Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Film Recap: The Blog Reviews (1)

Ok.. so I've been seeing films but not commenting on them. There's too many for me to write full reviews for, so I'm going to write a couple of those, and the rest will be blog notes. I'll try and summarise as much as I can.
Anyway, here's the first batch:

The Jacket
Directed by John Maybury
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley
Grade: D+

Ok. So time travel has been achieved in film through many different methods: -- most recently, and hilariously, through recounting one's own diary. In the past we've seen everything from cars to phone boxes make the journey through the time/space continuum. It's always been the ultimate adventure to breach into an event that's already happened, or one that will happen, as demonstrated in The Jacket.

Adrien Brody is Jack Starks, a war veteran that's wrongly convicted of murder and sent to a mental institution. Well, I say wrongly. In actual fact, it turns out Jack (or at least his straight jacket) has the power to venture into the future, so insanity is perhaps not the most inaccurate diagnosis. In any case, Jack is shocked to discover that his death is supposed to occur pretty soon, and so seeks to discover what it was that killed him, and how to stop it. In order to do this, he seeks the help of Jackie (Knightley), whom holds the truth of his whereabouts at the supposed murder.

Basically, we're subjected to a back and forth plot, that, while interesting, is a little weak. It rarely varies from its glance into the future, followed by its incremental re-percussions in the past. The Jacket gets the basics right, creating a moody and sinister feel, shaded further by the antics of Brody, and particularly Knightley, who really steals the limelight. I had not been a fan of Knightley, but her presence and painfully lethargic self-loathing as a damaged woman seems so frank, and brutally honest. Nevertheless, the same cannot be said for much of the film, seeming to run out of ideas half-way through. It may be a little different, perhaps even rather fascinating in its moment, but there isn't anywhere near enough clarity or imagination to carry it through, which is rather a shame.

Land Of The Dead
Directed by George A. Romero
Starring: Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo
Grade: B

George A. Romero, director of the original Dawn of the Dead, and its follow-up, Night Of the Living Dead returns to direct this year's Land of the Dead, presumably to show everyone else how a zombie flick should be made. LOTD takes place at a time when zombies are the norm, and people have taken to sheltering in a luxury resort containing countless amenities, so they need never leave. Riley (Baker) is a regular zombie hunter, but is desperate to leave town and take up shelter in the desolation of canada. However, his departure suffers somewhat of a delay, as desperate Cholo (Leguizamo) threatens to destroy the resort with a loaded weapons truck.

The sense of war, and thirst for survival is blindingly evident, conveying more of a humanity for both sides of the argument. Pretty ironic, since the zombies are essentially dead, but this is seen as a conflict of interest rather than good versus evil, which I guess is fair enough. For the zombies to continue to 'live', they must eat humans. This is epitomised by Riley's words: "They're just looking for a place to go like us". What Romero expresses so wonderfully is that good and evil occurs irrespective of whether you're living or whether you're dead.

There's an equality in LOTD, that shows an inner core to zombies never seen before. What humans should fear in a world full of zombies is the greed and desperation of other humans, displayed by the stupidity of self-undoing. Physical change is nothing compared to mental change, indicated by a level of corruption that would never occur in a world where things were worth something again. LOTD teaches us that a price cannot be put on lives.

Directed by Robert Luketic
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda
Grade: D

Oh dear Jane Fonda. Why on earth did you return from retirement for this utter crap? Fonda, playing the viscious mother-in-law, former TV personality Viola Fields, spends most of the film trying to oust her future daughter-in-law (Lopez) out of her precious son, Kevin (Vartan)'s life.

is just an absoloute mess from start to finish. Firstly, it's made up of glaring bits and pieces of various other ideas used before. Not much, if any, of the film is original, which in turn makes it tedious and very predictable. It has enough components to make a decent movie but they are put together in an astoundingly sloppy way, the pacing being a particular problem. It is very superfluous, spending time on events that mean little more than token affection. It's really strange, because some of the antics are quite decent, and if arranged well, would certaintly give the film an added edge that it so badly lacked.

Fonda and Lopez's oneupmanship, though initially fun, soon grows very tired, and the film runs around in circles trying desperately to entertain. But there's no punch to the film, no life in its weary bones. The two leading ladies can't be blamed for this, and neither can their familial link Kevin . Plain and simply, it's just a bad script thats awfully made.

Directed by Chris Wedge
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Amanda Bynes
Grade: C

OK, so Pixar are the aces at animation. That's clear. But Fox had a go, and did a decent, if altogether unsuccessful job. Robots is a story of Rodney Copperbottom, a robot with ambition. Rodney is an inventor, who leaves his parents behind for the big city, seeking to pitch his ideas to his inspiration, inventor Bigweld. However, when he arrives at Robot City, all is not as cut and dry as that, and it soon emerges that there is a plot to weed out outmoded robots and force the others to buy upgrades. Being a natural technician, Rodney attracts the attention of robots who need fixing and soon becomes a hero of the people.

Robots is pretty funny, and has clever and witty references merging robots finely with humanisation. This is especially good at the beginning of the film, when Mr and Mrs Copperbottom are literally delivered an assemble-your-own baby. The script is generally good, continuing the light humour for a decent way into the film.

Alas, you can't help but compare this to other films and feel it falls a little short. Of course, Pixar's Finding Nemo is the pinnacle of animation, but if you look at the standard we've come to expect, Robots just doesn't cut the mustard. The characters are nowhere near as defined, and don't always have the charm and comedy we crave. There is less clarity, less involvement, and significantly less emotion than we're used to seeing. It's a nice little flick, but it just doesn't have that boatload of fun attached to it that's an essential nowadays.


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