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Monday, February 2, 2015

Catch Up Time - Early February 2015 edition

As always, I still have a few films to look at from the past month that I haven't covered in full yet. I should point out that I haven't quite seen everything but only Map to the Stars seems to be a particularly major omission. I hope to catch up with that soon.

The Imitation Game. I do almost feel that I should give this film the proper respect it deserves with a full review but, honestly, it actually doesn't really need one. It's neither particularly deep, nor particularly dazzling on a technical level so I don't have too much to say about it. What I can say though, is this: it's a spectacular story, told really, really well with a terrific lead performance from Benedict Cumberbatch and is, in equal measure, heartbreaking and profoundly inspiring. Oh yeah, and quite funny too. This largely true (some liberties have been taken but the main points are true) story of the guy who both created computers as we know them and helped to end the second World War is a serious must-see. (9/10)

Into the Woods. Based on the acclaimed stage play and featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods is a total mess of a film. For the first half or so, it's a really enjoyable piece of work, with a great cast giving plenty of life to some very old fairy tales with plenty of wit and a generally boisterous treatment of not very memorable, if lyrically complex, songs. Johnny Depp is, admittedly, truly awful as the Big Bad Wolf, while Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep and Chris Pine steel the show. Sadly, the film actually ends at the 75-minute mark but apparently someone thought that was too short for a major Hollywood musical directed by the dude who did Chicago, so it then goes on for another forty-five leaden, down-beat and utterly superfluous minutes, utterly ruining all the good will it built up in its first half. (4/10)

Taken 3. A truly dire and pointless threequel to a movie that wasn't all that great in the first place. The first Taken was an adequate enough but tonally wonky Die Hard riff but looks like a serious classic in the face of its second sequel. Taken 3 has a hole-ridden, overly convoluted plot, awful "family drama" sections, phoned in performances, a fatal lack of a sense of humour and, most critically, some of the worst action scenes I have ever seen. This ADHD editing here makes the million-and-one-cuts-a-second editing of the action scenes in Quantum of Solace look like The French Connection. Honestly, there were a number of times when I tried to count the cuts in a single action scene in Taken 3 (I couldn't make heads or tails of what was going on on screen so I had to do something to occupy myself) but I very literally couldn't count fast enough. (1/10)    

St Vincent. Worth it mostly for another brilliant Bill Murray performance in the lead role, this enjoyable but ultimately disposable dramedy about a young boy who befriends his crotchety old neighbour also has a nicely restrained performance from Mellissa McCarthy and a nicely deranged silly-accented performance from Naomi Watts. It's funny, it's surprisingly moving but it also doesn't quite earn its character-morphing sentimental denouement. (7/10)

Kite. An almost entirely worthless remake of the well-respected anime has a bad script and bad acting but, admittedly, some nicely grungy, if somewhat crap, production values. Its biggest problem though is that it simply has no reason to exist, as it doesn't have a single aspect that even comes close to matching, let alone surpassing, the original. It doesn't even have the controversy of the original's needlessly hardcore sex scenes. (1/10)    

Tracers. Taylor Lautner once again proves himself to be by far the worst actor of the Twilight series' three major stars in this instantly forgettable and dull action movie that, on the plus side, has some impressive parkour sequences but, on the downside, has nothing else to recommend it. It's not absolutely awful, it's just unbelievably mediocre and probably only worth watching if you're a huge fan of its lead actor's abs. (3/10)

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