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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Total Recall (2012) is not stepping on the toes of a classic because the original wasn’t a classic..

This is a remake of the original Arnie film from 1990. A film I have watched 3 times, not because I liked it but at the time it was one of the few Arnie films I didn’t like and I felt I should. This is also a similar reason to why I have seen Bladerunner 6 times, but anyway I’m getting off track..

Here Colin Farrell steps into the shoes of Douglas Quaid. However despite sharing a name with Schwarzenegger’s original character, you will soon find quite a few differences to the story. He still has a ‘perfect’ wife though – here it’s Kate Beckinsale – and he has a meaningless life. He is plagued by dreams where he feels he has a purpose and is doing something worthwhile, fighting someone or something, and there’s a women in his dreams (Jessica Biel) who he has feelings for.. but the dreams are never quite solid enough to grasp onto or discern a meaning from. He eventually finds himself going to ‘Recall’ a private company that promises to let people live out their dreams in their mind just as if they were real.

This film is clever and plays with your expectations constantly. If you have seen the original you will be surprised that things don’t always happen how you expect. I should say that the lady with 3 breasts is present though, and is considerably more beautiful that the original – in fact this time round you may actually wish for that extra hand. (sexist joke alert!)

In fact you’ll often think you’re smart and that you’re ahead of what’s going on – but the director is always one step ahead of you – Is this real? or is Quaid still unconscious at Recall? and events will make you vacillate between the two with such a frequency that you’ll barely care by the end of the film.

Ultimately despite the cleverness there is little meaning here, and once it gets going, the movie is just one long action scene. There’s no time for meaningful relationships to build between the characters and combined with the excessive number of twists in the plot (the director plays with your expectations a little too much), you never find yourself fully engaged.

Different, but no worse or better than the original. It is entertaining but it’s shallow too. 5/10

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You get the feeling that they too will be glad when All Good Things comes to an end…

A film that is best described as a dark and depressing. Or more accurately – just depressing. David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is a complicated and moody young man. When he was young, he watched his mother commit suicide and he has never trusted or liked his father. Both of these problems are carried over into his adult life. Now his father wants him to go into the family business – a profitable but unlawful property business. However David’s dream has always been to run a health food shop.

It’s a slow and murky film, which you constantly think is building up to something revelatory and for this reason you stick with it but sadly nothing that interesting ever happens. The best and brightest thing about this movie is easily Kirsten Dunst’s light presence as David’s wife Kathleen. Although even this singular ray of light is snuffed out eventually. Encouraging though at this point that the film does get a little more interesting. The pace of the story quickens as David begins to live life as a woman and he befriends his neighbour Malvern (Philip Baker Hall).

I feel like I have watched this so you don’t have to. Any subtle examination of David’s psyche and relationships achieved by the film are totally negated by just how boring, slow and depressing it all is. Avoid and if you saw this it at the cinema then I pity you.

Dull and turgid. 3/10

While under interrogation, ‘The Suspect’ (Mekhi Phifer) seems overly concerned that the police camera stays on at all times. But why?

A black man walks into a bank, pulls a gun on the cashier and demands $3 million in cash. Half-an-hour later, a man matching his description is picked up by the local police walking towards the town. Not only does he look suspicious but he is covered in dirt as if he has just been digging. Is it the same man? It’s worth noting here that this is a small mid-western town with a African-American population of zero. The police take him into custody, but soon it becomes clear that there is much more going on here than just a robbery. In fact no-one is who they initially apppear to be, not the chief-suspect or the apparently racist police…

This is an interesting set-up and could have made an intriguing film if events had been handled well and with subtlety. Sadly however, this has TV-movie written all over it – the acting isn’t quite true to life and the core concept (which I won’t spoil for you by going into detail) becomes more and more preposterous as the story unfolds. Even worse the director assumes you’re an idiot and when there are twists in the plot he insists on showing you flashback sequences detailing exactly what happened. This removes any mystery from the proceedings and robs your brain of the chance to build up it’s own picture of events (usually a powerful way of involving the viewer).

Positives : there are some, The movie keeps you guessing and the central character, Mekhi Phifer who plays ‘The Suspect’ certainly has charisma and screen presence, but it’s wasted here. To sum up an idea that initally shows promise but is handled badly 4/10

“It’s Spock Jim, but a lot older than we know him”, Kirk (Chris Pine), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) all wonder why Leonard Nemoy is in this film.

I haven’t seen the the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek film but here I am jumping in with the sequel. Initial impressions were much better than I was expecting though. Especially with regards to the new, or should I say younger versions of the now geriatric Enterprise crew. Zachary Quinto is superb as Spock and manages to capture perfectly the internal conflict between his calculating, logical nature and his need to understand the more emotional and impulsive actions of his colleagues. Chris Pine makes a good young enthusiastic Kirk, although on the negative side he does look a little too pretty (what’s with his alien-like blue eyes?) and fragile at times. I do like Simon Pegg normally but here his Scotty wasn’t working for me. (Why not actually use a Scottish actor?). Everyone else though is pretty good. I have to ask though, What the hell is Leonard Nemoy’s future Spock doing here?? It just seems like an excuse for a cameo, all it does is to reduce tension even further (we already know Kirk, Spock et al aren’t going to die because..  well – we’ve seen them in the original Star Trek. We don’t need a future version of Spock giving the younger version advice and  making things even safer for them). It just seems like a weak attempt to get some of the more staunch, traditional members of the fanbase onside. Get rid of him.

The bad guy in this film is Khan (who you will remember from Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan), a super verison of a human ably played by Benedict Cumberbatch. He wants revenge on Star Fleet for taking his crew – and he gets it – gunning down a room of high ranking Star Fleet generals. Kirk, hot-headed as he is jumps on the Enterprise (not entirely his ship at this point) and heads after Khan looking for revenge. But is he in too deep? It turns out that Khan is much more dangerous an enemy than he or his crew realise…

What Abrams does well is to inject some much needed excitement and action into the typically more staid, cold and clinical Star Trek universe. You always want to see what happens next, and tension is expertly built. However I would argue that there’s a little bit too much dumb action and not enough of the intelligence and cleverness of the original Star Trek to counter-balance it. At the end of the film you feel you have been entertained by but nothing more. A little more depth wouldn’t go amiss.
I have to say though, it was great to see Spock using his Vulcan Death Grip again. It brought back memories of when my father used to try it on my brother and me – thankfully I lived to tell the tale. As for my for my brother, well…

Abrams certainly gets that Star Trek needs excitement. This is a good, fun, entertaining action film, that’s just in need of something extra to make you think. Let’s hope he’s saving it for the next film.

6/10