ok, yes, i know, i am supposed to be putting some more holiday pictures up here sooner rather than later. sorry, they shall follow "soon", it's just that being on holiday allows me the time to catch up on some reading and watching a few movies. i love both, but seldom get the time to indulge either these days. that's not particularly an issue; far from it really - as much time as i can spend with the boys is always going to be the priority. it is, however, nice to catch up on some films that do not feature talking donkeys or lions.
i shall do my best to make these reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but consider yourselves warned in advance!
Drive Angry is one of those increasing number of films that Nicholas Cage is of a mind to turn up in to help either fund a tax bill or to furnish himself with another Italian castle or something. thankfully, unlike a fair portion of this type of film (looking at you, horrid remake of The Wicker Man), Mr Cage seems to be at the least close to performing and indeed enjoying the ridiculous, well out there plot.
the word "plot" should really be read as "excuse for class scenes", really. the short is that Mr Cage has escaped from hell to save a baby from being sacrificed in the name of the devil. in hot pursuit is an agent of hell, superbly played by the increasingly impressive William Fichtner. this serves as a nice background for lovely one-liners, big massive action scenes and, as the name of the film suggests, lots and lots (and lots) of car related stunts.
silly nonsense, but splendid fun.
The Mechanic sees Jason Statham return to the preposterous but supposedly more realistic mindless violence of the Transporter films as a break from the preposterous and not pretending to be anything other than that Crank films.
it's a remake that is unlikely to offend anyone, as the original starring Charles Bronson and Stringfellow Hawke himself, Jan-Michael Vincent, is hardly fondly remembered. the gist of it is that Statham is a super-hitman that takes on a protege under somewhat dubious circumstances.
it's 90 minutes of outlandish set-pieces and hitman wisdom, with a slight dose of Donald Sutherland trying to dignify the whole film with what one may be inclined to call acting. that might make the film sound bad, but it is not intended to do so - Jason Statham blowing things up and introducing harm to people has a very healthy size of an audience, and this is a decent enough edition to his library.
one of the best things about Red is that it marks the return of Bruce Willis as the main man in a movie, and as an all out action man too (bar some interesting reading he does in the film). frequently of late he has been happy with a few minutes of a cameo in a movie, and thus it's great to see him doing what he does best once again.
Willis plays a retired CIA operative (or whatever they are called) and is living a fairly happy, quiet suburban life. then, for no given reason (for quite some time in the film) a whole stack of people seem to be very serious about bringing on his demise. this leads to him calling upon numerous friends and former foes to work out what's going on and indeed attempt to stop it.
this film was excellent fun, mostly with thanks to an exceptional cast. there's not a wasted part or piece of casting in it, and other than Bruce Willis in the lead particular praise goes to John Malkovich. how or why this script came to amuse him enough to do it is a mystery, but watch and be glad that it did.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was, quite frankly, brilliant. i cannot believe the amount of lazy and incorrect reviews floating around for this film in the press. the so-called "professional" film reviewers can't seem to say anything of the film except that it's the 7th film to be linked to the idea of a "Planet Of The Apes". the box office figures and actual movie watchers seem to have it right where the critics have it wrong, at least.
the film explores research into human genetics, and indeed the consequences on testing out medicines to heal brain injuries and illnesses on apes. it creates a dazzling morality tale that serves as a great film in its own right and indeed as a plausible prequel to the films we have already seen.
the main thing that bugs me about the critics just lazily slating this film is that they either don't mention or simply write off the outstanding performance by John Lithgow in this movie. his is a demanding, challenging role and he deserves both praise and awards fo an exceptional performance.
ignore the critics - see this movie.
Source Code is perhaps the film most likely to topple True Grit as being the best film i shall see all year. after impressing all and sundry with his amazing low budget debut Moon director Duncan Jones has moved on to a slightly bigger train set and delivered a film that is arguably even more impressive than that astonishing film.
and, erm, oh dear. i am very reluctant to say much else as it's difficult to say much without giving what i, with the benefit of seeing it, might consider as being spoiler material. the best i can say is that it "kind of" relates to time travel, but not like you have ever seen before - it's rather more worried about the practical implications and reasons for doing it than the novelty factor most films on this subject take.
an excellent supporting cast does a superb job in, well, support of Jake Gyllenhaal who delivers a truly phenomenal performance. despite the frequent dips into action sequences this is mostly a cerebral, intellectual affair and very much worth your time trying.
a rather pleasant surprise came in the shape of Thor. much like Iron Man, Thor is hardly a "superstar" super hero a la Batman and Superman, and indeed so this allows for a film to be made from the comic book without quite the same heavy levels of expectation.
Chris Hemsworth plays the titular character, although as my dear wife likes to point out he seems to have been made to look more like Brad Pitt than the original character in the comics. there, happy wife? moving on, and Thor's arrogance sees him cast out of his planet Asgard to live on a planet called, believe it or not, Earth in some parallel universe. there he must show his worthiness if he is to return home, and of course work out the who and why of how he came to be exiled.
good performances and a fair treatment of the source material make for a splendid film, all wonderfully crafted by none other than Kenneth Branagh. Kenny, baby - your Shakespeare adaptations are excellent, but on the basis of this, be good to yourself and make piles of money by dabbling with more "light" blockbusters!
finally there is Limitless, a film i kind of wished to see but also didn't.
the premise put forward in the promotion of this film all suggested that Bradley Cooper was a journalist investigating something that led to him taking a wonder drug, somehow connected to Robert De Niro, that turned him into a superhero with special powers. what a shame that they have probably put off a large amount of the correct market for this film, for that description turns out not to be what the film is.
again, i am not sure how to give a more accurate plot description without accidental spoilers, so i shall proceed with caution. basically it relates to this myth that we only access 20% of our brain "ever", and looks at what one might do if they had the ability to access all 100% all at once.
whereas i never cared for either The Hangover or that plastic surgery show he was in, i was very much impressed with Bradley Cooper in The A Team and now in this film too. it's also great to see De Niro returning to his craft, for although this is hardly a heavyweight film, for the first time in years he give a considered, decent performance as one of the characters. overall, it's a film that takes a complex, philosophical notion and turns it into a simplified slice of pondering entertainment; certainly making it a film well worth the effort of watching.
phew, i think i've seen more films in the last seven days than i have in the previous seven months! hope that any or all of these reviews were of some use, i am just happy that i didn't stumble on any particularly bad films in my viewing!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!