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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cady (Lindsay Lohan) looks on while Regina George (Rachel McAdams) makes a nasty phonecall.

One of my friends has been quoting from this film for years but I never know what she’s talking about. 2013 seemed like a good time to find out.

Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is the new student at Evanston High. One of her new friends describes her as a potential ‘Grade-A Hottie’ and she is sent undercover to infiltrate ‘The Plastics’ – the school’s most exclusive clique. The Plastics are pretty but shallow mean girls headed by queen bee Regina Geroge (Rachel McAdams). As Cady puts it “I hate Regina, but I find myself wanting to impress her” and it isn’t long before the plan is in danger of backfiring as Cady begins to turn into a ‘Plastic’ herself…

This is not aimed at my demographic at all – the most likely audience would be a teenage girl – but it’s funny anyway which more than anything else is an indicator that this is a good film. It’s a smart comedy with a sharp script and overall story-arc excepted is anything but formulaic. It’s appeal is dented slightly by the teen audience being it’s primary target and this means that what could be sharper edges are instead smoothed in places. Lohan (slightly ironically) plays wholesome very well, and McAdams does a very good job as head bitch. While both Tina Fey (also the co-writer of the film) and Tim Meadows showcase their comic talent as the girls’ teachers

A smart well-written comedy which raises mostly smiles but there are a few big laughs too. 7/10

The Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) wishes his alien training instructor used mouthwash.

I know this is based on a comic book, but even so it sounds like someone is making up the narration at the start of the film. “In Sector 2814 of the universe of Mazak is the galaxy of Weebo and located there is the planet of Fircruk. Here the universe’s great guardians are able to harness the glowing green essence of willpower to overcome the the ancient evil force Zabbalax”. That’s pretty much what it sounds like only with slightly different sounding made up names.

Regular human and cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is chosen to become one of the aforementioned guardians (The Lantern Corps) and although very inept to start with, he is destined to become one of the greatest guardians of all…

While not one of the most iconic superheroes ever created, The Green Lantern (Hal) does has super powers that are among the the most imaginative. Actually literally, because he is able to create anything he can imagine. A huge monster is in front of him ready to attack? No problem, he can just imagine a train track where the monster is standing and then imagine a speeding train just about to hit it. The train and track will appear – albeit in a strange green form –  and smash the monster to pieces.

I remember one of my friends posting on Facebook that he thought this was the worst comic to film adaption ever made. It could well be, but as someone who hasn’t read the comics, and therefore wasn’t taking it very seriously, I did find it quite enjoyable. The unusual Lantern powers and setting (the film is set both in space and on Earth) mean it’s unlike almost any other superhero film to date. So it is refreshing in that way. On the downside the movie does feel very lightweight in many areas, neither the script, drama, or relationships between characters really have the weight to lift this beyond a fun action piece. Enjoy it for what it is. 5/10

It’s probably just as well that Ryan (Sandra Bullock) can’t see what’s going on behind her here…

Gravity. It’s an interesting name : the physical kind which holds us to the ground is absent for almost the entire movie. The other kind of gravity however – that seriousness, that weight you feel when important events occur – is here in abundance.

After their space shuttle is hit by space debris (travelling at thosands of miles an hour), Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Lietenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) find themselves cast adrift in space. Their only hope is to try to make it to the International Space Station (the ISS) where they can  use one of its Soyuz escape pods to get back to Earth. If only things were that simple…

In such a empty environment, with only two main characters and in a sense only one since the film is centred on Dr Stone (Bullock), you might expect the movie to have difficulty keeping the audience’s interest level high. However it achieves this admirably, partly by realistic dialogue between the main characters and also by creating variety and tension by continually moving them from one crisis to another. The script is well written and functions nicely both as a story-telling device and as a way of fleshing out the characters backstories and motivations.

Bullock has thankfully toned down her trademark indecisiveness but still retains enough of it to make Ryan Stone seem like a real person (not one of the two-dimensional super women characters so beloved by Hollywood in recent years) and a real space rookie. Stone has recently lost her daughter and as well as adding emotional depth this is also important to the story. When it really comes down to it (and things do get this desperate), what does she really have to live for?

Clooney’s character is necessarily more of a caricature, actually looking and acting remarkably similar to a sort of avuncular Buzz Light Year. He plays this part very well and his more competent and wise-cracking persona is needed to counterbalance Stone’s inexperienced and cautious character.

Forget the hype, it’s not as incredible or amazing as many critics would have you believe. Although it’s technically very impressive it’s also not as beautiful as they say either. I have seen much more beautiful and vibrant images from watching footage of real space missions. The acting is of a very high standard with Bullock’s performance especially standing out as it’s she who has to carry the film. Ultimately though this is just a well told survival tale which happens to be set in space. It is also a very good film

7/10

How Good is the 3D? like most 3D films, the 3D effect is a mixture of the amazing and the poor. It works very well during mostly static close-up shots of the actors or in scenes where there is a lot of CGI (It’s worth noting in many scenes the actors space suits are entirely CGI). At other times however it produces darker, blurred or ghosted images which can appear layered rather than full 3D. We all know that the sight of the Earth from space is one of the most beautiful views known to man but here the Earth often appears flat and indistinct almost looking like a stage backdrop rather than a real planet. I would recommend watching in 3D though because it does do a very good job of making the computer genearted effects look real.

If you know your way around Facebook then it’s easy to mock Ben (Jonah Boho) for his gullibility but he is young and also very vulnerable.

Technology has made huge changes to how we live our lives. Mainly for the better, but there are also a lot of negative aspects too. This is a drama focusing only on the latter – hence the title.

Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo) is an loner, who attracts the attention of two other boys at high school. They decide to make a fake facebook account of a pretty girl called Jessica and then use her to play with him in cruel ways…

Cindy Hull (Paula Patton) is a mother and wife who has recently lost her daughter. Her husband Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) won’t and can’t talk about it. As a result she spends a lot of time talking to a stranger on an online bereavement forum. However a huge withdrawal has just been made from her and her husband’s bank account and now it seems this stranger may have had something to do with it…

These are just two of the stories featured in the film, all of which interlink in some way.

This is a well made drama and although it only concentrates on the bad things that can happen because of our increasing use of technology  – there are also positives which come as a result of these crises in people’s lives. To give a couple of examples without spoiling the film : Ben Boyd’s sister and father realise they weren’t there for Ben and both begin to finally understand what’s really important. Cindy and her husband Derek while on a mission to retrieve their money from the internet stranger, finally find themselves starting to talk again. You get the feeling that soon their relationship will be back on track.

Most of the film is realistic but there are a couple of glaringly incongruous things that happen which make you think: “That character wouldn’t do/say that!”. It’s a shame when these happen but it’s rare that they do and for the most part the film is believable.

Disconnect is a surprisingly compelling drama, it can be nasty and bleak, but it’s also touching at times and ends on a note of hope for many of  the characters. Worth watching. 7/10