Everything Tom Dey got right with Shanghai Noon, David Dobkin gets… MoreEverything Tom Dey got right with Shanghai Noon, David Dobkin gets wrong in Shanghai Knights. Apart from the ridiculous and embarrassing historical inaccuracies, Dobkin seems to rely heavily on stereotyping without thought for his audience. Talk about riding on the success of someone else's work. The martial art scenes are overdone and contrived, the 'Buddy' element is lost and the script is nothing short of terrible. There are quite a few telling deleted scenes in the end credits whereby you can see just how uncomfortable Owen Wilson is saying certain lines. It's not funny at all and is far from entertaining. Every scene is a poor copy from other, better films. Why is Aidan Gillen still cast as villains? Why does London look like Mexico? Why did you ruin what could have been a great franchise? It makes Rush Hour 3 look like a masterpiece!
Shanghai Noon represents the better of the popular American Jackie… MoreShanghai Noon represents the better of the popular American Jackie Chan films of the late 90s/early 00s and it easily the best of his 'Buddy' films. Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson are two of the most likable people in cinema, so there was an element of win/win about this film from the beginning. The story is good, the comedy is funny and the martial arts scenes impressive without being gratuitous. It's nice to see a Buddy film whereby the 'Buddies' actually look like they're friends and here they definitely do. It's a great family adventure film, entertaining and hard to dislike.
Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. is the leading expert on Instruments of Capital… MoreFred A. Leuchter, Jr. is the leading expert on Instruments of Capital Punishment. What makes him the leading expert? Easy, he was the only one in his field. He's obviously a very capable engineer with a problem solving brain to match but expert is probably a push. When he was asked by revisionist historian (that's holocaust denier to you and me) Ernst Zundel to investigate what was thought to be the Gas chambers at Auschwitz he caused quite the stir with what he found. Death expert, holocaust denier, egotist, seemingly nice guy...this is Errol Morris documentary making at its finest.
The Debt is a great little Espionage that spans 30 years. The start of… MoreThe Debt is a great little Espionage that spans 30 years. The start of the film sees our three main leads, a trio of Israeli Nazi hunters, carry out a political kidnapping in the late 1960s. Jump to 1997 and we get the sense that the mission didn't go as well as we, and the rest of the world, were lead to believe. It's a slow burner this, but it's all the better for it. I think the younger actors were a little more convincing in their roles but I found the older actors far more watchable. It's a delicate subject and like in all good thriller, not everything is what it seems. I did find that certain key questions, particularly regarding one of the three main characters, remained unanswered to the films disadvantage. Overall it is stylish, well acted and beautifully directed but it's just missing that certain je ne sais quoi that would make it really great, rather than just quite good.
"Make a sequel to the 2003 film Johnny English" shouted no one ever,… More"Make a sequel to the 2003 film Johnny English" shouted no one ever, and yet, 8 years later Johnny English Reborn arrives. To be fair it is ever so slightly better than the first film, this is due to the fact that they've taken advantage of it being a sequel and so have built on the legend, rather than try to tell the same story twice. They've obviously spent a little bit of money on it too and have made it more Bond then Bean. The impressive supporting cast are totally wasted and it's far from Atkinson's best work but it's easy viewing and inoffensive. For the older folk maybe, although everyone likes seeing an elderly women get beaten up, don't they?
Clint Eastwood's directional debut should have been all about him… MoreClint Eastwood's directional debut should have been all about him really but he shows great generosity by making this Jessica Walters's film. I don't really believe for a second he was being generous, he was out-acted fair and square. His direction is pretty good though, particularly for a debut. I'm not sure he improved as a directer until relatively recently, far later in his career. His acting remains the same though and I'm afraid I regard him as one of the most overrated actors of all time. All that aside, Play Misty for Me is an example of great 1970's thrillers. Its influence is obvious but for my money Jessica Walters's obsessive stalker remains the best and most terrifying.
James B. Harris's 1965 Cold War drama The Bedford Incident is a… MoreJames B. Harris's 1965 Cold War drama The Bedford Incident is a masterclass in script and performance. Sidney Poitier plays an investigative reporter, keen to know more about the mysterious Captain Eric Finlander who's reputation as one of the best Captains in the Navy but who has been refused Admiralty on several attempts. Richard Widmark's performance as Captain Eric Finlander is suitably chilling and obsessive. It's nice to see a film whereby Sidney Poitier's skin colour isn't the focal point, indeed it's never even mentioned. This is very much about the politics of the Cold War. The power lust, the blood thirst and all the paranoia that comes with it is explored brilliantly by a cutting edge script. The only problem is the direction. It's shot in a grainy Black and White which is both unnecessarily and distracting. The film is overlong which doesn't really help what should have been a more climactic ending, instead the film ends abruptly and without full effect. As much as like it, it's not without its flaws and it is one of the few films I would want to see a remake of.
Alex Gibney is a great documentary director. Every film I've seen of… MoreAlex Gibney is a great documentary director. Every film I've seen of his has been informative and entertaining in equal measure, whether or not I was interested or even aware of the source material, more often than not I soon was thanks to him. Well, until now anyway. I don't know much about professional Cycling but I know Lance Armstrong is synonymous in the world of two wheels. I know he's struggled in his career, is (was) highly regarded and I also know he took performance enhancing drugs. I had hoped to have learned a little more than that during the 2 hour long film but I didn't. I can't help but compare this documentary to James Erskine's Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist. It was far more compelling, told me something about someone and a subject I didn't already know about and without it I probably wouldn't have understood half or the Armstrong Documentary. The archive footage wasn't particularly interesting and the interviews with the man himself were nothing short of dull. After 2 hours I felt like I'd cycled the Tour De France; elated that it was over and completely exhausted. For the hard core only.
A likable but loud Black man somehow ends up faking the identity of a… MoreA likable but loud Black man somehow ends up faking the identity of a learned Dentist and spends a week with a polite White Family. During this week he gets the anally-retentive White folks to loosen up a bit by making them dance and eat meat. Even in 1995, it's hard to imagine who thought this was a good idea, who green lit it and who honestly thought it would make money? I actually quite like Sinbad and I miss the great Phil Hartman but with a story and script this bad it is easy to see why the former hasn't worked much since. I can only recommend this film to people with the lowest of expectations.
Blitz explores the stereotype and myth of a South London that doesn't… MoreBlitz explores the stereotype and myth of a South London that doesn't actually exist and does so fairly badly. Jason Statham plays a character that is a cross between someone Sylvester Stallone would have played in the 80's and a exaggeration of every other role he's ever had combined. I think the dialogue was written on the spot. By a 12 year old. Paddy Considine plays his new partner, a Gay policeman who is gay for absolutely no reason, considering the amount of times we are reminded. Aidan Gillen once again plays the least convincing villain of all time, a 'Cop killer' who seems to have the ability to fly, pass through walls and bend time. Or is that just the continuity department slipping up for the hundredth time? It's corny, unbelievable, stupid and a bit tired.