Thursday, 31 December 2009

Worst of 2009

No.3 - The Spirit

If, in 2010, Tim Burton succeeds in bringing Lewis Carroll’s fantastical world to the silver screen, it still could not be as bizarre as Frank Miller’s take on Will Eisner’s classic comic. It’s difficult to describe how perplexingly insane The Spirit really is. The tone is uneven throughout, flitting as it does between slapstick silliness and crime drama, all flourished with an excessive use of green screen stylistics which only enhance the films sense of otherworldliness – and not in a good way. So far removed is this noirish caricature from even the most hyper-real of settings that the nonsensical plotting takes a backseat to the alienated characters and abstract scenarios.

The Spirit himself is a hollowed out duplicate of Bruce Wayne, lacking depth or motivation and replicating smugness only. Apparently invincible, this soulless wonder lures every female within the vicinity as he embarks upon a journey to prevent the similarly indestructible Octopus (an overbearingly irritating Samuel L. Jackson) from unleashing some threat or other, the ramifications of which escape my mind entirely. The absurdities reach heights of delirium come the third act, wherein the (un) comic relief is miniaturised and grafted onto a hopping foot, whilst the villain and his extraneous sidekick played by a virtually comatose Scarlett Johansson, parade about in Nazi uniforms. If it sounds confusing, you’re only halfway there. The phrase “a camel is a horse designed by committee” springs to mind, as both cast and crew struggle to coalesce the many schizophrenic strands into one cohesive whole. If this is the extent of Frank Miller’s filmmaking ability, perhaps he should just stick to the comics.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Worst of 2009

No. 4 - Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus

It was inevitable that a film about a pair of prehistoric battling giants – specifically a shark and octopus - should make the top 5. Its fate as a B-movie poster boy was sealed with the now infamous scene (in cult circles at least) in which the aforementioned shark jumps several thousand feet into the air to attack an aeroplane. The plot is predictably simple, although executed rather shoddily as one becomes more interested in spotting the many flaws. The cinematography is dire which is complimented by a camera operator seemingly suffering an epileptic fit. Unsurprisingly the CG is ropey, the kind which would look out of place in an episode of Doctor Who and the miniscule budget forces many fx shots to be re-used over and over.

Of course in all honesty, nitpicking a movie such as this is a somewhat fruitless task. The laughable dialogue, the poor acting, the cheesy emotional subplots and a group of Japanese sailors communicating in perfect English; it’s all there and more besides. It is not, however, a dissatisfying experience. The title ensures you know what you’re getting and its sheer tackiness is offset by the amount of chuckles it provides. The filmmakers know all too well the type of film they’re creating and the audience most likely to suck it up; so while this doesn’t save it from vehement criticism, it does at least offer a few laughs along the way.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Movies This week...

2 Days in Paris (2007) ***
Avatar (2009) ***
Banlieue 13 (District 13) (2004) ***
Bridge to Terabithia (2007) ***
Fatal Attraction (1987) ***
Flushed Away (2006) **
The Ten Commandments (1956) ****
Tristan + Isolde (2006) ***

Monday, 21 December 2009

Worst of 2009

No. 5 - Dorian Gray

Yes, arguably the dullest film of the year has made it onto the list. Boring, uninspired and completely joyless. Click here for my full review!

Movies This week...

Bandslam (2009) **
The Black Dahlia (2006) **
Blood Diamond (2006) ****
The Family Man (2000) **
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) **
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) **
Terminal Velocity (1994) **

Monday, 14 December 2009

Movies This week...

Dear God, Ali G was bloody awful. There was literally no logic to any of it, particularly the part in which the most ridiculous laws are passed, seemingly without being voted for in Parliament. Utter shit.

The African Queen (1951) ***
Ali G Indahouse (2002) *
Cellular (2004) **
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) **
The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) **
Paths of Glory (1957) ***
Red Cliff (2009) ****
Touch of Evil (1958) ***

Monday, 7 December 2009

Movies This week...

Monsters Vs Aliens (2009) ***
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008) ***
Seven Pounds (2008) **
The Verdict (1982) ****

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A Christmas Carol (PG)

Although Robert Zemeckis’s latest offering has been widely publicised as a mo-cap, 3D event, the real surprise lies not in its technological advancements but its ability to breathe new life into a well-known, albeit classic story. So imprinted has A Christmas Carol become in popular consciousness that I along with many others greeted yet another adaptation with mild indifference; yet astonishingly, Disney has reinvigorated Dickens beloved novel by, ironically, adhering faithfully to the source material and delivering a near-perfect translation of the quintessential feel-good tale.

Visually, A Christmas Carol is a delight. The blinding yellows and icy blues invoke a palpable sense of the 19th century rather than a pale imitation and the surprisingly modest approach to the depiction of London lends a much needed touch of realism to a film which could so easily have been ruined by indulgent fantasy. The expressionistic camerawork also offers a sense of hyperreality which owing to the fluidity with which it traverses Scrooge’s city justifies completely the use of mo-cap, whilst remaining grounded during the more sombre moments.

True the animation is sloppy at times and considering the time that has passed since The Polar Express (2004) one would expect a far greater leap in the technology than displayed here. Yet somehow it works, perhaps because unlike previous efforts A Christmas Carol is more concerned with caricaturing Dicken’s world, rather than attempting to re-create it. Ebenezer Scrooge in particular is portrayed wonderfully by Jim Carrey, who brings just the right amount of frivolity to the role while restraining himself from ever becoming too theatrical. Yet for all its visual panache – the 3D being exceptionally strong also – the real surprise is how beautifully powerful the whole picture really is. It’s shockingly scary, heartbreakingly sad and tearjerkingly uplifting, which for a story so heavily etched into popular consciousness is a major achievement indeed.