Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Review Round-Up 4

Patch Adams (director: Tom Shadyac; stars: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman) - nothing outstanding, but not as irritating as I had been led to believe by some. Williams' performance is commendable, occasionally verging on annoying and unfortunately slipping into over-sentimentality on several occasions, but his genuine talent still manages to come through. Hoffman is predictably great in one of many roles worth revisiting since he became a big name. A harmless film that is very easy to enjoy if you don't sit and pick it apart. If you can get past the over-sentimentality and occasional saccharine moments, you could do a lot worse.
5/10

Erin Brockovich (director: Steven Soderbergh; stars: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart) - enjoyable and well made, although towards the end I felt that it had been hammering home the same message for a little too long without much else to say. Roberts handles the starring role well - I only got a little aggravated by her performance towards the end. Eckhart deserves praise for a versatile performance in a role I did not expect to see him in, particularly after seeing him in The Dark Knight recently. Worth a watch, but not one I will be rushing to see again.
6/10

Hitch (director: Kevin Bisch; stars: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James) - surprisingly enjoyable, if somewhat vacuous. As a piece of entertainment that doesn't need to have meaning found in it, this is a very fun film. Smith is reliably great, exuding charisma and awkwardness well as the main character. Mendes and James support well. I was pleasantly surprised by James, who puts in a genuinely funny performance with a satisfying mix of understatement, awkwardness and slapstick, and it is his chemistry with Smith which raises this film to being above average. Definitely worth a watch.
6/10

Flight Of The Navigator (director: Randal Kleiser; stars: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens) - a blast from the past revisited for the first time in many years. Still an interesting concept with regards to plot. The acting is average at best throughout, and the film hasn't aged well (the soundtrack is so '80s that it hurts), but this is still an enjoyable family sci-fi film.
5/10

I Am Legend (director: Francis Lawrence; stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga) - not as good the second time. The first three quarters of the film create a tangible sense of tension, and Smith's performance is fantastic. The creatures are genuinely creepy if not entirely authentic in feel. Whatever good is created in this first segment is counteracted by the film's final quarter. Braga is flat and irritating, and her character's son a completely pointless addition. The less scientific spin she places on the events of the film does not sit well with me. Any credible action sequences are swapped for Hollywood vacuousness. A distinctly poor ending to what is for the most part an enjoyable and tense sci-fi horror film. I doubt I'll go out of my way to watch this one again.
6/10

Night At The Museum
(director: Shawn Levy; stars: Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke, Robin Williams) - charming from start to finish. Nothing too challenging or thought-provoking, and the moralistic undertone is fairly trite but also easily ignored. Think Jumanji in a museum. Stiller is great, and the host of veteran actors led by Van Dyke add credibility and heart to the whole exercise. Sit back and allow yourself some lighthearted entertainment and this is a very enjoyable film.
6/10

Hellboy
(director: Guillermo del Toro; stars: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, John Hurt, Selma Blair) - somewhat underdeveloped in parts, such as the relationships between some of the heroes (particularly Hellboy and Liz), but overall a very enjoyable comic book film with the knowing touch of del Toro shining through regularly. Perlman brings a great personality to the eponymous hero. Pleasingly dark in places, but probably could have got away with being a little darker overall. Generally a strong and thoroughly entertaining action film.
7/10

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (director: Guillermo del Toro; stars: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair) - pleasing sequel to the first film. It's clear from the start that this film is post-Pan's Labyrinth, as del Toro's touch is much more apparent, and he has clearly been given licence to take control of the franchise as he sees fit. The film is all the better for this. All the performances of the returning case are just as strong as in the first film. Generally feels more meandering and unfocused than its predecessor, and at around two hours it could do with being a little shorter as it does lose pace here and there. However, this is a great fantasy-action-comic-book follow-up to the first Hellboy film, and look forward to seeing any more installments del Toro might have in store.
7/10

Tropic Thunder (director: Ben Stiller; stars: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black) - Very close to an excellent film, but doesn't quite reach it, remaining very very good. The cast is solid, with Stiller doing well, if not extending himself a great deal, and Black is pleasingly understated whilst genuinely funny. Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise steal every scene they are in respectively however, with both showing their versatility and natural talent throughout. Downey Jr. shows his great sense of humour and remarkable ability; Cruise's character is fantastic, becoming more and more warped as the story progresses. The film mainly suffers from a lack of focus in the first segment - after a great opening, the audience is given very little introduction to the characters and their situation, instead left to work this out for themselves after being dropped into the action "in media res". Once the film gets going however, it is a well written and executed comedy film which entertained me immensely, and delivered several laugh-out-loud moments. I can imagine this seeming better on a second or third viewing. Definitely a future cult classic.
7/10

Funny Games U.S. (director: Michael Haneke; stars: Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Tim Roth, Naomi Watts) - some fine film-making and acting is evident in this film, but essentially it felt all the way through as if it was going to deliver an important or thought-provoking message and did not come up with the goods in that department. Pitt and Corbet are genuinely creepy and do very well in making the viewer feel uncomfortable when they are on screen throughout the film, and Roth and Watts support predictably well. Enjoyable, even emotive in parts, but ultimately fairly shallow.
6/10

P.S. I am still intending to move most of the reviews from the now defunct Drink Your Milkshake on here, so look out for those, most likely in an edited form, on here soon.

6 comments:

Richard said...

re:Funny Games U.S. (director: Michael Haneke; stars: Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Tim Roth, Naomi Watts)

your cast order is wrong here. it should be: stars: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet.

your cast order for other films are not wrong.

The Big LeBamski said...

In all honesty, I don't give much thought to the order in which I write the cast names; I usually just write down the names in the order I remember them. I'm guessing you're getting your cast order from the order they are listed in the film credits, but for a review on a blog I don't think it makes a great deal of difference.

Hanspan said...

You know Funny Games is a re-make of a German/Austrian (?? I forget :S) film?

Don't know if that makes any difference as it's not the kind of thing I will *ever* watch.

The Big LeBamski said...

Yeah, the director's German, and he decided to remake his original German version in English. I want to see the German version, and I suppose I really should have seen it before I saw the English remake, but there's not much I can do about it now. Apparently it's a shot-for-shot remake, so the only difference will be the actors and language. I'd still like to see though.

Also, why would you never see it?

Hanspan said...

Because I'm a wuss. I saw the trailer and that was enough to make me distinctly unsettled.

A year of nightmares after watching Scream when I was 12 is generally enough of a lesson that I actively don't watch films that try to be scary as their main thang. I just don't enjoy them. My memory is too good and my imagination too graphic that I picture all sorts of bad things in my head waaaay after the film has ended and find it very difficult to stop. Does not make for smiley happy Hannah.

When five-year-old kids come to the door o'Hallowe'en nights wearing the Scream mask as a disguise, I have to fight down a strong urge to beat them over the head with a chair so they can't stab me the horrible wavy-bladed knives they no doubt possess.

Hanspan said...

MIssing word in that last sentence = "with"