a sequel writing a book based on his friend’s adventures, I will probably go insane.

Oz




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