So here's a round-up of mini reviews for films I didn't get round to reviewing earlier in the year. A lot of these are average films that I watched on TV and forgot about almost immediately but some are cinema viewings too.
Big Happy new year to all of my readers as well, here's to a great 2013.
|Director: Garry Marshall Starring: Kutcher, Biel, Efron, Berry Run-time: 118 mins|
If the best performance in your film comes from Zac Efron, then you have a problem. In New Year's Eve, Hollywood have put together one of the worst casts I've seen in a while. One of the on-screen romances is between Katherine Heigl and Jon Bon Jovi... yeah, enough said. There's ZERO chemistry between any of these characters. The worst part is the painful way the writer tries to intertwine every story meaning that by the end, certain people end up related, engaged or neighbours etc. These ensemble films need to stop because they're boring, unfunny and a waste of money.
|Director: RZA Starring: Crowe, RZA, Liu, Yune Run-time: 95 mins|
This film man, THIS FILM. It was like a 12 year old kid was given millions of pounds to make a film so he threw in all of his favourite things; swords, ninjas, cowboys, pretty women and wrestlers. RZA is that little child - how he got Russell Crowe on board is somewhat of a mystery, although he probably saved money by directing, writing, composing and casting himself in the film. RZA's passion project is a confusing mash-up, which isn't helped by the gangster-rap soundtrack, no doubt written by himself. Don't get me wrong, I'm down with hip-hop but listening to a Wu Tang Clan song whilst two ninjas are fighting to the death doesn't feel too authentic to me. I couldn't recommend this anyone with a straight face because it IS awful. Nonsensically entertaining but awful nonetheless.
|Director: David Koepp Starring: JGL, Shannon, Ramirez Run-time: 91 mins|
This is the worst Joseph Gordon-Levitt film I've ever seen (I've yet to see GI Joe). This film is strange in that the audience are given nothing besides the main storyline. There's no back-story to the characters, it's like the film exists in a vacuum where bicycle-couriering is the most badass, life-affirming thing there is. It's literally a 91 minute chase scene between JGL on a bike and Michael Shannon in a car or on foot. I found the movie frustratingly hollow and lacking any real substance. JGL attempts to play this douchey, wise-cracking adrenaline-head and it just doesn't work. There's no charm to his character, he's just a bit of a dick. Don't go out of your way to catch this.
|Director: T. Strauss-Schulson Starring: Cho, Penn, NPH Run-time: 90 mins|
Harold and Kumar have grown old and therefore boring, melodramatic, unfunny and grumpy. This didn't feel like a Harold and Kumar film half the time, which is disappointing. Neil Patrick Harris' part is the highlight of a pretty shameless cash-in. Oh and there's a talking robot, called Wafflebot, one of the limited bits of ingenuity in the film. I think the biggest problem is that Harold and Kumar spend very little time interacting with each other alone. There are too many annoying side-kick characters cramping the bromance between Penn and Cho. However, Harold's wife Maria (played by Paula Garces) is looking as sumptuous as ever, so that's one side character to stick around for.
THE TUNNEL MOVIE
|Director: C. Ledesma Starring: Bel Delia, Luke Arnold Run-time: 90 mins|
Yes, it's another found footage horror movie so if you don't like this, admittedly stale, sub-genre don't even bother with Australian release, The Tunnel. This film reminded me of the small British flick, Creep, but shot in a Blair Witch/[REC] style. The director goes to great lengths in creating the illusion that this is a documentary, so be patient as the film is structured around sit-down interviews and everyone talks in the past tense, which can become annoying. The monster underneath the tunnels is only partially revealed too and there's zero explanation for its presence. But I liked that, as the saying goes, 'less is more'. If you're struggling for a horror movie because you've seen the most popular one's, give The Tunnel a try. You may be surprised.
|Director: J. Roach Starring: Ferrell, Galifianakis, Sudeikis Run-time: 85 mins|
The Campaign may run out of steam towards the end of its short 85 minute run-time but for at least 40 minutes, it's a smart political parody. Galifianakis is the star attraction as a camp, good-hearted but extremely naive political campaigner who's policies are being controlled by two industry big-wigs. Ferrell is okay but you've seen him in this over-confident, loud role before. If you were picking between Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator or The Campaign, I'd confidently recommend the latter. Amidst the juvenile humour and repetitive jokes there's a funny commentary on politics.
THE BOURNE LEGACY
|Director: T. Gilroy Starring: Renner, Weisz, Norton Run-time: 135 mins|
I feel sorry for Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz because with The Bourne Legacy, they were always swimming upstream. It's hard to defend this unnecessary sequel and with 2012 such a strong year for action movies, this film was always punching above its weight. I'm going to treat it as a stand-alone film and say that it's decent, pretty good in fact. Renner and Weisz make a convincing duo, they're both fantastic actors and their casting is what saves the movie from being average. There's not a tremendous amount of action in Renner's first outing in the franchise but when called upon, he handles hand-to-hand combat like a natural. Plot-wise, I've gotta admit I was never completely sure who was chasing who, nor the intentions of people like Edward Norton. If a 5th film is going to be made, a more cohesive script would be appreciated.
|Director: M. Webb Starring: Garfield, Stone, Ifans Run-time: 136 mins|
Another, arguably unnecessary, sequel but this one has a few more people defending it. It's impossible not to compare Mark Webb's Amazing Spider-man to Raimi's trilogy, which was fine as it was. Don't get me wrong, I'll choose Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone over Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst every day of the week but is that a good enough reason to completely remake a movie? Not for me it isn't. With that said, I did enjoy the film right up until the villain is revealed. Rhys Ifans' The Lizard almost ruined the whole thing. Not because he was badly acted or animated but due to how weakly written the part was. The conflict between Spidey and The Lizard wasn't strong enough in my book, which made for a tame, unengaging conclusion.
|Director: R Linklater Starring: Black, McConaughey, MacLaine Run-time: 104 mins|
This is a strange old film about a very strange true story. Bernie is about a local mortician who pretends to keep alive a wealthy pensioner, in order to live off of her enormous estate. Jack Black plays the morally ambiguous murderer, who manages to fool a whole community into sympathising with him. The style of the film is documentary-like as Richard Linklater uses sit-down interviews with real townsfolk. Jack Black shines as the title character and he thoroughly deserves his Golden Globe nomination. Matthew McConaughey also shows up as a cynical sheriff who can see straight through Bernie's shtick. The biggest compliment I can pay McConaughey is that I thought he was under-used. Bernie isn't for everyone, and it did take me a while to adapt to its unique style, but by the end I found it to be an effectively made dark comedy.
|Director: P. Travis Starring: Urban, Thirlby, Headey Run-time: 95 mins|
What's this, a remake that is better than the original?! If non-stop bloody action is what you want, Dredd 3D delivers it in absolute buckets. This film is shallow, gritty, nonsensical fun and it works because it doesn't pretend to be any different. Karl Urban's performance as Dredd is brilliant. Anyone that can maintain a frown for 95 minutes deserves some praise. Sometimes the lack of a budget hinders Dredd. For example, the entire film takes place inside a huge block of flats, in a similar vein to The Raid. It would've been nice to see more of Mega City as this dystopian future seems intriguing. There are also some aesthetic problems like cheap CGI and some examples of bad editing but it all added to the B-movie experience. If you didn't see this in the cinema, give it a chance on DVD or online rental, especially if you're a fan of the original.
|Director: B. Layton Starring: Frederic Bourdin Run-time: 99 mins|
There are screen-writers all over the world wishing they'd written the premise to this film. But this isn't a fictional story, everything in The Imposter is impossibly true. Simply, the documentary tells the staggering story of Frederic Bourdin, a French man who assumed the identity of a believed-to-be-dead 16 year old American boy. Bourdin fools everyone; the family, two governments, border patrols, friends, they're all duped. But the documentary also explores other possibilities, such as the rumour that the American family knew Bourdin was lying and that they took him in to cover up their son's mysterious disappearance. The Imposter is a brilliant and delicately told crime-documentary that leaves many questions unanswered. Bourdin himself, is a fascinating character, and although he's done terrible things you can't help but like him. Recommended to all.