There are no surprises anymore. Not here, anyway. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” returns us to the Autobots and the Decepticons as they battle it out to save planet Earth. Megatron (Hugo Weaving) thankfully isn’t the sole antagonist this time but that hardly makes things what the suits call “interesting”. Shia LaBouef is back as Sam Witwicky, the focus of the film despite his inescapable irrelevancy. I suppose I should say something like “I loved the special effects!”. I also love tea, but God forbid you serve without milk.
Having IMDB open in another tab has become something of a religious requirement for my reviews now. As a result, I am always conscious of the score that has been awarded to what I have just watched (though this never colours my perception of the film). “Lassie”, directed by Daniel Petrie, is a lovely family film that I found quite tough to dislike, not that I tried. Baffled then was I that the score on IMDB is a measly 5.8, a score that seems to almost guarantee mediocrity. Not this time, “Lassie” is a flawed film like so many others but children will almost certainly love it and as I said, it is difficult to not enjoy on some level.
Gregory Peck stars in “Cape Fear” though only when the credits roll. The real star without a shadow of a doubt is Robert Mitchum as Max Cady, the ex-convict who is now seeking revenge against Peck’s Sam Bowden — the lawyer that helped put him away. Mitchum, who also starred in the unprecedented “The Night of the Hunter” as a villainous preacher, seems born to play the bad guy. The scenes where he reservedly watches Bowden’s family at a distance all too close for comfort are disturbing despite us not actually witnessing any brutality from the man himself. The presence of the villain elevates J. Lee Thompson’s “Cape Fear” above the usual trappings of the revenge thriller.
“Thrilling horror… One to make the reader dread to turn around… To curdle the blood… And quicken the beatings of the heart.”
This is what is spoken during the opening credits of “Frankenstein”. A quote from Mary Shelley herself, the author of what is perhaps the most famous of novels. Never before have I considered how disturbing a tale “Frankenstein” really was until I began to read the novel recently. We are filled with images of the square headed lug’s bolted head, and this image is forever engrained, but this version of the novel brings the creature back to its roots. Kenneth Branagh stars and directs this new adaptation of one of the greatest Gothic novels to surface since the genres inception, and he does so faithfully. Much of the imagery is carried over and so are the themes and motifs, but the inconsistent narrative holds “Frankenstein” back from greatness.
There do exist those special movies that alert you to their awfulness minutes into the film. In “Captain America” we are instantly treated to a scene that should be poignant, but instead the foreign language scene leaves us confused due to the scene being half subtitled. Half subtitled shouldn’t be a thing, it’s all or nothing unless you have a damn good reason for it. This movie had a $10,000,000 budget, “Reservoir Dogs” — A film I didn’t enjoy but can still appreciate — was made for $1,200,000. Take this opportunity to really let that sink in. This movie wasn’t theatrically released in America until 2011, and that was to promote the vastly superior “Captain America: The first Avenger“. If I had watched this prior to seeing that then I can tell you I wouldn’t have bothered watching the new one, end of story.
It’s been a long time, and James Bond has evolved yet stayed recognisably Bond even to this day. “Dr. No” holds the distinction of being the first James Bond film ever brought to the big screen. Any journey starts with turbulence and it ends with it too. Fortunately James Bond doesn’t look to be ending any time soon, but it had to start somewhere, and I found “Dr. No” to be slightly rocky but a promising effort nonetheless.
One of Marvel Comics darkest characters, Frank Castle AKA “The Punisher” is unlikely to be back on the screen for a while due to the success of the family Marvel movie. He doesn’t have the star power to attract viewers, and if it isn’t appropriate for parents to bring their kids too, who will see it? The Punisher is a character that will only succeed on the screen if he gets out of comic territory and instead goes for a gritty story similar to how Christopher Nolan managed it with Batman. This rendition of the character — the first of three so far — is dark, brooding, and yawn inducing.
“In the Beginning there was… Howard the Duck!”, I wonder if Wilard Huyck and George Lucas were anticipating the future success of Marvel studios when they decided to utter these lines in such a biblical fashion. Perhaps they thought that Howard would bring a new era of comic motion pictures that were non stop blockbusters that would cater to both adults and children alike. “Howard the Duck” was, in every sense, the furthest it could possibly be from this picture of family entertainment.
I can’t really recall a time that this has happened before. I have heard of sequels improving on the original before (“Spider-Man 2”, “Goldfinger”, even “Kill Bill Vol.2” as just a few debatable examples) but never to this degree. “The Raid: Redemption” was one of the most beloved action films to have come out in the past few years, and it took many by surprise as it was indeed a low budget foreign film that found significant success overseas. It’s no secret, I hated it, and I still do. I could see why people loved it but it wasn’t for me because people loved it for only one reason, the action. The problem was that if you weren’t a hardcore action — with an emphasis on martial arts — fan then there is almost nothing to enjoy. I can gladly say that Gareth Evans has increased his scope and made a truly stunning martial arts film, that improves on literally everything the original did. I mean it, there is not one thing worse.
Fantastic. I had so much fun with “The Raid: Redemption” and I couldn’t put it down for the entire time I spent with it. It lets you get right into it, just punching people, pulling off combos, breaking skulls and taking names. The best part? It just lets you fight fight fight! No boring dialogue for us! Why would we want that to break up our experience? Oh, and the final boss, oh my God. “The Raid” is the best video game I have ever played in my entire life.
But, this isn’t a video game — this is a movie. An awful, awful movie.