Sick Day Movie MarathonPosted: October 17, 2012
So, as mentioned on Monday I’ve been ill the last few days. I’m on the mend, but still a bit yukky so hoping that a full night’s sleep tonight will mean I’m good enough to return to work tomorrow. Anyway, to pass the time as I lay sniffling in bed I turned to LoveFilm (seems like I’m going to benefit from being a member) and had myself a movie marathon. I managed to get through four flicks in total and so here are my thoughts.
I kicked things off with a DC animated movie, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. I love DC’s animated stuff, and this one was quite good fun.
Plot: Lex Luthor has become President of the USA, most of the heroes have signed up to work for the government, but Superman doesn’t trust his former enemy and Batman has suspicions too. When Superman is framed for killing a supervillain the two are forced to go on the run, and must try to expose Luthor as well as stopping a kryptonite asteroid from destroying the Earth.
Review: DC’s animated stuff is quite well done, and the voice cast here is pretty impressive, especially Kevin Conroy returning as the Dark Knight. The plot is quite good, even if it feels a little rushed in places and a bit more build up might have been nice.
The animation is visually striking, but the editing is sloppy and there’s far too many times when the characters stand there in silence at the start or end of a scene.
The only real mistake is the character of Power Girl as voiced by Allison Mack. I love PG, she’s a confident, strong female heroine but here she’s turned into a bit of a wet blanket and needs telling what to do. Its a real shame to waste such a good character and you kind of wonder if it would’ve been better to switch it to Super Girl, who’s more of a fit with the sidekick like role in proceedings. Of course, this could just be geeky nitpicking and me being a bit annoyed that one of my amazonian fantasy figures was transformed into a weak little girl who needed telling what to do.
However, there are nice touches and the interplay between the two title characters is done quite well. Verdict: 6/10.
My second flick featured costumed crimefighter, but couldn’t have been more different, ladies and gentlemen, Kick-Ass.
Plot: Awkward, geeky teenager Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to become a costumed vigilante despite having no skills or training. The only thing going for him is that all the punishment he’s received has deadened his nerve endings and pain receptors so he can take quite a pasting, and he soon becomes an internet sensation. However, he soon realizes he’s out of his depth after he is rescued by two tougher vigilantes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his 11 year old daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who are highly trained and vicious in their quest for justice on gangster D’Amico (Mark Strong).
D’Amico however thinks Kick-Ass is responsible for the death of his men and theft of his money and tries to bring him down, failing at every turn. His geeky son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has an idea though and poses as a costumed hero himself, hoping to lure Kick-Ass into a trap, becoming Red Mist. As he realizes Kick-Ass is not their man it seems too late, the wheels are in motion and a showdown is on the cards.
Review: The film tidies up Mark Millar’s brutally dark and comic series, but its still a hard hitting, entertaining vigilante flick which manages to spoof the superhero genre while still delivering stunning action sequences.
The cast are phenomenal. Mark Strong is always good value and Cage reins it in for a lot of the flick playing the weird Big Daddy, a brutal Batman-like character who’s shown to have a geeky side and is often tender with his daughter, despite having transformed her into a ruthless killing machine.
ATJ is great as the endearingly naff wannabe hero, bringing a real loser charm to the role. Also, there are times when as a former geeky teenager his voice over and actions are painfully close to the truth. Kick-Ass has no skills and is at times a bit of a wimp, but there’s a naivety and desire to be a hero that makes him likable, and he refuses to stay down. He looks laughable in his makeshift costume and his fledgling romance with a classmate is handled extremely well and rather sweetly.
As the gangster’s son posing as a hero, Mintz-Plasse is rather good. He brings the geeky, awkward traits showed in Superbad and Role Models and its quite touching to see this shy, nerdy guy trying to please his tough guy father and earn his respect. He’s a sympathetic villain and works because he’s so similar to the hero.
The film however is stolen by Moretz as Hit Girl, the foul mouthed, incredibly brutal schoolgirl vigilante. It could’ve been a cheap gag or shock tactic, but Moretz delivers all of her lines with integrity and verve, and you just kind of go with it. There is a shocking side to seeing a child dish out all this violence and the climactic battle with D’Amico is a tad uncomfortable as he lays the smackdown on her. But I guess that’s the point. The film has tons of nice touches and great characters, but its Moretz’ Hit Girl who’ll stick in the mind longest.
All in all its a funny, engaging and twisted little flick with great action sequences and a dark humour that I really dug. Verdict: 8/10
A massive shift in tone now as we move on to Larry Crowne, a rather sweet affair starring Tom Hanks, who also writes and directs.
Plot: Larry Crowne (Hanks) is a happy decent guy who works at a superstore and likes his job. However, due to not having any higher education he’s let go because he can’t advance any further. Faced with financial problems Larry decides to get an education, returning to college where he studies economics and speech. Having ditched his car for a scooter Larry is befriended by free spirited student Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who he’s a little smitten with. However, he also has a bit of a crush on his jaded, borderline alcoholic lecturer Mercedes (Julia Roberts).
Review: I liked this flick, but at the same time its riddled with flaws. Firstly, it kind of drops the ball on what could have been an interesting look at the challenges faced by the older generation in the economic crisis, with Larry having foregone formal education and served in the Navy for 20 years. Also, while Hanks is as charming as ever in the lead, you kind of wish Larry would get mad just once, instead he’s a laid back, affable bloke who aside from a bit of moping and awkwardness takes everything in his stride.
Julia Roberts does well as the fed up lecturer stuck in a loveless marriage who arrives at work each day hungover and tries to cancel as many lectures as she can. You know she’s going to end up with Larry and the fellow student is just a subplot, and it happens with inevitability rather than credibility.
Their romance feels rushed and half-baked, seriously there’s like one, maybe two scenes that we’re supposed to see as the foundation of a connection. In other hands this movie would tank badly, but the combined power of Hanks and Roberts means its still kinda sweet, even if it falls flat frequently. It could’ve been more interesting and a lot braver, so its disappointing that its quite so lacklustre, and the supporting cast are incredibly one dimensional, that being said, it does feature George Takei, which is worth a point. Verdict: 5/10.
Last up is Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm.
Plot: In the 18th century, Will and Jake Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) are travelling con artists who fake witches and demons and then get paid to vanquish them. However, they run into trouble with the French authorities that are occupying Germany, who expose their ruse and force them to travel to a remote town where the kids are being kidnapped and there is talk of witches, the idea being that the Grimms will expose the truth and restore order. However, when they get there they begin to witness things they can’t explain, and enlist the help of a local guide, Angelika (Lena Headey) who’s sisters have been taken. Could it be that there are really stranger things afoot here, and is it tied in with a local legend regarding a powerful and vain witch-Queen (Monica Bellucci)
Review: I love Terry Gilliam’s movies and this has a lot of his hallmarks- goofy humour and a love of the grotesque, dirty side of human life, with the characters spending a lot of time in the mud.
Damon and Ledger are both on fine form as the con-men brothers, with Damon shining as the swaggering, smoother leader and Ledger the one with qualms who wants fairytales to be real. They bicker with great effect and despite Damon’s Will occasionally bullying his younger sibling there’s genuine warmth between the two.
The pair are hopelessly out of their depths when faced with a real threat and Headey’s woodswoman has to take charge frequently.
Its not Gilliam’s best, and a few thoughts are left half finished and there’s a vibe of sloppiness around the edges, but that kind of adds to the charm. In a world of polished movies its nice to see Gilliam’s work retaining its rough edges and individuality. The special effects are rather good, and there’s a creepy vibe at times, you just wish he’d maybe taken a little longer putting it together, especially the backstory of the villainous queen. Verdict: 6/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.