Monday, 1 August 2011

Review Round-Up | June & July 2011

Firstly, apologies for June and July not having their own entries - no specific excuse other than life being very hectic over the last couple of months. However, seeing as the next month or so should allow me more time to write here, I'll make up for my neglect with a few individual reviews in the near future. Anyway, to get things back up to date, here's June and July's reviews.

* * * * *

A Few Good Men (1992)

In a film overflowing with brilliant performances, it might seem unfair to single out any individual, but Cruise gives one of the most impressive performances of his career here. It is Nicholson who steals the movie in every scene he is in however, proving yet again what an enigmatic and powerful actor he is. The story and script from Sorkin are both intelligent and compelling, and the direction from Reiner is tight and polished. The penultimate act may miss a minor beat in not getting to the film's climax quickly enough, but ultimately this is a film I find it very difficult to fault.

Wild At Heart (1990)

A film that demands your attention from the opening scene and leaves you gripped until the credits rolls. A brilliant mix of mystery, comedy, action and crime tied together as a wonderfully surreal road movie. Lynch's inimitable style is present throughout with some fantastically dark and mindbending scenes, masterful cinematography and captivating dialogue. The narrative structure is not as bewildering as in some of Lynch's other works, which affords you more opportunity to appreciate the top-notch acting and direction on show here. The cast as a whole is excellent throughout. Things slow down noticeably during the second hour as compared to the first, but the story remains compelling and Lynch remains entirely in control. Bold, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining cinema.

The Other Guys (2010)

Distinctly average, with a plot that neither excites nor interests. The jokes miss at least as often as they hit, and Ferrell and Wahlberg never produce the chemistry needed to keep this properly afloat. Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson's cameos are the highlight of the film, and are also over far too quickly. Keaton is amusing as the police captain, but again is underutilised. Ultimately, whilst raising some laughs as it trundles along, this is nowhere near as successful as McKay and Ferrell's previous work together and overall fails to impress throughout.

Scream (1996)

Lauded as the saviour of horror/slasher films on its release, Craven's Scream has aged much better than many other films of the '90s but certainly isn't timeless. Campbell does well in the lead, and the supporting cast range from satisfactory to strong. The mix of horror, black comedy, postmodernism and genre satire is overall an entertaining success.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

Entertaining sci-fi/disaster romp. Reeves is fine in the lead (due in part to the fact that he needs to come across as mechanical and emotionless) and the supporting cast are fair aside from the constant irritation from Jaden Smith. The disaster set pieces are fairly impressive and enjoyable, and there are enough questions left unanswered to keep things intriguing with a sinister edge. If you're looking for a groundbreaking reinvention of either genre, look elsewhere; for an enjoyable Hollywood popcorn movie, you could do much worse than this.

She's The Man (2006)

Corny teen Shakesploitation that's so bad it's good. Awful on so many levels, but never takes itself seriously for a second. Cheesy enough that you can't help but enjoy it, with enough clever Shakespeare nods throughout to keep even the most ardent Bard fan grinning. Casting Vinnie Jones as a football coach who deplores violence on the pitch is a knowingly satirical touch too. It's no 10 Things I Hate About You, but it's certainly good fun.

EdTV (1999)

Often retreads very similar ground to that covered so well in The Truman Show, but with much less to say. The narrative is a little uneven; after a somewhat rushed opening, the first half maintains a good momentum, but is followed by a second hour that feels too long and unfocused, and in which characters are introduced or forgotten with little to no explanation. The cast is fairly solid, and this is one of McConaughy's better performances. Ultimately, the film doesn't take the opportunity to say nearly as much as it could have, but as lighthearted entertainment this is a success.

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Enormous fun from start to finish. The animation is charming, whilst never of Pixar standard (but who except Pixar is?). The voice cast works well throughout, although there are probably too many characters as some do feel a little underdeveloped. That said, this is a knowing comic tribute to one of Shakespeare's best loved plays, with plenty of pleasing Bard references scattered throughout. Funny, well-paced and never given the chance to drag - as lighthearted animated comedy goes, this is quite simply great.

How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

Everything in this film smacks of being above average, with a few glimmers of excellence, but there is nothing - from the voice cast to the animation to the pverall concept - that stood out as particularly noteworthy to me. Compared to Dreamworks previous efforts this felt good but uninspired, and at no point comes anywhere close to the brilliance of which rival studio Pixar is capable. Undoubtedly entertaining and well made, but nowhere near a classic.

Pretty Woman (1990)

Gere is fine, as is Roberts who only occasionally grates, but this stays safe and predictable despite its potentially interesting subject matter. A film that ultimately has very little to say.

Due Date (2010)

Doesn't bring much to the table in terms of originality, and the gags don't come as thick and fast as they should for this type of movie; that said, this is still enjoyable, mainly due to Downey Jr. and Galifianakis' performances. Obvious comparisons to Trains, Planes & Automobiles don't really help either, seeing as no part of the film ever comes close to the comic brilliance of the older movie. Worth watching, but all involved have done films far better than this.

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