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Monthly Archives: March 2013

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) realises too late that reports of Mars being uninhabited were inaccurate

Can a poorly chosen name really cause a film to flop? Well it can’t help and John Carter is certainly one of the worst names for a film since…. well maybe ‘The Phantom Menace’, which managed to make Star Wars : Episode 1 sound like an episode of Scooby Doo.

This name certainly tells you nothing about the film which is based on a 1912 Edgar Rice Burrough’s book ‘The Princess of Mars’, and sees ex US cavalryman John Carter transported to the red planet. Once there, Carter finds that he has superhuman strength and jumping ability – due to the reduced gravitational pull – and becomes involved in a conflict between two Martian tribes.

It’s hard to find a decent film set on Mars, and John Carter doesn’t really buck that trend. Part of the problem is the location is so uninspiring. It’s basically a big red dusty desert with rivers (I don’t know why it has rivers but hey it’s a film). On a positive note the film tells it’s story well, and is very reminiscent of old-fashioned adventure films e.g. The Clash of the Titans, and Sinbad. Although a more modern day equivalent might be The Prince of Persia.

Some of the acting is bad, notably female lead Lynn Collins who plays Martian Princess and chief romantic interest Deja Thoris, is slightly wooden in her delivery. One of the main villans in the film Sab Than (Dominic West) isn’t charismatic enough and comes across as a bland villian. However primary antagonist Mark Strong as the leader of the evil Therns is a lot more interesting, and provides some much needed menace.

Watch it : as a piece of entertainment with dramatic but unspectacular action sequences
Don’t Watch it : if you are looking for a meaningful cinematic experience or good acting.

An average 5/10

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General Aladeen in convincing disguise as an American tourist.

‘When Harry Kidnapped Sally’, ‘You’ve Got Mailbomb!’, and ‘Planet Of The Rapes’. All classic films from the tiny North African country of Wadiya. And now we have The Dictator, which stars Sacha Baron Cohen as General Aladeen –  the leader-tyrant of that nation. He enjoys supreme power at home but things don’t go to plan when he travels to America in order to address the UN. A coup by his evil uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) means he is replaced in power by his idiot body double and Aladeen himself ends up working unrecognised in a vegan food store.

This is what comedy should be : fresh, edgy, incisive, nothing out of bounds and politically incorrect – although it does at times fall into the same trap Bruno (a previous Baron Cohen film) did – where it’s just outrageous for the sake of it, even when it is not funny. In fact with a little better quality control on what jokes are funny and which are lame (yes there are a few) this could have been even better. Very funny at times and definitely worth watching. 6/10

Actually the best photo I can find for this film, there are so few on the internet…

On paper this actually has a lot going for it – when one of their clients goes on holiday, pool boys Roger (Matthew Lillard) and Alex (Brett Davern) decide to set up a brothel in his huge mansion. The film has the style of Weekend at Bernie’s crossed with the story of Night Shift (the film where Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler run a brothel from a morgue). This premise offers the writers numerous comic possibilities. In fact it should have been good, but…. instead it’s dull, unfunny and boring.

The normally dependable Matthew Lillard is strangely subdued and cuts more of a tragic figure than a comic one, and his cousin Alex is just not an engaging character full-stop. The best thing about the film are some of the quotes, which bizarrely range from Homer to Shakespeare. I am including one here so you dont have to watch the film.

‘And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, and often is his gold complexion dimmed.’

Starts off dim and never shines brightly. 2/10

(Please note : This film was originally called American Summer for it’s original US release)

“Holy Shit, it’s on B2”,  “Are you sure, it might be A1?”,  “FFS Rihanna, just fire the gun!!”

OK lets try…

A5….. MISS! This film is based on the board game Battleship, and as a result the plot is one big contrivance to enable 3 alien naval(??) vessels to face off against 3 warships on a grid like structure.

B6…..MISS! Yes it is completely ridiculous.

D2…..HIT and MISS! Rihanna is in it and plays a weapons officer. She won a Golden Raspberry Award for her bad acting skills. The truth is her acting isn’t really that bad at all. It’s not good either but she certainly didn’t deserve that Razzie.

E3…..HIT! It’s very watchable.

H2…. HIT! Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is an engaging lead character with a train-wreck personailty. He gives the film a fresh edge. He also strongly resembles English footballer Michael Owen (who is not an engaging character)

5/10 Enjoyable, and a lot better than people will admit even if it does smell strongly of Transformers…

Prince’s style in this film is best described as gay Jimi Hendrix

Prince plays ‘The Kid’ a talented musician and performer who is hampered in his attempts to become sucessful by his ego and self indulgent performances.

Even though this is a fictionalized account you get the impression this film is attempting to be real in some way and at least show some of Prince’s life. However there is so much affected ‘cool’ and posturing that you never really get much beyond the impression that he is some kind of sensitive peacock. The lyrics : “Maybe I’m just like my father, too bold. Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied”  from When Doves Cry will tell you pretty much all you need to know about his parental and relationship problems – his father is abusive towards his mother, and The Kid (Prince) is heading in same direction.

Some of the acting is shocking but is somehow forgivable given it’s a pop vehicle with a lot of real-life musicans involved. The soundtrack is good but how much you enjoy this film will depend on whether you are a fan of Prince’s music or not. For most people there wont be much to enjoy beyond Purple Rain and When Doves Cry 3/10

You’d expect a film where Meg Ryan licks excrement to be slightly less dull

This is based on the true story of Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan) fighting for success and equal recognition in the male-dominated world of boxing promotion. By accident Jackie discovers young prospect Luther Shaw (Omar Epps) and as well as his promoter she becomes his emotional support, as she guides him to success.

It would be a interesting story if told well but I found it hard to get involved at any deep level. It lacks spark everywhere – the relationship between the characters, the script, the story, and the production values. Even worse for a boxing film, the fights lack drama and excitement. In style they are more realistic than Rocky but yet still fail to be at all like real boxing. Of course, they don’t have to be realistic to be good (as Rocky proves) but at least make them exciting in some way!

I actually assumed this was a TV film when i watched it partly because its very bland but also because TV films do quite often feature a woman fighting for something or other in a male-dominated world.

The sort of film, if it was on late – you’d watch half of, before heading up to bed.  4/10