Monday, 31 October 2011

Film Review: "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" (2011).

The movie's tagline reads "Saving the world is their idea of family time" and that's all there is to it with Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. This 4D science fiction fantasy action comedy adventure film directed by Robert Rodriguez and it is the fourth installment in the Spy Kids film series. It is a sequel to 2003's Game Over. A retired spy is called back into action, and to bond with her new step-children, she invites them along for the adventure to stop the evil Timekeeper from taking over the world.

Rodriguez was prompted by an incident on the set of Machete (2010) to start envisioning a fourth film in the Spy Kids series. Star Jessica Alba had her then-one year old baby Honor Marie and was dressed to appear on camera when her baby's diaper "exploded". Watching Alba change the diaper while trying not to get anything on her clothes prompted Rodriguez to think "What about a spy mom?" Production on the film was officially announced on September 25, 2009, six years after the release of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, by Dimension Films. The script for the film was completed by Rodriguez in December 2009. The title for the film was officially revealed as Spy Kids: All the Time in the World on March 24, 2010 as well as an August 2011 release window, which was later updated to an August 19, 2011 release date. Filming began on October 27, 2010. It is the first of the series that uses "Aroma-scope" that allows people to smell odors and aromas from the film via scratch & sniff cards (reminiscent of the infamous 1960s Smell-O-Vision) last used theatrically in the 2003 animated film Rugrats Go Wild.

The film stars Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Ricky Gervais, and Jeremy Piven in a dual role. The cast all gave uninspiring characters and just gave some of the silliest performances ever put to the silver screen. END... OF... STORY!

All the Time in the World will be found wanting if one is not taken in by the 3-D visuals. The 3-D process will hurt your eyes. It's murky and purple like a window smeared with grape jell-o. However, it helped mask what I deemed as an overall lack of a story. The plot is twig-thin and the parents' absurd adventure in the story makes Rodriguez's continuing theme of family ties seem much less resonant than in the other films. Kids will love it, but adults may find it flat. Watching in 3-D is annoying and watching in 2-D is pointless. Kind of a losing situation. It's a loser in any dimension. As if last one wasn't bad enough, Rodriguez gives us this latest instalment. Where Rodriguez falls short is when he relies on the computer generated special effects to make up for problems in the script. In the end, it's a movie so awful that those headaches spurred by the film's shoddy optics effects seem minor by comparison.

Simon says Spy Kids: All the Time in the World receives:

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Film Review: "In Time" (2011).

"The rich can live forever, the poor must earn for more time", this tagline describes the essence of In Time perfectly. This dystopian science fiction thriller film written, directed, and produced by Andrew Niccol and starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy that takes place in a society where people stop aging at 25 and each has a clock on their arm that counts down how long they have to live.

Before the film was titled In Time, the names Now and I'm.mortal were originally considered and were eventually used as working titles. In July 2010, it was reported that Amanda Seyfried had been offered a lead role. In July 2010, it was confirmed that Justin Timberlake had been offered a lead role. In August 2010, Cillian Murphy was confirmed to have joined the cast. In a movie about people who would stop aging at 25 years old, many of the actors, including Murphy and Timberlake, were in their late 20s and early 30s. Seyfried, however, really was 25 years old during filming. In addition, Timberlake is three years older than Olivia Wilde who plays his mother. In an interview with Kristopher Tapley of Roger Deakins stated that he would be shooting the film in digital, which makes this the first film to be shot in digital by the veteran cinematographer. The use of future retro is one of many elements that the film seems to share with Niccol's earlier work, Gattaca (1997). The earlier work also features electrically powered vintage cars (notably a Rover P6 and again, a Citroën DS), as well as buildings of indeterminate age. Gattaca also deals with innate inequalities (though in its case genetic, rather than longevity) and the film's protagonist also seeks to cross the divide that his birthright is supposed to deny him. Similarly, he is pursued by law enforcement officers after being wrongly identified as having committed a murder.

The film stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer and Johnny Galecki. Not only did the cast bring nothing to the table in terms of communicating the director's themes and commentary, but they also had no personality or likability whatsoever to make us care about their conflicts, struggles and their fight to remain young forever. In addition, they are nothing more than eye candy for audience to swoon over.

In Time is chilly, elegant, and a little bloodless. Designer models inhabit a dystopia in a stylish SF thriller filled with recycled plot devices. The satire in the film lacks bite, and the plot isn't believable enough to feel relevant. It fails on all points of plot, characterisation, plausibility and realism. If you're expecting a scathing commentary on our youth obsessed times, then this film isn't it. If you're expecting a riveting entertainment, then the film isn't it either. Not only has the filmmaker who brought us Gattaca elected to address some extremely well worn themes, he evidently has little new to say about them.

Simon says In Time receives:

Monday, 24 October 2011

Film Review: "The Thing" (2011).

The film's tagline reads "It's not human. Yet." This is what it's all about in this untold prequel story of the horror classic The Thing. This science fiction horror film directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, adapted by Eric Heisserer based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell. It is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter. At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft buried deep in the ice leads to a confrontation between a team of Norwegian, led by Dr. Sander Halvorson, and American scientists, led by graduate student Kate Lloyd, to realize too late that it is still alive.

After creating the Dawn of the Dead (2004), producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman began to look through the Universal Studios library to find new properties to work on. Upon finding John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing, the two convinced Universal to create a prequel instead of a remake, as they felt that remaking Carpenter's film would be like "paint(ing) a moustache on the Mona Lisa". Eric Newman explained; "I'd be the first to say no one should ever try to do Jaws again and I certainly wouldn't want to see anyone remake The Exorcist... And we really felt the same way about The Thing. It's a great film. But once we realized there was a new story to tell, with the same characters and the same world, but from a very different point of view, we took it as a challenge. It's the story about the guys who are just ghosts in Carpenter's movie - they're already dead. But having Universal give us a chance to tell their story was irresistible." In early 2009, Variety reported the launch of a project to film a prequel—possibly following MacReady's brother during the events leading up to the opening moments of the 1982 film—with Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. as director and Ronald D. Moore as writer.

The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Eric Christian Olsen. The cast, though a relatively big ensemble, did not give performances worthy of the original. Winstead unfortunately, most of all, was resorted to a role that spent of her time talking and running. Lacking the qualities presented by Kurt Russell in the original.

The Thing is full of blood and gore, and over the top special effects. But not enough scares or a coherent backstory story to make for a successful prequel to the famous 1982 horror film classic. Cliche, boring and repedetive, the film is an unsavoury exercise in Hollywood's unoriginal market of Horror brands that one hopes never to see. The story's been played in cinema God knows how many times now. It just makes me absolutely sick to my stomach and soul. Much less of a straight forward prequel, and much more a remake of a remake. In conclusion, attention horror fans: Demand more original scares from Hollywood than this pro forma return to the well. Has horror cinema ever been this dull?

Simon says The Thing receives:

Friday, 21 October 2011

Film Review: "Johnny English: Reborn." (2011)

"'Johnny English. Five years ago he was our top agent.' 'Yeah. Took his eye off the ball in Mozambique.' 'Does it have to be him?' 'He's the only one our contact will talk to.' 'So where is he?'" Which is someone we didn’t expect to return, but he has in Johnny English: Reborn. This British Spy Comedy parody directed by Oliver Parker. The film is the sequel to Johnny English (2003). Five years after the previous film, Johnny English is called back to MI7 to undercover a group of international assassins known as 'Vortex', before they kill the Chinese premier and cause global chaos. However he is not alone. He is aided by his 'rookie' sidekick Tucker and his new love interest Kate Summers, MI7's behavioural psychologist.

The film stars Rowan Atkinson, reprising his role as the title character. As well as Rosamund Pike as Kate Sumner, MI7's behavioural psychologist and English's love interest, Daniel Kaluuya as Agent Colin Tucker, English's smart, youthful sidekick, Gillian Anderson as MI7 Head Pamela Thornton, codenamed as Pegasus, the new boss at MI7, and Dominic West as Simon Ambrose, the main antagonist. The cast may not have given the best performances but it was performances that were hilarious. Atkinson gave another hilarious performance after many other iconic performances such as Blackadder and Mr. Bean. Despite the jokes not being as fresh as his other comedies nor the first film. Atkinson's performance also reminded me of Don Adams' performance on the hit comedy TV series of Get Smart and Peter Sellers' bumbling character of Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther films. Pike gave a subtle performance as English’s love interest, however I felt that her chemistry with Atkinson did not spark. Kaluuya, like Atkinson, also gave a hilarious performance who always seems to correct Atkinson most of the time. Which compliments Atkinson’s performance. Anderson gave a more contrasted performance to Atkinson, despite leaving behind moments of very dry humor. West gave a suave performance as the film’s antagonist, however no matter how smooth he operates, he proved no real threat to Atkinson nor to the audience. By far, one of the least threatening villains ever.

Johnny English: Reborn is, like its predecessor, a tame spy spoof that elicits infrequent chuckles. A funny summer frolic. However, it doesn't so much try to send up other spy films as it tries to one-up its own predecessor in this second go-round. By the end, Spy recycles its own gags, not just ones from the first movie. It’s a rehash of the same story with new cast members and new takes on familiar jokes. While it lives up to the very definition of 'hit and miss', the parts that hit are very funny. You won't die laughing in the theater, but the filmmakers aren't asking you to, as they do in the frantic, adolescent comedies that dominate the market. It's a pleasure.

Simon says Johnny English: Reborn receives:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Film Review: "Real Steel" (2011)

One of the film’s tagline reads "Champions aren't born. They're made." This sums up the premise of Real Steel. This Science Fiction film directed by Shawn Levy, based on the 1956 short story Steel by Richard Matheson and adapted by John Gatins. Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he's found a champion in a discarded robot named Atom. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.

The short story was originally adapted by Dan Gilroy and was purchased by DreamWorks for $850,000 between 2003 and 2005. The project was one of 17 that DreamWorks took from Paramount Pictures when they split in 2008. Director Peter Berg expressed interest in the project in mid-2009 but ultimately dropped out. Levy was attached to the project in September 2009, and Jackman was cast in November. In the same month, Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider at DreamWorks greenlit the project. Les Bohem and Jeremy Leven reworked Gilroy's screenplay, but in 2009 John Gatins worked on a new draft. When Levy joined the project, he worked with Gatins to revise the screenplay, spending a total of six weeks fine-tuning the script. With a budget of $110 million, filming began in June 2010 and ended in October. The animatronic robots were created by Legacy Effects, and the computer effects were done by Industrial Light & Magic.

The film stars Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly. The cast performance gave terrific performances. Jackman was outstanding as the charisma driven, stubborn Charlie Kenton. For the role Jackson said that his father "was a boxer in the army and he wanted to make performance look good for his dad." Well I can say if I was his father, I would be impressed. Goyo gave a terrific performance as Max Kenton. He had a magical quality which made him the film's central heart and made him get as much or more spotlight than his co-star. Finally Lilly gave a fantastic performance as Bailey Tallet, the kind, compassionate voice of reson and love interest for Jackman’s Charlie. Lilly and Jackman had a near perfect relationship and chemistry that made me believe that these two characters had been friends for a long time. This quality is rarely seen or even considered by two actors when portraying relationships.

Real Steel, though innovative with its stunning robot fight scenes, is nothing more than pure 2000s make believe. The film’s plot is gimmicky, heavy-handed and cliché, all because of the direction of Shawn Levy, the man responsible for bringing us some of the most tawdry movies of recent years, such as the ridiculously awful Cheaper by the Dozen (2003). He has an instinct for making serious emotions look tawdry. While the film may look good now, but it will fade like every other one of his movies and every "Hollywood" movies ever made.

Simon says Real Steel receives:

Monday, 10 October 2011

Film Review: "Footloose" (2011).

The film's tagline reads "There comes a time to cut loose", and everything does go loose in Footloose. This musical dance film directed by Craig Brewer. It is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name. The film follows a young man who moves from Boston to a small southern town and protests the town's ban against dancing.

In October 2008, Kenny Ortega was announced as director but left the project a year later after differences with Paramount and the production budget. Peter Sollett was also hired to write the script. Dylan Sellers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan served as producer; Zadan having produced the original Footloose. In 2010, Craig Brewercame on to re-write the script after Crawford and Ortega left the project and also served as director. The writer of the original film, Dean Pitchford, also co-wrote the screenplay. In July 2007, Zac Efron was cast as Ren McCormack, but he left the project in March 2009. Two months later, it was reported that Chace Crawford would replace Efron, but he later had to back out due to scheduling conflicts. Thomas Dekker was a "top candidate" for the role but in June 2010, Entertainment Weekly reported that Kenny Wormald had secured the lead role as McCormack. Former Dancing with the Stars ballroom-dance professional Julianne Hough was cast as Ariel, Dennis Quaid as Reverend Shaw Moore, and Miles Teller as Willard Hewitt. In August 2010, Andie MacDowell joined the cast as Quaid's wife. During an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Kevin Bacon said he declined a cameo appearance in the film as he did not like the role he was offered. The role was playing Ren McCormack's deadbeat dad. Though Bacon passed on the role, he gave Brewer his blessing. Unlike the original, set in the fictional town of Bomont, Utah, the remake is set in fictional Bomont, Georgia. On a budget of $24 million, principal photographybegan in September 2010 in and around metro Atlanta, and wrapped two months later in November.

The film stars Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie McDowell, Miles Teller and Kim Dickens. Despite not living up to the performances of the original cast, the cast in this film brought their own unique sensibilities to the roles that update them for a modern audience.

A lot of craft and slickness lurks beneath the modern sexy choreography in Footloose. The point, however, is not the plot but the energy. Without somebody like Kenny Wormald at the heart of the movie, it might fall flat, but everybody works at his level of edginess. This film is a little less innocent than what Herbert Ross would have made it. It is one of the most entertaining movie adaptation of a stage musical so far. The movie is a great big sloppy kiss of entertainment for audiences weary of explosions, CGI effects and sequels, sequels, sequels. However it's intermittently tasty, if a little too frantically eager to please. Despite its edginess, this version stays remarkably true to the spirit of the original.

Simon says Footloose receives: