Search This Blog

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Self/Less

Sadly, more like Point/Less

This review is also up at Channel 24

What it's about

A dying real estate mogul turns to a covert corporation for his last chance of survival: a new procedure that would transfer his consciousness into a younger body. It's not long, however, before he starts to find out that this miraculous procedure may not be all that it seems.

What we thought

Self/less comes with a fairly tried and true science fiction premise but it's disappointing to see just how little it does with it.

Science fiction has long been interested in questioning the nature of the soul and of consciousness while the quest for immortality has been a constant theme in both science and fiction for as long as anyone can imagine. Self/less is only the latest in this long tradition and its central premise of achieving some kind of immortality by transferring one's consciousness into new bodies is far from a new one. That it's unoriginal is neither unexpected nor problematic, therefore, but what is significantly less forgivable is how tired and uninspired it all feels.

Needless to say, if you've seen the trailer or even just the film's poster, Self/less is not exactly thoughtful, “smart” science fiction that is more interested in ideas than in racking up explosions but that doesn't excuse just how unwilling it is to tackle its story on anything other than the most superficial of levels. After all, there have been countless popcorn sci-fi films that still have depth and intelligence and even if they don't tackle their themes full on, they often suffuse the action nonetheless.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

We Are Your Friends

Because not all flops deserve their fate...

This review is also up at Channel 24

What it's about

Aspiring DJ, Cole Carter, believes that all it takes is “one track” to make his mark as a professional music spinner but as he has to navigate his way through deadbeat friends, a self-destructive mentor and a potentially disastrous romantic relationship, he finds that the road to the top might be a whole lot less straightforward than he could ever have imagined.

What we thought

Between its general drubbing from overseas critics and its status as one of the biggest box office bombs of the year. We Are Your Friends comes to these shores with a whole lot of baggage. Add to that my own personal bias of having little to absolutely no interest in electronic dance music and significantly less in the whole clubbing scene, and the film had something of an uphill battle in winning me over. Here's the thing, though: it kind of did.

Now, no one in their right mind would consider this film any sort of masterpiece – especially as it pretty consistently reminds you of far better films – but it is a surprisingly effective and affecting little indie-style (though, crucially, in light of its box office failure, not actually indie) drama. Hell, though I remain utterly uninterested in the music featured in the film, it even managed to convince me that EDM (as the kids call it) has far more going for it than I may have first thought.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Everest (IMAX 3D)

Leaving you (or me, at the very least) cold in more ways than one...


To adequately review Everest, you kind of have to look at the film from two almost disconnected levels. The first - and this is something that really can be best appreciated in 3D IMAX - on a purely technical level, the second as a piece of storytelling. As you may well have guessed by now, Everest passes with flying colours on the first point, but things look a whole lot more dubious on the second.

Put simply, from a purely aesthetic and technical point of view, Everest is nothing less than spectacular. Between its fully immersive soundscapes and the appropriate crispness of even the smallest sounds, the film obviously calls for the best sound system imaginable to appreciate the magnitude of the experience on offer here. Even more than its auditory delights (and terrors!) though, the film is just breathtaking to look at. I was disappointed by the lack of IMAX aspect ratio, as the added height would have definitely added to the dizzying experience, but the huge screen gives a great sense of the magnitude of the eponymous mountain and the unutterable beauty of the great panoramic vistas of the Himalayas. It's absolutely worth seeing Everest for this alone - though I think it goes without saying that you do need a pretty killer cinematic setup to truly appreciate it.

Sadly though, bringing to mind something like Avatar, it really does only work as a piece of spectacle. Not that that's anything to be sneezed at but, considering the material with which the film is working, it's impossible not to be disappointed by how anemic a piece of storytelling it is.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Transporter Refueled

Not so much refueled as rewarmed...

Check out this review also at Channel 24

What it's about

This reboot of the Transporter franchise finds Frank Martin and his father, Frank Sr., in France and involved in an elaborate revenge scheme by a group of former prostitutes against their former boss, a Russian crime lord.

What we thought

After the Transporter TV series crashed and burned – seriously, did anyone actually watch that show – we are once again confronted with that crucial question: can there be a Transporter movie without Jason Statham? The answer, as you may well have expected even before seeing Transporter Refueled, is, of course, you can't.

It's not quite that The Transporter Refueled is an utterly terrible movie, so much as it's one that has no reason whatsoever to exist. While Ed Skrein spends the entire film doing a not very good Statham impression and Loan Chabanol spends her time looking for all the world like a pretty terrific mix of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Olivia Munn and Chloe Bennet, everything around them feels like the warmed up leftovers of a thousand better action flicks.