30 September 2008

Righteous Kill Review

Righteous Kill is quite disappointing. Scratch that, it’s very disappointing. Billed as the second coming (together) of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro after Heat, it’s tagline reads ‘Most people respect the badge. Everyone respects the gun’. But you’d be a fool to respect this water-pistol of a movie.

The story – such as there is one amid this disjointed mess that Russell Gerwitz has the gall to call a ‘script’ – goes that a man claiming his name is David Fisk (Robert De Niro), a.k.a ‘Turk’, is admitting to murdering 14 criminals who the justice system has let off easy. He’s recording his admission for whatever reason, and then it cues flashbacks to all the murders and the subsequent investigations into them, as well as the original indictments of the criminals that he and his partner – known only as ‘Rooster’ (Al Pacino) – have worked hard to construct. All isn’t as it seems, however, and when two tenacious detectives (Donnie Wahlberg, John Leguizamo) cotton onto the fact that one of their own is offing these criminals, things start to go wrong.

As I pointed out, the first fall down is the script. It is, simply put, boring. There’s nothing to it – no interesting characters, poorly written dialogue and a ridiculously predictable twist. Considering this comes from the man who brought us Inside Man – a nuanced, perfectly weighted bank heist movie – the shoddiness of the script comes as something of a shock. Perhaps with Inside Man it was a great filmmaker making something special out of a relatively mediocre script; and turns out, Jon Avnet is no Spike Lee.

Indeed, Avnet couldn’t direct himself out of a cardboard box even if he tried. There is simply no order to the movie, no discipline in the structuring of it. It’s far, far, far too long, and the problem with twist movies that are far too long is that the chances of the audience guessing your twist are directly proportional to the length of your film. Handled delicately, this twist – though poorly conceived – could’ve actually been quite surprising, but as it stands, you can see it coming for a good half-an-hour before the director deems fit to reveal it to us, and that makes the reveal rather tedious.

Avnet, too, is responsible for the below par editing – I’m not usually a stickler for continuity errors, but here they’re so glaringly obvious that they simply can’t be ignored. editor should’ve been sacked for putting the film together in such an appallingly sloppy manner. That it’s Paul Hirsch, the man who edited Star Wars Episodes IV and V, comes as something of a shock.

But perhaps the biggest farce in all of this is that Robert De Niro was attracted to the script at all, and more annoying that he roped Al Pacino into the mix. De Niro simply seems to be coasting on the fact that he’s considered one of the greatest actors of our time, and if he keeps going on at this rate, he’ll have that title swiftly removed. His performance is stiff at best, and completely immobile at worst – there’s nothing going on in his characters head, and even his attempts to make the character brashly charismatic fall flat because he seems utterly unable to do anything with such a poorly developed role. It would seem to me that he’s an actor circling the drain – but all he needs is a rescue line in the form of a great director and a great script to give him one last hurrah.

Faring slightly better is Al Pacino, at least bringing some anima and zest to the otherwise one-dimensional, fawn-eyed Rooster. He also manages to develop some pleasing chemistry with Wahlberg and Leguizamo, the three wisecracking to each-other in perhaps the movies sole redeeming sequence – a stake-out where they try to catch Turk in the supposed act of his fourteenth murder. The latter two themselves do well, displaying an easy camaraderie that could seemingly only come from years working together. Elsewhere, the gorgeous Carla Gugino struggles with a character completely peripheral to the main story – ‘t’would seem she’s this film’s wonderbra bearer and little more. And good ol' Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson once agains proves that he should stick to talking over music in rhyming couplets - that's rapping for the layman - because acting is clearly not his forte.

But the film’s final – and fatal – mistake is to try to homage the final sequences of Heat. To explain myself fully would be to spoil the story for those of you still interested in going to see it, but suffice to say that instead of being an homage, it’s offensively derivative, to the point where I honestly considered storming out of the cinema. This is not the promised second coming – instead we are presented with a turgid, poorly paced police thriller with no surprises other than the indictment of a once great actor’s recent poor form. Avoid, unless you want to leave the theatre with a rather foul taste in your mouth.

Ross' Rating: 4/10

29 September 2008


Cinema tonight! Yay! Going to see Righteous Kill, and a review will almost certainly be posted either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how much I need it to stew in my brain. So look out for that, ladies!

Oooh, oooh! I also have gotten back into a major creative groove, and Raider's is now trotting along rather nicely. Which is brilliant, to say the least.


26 September 2008

Ah the fresh country air...

Well, here I am in the country - with Sky+ HD and everything. Missing Fee slightly too much, but there you go.

My Dad's ridiculously ill - he was in Brazil last week and he managed to catch some kind of exotic strain of the common cold, so he's got absolutely no immunity to it. Chances are I'll catch it, but in the short term it means that our trip down to Manchester for Man Utd v Bolton may well have been nixed before it even began, which kinda sucks. I mean, I'm not hugely keen on the whole driving 4 hours to see 90 minutes of entertainment - but it's something I can do with my Dad, and supporting Man Utd is getting proportionately more interesting as I progressively get older.

Can't afford to go to the cinema for a while, which sucks the big one. I'd really like to see Tropic Thunder - it's been getting decent reviews all over, which is encouraging. Nowt much else on except Appaloosa, but that's only on in Gold Class at my local cinema, which is even more bleedin' expensive than going to the cinema normally. It's almost worth it, mind - lovely seats, your own side-table and air-conditioning in every screen. But it's only really for when I really want to see a film that I'll concede to going to see Gold Class stylee.

Saw Outpost - which was reasonably good. If you can set aside the complete lack of internal logic, it's actually quite enjoyable. It's got nothing on Neil Marshall's debut two works - Dog Soldiers and The Descent for the uninitiated - but it's decently shot and has a few genuinely tense moments. Ray Stevenson, too, is definitely proving that he's got the action and acting chops to pull off Frank Castle in the new Punisher movie. I mean, I like Tom Jane in the first one, but that whole film just lacked a certain spark that could've made it really good.

So that's it really...still looking for a job, which also sucks the big one. So I should probably go do that...


19 September 2008

Home once again!

Sooo - that's us back from our trip. Bus journey back up was a significant improvement on the one down - I actually endeavoured to get up ever so often and stretch my back, which helped a lot. And now I'm sitting on my good old bed once again, watching 'That Gay Shepherd Movie' (also known as Brokeback Mountain - beautiful film, oh yes indeed), and wishing I was still down south. I know it sounds kind of pathetic, but whenever I visit my mum, it just reminds me of when I didn't have all these ridiculous 'real world' things to deal with. Job, bills, all that crap - not more than a year ago, I had none of those things to worry about...now...guh, it's still sinking in, shall we say. But I do be coping...I think...

Nowt much to be done at the moment - had a tearful reuinion with my Xbox, got a few games of Call of Duty in. That was good fun. Fee managed to get a job more or less as she walked back through the door - which made me bitter and gleeful in equal measures. Need a job - that's gone on the list of 'things to do'. Fee says she can get me a part-time gime Front of Housing the place she's now working at, but in all honesty, I'm still hoping for work at the cinema!

Speaking of cinema, no huge plans as of yet - might try and go see Pineapple Express at some point over the next week. Although it's getting decidedly under-whelming feedback from lots of places - so I am lowering my expectations appropriately. Hopefully I'll still find a way to enjoy it! Couple more releases that I'd quite like to see - Tropic Thunder and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - but that's about 3 out of 15 releases at the moment. Lots of cack out at the moment, it would seem. Then again, The Dark Knight's still on release, and RocknRolla was okay...so I suppose it's jumping the gun a bit to say that there's only cack out at the moment. But Disaster Movie is on release as well as something called Wild Child...yikes.

That's about it for now. Need sleep...or maybe a drink. Anyways, latas.

16 September 2008

Rocknrolla Review

There have been a lot of comebacks in the last year. Batman has suddenly – and rather inexplicably in the case of some fads – become ridiculously cool once again; Rambo proved that even if you gun down 236 Burmese militia, you can’t win the hearts of critics; and Indy showed that he still had a few cracks of the whip left in him. Is this Guy Ritchie joining the Caped Cruscader in the pantheon of great comebacks? Or is this the final straw after Swept Away and Revolver? Well, the answer is neither.

So what, exactly, is it? Yes, I can hear you from here. Well, it’s a step back, but he hasn’t crossed the finish line. Yet. It shows flashes of the brilliance that made Lock, Stock… and Snatch so very entertaining – multilayered story; sharp, blackly comic dialogue; interesting, well developed characters – and yet somehow isn’t nearly as good as them.

It cocks it up on two counts. First, the story – whilst indeed multilayered and interchanging – isn’t half as tight as it should be. There’re a couple of completely redundant story threads that could easily have been amalgamated into the others – I won’t give them away here, as they are pivotal in the story, but they should’ve been incorporated into the other threads, instead of having their own dedicated ones. It also suffers from the so-called ‘flabby opening’ syndrome; featuring none of the drive and focus that decorated his first two films, instead choosing to be rather broad and rather schizophrenic in which story threads it shows us and when.

The second is that fact that Ritchie is still sat under the delusion that allowed Revolver to start bubbling in his mental cauldron. It’s the delusion that he’s an arty film-maker – and whilst it’s starting to wear off, thanks to the lambasting that Revolver got, ‘t’would seem that a few dregs of it still held fast during the conception of Rocknrolla. It seems to aspire to a higher sense of purpose, that it means something, what with the musings on life, the universe and everything rolling from his characters lips. The only one that holds true is a particularly well written speech from the titular Rocknrolla, Johnny Quid, about the juxtapositional nature of a cigarette box, then comparing it to his present predicament. It’s the only piece of pretension that actually works, and it just goes to show that, in measured amounts, pretentiousness shouldn’t be a bad thing.

This isn’t, however, to say that the movie is unwatchable. Every character is well fleshed out, and performed competently at the very least. The only stand-out is Toby Kebbell’s Johnny Quid – Kebbell putting in a fiercely intelligent performance of a wise-cracking, emotional cripple that really is something of a proverbial diamond in the rough. The rest of the characters – whilst well written in and of themselves – are given precious little to do in the grand scheme of things, their minor antics all contributing to the over-arching plot, but seeming to lack any drive and purpose beyond ‘because it needs to be in the film’. There's a lot of potential here, but it's simply not capitalised on.

But, at about 45-minutes in, something magical happens - the focus suddenly kicks in, and the story tightens up. If ‘it’s about bloody time’ doesn’t roll across your thoughts, you probably weren’t paying attention. What follows is – to tentatively use the term – vintage Richie. All mockney quips, black comedy and ingenious plot turns. It’s also where some of the action kicks in, including an absolutely brilliant sequence involving One-Two (Gerard Butler doing his thang) Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy understating to the max) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) out-running some Russian mafiosos in a pulse-pounding sequence which involves some fantastic action and a huge dollop of Ritchie’s trademark humour that is particularly pleasing.

Ultimately, however, the movie neatly sums itself up just before the credits roll, claiming ‘Archie, Johnny and the Wild Bunch will be back in The Real RocknRolla'. If this isn’t a frank admission that Ritchie could’ve done better with such a rich cast playing such interesting characters, then I don’t know what is. So if Guy Ritchie himself admits it…well, it must be true. I’n’it?

Ross’ Rating: 6/10

13 September 2008

A quick pointer...

Just so you guys know, I've gone all Francis Ford Copolla on my review of Hellboy 2 and reduxed it - I just read it and knew I could do better...check out the changes if you dare!

Am still down south - will do a proper update tomorrow after a certain birthday party has happened!

8 September 2008

Brighton and Beyond!

Well, the trip down south is going well. Fee's met the parents (all three of them - mum, dad and step-mum), as well as my step-grandparents and my sister, and finally my step-brother and his ladyfriend. That was entertaining, to say the least. Went to Brighton on Saturday, that was good fun - despite the fact that it chucked it down with rain for the majority of the stay.

Although, of all the things we saw, the oddest was a dead bird bang in the middle of one of the Lanes. Not the fact that there was a dead bird per se; but that there was, right next to it, a tiny, neatly place origami crane. Grim practical joke? Someone paying homage? Or perhaps student art project? We'll never know. But here it is (be warned, it's pretty grim...click for a better look). Apparently it's grimly artistic, but I dunno...

But hey, new news! Lots of great films coming out in the next two or so months. I'm sure you're about as knowledgeable of these as I am, but I'll cite them anyways...because...y'know...it's fun.

Body of Lies is a new film with Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, with Ridley Scott in the directors chair. Has the potential to devolve into a generic, sweaty pot-boiler - but with Scott and Crowe thrown into the mix, could be absolutely incredible. Good old Russell is proving more and more diverse as time goes along, so I await with baited breath to see if I'm right.

Next up, we're into Western territory, with Appaloosa. I'm really quite excited about that - Westerns are my favourite genre of movie outside of fantasy and sci-fi (hence why I liked Firefly so much, I assume), and this one looks to be shaping up to be fantastic. Viggo Mortensen's in there, and Ed Harris is both directing and starring, so it'll be interesting to see if Harris has got the directing chops to go with his almost invariably fantastic performances.

Slightly more controversially, in the 'looking forward to' camp, is the Max Payne movie. I'm honestly of the opinion that it could well be the very first truly good video game adaptation. Mark Wahlberg, whilst not an instant fit, could well fill the angst-ridden shoes of Max, and whilst I was ridiculously sceptical at having Mila Kunis as Mona, from the trailer it looks like she's slotted perfectly into that particular wonderbra. But still, I do have to remain undecided about it - although with a rumoured $40 million at the director's disposal, along with decidedly brilliant source material, I've gone for optimistically undecided. And hopefully it'll inspire Remedy to get off their arses and get going on Max Payne 3 - if only to say 'no, this is how it's done, you cunts'.

There's others, but those're the major three that I care about. Seems Saw is getting a 5th outing - hurray for torture porn - and Frank Miller is directing a comic book movie: The Spirit. I'm not honestly enthused about either - the Spirit seems to me to be ridiculously weak source material, and from the trailer it looks completely over-directed. As for Saw...well, I think enough is enough - but Twisted Pictures clearly don't share my views.

Wow, that was a movies vent and a half, wasn't it? Next time I might even talk about Spore - which I bought on Friday. But I think I do need to play it for a while longer before commenting on it - but so far, so good.

That's it for now, ladies and gents. Hope you all had a great weekend. Ciao!!