This did not turn out anything like I thought it would, and I came at this movie with two entirely different ways of thinking. One side of me retained the cynicism I had developed from the trailers, none of which managed to convince me this was going to be anything other than a standard haunted house extravaganza lacking in any real substance or coherency. Another side was coming from a place of optimism, having heard that reviews were actually calling this one a masterful Stephen King adaptation as well as a great horror movie in it’s own right. It’s never ideal to come into a movie with any preconceived notion of quality, but in this case what I saw conformed to neither. It is a movie of highs and lows competently thrown together in a manner that works, fleetingly.
I left “The Fast and the Furious” eager for more, which surprised me enough. I now leave “2 Fast 2 Furious”, the sequel to that brainless gem, with remorse and indignation. My wrongdoing was apparently to allow myself to be filled with optimism again which I haven’t done since I saw “Godzilla” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” over a year ago. The indignation spawns from how unfair it is that John Singleton, the director of “Boyz n the Hood” which bought him an Oscar nod for best director and best screenplay, fails so spectacularly at a formula that seems so simple. It is mind numbing to think that a movie so similar to its predecessor could be so much worse. Fast cars I can find anywhere, the job of the Director is to convince me that cars smaller than my hand travelling from one end of my screen to another are really going very, very fast. The cars are fake and so they feel fake and any sense of speed that would be derived from the use of an actual real life vehicle (shock! horror!) is left in the CGI dust.
“The Fast and the Furious” is a whirlwind of simplistic virtues. With the release of the seventh movie of the franchise I decided to undertake the task of watching the previous six movies. I am a longtime sufferer of sequel syndrome and refuse to watch a movie without having seen the previous, it’s an incurable affliction. So here I am, starting at first base and just now realising that this analogy will only apply to a quadrilogy, but I digress. As simple as it is, “The Fast and the Furious” is sufficiently stylish and vibrant enough that it becomes easy to appreciate how Rob Cohen brings these elements together. There is nothing new here of course, but these cars go really, really fast.
I’ve watched the previews; seen the trailers and read the reviews. Many of them say the same thing in their own unique order: ‘I had absolutely no desire to see “Cinderella” when it first came to my attention’. Who can blame them? There’s an inescapable cast iron ball of assumption attached to the ankle of “Cinderella” that can be directly attributed to recent attempts such as like “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, “Mirror Mirror” and “Alice in Wonderland”. My opinions aside, the general reception of the modern movie adaptation of the classic Disney fairy tale is fairly mute. Then comes “Cinderella”, somewhat unannounced in the years first quarter, to show those movies how its done. Buy your ticket online so that you aren’t dissuaded by the “G” rating, the glitter and — In what will be your most trying test — the little girls dressed in frilly blue dresses that threaten to make you think better of yourself. “Cinderella” is a light but nonetheless enjoyable film that may be somewhat forgettable for playing it safe but is a great deal of fun without a talking rat in sight.
“Cast Away” is in some ways a pseudo-bottleneck movie, it removes something that would usually be considered crucial to the smooth operation of any movie, characters. Or at least for the most part, before our protagonist washes up on the unnamed island we see him propose to his fiancé whilst furiously trying to rearrange work schedules to be there for her. It is the island though, that is the soul of “Cast Away” and I have huge respect for Robert Zemeckis who has managed to create a lengthy and consistently engaging movie using almost just the dedication to acting demonstrated by Tom Hanks and his heartfelt method of film making.
The Mafia is the most interesting crime organisation out there, and Martin Scorsese understands this as well as the Mafia itself all too well. He knows that the inner workings of the Italian crime family is fascinating to those who avidly pursue the knowledge of what goes on under the surface and even more so to those who blissfully ignore its ethereal presence. It is completely inappropriate that I am reminded of the vampire council in “Blade”, but regardless, I am. An organisation that is everywhere but never seen, and have their blood soaked tendrils in everything. The vampire council requires money to get blood, but the Mafia require blood to get money.
It’s nice to visit an old friend again. I’ve been telling people to watch “District 9” for years now, ever since I watched it with my uncle at the ripe old age of 14 or so. It was nice to pick it up again and finally visit what I’ve been telling people is one of my all time favourite science fiction films. I’ve watched a lot more since then, and I can now recognise that “District 9” isn’t as great as I perhaps made it out to be, but for the most part the intriguing plot and the lack of concrete information we receive about the ‘prawns’ keeps the film engaging until we reach the film’s slightly weaker final act. In essence, I still feel there is a lot to like about Neil Blomkamp’s “District 9”, despite it’s diminishing returns upon my second viewing.
It’s peculiar to think that a director such as Wes Anderson would decide to direct a stop-motion family film based on a book by Roald Dahl, but nevertheless it did happen. It is less surprising to an extent given his admittedly limited work using stop-motion in his films, such as “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” but this time he goes full steam ahead. I remember watching “Fantastic Mr. Fox when it came out and I distinctly recall snorting in superiority when I watched the adverts on TV, back when I was 12 I didn’t give a rat’s ass about who Wes Anderson was but needless to say after the movie I found myself intrigued.
We’re back, just as I was beginning to forget what a bad movie actually was, R.J. Cutler bombs the red carpet with “If I Stay”. A movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz where one thing happens that is worthy of note. The plot is just about there enough that it could have flourished as one of those short films they show before a Pixar movie, but I guess a movie where most of the cast is comatose throughout wasn’t a hit with younger audiences. “I have it!”, says R.J. Cutler, “You know what this depressing plot needs? An equally depressing run time” and so from the depths of the malignant Hollywood money barrel comes “If I Stay”. The latest film about comas that accomplishes the esteemed and highly sought after achievement of making you envy the Sleeping Beauty played by Moretz herself.
James Bond is infinitely entertaining. These series has so far done nothing but demonstrate to me that he is someone I will never get tired of, and he oozes potential. If only the big budget blockbusters of today could all match up to the sheer enjoyment level supplemented by “Goldfinger”, the third Bond outing this time directed by Guy Hamilton (who would later return to the series with “Diamonds are Forever”, “Live and Let Die” and “The Man With the Golden Gun”). Sean Connery proves even more sufficiently that he completely understands the character of James Bond. People complained of Roger Moore’s age in “A View to a Kill”, but I think I’d pay anything to see the 85 year old Connery give the role one last bash.