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.
Michael Bay IS the modern master of suspense. Forget Hitchcock, this guy can make me believe that this time things will be different between us. Maybe, just maybe this time will be the money. The first “Transformers” in 2007 was average but I can certainly see the appeal. The second movie, “Revenge of the Fallen” I had down as one of the single worst movies I have ever seen. “Dark of the Moon” in 2011 struck somewhere in the middle of those two quality wise, so when I heard that “Transformers: Age of Extinction” was going to be a “soft” reboot of the franchise I was almost excited. Michael Bay has kicked me in the teeth once again with a movie that is not only jarringly similar to the three previous “Transformer” films but is actually worse than the abomination that is “Revenge of Fallen”.
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.