Posts tagged Review
Posts tagged Review
I’ve always wondered what it’s like to brew your own moonshine. It’s a universal art; go to any cottage in the Irish countryside and chances are you’ll find a poitín still that’s been in use since before Australia was a thing. Every country in the world has it’s own moonshining subculture, and at no time and place was this group more iconic than in 1920’s America, when prohibition was firmly in place, and moonshining was a full-time occupation.
Lawless is about moonshining slickster Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) and his brothers Jack (Shia LaBeouf) and Howard (Jason Clarke), running their highly illegal business in Virginia, USA. As prohibition tightens, the Bondurants come into more and more conflict with the law, and in particular one Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce). Rakes loathes the country, and soon finds a vendetta against Forrest.
Right off the bat, the most noticeable thing about Lawless is its excellent cast. All the cast do a very good job but the stand out for me was Mr. Forrest Bondurant. Tom Hardy is a boss. I’ve never seen a role of his that I didn’t love. Whether he’s playing a Batman villain, a mixed martial artist or a guy who fucks with your brain when you’re asleep, he’s always goddamn excellent. Lawless is no exception; Forrest is tough as nails, and rarely speaks. Hardy manages to be both serious and humorous at the same time, resulting in a dramatic character who can provide his own comic relief. Couple this with a flagrant contempt for medical science and Forrest is a great character to watch. Hardy is as much of a talented, entertaining badass as ever, and creates the same impact he has with his previous films.
Now, there’re a lot of differing opinions when it comes to Shia LaBeouf. Whatever side you come down on, when you come away from Lawless, you have to admit that he’s a damn good actor. Jack is the youngest of the Bondurants, and he idolises his brothers, particularly Forrest. Eager to prove his worth, he has a confident swagger to hide his fear and inexperience, like a teen in an off-license. A good part of the film is centred around Jack, and LaBeouf is totally convincing, and actually really good to watch.
Guy Pearce is excellent. To be fair, he is another one of those actors who I love in almost everything, but he really does a great job. Rakes’ contempt for all things country is obvious. Like something out of The Hunger Games’ Capitol in its ’20s era, he takes meticulous care of his hair and suit. Combined with a sleezy attitude toward women, Pearce’s performance ensures that Rakes is an utterly loathed and creepy villain. One thing I did notice, however, was that once again Pearce looked bizarre as an older gentleman. Much like in Prometheus (though not QUITE as ghastly), it seems as though his make up crew are just unfamiliar with the concept of age. That, or he’s got some kind of condition.
In terms of direction, Lawless was great. This is a film with a good blend of light and dark. It’s got plenty of scenes which are humorous and fun, mixed in with some pretty intense violence. While it certainly deserves its 18 cert., Lawless is more than just mindless violence, and has a truly good spirit underneath. All situations, from the tense to the uplifting, are handled well, and it’s one of those great stories you feel good coming out of. With some fantastic sets and props, and costumes that made everyone look as though they were playing old ladies, Lawless was totally convincing.
In short, I loved this film. Its authentic feel and its great cast and storytelling make it a top choice for a rental, if not a buy. It’s one of those great struggles of the little guy, and even though the protagonists are all lawbreaking hicks, you root for them the entire time. It’s a hugely enjoyable film, and I’d recommend it for anyone to enjoy with a jar of their finest hooch.
- Rob Ferris, 18/11/2012
This is my first review of a zombie flick. Hurrah! Those of you who know me just spluttered in astonishment, but yes it did take me ten months. No, I don’t know why either. Maybe I’ve contracted the brainmelt.
Show me someone who doesn’t love zombie films. Such a person surely doesn’t exist (and if they do they must be an awful buzzkill). The point is, aside from Buzz Killington over there, we have a fascination with zombies. I’ve mentioned before our love of apocalyptic scenarios, because humans are a bit weird like that, and the walking dead are our absolute, top of the list, numero uno favourite way to have the world as we know it collapse. We’ve got zombie movies, zombie books, graphic novels, video games and television shows. Hell, all over the world people have an entire holiday celebrating the zombification of a Middle-Eastern, bearded hippie. Then we gorge on literally all the chocolate we can reach.
When it comes to zombies, the most famous modern films series is Resident Evil. Beginning in 2002, this series is interesting in that it falls into the intersection between zombie films and video game adaptations. That gives it an enormously high risk of suckitude. Video game movies almost always suck, and while putting zombies on screen can be amazing (see 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead season 1), it can also go terribly, terribly wrong (Dawn of the Dead remake (2004), The Walking Dead season 2). Now lets be honest here, the Rezzie films are not exactly the pinnacle of filmmaking. That said, I freaking love them. They’re entertaining, clichéd, action packed, totally ridiculous films about hot people killing zombies. What more could you want?
Well, it turns out that that wasn’t everything I liked about them. Because Rezzie’s fifth instalment is the first zombie film made FOR zombies, BY zombies. So when writing Resident Evil: Retribution, Paul W.S. Anderson apparently decided that his previous work was way too deep for his audience, so he just took a dump on some paper and called it a script. It’s like asking a retarded preteen on XboxLIVE to write a film.
Rezzie 5 picks up where Resident Evil: Afterlife left off, not that it matters. The film has no plot whatsoever. It’s a storyline that could be summarised in a sentence, and it’s filled out with explosions and tits. The action is fine, but when your film is 96 minutes of new monsters that you’re not even trying to explain any more, it leaves a little to be desired.
The series has always had little nods to its origins, and while the main character herself was never in the games, we see game characters crop up in the films all the time. Retribution, deciding this approach was too subtle, opts for taking chunks from different games and slapping them on to the film. We see great characters and important plot devices from the games carelessly chucked in to the film, given crappy actors and next to no explanation for them. For even a casual fan of the Resident Evil games this is bitterly disappointing.
Which, now that I mention it, is another huge let down. The acting is fucking terrible. Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez are the two main players in this film, and they give the best performances. They’re action film standard, and they know when to run and jump and shoot things, but I felt that both were uncharacteristically weak. Bingbing Li (yep, real name) makes her debut and she’s bad enough to be rejected from most porn. Sienna Guillory, who plays Jill Valentine may actually BE in porn, because as far as I could tell her entire role was to badly act one-liners (somehow) and show as much boob as possible without bumping up the age restriction.
This isn’t the worst film in the world. There’s some fun action and crazy stunts which are pretty enjoyable to watch. Most of the special effects are pretty damn good too, which is the standard for the Resident Evil films. The problem is that this does little to make up for the lack of any other redeeming qualities in this film, and the featured ends up feeling a bit like a SyFy original with an enormous effects budget.
All in all Resident Evil: Retribution is an awful film. As a big fan of the series, I found it boring, unimaginative and close to insulting how much it was dumbed down. It’s ridiculous and action packed, which is fine, but for a film about the zombie apocalypse to have nothing interesting going on is unforgivable. Don’t see this film. If you’re not a zombie person then this isn’t gonna change your mind, and if you are you’ll only end up disappointed.
On the plus side, not once do they set foot on a farm.
- Rob Ferris, 15/10/2012
How many of you believe in aliens? I’m not talking about a reasonable belief in the possibility of life on other planets, I’m talking about UFO flying, people abducting, junk probing aliens. Maybe you’re one of those interestingpeople who think aliens built the pyramids, or that a flying saucer crashed in New Mexico and that’s where we’ve gotten all our technology. Hell, you could be a Scientologist for all I know.
If your answer to the above question was “I do! The government is lying to you, sheeple!” then stop it. Nobody but the most colossal of douchebags uses the word “sheeple”. The good news though, is that Paul may be right up your alley.
Paul is the story of Clive (Nick Frost) and Graeme (Simon Pegg), two UFO enthusiasts who have just come from San Diego Comic-Con and are tracing the route of major extraterrestrial events in their RV. When they see a spectacular car crash, they run to help, but instead of an injured person/mangled body/Charlie Sheen, they find a little grey alien smoking a cigarette. His name is Paul.
Naturally Clive and Graeme freak all the way out, but they agree surprisingly quickly to take Paul in their RV, to escape from the government. Because obviously that’s the very best plan available at the time.
Paul has a great premise. It’s not exactly an original film idea to anthropomorphise some non-human thing and follow its wacky adventures, but the idea of a stoner space alien is pretty funny. And that’s a good way to describe this film. It’s good for a chuckle, without being hilarious. It’s enjoyable but instantly forgettable. It has a movieland cocktail of one part crazy antics, two parts interpersonal relationship and just a dash adventure. Which is fine, but it’s nothing special.
The CGI is decent enough. It’s far from the best around, but this film has no need of an enormous special effects budget. There’s some chasing and some shooting, an a little grey guy doing alien stuff, and it all looks good.
The cast are something of an enigma. There are supporting roles from Bill Hader and Jo Lo Truglio, both of whom are funny guys, as well as fantastic talent like Sigourney Weaver, but in Paul they were all just underwhelming. An exception is barely five minutes of screen time from Jeffrey Tambor, who I’m fairly sure doesn’t have the capacity to not be funny. Rogan is his usual, laid-back stoner self, and Frost and Pegg do a decent enough job as his entourage. Jason Bateman stars as the agent in charge of capturing Paul, and he at least is pretty good, and no less enjoyable than he’s ever been (sadly, he and Tambor don’t get to meet).
Kristen Wiig makes an appearance as a Young Earth Creationist nutjob, whose very foundation is rocked by Paul’s existence. While the role itself is pretty awful, Wiig makes it her own and is actually quite funny. This is a problem seen throughout this picture, leading to the conclusion that Paul is a film with a pretty great cast, and (as much as I hate to say it) some pretty bad writing.
Overall Paul was just ok. It’s a perfectly enjoyable film if you just want to kick back, but if you’re expecting an instant classic then you’ll be disappointed. The humour is good, but not great, and the plot is so-so. Ultimately Paul is a good idea that just went the wrong way.
- Rob Ferris, 02/10/2012
Imagine that one day you learned that your memories weren’t your own Now imagine, how confusing would that be when you realised that, if you can’t trust your memories, how can you be sure that your basis for not trusting them is a valid one? Ah, but then you have to be suspicious that you figured that out, but what if that ITSELF isn’t true? After a minor brain bleed and some rocking back and forth for a few hours, you’d probably ask “What the hell is going on? Did somebody brainwash me? Am I in the Matrix? Did I mix up the drinks and spike myself?”
Well if you’re Colin Farrell, the answer to any of those questions is “Maybe”. But, it’s more likely you’re just involved in a fantastical futuristic plot, causing you to experience the memories of somebody else.
Probably Arnie, because life’s fun like that.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Total Recall is about Doug (Farrell), a seemingly ordinary guy who decides to try out a service which can supply you with false memories. These can be memories of any fun, dangerous or kinky stuff you can imagine, and WE imagine Doug is secretly planning on all three. However something goes wrong in this funfair of danger sex, and soon Doug finds himself running for his life.
Think on the connotations of that for a moment.
A remake of the 1990 sci-fi hit of the same name, Total Recall is set in the future where Western Europe and Australia are the only places on the planet not ruined by chemical warfare. Nice job, humans. This film is all about shiny, future toys, and the special effects are really good. The crew manages to combine cool future technology with the general crappiness of everything we have today in a way that’s believable and visually engaging.
The audience is treated to a ton of cool tech, from mobile phone implants to glowing, electric tattoos. By this point humanity has also developed robots, and naturally they pervade every aspect of life; there are killbots, sexbots, and… actually, I think that’s pretty much it. That’s all they’re used for.
Transport between the two landmasses can only occur via ‘The Fall’, a massive drop lift that passes through the Earth’s core. The special effects crew obviously put a lot of work into this; it looks fantastic, and cool effects like gravity reversal look pretty mindblowing.
The acting is pretty decent, although the actors aren’t given much scope. The Farreller has no trace of his Irish accent, and does a great job of playing both confused and dangerous, like a recently hibernating bear, or a hungry toddler. That said, he hasn’t much to complain about in a film where he’s been boinking both Jessica Biel AND Kate Beckinsale.
The ever epically awesome Bryan Cranston plays Cohaagen, chancellor of the UFB, and he knows how to play a villain. Oh yeah, The entirety of Western Europe is now called the United Federation of Britian, showing once more how, given half the chance, those treacherous Brits will go colonising shit all over again. Anyway, despite having very little screen time, Cranston makes a big impact as the film’s baddie, and his wealth of talent is obvious.
Biel is good, but gets no character development whatsoever. Beckinsale too, is really great, but with no expansion of her character, she’s basically just the most evil (sexy) witch ever. With no real time to give to anyone but Doug, the film makes her one-dimensionally evil. She also talks way too much, like a Bond villain who spends so much time gloating, she lets 007 escape and murder her. I’m pretty ok with all that though; I’ve made it very clear how I enjoy the occasional Beckinsale ass shot, and Total Recall provides.
I’ve talked a bit about how there wasn’t much time for character development. That’s because, with the amount of high-octane action in this film, there wasn’t much time for anything else at all. This was pretty disappointing in the end, and -the excellent action scenes couldn’t mask the fact that the characters were shallow, and the entire plot was restricted to about five minutes of screen time.
Total Recall is very different from its predecessor. There are a few nods to the 1990 film (three in particular come to mind), but real similarities are few. Overall, this is a film without much substance, and many will prefer the original for the fact that it actually has a plot. Nevertheless, the action is top notch (and there’s a lot of it) so if that’s your thing, this film could be great fun, if you’re in the right mood.
“The right mood” apparently, for some of you, being “Colin Farrell shirtless”. That’s right, you lecherous wenches. According to Google that is the number one word searched beside the Farreller’s name. Well fine, just this once you can have your man meat. I hope you’re proud of yourselves.
- Rob Ferris, 02/10/2012
We all know the feeling. It comes when the cyclist in front of you ignores the bicycle lane because she prefers the middle of the road. It comes when the asshole at the till throws your change on the counter instead of handing it to you (or, if you work at a till, some ignorant douche treats you like his monkey butler). It comes when you read any online discussion, about anything, ever.
It’s the feeling of wishing you could ignore society’s laws and conventions, grab your whomping rod and dish out swift, merciless justice to the savages who are trying to destroy everything you love.
The fact is that our laws often fail us horribly. Drawn out court proceedings do little to provide justice, and being rich and/or famous will almost certainly get you out of the same punishments the rest of us filthy peasants must endure. But the problem is, despite the fact that that one guy you know who says ‘YOLO’ a lot undoubtedly deserves a slow, ironic death, dishing out punishments like that is a good way to get yourself carted off to prison, where you’re likely to experience a whole new kind of unpleasant feeling (due mainly to all the shivs and raping). It’s no surprise, then, that we’re drawn to a film in which there’s no courtroom bullshit or arguments of “Objection! My client isn’t THAT guilty”.
Dredd is set in the 3rd millennium, when much of Earth has become an uninhabitable wasteland. Humanity now survives in the ruins of old cities, augmented with colossal megastructures. These ‘megacities’ are policed by the Grand Hall of Justice, which trains Judges to deal with the rampant crime. Judges can give sentences and carry them out on the spot, up to and including death-by-whatever’s-on-hand. The most badass of these terrifying super-cops is Judge Dredd (Karl Urban). Dredd and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie being evaluated, answer a routine call to a megastructure, and soon find themselves on the opposite side of the “fuck you” fence to a drug lord known as Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). What follows is essentially a science fiction version of The Raid, but with the facekicking replaced by bullets, and the Indonesian SWAT team replaced by bullets.
My first thoughts when I learned about Dredd was “Remakes! Remakes everywhere!”. As I’ve talked about before, Hollywood is having a tough time finding the balls to back many original films. Films like Looper show just how good original ideas can be, but filmmakers like to play it safe, so remakes like Dredd and Total Recall are pretty big right now. And that’s fine; I don’t mind if something has been remade eleven times, as long as it’s entertaining. Dredd is exactly that.
A reboot of 1995’s Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone (which I haven’t seen, but I’ve heard some pretty unkind things about), Dredd gives very little expectation of anything more than a skeleton plot and Karl Urban raising community awareness about the dangers of drugs in his own, bloody way. In fact that’s exactly what it is, and I for one thought it was fantastic.
For starters, I love anything that has Karl Urban in it. Whether he’s swinging a sword or shooting space-mutants in the face, Karl Urban gets shit done. And my initial delight at seeing him in the Dredd trailer was justified; he’s great in the role. His gruff voice, hilarious grimacing and one liners which he doesn’t even bother making sound clever all fit perfectly with the persona of a terrifying justice-demon in a bitching helmet.
Lena Headey is fantastic as Ma-Ma. I really liked Headey way back in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but if we’ve learned anything from Game of Thrones, it’s that she makes a chilling villain. Ma-Ma will stop at nothing to prevent the two judges threatening her control of the tower. Headey is utterly convincing in the role, and with short, dark hair and a few added scars, she has ‘cold and merciless’ to a T. Hers is probably the best performance of the film.
Supporting roles by Thirlby and Wood Harris (A.K.A. mothafuckin’ Avon Barksdale yo!) provide a good platform for the plot, but are otherwise unremarkable.
The special effects in Dredd are outstanding. Gunfights and explosions are everywhere, and intensely bright colours are contrasted with the darkness of the tower in scenes shot through a haze of Slo-Mo, the new drug sweeping the city. The props are of excellent quality, and every inch of Dredd’s armour right down to his wicked awesome gun are finely detailed.
The plot’s nothing special, and there is almost no development from start to finish. If you’re anything like me, though, that won’t really bother you because the sheer amount of fast-paced, absurdly violent action will keep you gasping and cheering like a ten year old.
Dredd certainly isn’t great filmmaking by any stretch, nor does it have a single moment of originality. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and that, to me, is the most important thing in a film like this. While not for the more discerning among you, it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re into mindless violence and Karl Urban delivering gruff one-liners to people he’s already killed.
Don’t point that out though. The Judge is surprisingly sensitive about being made to look dumb.
- Rob Ferris, 01/10/2012
If you’re anything like me you get a little giddy whenever you hear about an upcoming Pixar film, like a kid who knows he’s going for ice cream (or, incidentally, a kid who knows he’s going to a Pixar film). I love Disney films, and I eagerly await their numerous releases every year. A release by Pixar, however, is a much less common occurrence. For the last decade or so, Pixar have released one film every year. Just one. This is usually because these releases are the culmination of a year’s work from a select team of people, and are pretty top quality. Films like The Incredibles, WALL·E and the Toy Story films (to name very few) are a cut above most other animated features, with a combination of breathtaking animation, tons of laughs and brilliant storytelling. That makes a Pixar release pretty damn special (I don’t care what they say, I LIKED Cars 2).
Naturally then I went into Brave with some pretty high expectations, and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.
Brave is the story of a medieval Scottish princess named Merida, who has come of age to be married off to some greasy pantless Scotsman. For some reason Merida find that idea distateful, and decides she will set her own destiny. Through various means she obtains a spell to change her destiny, and that works out pretty much as you’d expect. These things usually all go the same way.
Everything about Brave oozes Pixar. For starters, the story is exactly the right kind of adventure, with a little peril and a lot of fun. It’s a mix that will thrill the kinds without mum and dad wanting to peel their faces off from boredom. A warm, funny finish to these films is a given at this point, but it still hits home. There’s a trademark style of funny throughout the film that is great for all ages, and at no point does Brave seem inaccessible to any generation. Unless, ironically, you’re from medieval Scotland. But I imagine you’d have bigger worries then.
The cast is excellent, and from scene to scene they are perfectly suited to their character, and very funny. A suitably grandiose score accompanies the events on screen and drive home the feeling unique to a Pixar movie.
Even though this is an animated film, every aspect seems incredibly realistic, whether it’s a ferocious bear, a flying arrow or Merida’s frankly staggering amount of curly red hair. Like all Pixar films, the animators work is top class, and the film is full of colour and amazing landscapes you could almost jump into (don’t try, the ushers get tetchy).
Brave is a great time, and another Pixar success. While not as moving as Up, or as mindblowing as Toy Story 3, it’s a fine film that takes Scottish history and adds a little magic (and subtracts a lot of violence). Definitely a film to bring the kids to, and one not to miss.
And who knows? Maybe it’ll show you that, however your offspring fuck up, it could probably be worse.
- Rob Ferris, 11/09/2012
Everybody loves Seth MacFarlane. His massive success with Family Guy has made his pretty damn popular, and rightly so. Barring the recent stuff (which seems to be simply a collection of random occurrences with no structure whatsoever) Family Guy is damn funny. Ok, American Dad isn’t great, and The Cleveland Show is pretty horrible, but still. The point is, MacFarlane is a guy who knows funny, and yet he has never before made a film for cinematic release. Ted is his debut film in which he writes, directs and voices the title character. His influence can’t be missed; Ted has MacFarlane written all over it.
Ted is about a teddy bear who comes to life at the wish of a young boy named John. Years later John (Mark Wahlberg) still lives with Ted (MacFarlane) and the two are best friends. John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) also lives with them, and the shenanigans of Ted and John begins to threaten John’s relationship with Lori.
That’s the primary plot anyway, but it’s actually not that important. In reality this film is just about the adventures of Ted and John as they get up to all kinds of tomfoolery.
Right off the bat, Ted feels like an episode of Family Guy. MacFarlane’s style is instantly recognisable, with plenty of pop-culture jokes and outlandish goings on. I was surprised by some really good original humour however, with some clever scenes and tongue-in-cheek comedy. MacFarlane does a good job managing such an intriguing premise, and he delivers a good film with an unusual story and some great laughs.
I would be remiss not to make a point I was hit with in the cinema; Parents, I address you here. Despite the fact that this is a film about a teddy bear, this is not a children’s film. Take 5 seconds to check it out before bringing your kid and stop being terrible parents.
A fantastic supporting cast adds a lot. Giovanni Ribisi plays the kind of creepy weirdo he plays so well, and Joel-freaking-McHale plays Lori’s sleazy boss and he’s just crazy good. With appearances from Patrick Warburton and Ryan Reynolds, as well as self-portraying parts from Norah Jones and Sam J. Jones, Ted really pimps its support roles. Narration by Patrick Stewart just makes things extra awesome.
Ted has a great main cast too. Ever since The Other Guys, I’ve found Wahlberg hugely entertaining, and he shows it in Ted. He and Mila Kunis work really well together, despite the weirdness of how old Wahlberg looks next to her (it’s like they’ve got a reverse suger-daddy thing going). Kunis is well suited to comedy, and from her long Family Guy career she has a ton of experience with guy humour. Some of the heavy relationship stuff dragged on, but it was acted well. Kunis is funny in a much cruder way than most female actors, and fits perfectly MacFarlane’s stlye.
Ted himself is a pretty good character. ‘Deep’ would be the wrong word, but he is more than a tiny, ill-mannered maniac. The bear shows real people qualities, as opposed to being as one-dimensional as a South Park episode. He’s nothing amazing (and VERY like Peter Griffin), but fun to watch.
All in all MacFarlane’s first cinematic venture wasn’t bad. Certainly there are better comedies out there, but it’s a unique premise with some great humour. Any time you switch on Family Guy you know exactly what kind of comedy you’re getting, and Ted is no different. It’s MacFarlane’s patented brand of funny, and it works well on the big screen.
A word of warning though, if you do decide to see this don’t think about it too much. The mysteries of stuffed animal anatomy are deep and unknowable, and could likely change the world as we know it.
- Rob Ferris, 08/09/2012
I’m an Irishman, and proud of it. Not proud of the country, mind you, just proud that I’m from here. That’s an important distinction. Anyone who’s ever heard of this fair isle knows the stereotype; that we Irish are a rabble of drunken, fighty farmers who drink stout and whisky and swear about the English all day. They’d be right about half the time.
This is a country where every achievement is momentous. A country where we get the everloving tar beaten out of us in the football, but damn it, we had the best supporters. A country where Irishmen like Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy are revered for NOT being ugly, talentless gobshites like the rest of us. It’s fair to say that life in Ireland is not glamorous. But we damn sure know how to have a good time (some buzzkills, like the WHO, would suggest we have a little too good a time compared to almost the entire rest of the planet).
An awful lot of our drinking comes as a direct consequence of having nothing else to occupy us whatsoever. This problem is exacerbated in tundras like the West of Ireland, where nothing exists except sheep and the odd local, a people who long ago adopted a language unintelligible to the rest of us. This quiet lifestyle can be easily disrupted by major events like an alien attack, or Dublin winning anything ever. The setting established by Grabbers has both these events occurring in the space of a year, and the people of the fictional Erin Island are naturally quite put out. Luckily, it’s quickly discovered that the blood drinking aliens who are showing up in the village have an extremely adverse reaction to alcohol, and the locals are quick to flood their bloodstreams with delicious, intoxicating poison. And remember this is a film about Ireland, essentially making Grabbers a film about some aliens starving to death.
As a rule, I love Irish comedies. Being Irish helps a lot, because it’s a very distinct style of humour. Films like Intermission and The Guard are just fantastic, and Grabbers is in a similar vein while taking things in a totally different direction. Not as dark in its humour, the film rightly focuses on the absurdity of getting langered to defend against aliens, while somehow maintaining a reasonable premise behind it. It’s not side-splittingly funny, and it doesn’t come close to the other Irish comedies, but it’s still got a few laughs to offer and has a science fiction plot that is surprisingly well put together for this kind of film.
The CGI is pretty good, and makes the difference between a half-assed skit and a real feature. These aren’t the best special effects out there, but they’re good enough to make the film engaging and believable, and it’s fun to see some Irish reactions to classic alien flick concepts.
The acting is good all ‘round, with nobody really standing out. Ruth Bradley, who plays Lisa Nolan, the newbie of the the island’s Garda force, is convincing as a straight-laced, no nonsense patrolewoman who takes her job very seriously. She’s quite funny, and good with her fellow castmembers, but being an 8 she’s much better looking than any real Garda (for help converting, an Irish 8 is like a California 5, or a Welsh 17).
Richard Coyle is good as Garda Ciarán O’Shea, Lisa’s new partner. He’s funny, if a little bland, but he gets on well with Bradley. Russell Tovey plays the island’s marine biologist (which, for some reason, a tiny island off Ireland’s West coast has), and he’s very entertaining. He spends much of the film awkwardly flirting with Garda Nolan, and the resulting discomfort between him, Nolan and O’Shea is funny to watch.
The rest of the cast features a lot of familiar Irish talent, and everyone seems to be having a great time filming. Overall this is a fun watch, but quite easily forgettable. It doesn’t compare to some of the better Irish comedies (if you’ve not seen Perrier’s Bounty, you’re missing out), but it does a decent job of mixing sci-fi with an Irish twist, and sure that’s pretty good going, considering we’ve never done anything like it before.
We are a nation used to mediocrity, existing in such a fragile state that a teabag shortage would quite literally bring the country to its knees. But we love our films and our unique sense of humour, and be damned if that’s not worth drinking to.
- Rob Ferris, 08/09/2012
Hired hitmen have been a staple of thrillers for a while now. Ever since man first decided he needed someone murdered but just didn’t have the will to get off his mammothskin couch, we’ve been hiring other folks to do our killin’ for us, and it makes for some pretty good cinema. So every now and then a film comes out about someone hiring an assassin, and the crazy hijinkery that follows.
Killer Joe is nothing like that.
Nothing that occurs in this film could be called ‘hijinkery’. Even ‘crime’ would be too modest, too tiny a word to encompass what’s going on here. Killer Joe is among the most fucked up bizarrely twisted films I’ve ever seen.
Killer Joe is about a dude named Chris (Emile Hirsch) who, together with his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), decides to put a hit out on his mother in order to claim her life insurance policy. To do this they hire a man named Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). Naturally everything goes smoothly, and everyone except mum gets a happy ending. Only that doesn’t happen at all. Not even close. In fact, the whole thing goes tits-up almost immediately, and then everything gets completely fucking insane.
Chris lives with Ansel, Ansel’s wife Sharla (Gina Gershon) and his younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple). These are the Hickton family of Hicksville, Texas, and their family dynamic is just as warped and hick-y as you’d expect. Hirsch and Church give good performances, but turn out to have relatively small roles compared with McConaughey. Gershon is really convincing as the conniving second wife, but Temple’s role stands out. Dottie is all kinds of disturbed, and her influence on events is unnerving and weird. Dottie adds another element of whatthefuckery to a film that’s already so horrifying that it’s justifying your medication.
McConaughey’s acting in this is pretty damn excellent, which helps make the film so terrifying. Killer Joe is an incredibly creepy, smarmy guy who also exudes an air of danger that puts him somewhere between Patrick Bateman and Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. McConaughey is totally convincing and really owns the character, so much so that I’ll never see him in quite the same way again.
Be warned; this film is incredibly graphic. There is a ton of violence, particularly of a sexual nature. No sex is actually shown but the scenes we see are actually more graphic because they have an added dash of “WHAT AM I SEEING‽”. It’s extremely dark with some very black humour, and there’s really no reaction to watching it other than shock, and an uneasy feeling about chicken forever more.
This is a very dark, very intense thriller, which might leave you needing to watch something lighter right afterward. For those who can stomach it, the acting is top class, and the directing is superb. Killer Joe won’t be most people’s cup of tea, but if it’s your thing then you’re in for a hell of a film, you weirdo.
I just like to imagine all the horrified ladies who saw this before going to Magic Mike.
- Rob Ferris, 07/09/2012
Over the years we non-Americans learn a staggering amount of things about life in the United States, purely from TV and film. One of the myriad of strange things we’ve come to discover is the concept of life in American Suburbia. Here in Ireland we don’t have really small towns and suburbs, we have villages surrounded by farms, and farmers who speak something barely resembling English. You don’t see many films about that though.
(I have no idea who that is)
The quiet, sheltered life of Suburbia seems so contrived that I imagine every house needing a rubber stamp saying “American Dream Approved”. Apparently you Yanks aren’t oblivious to this, because the lovely people at Fox decided to take a quiet, safe suburb, and drop murderous aliens all over its face.
(We’ve also learned a few things about Fox, too.)
The result is The Watch. Ben Stiller plays Evan, a suburban Costco manager who likes to take charge. When a security guard is brutally, brutally murdered, Evan decides to form a neighbourhood watch to catch the killer. He gets a total of three volunteers in Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). They resolve to catch the Costco killer, but soon uncover something much bigger than they expected.
It’s aliens, by the way.
Bewilderingly, our four heroes are surprisingly well equipped to stop an alien invasion, and are determined to save humanity, because that’s kinda what ya do in these situations. So we’re given four mismatched weirdos vs. the laziest aliens in history. Seriously, how hard can it be to invade a small town in Ohio?
The Watch turned out to be better than I expected, but to be fair I wasn’t expecting much. The special effects were actually pretty good, and were on par with any major sci-fi flick. Comedically, The Watch was good but not great. Jonah Hill was his usual self, except skinnier and with an added dash of unsettling. I’ve spoken about him before, and in this he delivers well, if unspectacularly. Vince Vaughn did a good job in that he was surprisingly un-Vince-Vaughn-like. I was pleasantly surprised to see him step away from his usual sarcastic, laid-back persona and adopt a more enthusiastic, energetic role. It was good to see he can actually do something different.
Ben Stiller shows his age, but the man knows comedy. He is funny in his zany kind of way, and while it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s always good to get him on screen. Probably the most out of place of the four was Ayoade. The three American actors here all have very different comedic styles to Ayoade’s The IT Crowd, and it was interesting to see him interact with the rest of the cast. It worked out well enough, and Ayoade did well with a more British style of humour.
The Watch has a decent plot with some good laughs and some surprisingly good sci-fi. It wasn’t riotously funny, but enjoyable to watch in a way that I’m not sorry I went, but I could happily never watch it again. The cast is decent but the writing felt a little half-assed, and there was nothing really memorable about it. Dumb jokes and innuendo are fine, but without anything more clever the film loses any kind of real appeal. It’s ok sci-fi and ok comedy wrapped together, worth a watch if there’s nothing better to see.
On the other hand, The Watch can be seen as a candid look at the attitudes of suburban Americans to aliens. From that perspective it’s quite an eye-opener.
-Rob Ferris, 07/09/2012