Film Review Round Up Feb/March 2011
By Dan Collacott
2011 started brightly with Black Swan, True Grit and The Fighter (released last year in the US) but most films since that pretty decent trilogy have been far from impressive. Check out the latest batch and consider the fact that I watch these movies so you don't have to!
Drive Angry 3D
Director: Patrick Lussier
Run Time: 104 min
The first movie I saw from Lussier was My Bloody Valentine 3D - a horror slasher flick that united loads of common horror elements into a surprising decent package. The beauty of My Bloody Valentine 3D was that it knew what it was, it understood its own limitations and was good fun into the bargain. It also had some of the most effective 3D use I have seen in the any of the current generation of 3D films. So I was pretty excited when I heard Lussier was return to the 3D genre with Drive Angry 3D. The trailer made the film look like a grindhouse parody, sadly the movie itself didn't quite manage to maintain the self awareness and humour that the promo promised.
The plot is predictably wafer thin, Nicholas Cage plays Nicholas Cage who has broken out of hell and is seeking revenge and trying to save his baby niece from an a cult group of devil worshippers. Milton (Cage) ends up running into downtrodden young hottie - Piper (Amber Heard) and takes her along for his angry ride. They are pursued endlessly by the ludicrously named Accountant (William Fichtner) who is the architect of all or most of the many car chase sequences. Fitchner's slick unemotional performance as a reaper like agent sent from the underworld to take Milton back to Hell, in many ways saves this movie, although no-one does 'angry' like Cage does.
For the first half of this movie I was feeling the irony of the 70s style action b-movie aesthetics and loving the high adrenalin fun factor. Sadly this high was unsustainable and by the last 20mins I felt like I was on a bad come down. The obsessive American car worship seems to be there only to justify the film's title, the chase sequences are neither fun or interesting. There are a few pretty neat action set pieces present though, check out the gun fight in the Motel for a potential classic piece of cinema. On the whole I would struggle to recommend this film, but it definitely has cult appeal.
The Adjustment Bureau
Director: George Nolfi
Run Time - 106 min
I had high hopes for this film. I like the Bourne series, I like Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and I love the genius of writer Phillip K. Dick (who wrote the short story the screenplay is based on). So what went wrong? Well my main issue with the film is the high concept story line promises so much and yet ends up being perfectly underwhelming.
Ambitious Politician David Norris (Damon) after a chance meeting falls in love with Elise Sellas (Blunt) they run around a lot chased by guys who look like 1930s accountants, they stop and talk a lot, Norris gets warned - ignores warning and runs around a lot, film ends. No really there is little more to it than that..... ok so the 'ooooh are the guys chasing them angels under god's control?' keeps you preoccupied for about 5 mins. The not so clever 'business' type references fail to stop this film from appearing like a love story thinly disguised as a science fiction film. Furthermore the Matrix like chunterings about free will and fate ultimately fail to mask the fact the movie delivers little in the way of intrigue or suspense. Blunt and Damon make the most of the turgid script and sometimes flat dialogue, but there just isn't enough substance or implied threat in this 'chase movie' to make it anymore than a dull but inoffensive love story.
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Run Time: 105 min
It feels a long time ago since the Farrellys produced comedy gold such as Kinpin, Dumb and Dumber and Something About Mary. Hall Pass should have been a return to form, instead it is just a show case for how desperate and low brow their comedy has become. Now don't get me wrong I can do puerile, I'm not huffy or sniffy about bodily functions and nob gags, some of the best recent US comedies such as Superbad and The Hangover use these to great effect. But both those films have an interesting premise, sublime characterisations and compelling situations. Hall Pass doesn't.
Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are two forty somethings still being led round by their dicks, their ailing wives in a desperate bid to revive their marriages give the horny pair a Hall Pass which translates to a week off marriage. Only the week is far from the sex fest the two hope for and it is their wives who unintentionally get the benefits.
Ok so the idea of grown men getting one last stab at single life but realising that their glory days are long behind them or the fact there were no glory days should be enough for a full on gag fest. Sadly Hall Pass is far from that. The two most memorable moments are not down to quality gags or set pieces, they are fecal and penis exposures. This should tell you that the flimsy premise and fairly unengaging characters do not lead to any memorable comedy, well not for the right reasons. Throw in some vomit inducing rom-com style whimsy and you have a car-crash of a movie with a handful of very token funny moments.
I love Stephen Merchant and from the trailer and film posters you get the impression he is one of the main characters, he isn't. During the credits he gets one big scene and that scene is the funniest thing in the movie. That aside he only really appears at the beginning and the lines he gets are all unfunny. What is also strange thing about this movie is the fact you think it's going to be a group buddy comedy and yet 20 mins in the Farrellys abandon this in favour of watered down Bromance. The film's message is genius though, 'women give your men sex and they will behave better' great!
Oh and I have to mention the fact that I really dig Jenna Fischer and she is lovely in this movie as Rick's wife Maggie, I hope to see her in more and obviously better films in the future.