The film previously known as 'Ten' and 'Breacher' both of which make… MoreThe film previously known as 'Ten' and 'Breacher' both of which make little sense...well 'Breacher' is Arnie's character but 'Ten'? because there are ten members in Arnie's team? nope there are nine. So the film was wisely renamed 'Sabotage' which also makes no real sense but I guess it sounds cool.
Yeah Arnie is back...again, and this time he's R rated! After some dismal post Governor flicks I was hoping for a return to the old days with Arnie and some proper ass kicking action drenched in bloody squibs. Alas this movie certainly has the blood and action (at times) but it feels empty forced and too self indulgent. I really get the impression director Ayer wanted to recreate that classic 'Predator' team of hardasses with Arnie as their leader...mainly because that's what it is. Arnie in charge of a crack team of special Ops DEA agents with more guns, muscles and tattoos than you can shake a stick at.
Oh my does this movie rehash that old hat idea that Mr James Cameron gave us many moons ago, you know what I mean, an elite team of foul mouthed cocky gun totting grunts. I've seen many films with ice cool teams of super mercs/soldiers/warriors, but I haven't seen a film try as hard as this one to force down our throats how butch these guys are. The profanity is constant and really unnecessary, each cast member really over acts in a cringing way, token black guy, token tough semi ugly female, each one has some kind of cliched visual gimmick to distinguish themselves from each other (facial hair, attire, tattoos etc...), each member has a silly code name or nickname ('Pyro' 'Grinder' 'Monster') and they are all pretty unlikable.
Manganiello's character is so extremely over the top and unstable you wonder how on earth he could ever function in a team like this. Did this character really need to wear black spiky leather biker gear, shades and have tattoos plus cornrows in his hair??! Its like the costume folk got over excited and just chucked a whole load of stereotypes into this one character to make him as 'badass' as possible. Instead he looks like a mish mash of ideas and quite idiotic...although not as much as Worthington's laughable facial hair.
This is a real problem in the film because you don't know who to get behind, these guys are suppose to be the main characters or heroes yet they are all shits. Going to strip bars...verbally assaulting the dancing girls, smashing glasses, getting loaded and high followed by attacking the security guys?! They're all very aggressive and don't have much compassion for anybody acting no better than the bad guys they are taking down. Now I realise you could say its showing the temptations, moral dilemmas and realistic possibilities of corruption in certain individuals under such circumstances but it really makes for a nasty sour team of 'heroes'. The only character with any sort of positive outlook or integrity is of course Arnie's leader character unsurprisingly, yet his actions bring about the downfall of his elite team! Its not until the end that you find out why Arnie does what he does and even then you're thinking wow! why didn't you just ask your team to help you instead of screwing them all over.
The other main issue with this film is the violence which, like the characters, is exaggerated and kinda repulsive really. Now lets get one thing straight here...I like my adult action flicks, I much prefer to see Arnie and the classic 80's action men in grown-up fare, but this film just gets it wrong. The whole angle here is realism, the film is trying to be a gritty 'Seven' type thriller with dark twists and turns. The problem is the gore and blood is lingered on far too much as if Ayer is just trying to show it off, they are glorifying it for the sake of it...which is fine if this were a silly graphic novel style action romp like 'Commando' but its not. The film is suppose to be soaked in dark realism yet innocent people are killed willy-nilly as if this were a videogame, Arnie's team get iced one by one very easily all things considered and in general society gets torn up like a Die Hard flick with no consequences. Basically in this type of movie less is more with the violence, but the fact the good guys aren't really too different from the bad guys and they all go around wreaking havoc...kinda leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
I won't deny I was intrigued to find out who did what and what was going on but overall it felt very downbeat and unexciting. Arnie does his best at serious acting (ahem!) but he still seems frosty after his leave of absence. End of the day this is just another larger than life, last man standing ensemble movie where Arnie merely chomps his cigars and attempts to blend in with the younger fitter cast. He looks the part but age has definitely caught up with Arnie I'm afraid. I just wish this special Ops DEA team had been more agreeable and the plot had gone a different more traditional route. May not have been very original sure but at least Arnie would be in familiar territory which is kinda where he works best really.
Well back in 1998 this entire premise seemed quite far fetched,… MoreWell back in 1998 this entire premise seemed quite far fetched, virtually in the realms of fantasy by the kind of overly paranoid Yanks that stockpile guns and tinned food. Then unfortunately the unthinkable happened as America was indeed attacked and hit hard on their own turf with the dreadful September 11, 2001 terrorist suicide bombings of the World Trade Center in New York. It is only now that this film really does have a much darker meaning with the events of the movie disturbingly realistic when once thought of as hyper reality.
The story simply sees New York under threat from terrorists in random attacks across the city by an unknown force suspected to be Arabic. Its up to Denzel Washington and Tony Shalhoub to track down and stop the attackers before things get out of hand. Of course things do get way way out of hand as the attacks become more ferocious and the FBI's leads dwindle. In the end the military are drafted in as martial law is declared with Brooklyn locked down around the Arabic community.
Apart from the very real threat of terrorist attacks anywhere at anytime the films main focus is on racial profiling, hardcore stereotyping and prejudice. There is a strong morality tale between good and evil that not only covers the obvious but the use of Nazi-like tactics by American troops on Arabic/Muslim American citizens as they are rounded up and detained in mass makeshift holding areas. I really don't need to go into the obvious concentration camp connections here do I. But there is more as we also get Bruce Willis (badly miscast) as a Major General who is intent on getting information out of suspects in any way possible, illegally of course. Here you see the little twist of the Yanks being no better than the terrorists they are fighting, becoming what they fear and stand against, taking away the right to a court of law, innocent before proven guilty, liberty and justice, human rights go bye bye.
When the shit hits the fan and terror is taking control of the streets, power is granted to various officials, its then that we see the darker side of some people. Willis' character has the orders to basically protect his country and the American way of life by any means necessary, do what needs to be done whilst the upper echelons look the other way. Of course Washington's character stands firm and will not allow this kind of behaviour to carry on, there are still laws and rights. Gotta be honest though at times you do feel he is being too PC considering the circumstances, he's almost too heroic and saintly when in reality someone might buckle. The message is forced even more once Shalhoub's sons is also rounded up and taken away causing him to toss his badge. The message slaps you across the face sure but it works effectively.
This being a Washington movie you know its gonna be decent, you just know...and this doesn't disappoint. Visually its very slick and effective in getting across its now very realistic message. The only let down for me was probably Bening who didn't really fit her part in my opinion, she comes as someone more concerned about their hair looking right plus her plot setup with the Middle Eastern chap is too obvious really. Tension is reasonable but the film is a little too mainstream for you to actually start sweating over the outcome, its not like Washington is gonna bite the bullet is it, everyone else is fair game but not Denzel.
The ending is way too God bless America for my liking, although expected. Too neat and tidy as all the citizens are released with schmaltzy hugging scenes and Washington preaching about their forefathers and how they fought and died for the life they have today. He's right sure but it feels too much like an all American Boy Scout speech, you half expect the Star-Spangled Banner to kick off with fireworks in the sky.
As said its funny how back in 1998 this all seemed so unlikely, the notion that the US could be attacked on their own soil in such a devastating way. This whole martial law scenario and the rounding up of specific people was always possible but it still felt more like an old World War II flashback. These days the entire aspect has come true to a certain degree although not as bad as depicted in the film, its a much easier prospect to see becoming a reality within the US these days that's for sure. In the end the story boils down to the terrorists winning on a psychological level simple because the US way of life has been changed dramatically. Justice and democracy have gone out the window, fear and suspicion sits in its place.
I think it was completely and utterly inevitable that this film would… MoreI think it was completely and utterly inevitable that this film would come under close scrutiny because of the near identical concept and execution alongside another certain highly popular street racing franchise. Well...either that or completely shunned, I mean lets be honest here this is a new wannabe racer franchise riding on the coattails of 'The Fast and Furious'...well trying to take its place, so can it?
I needn't really go into the plot much, its all very silly and simple. Basically the main team of characters have gotta get from New York to Cali ASAP so they can enter a secret race there. Behind all this is the standard revenge plot line, the protagonist saw his best friend get killed in a racing accident caused by the films antagonist who sneers like a young moustache twirling 'Dick Dastardly'...without the moustache. Naturally the bad guy (who happens to be rich and own lots of fancy super cars) is in this secret race hence why the good guy wants to enter it and win. Cue lots and lots and lots and lots of super flashy, super slick petrolhead car porn.
Right, I liked this film, yes that's right...I liked it. It started off badly no doubt, there's a hideous looking illegal street racing scene with every fudging unoriginal cliched stereotype under the sun, really got me reaching for the stop button. But my reasons for enjoying this are simply because I like cars and this film feels like an old school car flick. Everything you see in this film is a real time stunt using real cars, no CGI, its all real and it all looks amazingly good. This is what impressed me so much, I mean yeah sure the cars are all filmed beautifully when parked up and when they're on the move but that's expected. The stunts in this film really opened my eyes I can't deny, the Koenigsegg Agera R wreck at the start is fudging awesome! a flipping spinning flaming...errr car on fire! Again you expect hyper glossy interior and exterior shots of the cars in high speed action but damn they got this right! Everything sizzles on screen as the camera pans past from various angles resulting in some excellent traffic dodging moments and of course sexy engine gurgling and roaring.
You can clearly see the people behind this love cars and know how to sell them on screen, add to that the fact they know their way around a good looking real stunt. It all looks quite mature too, in other words it doesn't look like a hammy boy racer flick for 18 year old Vauxhall Corsa owners. Its a different type of street racing to 'The Fast and Furious', that was more modified rice racers and American muscle cars, this is the rich boys league with super cars like Lambo's, Veyron's and Spano's. That doesn't mean its better or worse for that, its just offering another level of racing but still with damage.
This doesn't mean its all good of course, far from it. There are still plenty of stupid scenes which are ridiculous and clearly stuck in to crank up the sex appeal. I still don't get why the main character deliberately gets the attention of the cops when picking up one of the gang, I also don't get why that member quits his job and proceeds to remove all his clothes when leaving. It really felt like they were straining for gimmicks to grabs peoples attention other than the fast cars...seeing as the characters are all so one dimensional lets have one remove all his clothes just because he can.
Despite driving like an absolute maniac across half of the US the cops are nowhere to be seen. The main secret race is a winner take all event, so you win the race you win the cars. Problem with that is all the cars get wrecked and nabbed by the police so in truth you don't get any of them and if you do it will cost a fortune to get them fixed up. Plus why would anyone enter a race with a billion Dollar super car and then proceed to ram your opponent?! Jesus Christ what about that expensive paint job and bodywork??!! It made me wince in pain watching it...no! no! that's a McLaren P1!! don't do that!!! Arrrggghhh!!!
Then you have the race organiser played by Keaton, now this guy sits in front of his computer using Skype or something to talk to people all over the place. The funny thing is everyone seems to be logged into his channel or whatever all the freakin' time! he knows everything and everyone is always watching and or listening...accept the police. Hey police you wanna know what's going on how about watching the mega rich guys computer network channel thingy. The main character just happens to befriend the sexy blonde female who works for some other mega rich guy who owns lots of fast cars...this comes in handy because she is able to loan him a Shelby Mustang to race, lucky huh. Oh and she is also the stereotypical female character who everyone thinks is just a dumb blonde but actually knows tonnes about cars. Yet in reality we all know the actress really knows sod all and is reading a script.
I could go on with more silly bits n pieces but lets be honest here (again), we knew to expect silliness and lame characters plus the token black guy. We knew to expect hammy dialog, a cliched plot and lots of predictable sequences, this film is based on a racing videogame. I think its safe to say if you like cars then you know you'll probably get a kick outta this, if you liked that Vin Diesel/Paul Walker car franchise then you'll probably like this. I thought this would be trash but I have been pleasantly surprised I admit. The visuals are crisp sexy and colourful, the action is exciting and seeing these cars in action make you wanna tear up the tarmac on your way down to your local Tesco. Completely cliched B-movie dross top loaded with car porn, but damn I enjoyed it...plenty of vroom!
Hot on the heels of a small sci-fi production called 'Star Wars' came… MoreHot on the heels of a small sci-fi production called 'Star Wars' came this remake of 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'Seven Samurai'. If you haven't guessed the difference was the story has now been set in space.
A Roger Corman production so you might think it would be space trash, but at the time this was quite a big release as sci-fi was popular again. The people involved with this film is actually quite impressive, for one James Cameron was in charge of the effects (mainly models) so this explains why they look so detailed, imaginative and quite good.
The cast for the film is also impressive for the time, looking back they are all your typical B-movie players really. Classic character actor Richard Thomas is the young hero, the legend Robert Vaughn plays a space merc, John Saxon is the evil space villain and George Peppard is the 'Space Cowboy'. Yep he has no name other than that, cos he's coooool. All are legends in their own right (accept Thomas maybe) but you can't deny all have popped up in some glorious B-movie fluff in their time, film and TV.
The film on the whole is a brave effort and bold with certain ideas. The start of the film seems quite sensible with its 'Star Trek' like score playing accompanying slow camera pans of various spaceships...all very 'Star Trek-ish'. The costumes aren't too bad either, this isn't a 'Flash Gordon' type affair, well not too much. Of course you can see many similarities to other films in both costumes and various ideas but that is pretty inevitable seeing as 'Star Wars' came out in 78.
As the film progresses it does become a tad dull really, the whole time is spent with the hero looking for mercs to save his home planet. This is where the film tends to rollercoaster as some people he meets are pretty good in design, others are not. Take Peppard as the Space Cowboy, his ship's interior looks good, its well designed and has a nice 'Millennium Falcon' feel about it, the character himself is cliched but Peppard makes the role work nicely.
Some ships looks good while others look terrible, laser effects are poor and not helped by the quite ridiculous sound effects used. The names used for some of these alien races, planets etc...tend to be rather daft too. Sets vary from scene to scene with the odd one looking nice but most looking rather plastic with merely lots of flashing lights everywhere.
Speaking of the 'Millennium Falcon', Robert Vaughn's character is a complete 'Han Solo' rip off in my opinion, right down to his boots. Other characters like the 'Nestor' and 'Valkyrie warriors' are just your typical B-movie crap frankly. They look like they were designed in the 50's, bad makeup, tacky fake plastic looking costumes and completely childish, real cheap sci-fi. From time to time there are some nice ideas though, the character of 'Cayman' is a nice addition with a reasonable looking reptilian mask.
Oh I forgot...the 'Valkyrie warriors' are stunning women with tight outfits that easily reveal their enormous breasts. Just like it would be in space, what? are you saying there aren't alien races like that?.
The film does get sillier and sillier as it goes on, the ham builds with performances and effects. I loved the evil laughter sequences by Saxon and his mutant henchmen...classic stuff. A little bit of evil dialog then pause for some evil laughter with your henchmen. The makeup design for 'Sador' actually looks a bit like Ed Wood's 'Plan 9 from Outer Space' with the single face mark, the mark of the baddie.
The film kicks into gear towards the end as we see the final battle between 'Sador' and good guys. Lots of laser gun fights, dodgy space battles with the same model sequences being reused over and over and some great cheesy acting from all.
Its clear to see many influences in this film from classic sci-fi such as 'Star Trek', 'Lost in Space', 'Westworld', 'Forbidden Planet', 'Star Wars' and many films from the 70's. But you have to hand it to Corman and director Murakami as they too have influenced many sci-fi films with this. The whole concept of a 'space cowboy' may well have originated here, if you overlook 'Han Solo'.
So at the start of this movie there is a little musical number with… MoreSo at the start of this movie there is a little musical number with some lyrics rhythmically explaining that sequels are never quite as good, a cute self referential/self mocking gag. Well umm...gee, what can I say accept...bingo! Yes this whole movie is almost one big self referential joke crammed full of obligatory pop culture references that just make you groan and slump your head into your hands.
The plot unfolds around a master criminal who happens to look identical to Kermit and is the number one criminal in the world. This amphibian wants to steal the British Crown Jewels with the help of Ricky Gervais who is the second best criminal in the world. So its a crime heist not too far off from 'The Great Muppet Caper'. So the fuzzy gang are trying to rejuvenate their show but are actually being used by the criminal duo who are unravelling a mystery that leads them to the Crown Jewels. Its all very 'Mr Bean-esque'.
First up I didn't like the film title, second up why can't we have Muppet movies based around classic tales/legends/fables again? why am I not seeing a Muppet Robin Hood? Anyway the story putters along in a gentle manner dotted with the odd musical number which on the whole weren't too bad, I quite liked the Gervais and evil Kermit duet. It did seem like there would be a song every other five minutes at one point but thankfully not. I did actually like the character of 'Constantine' (evil Kermit), at first I thought he was merely a cheap Kermit clone (kinda is) but he is voiced really well by Matt Vogel and is quite humerous at times. A Russian accent coming out of Kermit along with some nice evil facial expressions which are simply Kermit's face scrunched up into a snarl...was unexpectedly funny. Gervais wasn't the outright satirical funnyman we all know this time around but he gels well with his mean green accomplice.
The other amusing factor was the the second duo of Sam Eagle and Ty Burrell who plays a French Interpol Inspector. Despite the fact Burrell is clearly doing a hammy 'Inspector Clouseau' impersonation I can't deny that he does it well helped along by the stuffy Sam Eagle. Both bumble around in a predictable way looking for clues, Sam being the more keen by the books man/eagle, where as Burrell is the more laid back lazy not quite so intelligent European.
The movie bounces around from one pretty destination to the next giving us fancy looking set pieces and not much else really. Most of the Muppets don't figure too much this time, nothing from Gonzo, Rizzo, Fozzie etc...or new boy Walter! and naturally there are many pointless needless cameos. I know these Muppet films have always had cameos but they used to be from real legends of the silver screen, these days its the dregs of pop culture like Lady Gaga and Sean Combs *groan*. Still can't work out what the Celine Dion singing cameo was about, she just appears for absolutely no reason what so ever and vanishes again! hope it was worth the money sheesh!
I knew I wasn't gonna like this film much, I am a huge Muppet fan and grew up with the gang but ever since the final Muppet fantasy (Muppet Wizard of Oz) things have just gone down hill for me. Its all become very bland dull and chock full of annoying pop culture references and placements, the lovely fairytale fantasy element has all but gone. While the film wasn't terrible I wasn't overly impressed either. It just ticked along through unoriginal mundane formulaic fodder, no traditional Muppet hysteria present anywhere...until we reached the inevitably plain and predictable ending. What really summed it all up for me was the fact they tried to dodge the glaring problem of little imagination and creativity by going for this all out slightly satirical self referential gag angle like some sort of cover up, hoping no one will notice its all old hat.
I guess it just manages to squeeze over the pass mark because its the Muppets and you can't help but love em. That is still no excuse for a lazy movie relying on familiar faces to bring in the dough, unfortunately they do seem to be doing this, shoving our fave Muppets on the big screen for some easy earnings. I'm happy for more Muppets but lets get back to the fantasy/sci-fi side of things please, it works so well with Jim Henson's creations. I'm waiting for the Muppet version of Dracula please...anyone.
Well judging by the poster for this Corman gem you can expect to see… MoreWell judging by the poster for this Corman gem you can expect to see lots of huge freaky monsters attacking scantily clad ladies on some kind of prehistoric looking alien planet. I really don't understand how this poster even exists as the film is completely and utterly the opposite to everything that poster stands for! it looks like a Doug McClure movie poster.
Anywho I had never seen this film until now so I was unaware of what to expect, again judging by that movie poster I was kinda thinking it was an 'Aliens' type affair...oh well. The film certainly looks and feels like 'Aliens' though that's for sure, holy sputum! the visuals virtually throughout the entire film are near identical! This may well be down to the fact James Cameron was the Production Designer and Second Unit Director on this and he clearly took these ideas and recreated them for his now famous Alien sequel masterpiece.
Indeed this film does look very Cameron-ish in some scenes especially at the start where we see the crew leave the mother ship and search the alien surroundings in their very smart yet workman-like looking space suits complete with light generating backpacks. Hell even the alien planet is a cold dark misty wind swept barren land with mountainous jagged rocks that looks like an early 'LV-426'. Then you have the huge alien pyramid type structure that kinda looks like a concept pinched for 'AvP'. So the more I watched the more I found myself comparing this early Corman sci-fi to Cameron's future work, on top of that much visual style has been borrowed from Ridley Scott's 'Alien' with the blue-collar space crew on board their slick yet heavily metallic industrial interior designed craft and its long twisting corridors. Not quite the oil rig in space scenario, there is more of a dark Battlestar Galactica feel to it in my opinion, and lets not forget the character of 'kore' the cook who is similar in plot development to 'Ash'.
So off the crew go into the unknown looking for survivors of a ship that crashed on this mysterious planet. The setup was certainly looking good for a last man standing type thriller and you do get that to a degree. What disappointed me was the fact the plot doesn't revolve around alien creatures killing off the crew but monsters created by the crew themselves, their own worst fears made flesh like some cheesy Red Dwarf episode. What was a little intriguing was the notion that this huge pyramid where everything takes place is some kind of adventure playground for children of an extinct race of beings. Apparently they would test their ability to control fear within the pyramid...for some reason. Notice the 'AvP' similarities here also huh huh!
So this all leads to various creatures and bizarre scenarios that kill off the crew one by one, some being quite cool effects wise and some not so. The silliest and most controversial (at the time) being a scene where a massive maggot rapes one of the female crew to death...yet she kinda enjoys it in the end. Totally stupid and uber cheesy to watch, makes you wonder what the fuss was all about, but there is some nice use of stop motion and a big rubber slime covered puppet. Most of the time you don't fully see the things killing people, you merely get glimpses, which does work but I fear that may be because most of them looked pretty hokey. The main talking point of the film (apart from the horny oversized maggot) must be the gruesome gory effects you get sporadically. Some lovely use of good old fashioned hands on effects with dummies, fake blood and exploding body parts, again it all looks pretty dubious now of course but back in the day it would have been horrific.
I did start out enjoying the film with its 'Aliens' look and feel but as time went on I grew more and more bored with the ever growing 'Hellraiser/Event Horizon-esque' route it took. What I didn't get on with (and still don't really get) is what was the Master character all about exactly?...who? why? how? etc...and how about some more info on this extinct race and their big pyramid playground of death huh. Plus I never really got behind any of the characters either, didn't really bother me if they lived or died and didn't really like any of them. You never find out what happens to Englund's character and what was all that crystal star throwing malarkey with Haig's character? why was he so obsessed with his precious crystal ninja stars?
Everything is a tad rehashed from Ridley Scott's space opus...especially with the discount Nostromo crew and I didn't really like the question raising ending or plot progression (how exactly did 'Cabren' kill the Master??! what was all that lighting stuff? beats me). But yeah on the other hand I did kinda like it mainly for its visual artistry and glorious hands on effects, on that front its brilliant.
Right lets get down to it then, this is basically the Bottom movie end… MoreRight lets get down to it then, this is basically the Bottom movie end of story, yeah sure there are the odd changes and snips around the edges but its quite simply Bottom on the big screen. Rik and Ade have played the same type of characters for their entire careers undoubtedly but these two fellas are clearly 'Richie' and 'Eddie' of Hammersmith, I think all the fans can agree on that despite what the guys say.
This works for and against the movie in my opinion. Basically we see the many of the same gags, pratfalls and violent slapstick from the TV show...and when I say the same I mean pretty much identical. The only difference is of course its been fleshed out on the silver screen with a better budget so everything looks slicker. Again this is not a problem essentially, I am very happy to see Rik and Ade knock seven shades of shit out of each other with the use of bigger and better effects...to a degree. But at times during the film I did find myself thinking they are rehashing too many old classic sight gags, verbal gags and violent gags and somehow it doesn't actually look as good!
How is this possible you might ask, well personally I think its down to the fact the TV show was actually more adult than the film and much more grittier. The constraints of the TV show elevate the material because it feels more anarchic and wild yet at the same time restricted, the stunts and effects are slapped together and seem really dangerous and realistic, plus the lack of any swearing somehow made it feel even ruder and filthier which I can't workout, the tempting hints I guess. In this film everything just seems a bit slow and tired, the guys are obviously not as young anymore but the fights and pratfalls just feel weaker and less inventive.
'Pheeb...One boiled egg.'
The sets in the film are nice and have that classic typically dated British seaside B&B visual atmosphere and vibe going on. Watching carefully I loved all the old set decorations strewn around the hotel like the old paintings and historic furniture. The kind of stuff your gran had when you were a kid back in the day, or even your parents back in the late 70's and 80's (if you're around my age). I also really liked all the little nooks, crannies and secret passage ways throughout the hotel which are used by Richie to spy on people and pinch things. It all adds more scope and depth to the setting plus adds inventive ways to create more laughs...which it does nicely in one sequence.
So the films visuals around the hotel do look good n grimy as you'd expect, certain props are used disgustingly well used for various painful moments and the sets are well designed reflecting that classic Bottom feel from the Hammersmith flat. The extra cast members are a solid oddball bunch that back at the time were relatively unknown but have now gone on to bigger things, most notably Bill Nighy and Simon Pegg. Neither of the pair actually have massive parts in the film of course as it all revolves around Richie and Eddie, but they add a much needed boost to the overall quality. Nighy probably gets the best of it with his face-off against Mayall in some classic Fawlty Towers-esque scenes at breakfast. Never really liked the character or performance from Cassel as it just felt way out of place really, other than that I still don't get why they didn't cast all their old school mates from previous shows, we get 'Spudgun' so what about the rest?
'Mmm Lady Diana Princess of Wales...slap me up you bitch'
Despite some great looking bits n pieces and some decent scenes of Mayall madness and campness, at the end of the day I couldn't help but feel slightly underwhelmed by the whole thing. I think like most folk I went into this with really really seriously high expectations from the pairs glittering TV career and basically the film could never live up to that. Don't get me wrong the guys have a bloody good go and the movie definitely delivers what you want from the duo in terms of crude crass vomit inducing toilet humour. I just really think this should of been a much stronger blend of their live stage show and the TV show, it should of been an all out adult comedy really. They try their best but it really feels like the laughs are being forced out after a bad spell of comical constipation. Was never too sure on that film title either.
The release of this film has been largely limited in various… MoreThe release of this film has been largely limited in various countries, though I'm not really sure why. I know here in the UK it never really got a proper release and in the US there were issues about trimming the final product, so overall this film has gained a lot of interest for the wrong reasons. Another reason for such interest will be down to the innovative action packed science fiction plot based on a French graphic novel that is set in a post apocalyptic Earth. Although on first impression the films main poster (the dark one with a few of the stars faces) is really unimaginative and unexciting whilst the films name is simply...a bit unusual.
So the plot shows the planet Earth after a failed experiment to try and halt the progress of global warming actually causes a lethal ice age...wow! mega fail huh. All of the remaining humans are packed on board the massive Snowpiercer train...a modern ark on rails, a train going nowhere, a train that continually travels the Earth on a gigantic global track and is powered by a perpetual engine. The clever twist (of sorts) is the train is separated into class divisions by each of its carriages, the bottom of the barrel poor folk at the very rear and the wealthy at the front. Its from the tail of the train the story begins as a group of rebellious scum plan to take the train and its engine. I don't really see what they hope to achieve in that as the train is basically a moving tomb for all of them as the outside world is too cold for human survival.
The story is in essence all about class divide, a mobile police state, a dictatorship within a train where the dregs of society are kept at arms length from the upper classes by armed guards and brutal laws. The bureaucratic leaders that enforce the cold as steel rules treat the trains creator like a religious icon, even the entire train is an thing to be worshipped and of course the privileged young are raised to think and act this way. At the same time the poor are left to their own devises, fed like animals on man made protein bars, herded, abused and kept in check with fear. The children are often taken away to toil as living pieces of equipment keeping the train moving and every now and then the population is trimmed.
When I first heard about this film it sounded ridiculous, hell it is ridiculous! the whole premise is so silly yet quite intriguing. The fact this track has been built to navigate the entire planet is a pretty sky high concept in itself really, how the hell did it get made?! ginormous bridges spanning vast deep canyons, then there's the weather issue, it must have taken many many years to build! How did the class division initially begin? and how would you decide who is good enough for the front of the train in a world that is dying, surely it wouldn't matter who was rich or poor anymore? Also why would the last remaining people on Earth wanna treat each other like this? That is one aspect I find amusing in these apocalyptic scenarios (if you disregard the movie element), why the last survivors always end up killing each other, usually in gangs. Never makes any sense to me, if you and the human race want to survive then you gotta work together.
The group of rebels storm each section of the train, one carriage at a time, fighting and killing all the way. As they progress through the train we see how each carriage gradually becomes more affluent eventually leading into grand luxury. Each carriage is basically a unique set piece of either action, exposition or chills, often architecturally crafted with different time periods but are all consistent within the story. The idea is not without its cliches though. We see the posh little kids getting brainwashed by their nice as pie dictatorial teacher who eventually whips out a big gun in a very cartoonish manner yet the whole scene did feel Orwellian. One carriage is an entire aquarium which begs questions of the ingenuity and engineering involved and then of course there are the typical sex, drugs and all night party carriages.
There is a lot of violence on display but not all that much is actually seen in all honesty...unless the version I saw was cut. In one scene a man is punished by having his arm stuck out in the cold and then its broken off with a large hammer, yet you see nothing and merely hear his screams. Plenty of shootings and stabbings going on throughout but only splattering's of blood are shown with lots of close ups of contorted faces. Although in true Nazi fashion plenty of innocent unarmed people are gunned down to control population levels...so yes it is dark in general, even though the nasty stuff is mainly hinted at. The most visually violent sequence must be when the rebels face off against a whole carriage load of masked soldiers wielding axes. Why they are masked I dunno, how they see out from those masks I dunno and how the rebels manage to beat them is the stuff of miracles. But lets not forget about that awesome amber lit spa room scene which, despite being simple...quite simply looks...epic.
There is a distinct eastern flavour to the proceedings which blends well with the more obvious western signatures...actors aside. You get touches of typical Hollywood action and slices of a more oriental nature as the film shows you scenes of serious social commentary alongside little bits of black humour, over the top slow motion style action and cartoonish villainy. I've never come across such a cocktail of themes and visual styles in one film, its a real fusion of South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's own visual style and flare with touches of Hollywood assistance.
I mean for essentially a B-movie everything looks really good, production values are high and a lot of care and attention has gone into all aspects. I know I keep using the word visuals a lot but seriously I can't help it, it all looks really slick, glossy, cold and quite threatening at times with exquisite use of lighting and camera angles. It really does look like a graphic novel with some scenes (like panels) only using a small colour palette to enhance the striking contrasts between darkness and light, where as others are bold and colourful to highlight the lavish surroundings. Even the train itself appears to have a futuristic retro design from what could be the late 30's onwards, whilst most of the upper class characters seem to be wearing period attire which looks like WWII era.
The overall momentum of this film is indeed like a heavy train tearing along at breakneck speed, ripping through the motions with nothing being able to slow it down. From the moment it starts it escalates scene by scene, heck even the sequence at the start where they break free from their shabby dwellings and block the first few doors is an adrenaline rush. So the stylish eye candy helps but so do the cast, a real oddball bunch. Evans proves he can actually act with his ravaged performance, Swinton is the epitome of a quirky cackling screwy looking villain adding tiny bits of dark humour and Hurt looks so authentic I was worried about his actual health. Although we have seen him in this kind of bedraggled form a few times, easy casting...almost cheating.
The finale showdown and ending was a bit off key in my opinion I must say. Spoiler warning! everybody gets killed apart from a little boy and the daughter of Song Kang-ho's character, a young teenage (?) girl. So what the hell are they suppose to do??!! they are the last remaining humans on Earth apparently (possibly) and they are stranded in the middle of an ice and snow laden wilderness. Why do I get the feeling they should not of caused the train to crash by trying to leave it, they should of taken out the bad guys and controlled the train their way, thus surviving.
Delving deep into possible similarities and problems with our own society, the film is virtually in segments (each carriage) or like levels in a computer game. Each segment is basically almost a different individual social commentary in its own right (I'm sure every reviewer has probably said something like this so I'm trying not to step on anyone's toes here). Its all a very familiar tale but one that has been told well and...errm is set on a train, so that's quite unique. Yes I had my doubts, very much so, but they have been well and truly buried beneath a big pile of snow.
The only 'Planet of the Apes' franchise film I have ever seen is the… MoreThe only 'Planet of the Apes' franchise film I have ever seen is the Burton 're-imagining' and I quite like that version as it was visually stunning and a good fun adventure. Right from the start you could tell this new film was a completely different animal altogether...no pun intended. The comicbook-ish approach has gone and we now have a much more serious sci-fi on a grander more epic scale.
The visual effects on the apes during the character build up and introduction of 'Caesar' was slightly off in my opinion, it was good but there wasn't much of a wow factor going on. The faces did look a bit plastic and too obviously CGI, but as the film progresses and the apes become more aware with Caesar growing in intelligence, it seems the CGI gets better at the same time. By the time Caesar is really plotting his escape and takeover the CGI on his face and entire overall body movement is really quite impressive. This goes for all the other chimps and apes too, especially the gorilla and orangutan which really look fantastic up close along with their body and hand movements.
The plot is decent and a good ride, it starts off slow no doubting that, and there is a lot of character and story building with the experiments and slow evolution of Caesar. At first I was getting a little twitchy I must admit but the story does eventually get a hold of you and I did find myself really getting into it quite quickly. What is nice is the fact they have tried for a clean reboot with a fresh new plot, sort of. Instead of just remaking the original films they have gone with a new approach that has ties with the original films (mainly the fourth one), thus giving a relatively new and fresh aspect to the franchise which was important.
Honestly the human side of the film is rather boring with Franco and Pinto not really gelling whilst Cox and Lithgow are merely background props (good props I might add) which disappear very quickly. Its all about the apes and for most of the run time your just itching for those apes to break free and kick some homosapien ass! When they eventually do its well worth your money as the finale will get your heart pounding as you cheer for the apes to reach freedom. Those damn dirty humans are in their way but luckily we see some great man stomping...but with intelligent action.
What was impressive was how Caesar would not let his fellow primates kill humans needlessly, of course a few do bite the dust but if Caesar was around he didn't want it. Whether that is to show he has evolved and won't sink to that level or the creators just wanted a family friendly film rating I don't know, but it worked well as a character development for the main ape.
The finale is really the cherry on the icing on the cake! a full blown Hominidae rampage through San Francisco with lots of very well realised chimps, one gorilla and an orangutan. It is good that the film doesn't resort to lots of guns and masses of apes being killed, there is a small element of that but it doesn't get over blown with silliness which is good to see. One or two moments of Hollywood craziness perhaps, when the gorilla leaps onto a chopper from the Golden Gate Bridge, and the use of that certain iconic piece of dialog (again!), does that really need to be used again simply because its a 'Planet of the Apes' franchise film?
One of the best films of the year so far for sure, its actually been constructed with some level of intelligence behind it creating a solid foundation. Fits in well with the original franchise films, a decent musical score to evoke emotion with heights of achievement and it has a good ending...although slightly leaning towards a roaring iconic '2001: Space Odyssey' grandiose type finish. kinda manages it too believe it or not!
A film about redneck moonshine bootleggers, well yeehaw!. Apparently… MoreA film about redneck moonshine bootleggers, well yeehaw!. Apparently this is an adaptation of a book which recounts true events from 1931 in the USA. The story is actually based on the author's real family from around this era, he seems to be proud of his relations criminal activities then. Well its based on fact so it makes the film more interesting.
Visually this film looks the business, its gritty, violent and thoroughly well made from top to bottom. I love how everybody looks in their costumes, this period in US history was a smart time and on film it always looks good.
The main issue with this film is thus, clearly its aiming for epic Oscar status, that's fine but its not good enough. The reason being, in my opinion, the creators can't decide what they want this film to be. Do they want an epic grand scale tour de force a' la 'The Godfather' or do they want a graphic novel style kick ass flick a' la 'Last Man Standing' or 'The Untouchables'?.
The film starts brilliantly, with a good dust up from Hardy showing his position within the film and then the coup de grace. Oldman strolls out into the middle of a dusty dirt street and proceeds to tommy gun an oncoming old Ford jalopy to pieces. This one sequence is over quickly but its overly awesome and really gets you in the mood for an ass kicking period flick.
After this great kick off the film tends to lull for much of the run time with sparse bits of violence. The whole thing is lost in limbo between wanting epic Oscar status or violent kick ass graphic novel type status. The issue being the film achieves neither but hangs somewhere in between like a lost tourist.
The other shame is the fact the two best characters and actors aren't involved enough. Oldman is hyper as usual and just needs more screen time here, its as simple as that (although his character does remind me of Chris Walken's character of 'Hickey' in 'Last Man Standing') .
Whilst the best character by far is Pearce as the slimy nasty dastardly 'Rakes'. A kind of polar opposite to Elliot Ness, Ness was a crusading good cop while 'Rakes' is a crusading bad cop. He's only doing his job and upholding the law but in a really bent way hehe.
Both these guys NEEDED more screen time as they both rocked ass and looked damn good doing it. Alas we're stuck with lots of the dreadful Labeouf (how does this guy get work!!?) and the very much overrated Hardy who yet again mumbles his way through this film also. This guy really isn't much of an actor, sorry to all you Nolan fanboys out there, tis the reality.
Despite the two guys I've mentioned most of the characters aren't exactly original, there is nothing new on offer here from this era, standard fair. The violence is harsh thundering and cool but admittedly cliched for this type of film, the thing is that's the best thing about the film.
Without much of the violence this would be a poor epic wannabe, with the violence its good fun but not as good as 'Last Man Standing' or 'Untouchables'.
To be frank the plot is highly basic and doesn't really deserve a film made about it. That said I can't deny that it looks lush and the brutal glorification of prohibition-era Virginia violence is too good to miss.
Hands up who wants to see Oldman smash some hood across the head with a big metal shovel in a fit of rage?, yeah that's what I thought, of course you do.