13 November 2010

What a right bender!

The Last Airbender – M. Night Shyamalan

First of all, let’s not take into account that this is a M. Night Shymalan movie, and let’s just go by the source material which happens to be a Nickelodeon cartoon with a massive following and cult status that even animation lovers and geeks appreciate for its sheer enjoyment. I’ve never watched the TV show so i don’t know anything about air bending or such things. I know the title was going to be called Avatar: The Last Airbender but it was changed because of the link to the James Cameron film, so i guessed the lead character is called Avatar and he’s of a special breed of person; which is pretty much the plot of the film. I know the film has had plenty of bad reviews calling for M. Night to call it quits after such a great beginning to his career and that with this, it’s a new low for The Sixth Sense director. See i don’t just look at one work of the director, you got to think of it as a team effort and if it fits into the directors canon of work. One of my favourite directors is Kevin Smith, a man who has been beaten and scarred by people’s reviews of his later which people suggest is lacking compared to his first feature Clerks, but i still enjoy his work because i like his whole canon, I’ll never stop enjoying his films because i trust his judgement and i trust his work. I’m not like that with M. Night; i like some of his work, but not all of it. Not a big fan of signs!

Following a young boy called Aang, who after a hundred years awakens in an ice ball in a land of water, not realising that a hundred years has passed and that the world around him has changed. See this isn’t any old place, this is where element bending occurs, where there are four breeds of special people, Airbenders who can bend air, waterbenders who can bend water, firebenders who can bend fire and earthbenders who can bend Earth. It’s a pretty simple thing to understand but by having this Avatar, who is meant to use all 4 of these bending abilities to help balance the world, but because he is a boy, who only knows air bending, it’s a little adventure for the boy to learn these bending skills, but he doesn’t. He just about learns about to waterbend by the end of the film, seeming that the director and writers thought they would get a sequel where he would learn more abilities, which, from the money taken and the amount of people who saw the film, mostly children mind you, would be on the cards.

I don’t know what it is about the film, but it feels cold, i don’t really care if Avatar wins or loses, i actually care for Dev Patel’s character Prince Zuko who is expelled from his kingdom for his father’s actions. I felt like i wanted him to win, which is wrong. The film got many comments about its lacking CGI, true, it’s not great but it’s not aimed at people who know about it, it’s aimed at children who can barely sit in the cinema seats.


Simon Childs

I'm Gonna Have Me Some Fun

Predators – Nimrod Antal

Another remake here, but will it be added to the pile of worthless, pointless and shit films before it that tried to recreate the magic of the first and try to create a franchise for the cash hungry film companies that will slaughter and kill any dignity they used to have? In a way yes and no. Predators, a somewhat sequel to Predators 2, Nimrod Antal and the production company owned by Robert Rodriquez who also wrote the script many, many years ago take the concept of predators and makes a decent film, but because of the source material not being that great, it feels right. Predator 1 and 2 were never amazing films, only the creature that featured was well liked, sure it had Danny Glover and Arnold Schwarzenegger but the script, the action, the production were shocking. The films felt like B-movies and it was a bit of a cult thing to enjoy them. It’s understandable why when they were used in the unpopular series Aliens vs. Predators, it made us really realise how shocking the creature really is, it got fucking slaughtered in those films, but here Rodriquez gives back the series it’s dignity. Starring an array of strange castings where you wouldn’t normally see it working, but somehow does, the lead male character, Adrian Brody here kinda shines as a maverick, the loner solider who wants to win and will do anything for his survival. Along with Brody, a group arrive with him in the form of Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Oleg Taktarov, Walton Goggins, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Danny Trejo and Laurence Fishburne. A rag tag group of actors who each brings something different, of course no Oscar worth performances and nothing new, but it fits the tone of the film which is very dark.

The film sees a group of people thrown onto a planet or a land where weird creatures live, these creatures are Predators. They hunt in packs, have cloaking devices and have weapons they will blow you up in mere seconds. This group of humans, each bringing different things, coming from backgrounds which will help in their survival with soldiers of different wars, a yakuza, a doctor, a serial rapist, a heavy machinery brute and a knife expert, slowly one by one get picked off. They must survive by killing them before they are killed. The deaths are over-the-top but that’s what you expect and each has their own characteristic. It’s quite cool how they go about explaining the predators in how there are bigger ones and smaller ones, and how they hunt each other. Fishburne, who was already on the island, plays a crazy guy who has lost his mind who the group think will help. Surprise, surprise. It has a decent ending which you knew was coming, well expect for one part.

It’s okay, it has the expectation i thought it would, it never blew me away but it was cool in parts. Worth watching on a boring Sunday night.


Simon Childs

7 November 2010


MacGruber – Jorma Taccone

Based on a famous Saturday Night Live sketch, a comedy skit show from the US which happens live every two weeks with a guest host, normally actors and a musical guest who sometimes get involved in the skits; it sees one of the famous skits being turned into a feature length movie with a whole host of celebrity cameos and strange appearances. With Will Forte playing MacGruber, a funny take on the famous television character MacGyver, who can get out of ridiculous situations using everyday objects, alongside Kristen Wiig playing Vicki St. Elmo, friend and colleague of MacGruber and Lt. Dixon Piper, a young lieutenant forced to help him in his mission to take down, and get this: Dieter von Cunth played by the awesomely cool Val Kilmer. The plot is pretty simple from there but the names and the characters are hilarious but unfortunately a normal 3 minute sketch is funnier than stretching out a joke that should only last the long. Sure it has moments of being laugh out loud funny but overall feels rushed and not fleshed out as much as possible. Directed by one of the brains behind the very funny group The Lonely Island, the experience from directing videos that are also ¾ minutes long doesn’t help. It seems the whole project is based on being so short than when stretched, is very thin.

MacGruber must take down von Cunth after finding out that Cunth killed his wife on their wedding day with a bazooka, and for being asked to track him down about a possible weapon being stolen from the hands of the US army. With the help of a few friends including a rag tag team of mercenaries, who you’ll recognise as famous wrestlers, who after a horrible accident, can’t help him anymore, so MacGruber finds a new team to take down Cunth. It’s funny in certain scenes but in others doesn’t quite work. This film without knowing the background would seem strange and i reckon the audiences won’t get half of the jokes without seeing the sketches. Luckily, knowing what MacGruber is and how funny it can be is it’s gain and its downfall. Knowing that the sketches can be hilarious, it doesn’t hit the right buttons for me, maybe if they went back to the drawing board and put some more effort it into, it might work better.

Overall a funny film in parts with some good characters and Will Forte doing the best with a character who only works in short bursts.


Simon Childs

Gekko Returns!

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – Oliver Stone

Gordon Gekko. One of the biggest characters ever produced in film. Bigger than Bruce Wayne, bigger than Hannibal Lector and even bigger than The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter. Returning from Wall Street, Gekko comes alive again on our screens in the sequel, cleverly named Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Returning also to direct is Oliver Stone who brings together a great ensemble cast which supplements Michael Douglas acting really well with great names like Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan and Frank Langella. All of them bring their “A” game in a film that i never was interested to see but from the reviews and the subject matter drew me into seeing it. And i was blown away by flawless it is, it’s somewhat simple, it has a pace that never drops and never makes you feel like you could switch off, the acting is engaging, the style is beautiful too and you can see Stone really pulls it off. Having great actors like that bouncing off each other, it’s enjoyable to see a good script made to be another level above, it’s smooth, very smooth. The plot does have points where it dips, but i fully expected it to slow down, and with the subject matter it may bore people or it may be something new to others.

Beginning with Gekko coming out of jail in 2001 and then the film moves forward 7 years to show Shia and Carey as a couple with Shia being in investment banking in Wall Street where he seems to be a young hot shot who wants to bring unlimited and free energy to the world. His boss, Frank, loves Shia like a son and wants him to become the best he can be, and gives him a massive bonus to settle down and have kids with his girlfriend. Shia goes to buy a ring but sadly before he can propose, Frank commits suicide due to the stress of the financial downfall of his company and the embarrassment from the bailout of other banks. It seems suspect in how it went down and Shia goes on a rampage to find out who really did it, which caused his boss to kill himself. Along the way, we find out that Carey is Gekko’s daughter who hasn’t spoken in many years and through Shia, Gekko finds a way to talk to her again but it doesn’t seem quite right. It has some good twists and turns which you won’t see and Brolin’s turn as a rival investment bank owner is great too.

It’s a wonderful film with a great soundtrack, perfect directing and acting, it’s a really decent film, and it may surprise you.


Simon Childs

A Legend isn't born...

The Legend is Born: Ip Man – Herman Yau

The title of the review reveals most of what you’re going to see, where the hype of it being a great film that levels the same amount of respect that a Bruce Lee film had when it first came out. Unfortunately this film is all hype and no substance, sure the fight sequences are good with no wires and no CGI to put the actors into the actor, and they show their athleticism and skill clearly learned over many years. It is a film that real martial arts champions will enjoy inside of the fans of over-the-top action like Ong Bak which seems to take the limits and pushes it to ridiculous bounds like fighting on elephants for instance. Ip Man is the lead character who is meant to be a big deal in Hong Kong where his legendary status as martial arts king who was one of the first to teach Wing Chun, a famous form of fighting. The story shows his life from when he was born to the moment he succeeds in overthrowing a traitor in his midst, which i won’t ruin, but i’m guessing you’ll probably never see this film ever, and even i’m shocked that i had to watch this, out of all the releases, this is one of the worst I’ve had to look at. It’s not a bad film by any stretch; i’m just not interested in it, at all. Sure i enjoyed Ong Bak for how over-the-top it is, but it was still entertaining, here the slow pacing, the shockingly bad acting and script, it will just bore the face off of you.

It seems to have the feel of a straight-to-TV movie where the budget is low, the setting is bad, and the costumes are even worse. Sure it’s from Hong Kong but the reviews it received hyped it up to receive a UK release where i’m sure the film will land into the bargain bins at Christmas for all those martial arts fans out there that visit the marked section in HMV to buy them. Do they have a section like that in HMV?


Simon Childs