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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Impressive detail here as Abraham’s undead friend Henry (Dominic Cooper) doesn’t cast a shadow

If you are going to make a film where Abraham Lincoln battles vampires you had better make it completely ridiculous and totally kick-ass. They got the first part right since this is certainly ridiculous but unfortunately it’s not in any way ‘kick-ass’. In many ways the movie is based on true historical facts, for example Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) uses a silver coated axe as his weapon of choice to despatch the undead, and I do know that the real Lincoln was himself very proficient with an axe. Just as he did in real life Lincoln campaigns to abolish slavery and he also er…. wears a hat. Ok so my knowledge of Honest Abe has pretty much run out here, but shallow though it is, it was still a lot deeper than most of what follows in the film…

There is a nice emotional set up at the start, (albeit in a B-Movie horror film style) where you are shown the death of Abraham’s mother by a vampire and then introduced to him as an inexperienced and vulnerable young man. The film then introduces some of the key characters such as Henry (Dominic Cooper) who becomes his friend, trainer and mentor and also Abe’s future wife Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

However the film soon loses both it’s emotional elements and dramatic tension and you know its lost it’s way completely when the death of Lincoln’s own son fails you move you. But by this time the film has long since degenerated into a sequence of meaningless action sequences anyway. It’s also in these action sequences where the film’s internal logic starts to breaks down : Why is Abe’s friend Will suddenly able to wield an axe just as skilfully as him?

In any film, no matter how ridiculous you still need to care for it to work and here I just didn’t.       Sucks a little, but mainly just draining 4/10

“Hey! You caught us having sex, now you’ll have to wait at least another 20 minutes for something else interesting to happen.”

This is a romantic comedy but you can tell it’s really trying hard to be a bit edgy. There’s kids in it, but to avoid that horrible sickly-sweet feeling you get when you see perfect kids in a movie, here they talk about ‘penises’, ‘vaginas’, and their mom having sex. Not in a shocking way mind you – just in a toned-down romantic comedy style. So yes like all good romantic comedies it’s amusing without ever being properly funny.

On the romantic side, Justin Bartha seems a bit ineffectual and is not really a weighty enough partner for Catherine Zeta-Jones. Although that is kind of the point of the movie – she is dating a much younger guy, who has a lot less life experience than her –  the lack of proper chemistry and drama does mean you don’t really care that much about their relationship. They break up for a while and then it’s “Oh look they are getting back together, that’ll be nice for the kids”. It’s that kind of thing. If you got to the end of the film and they were still apart it really wouldn’t bother you that much.

The Rebound does deserve praise for at least trying to be different in it’s style – it’s a bit spikier, a bit less bland than most films of this type. So it’s a better-than-average romantic comedy but when judged against all other genres, that equates to an average 5/10

“Brainstorm people! We need to think of even more ways we can make this film seem serious and intense..”

Initially one of the most impressive things about this film are Zachary Quinto’s perfectly trimmed eyebrows but.. Money is a serious business, and losing money is very serious indeed, particularly when it’s the whole economy that could be at stake. That’s what’s happening here. Kevin Spacey plays an assets manager who has just been told his finance firm is on shaky ground and must liquidate all it’s assets immediately, potentially throwing the market into chaos in the process.

Margin Call starts off in a dramatic way when one of the workers, Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto), discovers a serious problem with the company’s trading figures, and from here the tension is gradually ramped up as various supervisors and managers are called.  You are introduced to the next boss up and then the next formidable boss and then finally to the big boss John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) who is made out to be some kind of financial godfather. At this point the the film has nowhere else to go with it’s tension, which had been constantly increasing up to that point. This tension is always there, which is a mistake since you start to be become desensitized to it.

The film is simply unable to make you care that much about the fate of the rich kid workers and as for the economy, it seems a distant threat and I didn’t feel absorbed enough to forget I was watching a film, which meant I didn’t really care.

An impressive cast but just not good enough to communicate the human-effect and seriousness of it’s central concept. 4/10

Steve (Michael B.Jordan) uses his psychic powers to slide a car across a parking lot.

If high school shootings weren’t a bad enough advert for troubled loner teens then along comes this film and adds to the anxiety. When 3 teenagers – a popular high school president, a likeable everyman, and a loner with an abusive father get super powers, you can probably guess which one will go renegade and start massacring people…

It’s a found-footage film – filmed from a couple of the character’s camcorders. I presume the main reason for doing this is to make it seem more real and hence more dramatic, but it doesn’t really work. I never at any point thought I was watching 3 real teenagers. The use of found-footage is becoming a little tired now. It was hard not to think the real reason for it’s use was that low-quality special effects are easily covered up when your camera is moving about all over the place or conveniently receiving interference from energy blasts.

Still this film is very enjoyable at times. It has a slightly unconventional feel to it which makes it feels different to many other films and this in turn makes it feel fresher. I did want the acting and character development to be better and the climax of the film, where one of the teens goes wild with his powers, made me roll my eyes just because it seemed so unnecessary. I think they could have made a much better film by keeping it lower-key at the end and focusing more on the emotional elements and maybe even have made the movie a story of redemption instead. Quite good though. 6/10

“Don’t make me say it again.. Pitch Black was not better.”

An action-sequel to the film Pitch Black. Although this isn’t as good or fresh as that film, the character of Riddick (Vin Diesel), a trained-killer is well suited to an action piece. He is again forced to play the reluctant hero and must battle against an alien race called The Necromongers who have invaded the planet he is currently on : Helion Prime.

It looks a little cheap and more often resembles a high budget episode of Star Trek : The Next Generation than a motion picture. However there is good action including a memorable scene where Riddick kills a prison guard with a teacup. Later in the film the prison planet of Crematoria is cleverly introduced which as well as adding variety also spares it from being set entirely on Helion Prime.

It is in this prison where Riddick is reunited with ‘Jack’ from Pitch Black (Alexa Davalos) who has now grown into a young woman called Kyra. The plot does have a few flaws, notably when the previously incredibly athletic Kyra struggles to climb a small mountain that most of the ordinary prisoners seem to manage with ease. But this is a good film overall. It is no Pitch Black but then it isn’t trying to be.

6/10