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Monthly Archives: November 2014

That’s not candy she’s handing out….

Montana Moore (Paula Patton) is an air hostess, she’s fast approaching 40 but is still hopelessly single. Now her younger sister is getting married, and she’s really feeling the pressure to find someone. Her fellow cabin crew decide to intervene by setting her up with as many of her ex’s (the ones it didn’t quite work with before) as possible. They do this by waiting until one of her ex-partners needs to catch a plane and then they organise it so that Montana is working on the same flight so she can ‘bump’ into them. (implausible yes)

Paula Patton does her best here with an impressive charm offensive but still fails to disguise the fact that this is a sub-standard romantic comedy. It has a lot of the genre staples – a close gay friend, a funny fat friend, an oppressive mother etc – but there’s no sparkle. There are jokes but they’re predictable and rarely raise a smile. The story is even more predictable.

I got about 50 minutes in when I switched off. Rom-com affcionados may want to keep watching to see Montana finally get it on with her best friend (that’s a not a spoiler it’s obvious that’s what’s going to happen from the beginning) but for anyone else, to keep watching would be masochism.

A very generic 3/10

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Eve (Amber Clayton) is about to find out there’s something even more dangerous than the soldiers who have been sent to kill her.

After an ‘incident’ at a top secret Australian government research facility. 3 special forces teams are sent in and given orders to kill the human research subjects there.

Why is it called Crawlspace? Well because there’s not much wriggle-room in the air ducts (where the protagonists seem to find themselves a lot of the time) and even less when someone else has access to your mind and thoughts. Just where do you go to hide then?

This is the real horror in Crawlspace and it would be an intriguing idea to explore if it wasn’t buried amongst a huge amount of cliche, events and characters you’ll already have seen in so many previous films. You’ll notice the motion-detectors from Alien, the same squad make-up as in Aliens and in many films since : tough badass female, crazy male, sensible captain. Then there’s the lone female with special powers who doesn’t know how powerful she is yet – see Resident Evil 1, Fifth Element, etc. There’s even an English villan – I won’t list films here because in 50% of films we get cast as the villan. I will need serious help if I ever have to defend myself in a foreign court – after all how can I be English and not be evil?

So yes Crawlspace is cliched, derivative, and predictable. There are also times however when it’s inventive, fresh and unexpected. Unfortunately this is only about 10% of the time. This means that although it’s watchable and you’ll want to see what happens next, it’s not a particularly rewarding experience. You’ve mostly seen it all before. I wish they had taken the central concept of thought and memory control and put it into a completely fresh setting, ditched the soldiers and generated some real horror in an environment we could all relate to. As it is, for a horror film Crawlspace is not very scary. It gets an average 5/10

“Listen Hanks! We liked you in Toy Story but now you are pushing your luck!!”

I don’t like hostage dramas in general (predictable and samey), so I wasn’t very keen to watch this: a film about a cargo vessel being boarded by Somali pirates. There was a lot written at the time about how this was based on a true story and it was impossible to miss the obvious fact that Captain Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) had survived the experience. So already you have a tension-reducer right there. Not that they would kill off Tom Hanks anyway – a quick search on the internet reveals the number of films Tom Hanks’ character has been killed in as precisely 2. (and no Philadelphia doesn’t count)

Fortunately, not only is Hanks very good in the role as the practical and brave captain but the scope is admirably broad with just as much time paid to the backstory and motivations of the Somali pirates as to those of Phillips. The captain of the Somali pirates Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) also impresses and won a much deserved BAFTA for his role.

This being said you still know that Phillips survives so even during particularly tense moments – for example where Phillips is alone with the increasingly hot-headed and desperate pirates in a small lifeboat – the tension is not as intense as it could have been. The only real question is ‘when’ he will be rescued. The ‘how’ being answered as soon as the Navy Seals train their sniper rifles on the boat.

Hopefully apart from being a good movie this will do a service to merchant shipping as a whole. It’s almost unbelievable how vulnerable large cargo vessels like the one in this film can be. You wonder at the lack of even a single armed guard on board. In fact in this case even a well placed crew member could have unhooked the boarding ladder and saved a whole lot of expense and trouble.

Overrated upon release but definitely one of the better hostage dramas you will see. 6/10

Portia (Tina Fey) has to stretch the truth to get her son Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) accepted into Harvard.

This is a slightly above-average romantic comedy starring Tina Fey as admissions officer Portia Nathan at Harvard. It’s fairly standard stuff but at least the setting is new. Portia finds herself put in an difficult position when she is told that one of the pupils she is  being asked to assess is actually the son who she gave up for adoption. Paul Rudd plays John Pressman (Fey’s soon-to-be-love interest). He is the headmaster of the the slightly unorthodox Quest school at which her son Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) is a pupil.
On the romantic side there is some genuine warmth between Fey and Rudd but it never really goes much beyond that. There’s certainly nothing remotely tear-inducing. Comedy then seems to be the priority and while Fey is a good comic actor there’s nothing in the script that’s going to make you laugh out loud. So smiles rather than laughs then.

The supporting cast includes Mark (Michael Sheen) Portia’s academic long term boyfriend who likes to call her ‘good girl’ while patting her on the head – he basically treats her like a cute dog. Nelson (Travaris Spears) is John’s precocious adopted African son he also looks remarkably like a young Don Cheadle. Then there’s Susannah (Lily Tomlin) who is Portia’s bossy mother, and also Corinne (Gloria Reuben), her bitchy rival at the university.

It’s an interesting setting with interesting characters, but it’s not funny enough for a comedy and not romantic enough for a romantic comedy.
 
6/10