Killer Instinct is the story of notorious criminal Jacques Mesrine who… MoreKiller Instinct is the story of notorious criminal Jacques Mesrine who progressed from petty crime on the streets of Paris to become Canada's public enemy number one. Kind of like a Gallic Goodfellas, Mesrine is based on a real gangster and similarly spans decades of his life. Vincent Cassel puts in a quality performance as the charismatic psychopath who became a media sensation in the early 1970s and although he is hardly the most likeable protagonist, his outlandish acts are consistently both entertaining to watch and quite incredible to believe. There are some quality set pieces, the scene in which he and his partner single-handedly attack a maximum security prison in which they were both tortured is a particular highlight. It is a little episodic and it lacks the depth of characterisation that draws you fully into this kind of life story, but it is always exciting to watch and I am very much looking forward to Part Two.
Harry loses his memory after attacking Peter and their friendship is… MoreHarry loses his memory after attacking Peter and their friendship is seemingly restored leaving him free to hunt down the man truly responsible for Uncle Ben's death. However things are complicated by his transformation into The Sandman and the appearance of an alien creature that enhances Peter's negative emotions. There's actually a pretty decent sequel hidden inside the bloated, episodic mess that is Spider-man 3. Sam Raimi's presence at the helm is marred by his inability to resist the keys to the SFX toy shop but the cast are still likable, the comic relief (and JK Simmons in particular) is still funny and there's plenty of pacey action to maintain the attention. The big problem is with the script which relies far too much on contrivance and totally implausible coincidence. The most frustrating thing is that it could so easily have been corrected by the complete removal of the utterly ham-fisted and largely irrelevant Venom sub-plot. All the weakest elements of the film are tied up in it from Topher Grace's terrible performance, to the impossible to believe coincidences, to the frankly embarrassing jazz dancing emo Parker sequence. It's a shame because this wrecks the second half of the film and just detracts from some pretty decent character moments from Peter, Harry and even The Sandman himself. Yet another abject lesson that in film making, more often can mean less.
A writer and his family move in as caretakers to a secluded… MoreA writer and his family move in as caretakers to a secluded mountainside hotel for the winter, but a presence inhabiting it causes his mental disintegration leading to the urge for bloody murder. I'm not a fan of Stephen King. In fact, I'd go as far as to describe him as "a bag of cock". But what Kubrick did was to strip away the hokey nonsense of King's original novel and create a master class in haunting imagery and suspense. In fact, the supernatural elements of the story are almost irrelevant. The horror lies in the subtext of domestic violence; it's difficult to see a plaid wearing, balding middle-aged man as a terrifying monster, and Nicholson is hardly the most physically formidable presence. But in the classic scene in which he finally snaps, it is easy to see why waif-like Shelly Duvall (or anyone like her) would be incredibly intimidated. Without resorting to unnecessary gore Kubrick's visuals are disturbingly intense and complimented by one of the eeriest soundtracks ever written, the sense of unease is as creepy and atmospheric as any created. Far from being dated, compared to what passes for "horror" these days The Shining has actually improved with age. Another example of Kubrick being Jack of all trades and master of all.
Peter Parker begins to find the life of a super hero a rather… MorePeter Parker begins to find the life of a super hero a rather thankless task and increasingly stressed by his inability to balance work, school and fighting crime he decides to quit being Spiderman. Unfortunately he does not count on a disastrous scientific experiment that turns an altruistic genius into a mechanically enhanced megalomaniac! Spiderman builds on a fine original and delivers all it promised and more. The action sequences are brilliantly done and even more importantly, it intelligently fleshes out the characters with humour and depth. The way Peter has to confront the pros and cons of superhero-dom is really cleverly done and it injects even more clever humour; in particular the scenes when Peter accidentally dyes his smalls with his spider suit and taking a lift when his powers fail him. It's witty, funny and exciting and everything a superhero film should be. And once more I felt sorry for anyone having to share a scene with the brilliant J. K. Simmons! One of the best hero movies out there.
One of Marvel's flagship characters finally makes it to the big screen… MoreOne of Marvel's flagship characters finally makes it to the big screen and with Sam Raimi at the helm, you have a sure-fire winner. The first half of the film is as expected, fantastic. It has just the right balance of humour and action and although Tobey Maguire's acting talents are rather limited, he manages to pull off the dorky charm of Peter Parker with some success. There's a lot of humour in the discovery of his powers and how to use them and the supporting characters are all believable. It also shows the motivations and character development of Spiderman really well and rarely descends into schmaltz. Unfortunately once the tights go on, things are not quite as strong. The Green Goblin was never a particularly interesting character and although the schizophrenia plot line is clever, Defoe holds the attention far more as the disappointed father than a dayglo action figure on a hover board. Raimi handles the action nicely though and it's worth it alone for J. K. Simmons whose hilarious J. Jonah Jameson steals every scene he is in.
The press secretary and true believer of an up and coming presidential… MoreThe press secretary and true believer of an up and coming presidential candidate uncovers a scandal leaving him with a moral dilemma that could potentially destroy this political golden boy's career. Based upon a play by Beau Willimon who was responsible for the American adaptation of the classic political drama House Of Cards, The Ides Of March has all of the kinds of cynical intrigue you'd expect of Frank Underwood's creator. The story is not quite as black-hearted as the TV series but the representation of modern politics being the product of back room deals, manipulation and blackmail certainly retains its flavour. Solid writing and a cast to die for make for a smart, savvy drama but at the same time The Ides Of March does leave you with the feeling that you walked in half way through the story; there's a certain sense of context that is missing and the lack of a weighty, focal message makes it seem a little soapy. But thanks to the talent involved it feels like a piece of intelligent, quality entertainment that fans of both House Of Cards and The West Wing will not fail to appreciate.