Friday, 16 December 2011

THE YEAR THAT WAS 2011


PROLOGUE.

Here is a list that makes me want to beat myself to death, with a dismembered limb, from the inside out, while swimming in corrosive acid somewhere in the American deep south.

HIGHEST GROSSING FILMS OF 2011

RANK
TITLE
WORLDWIDE GROSS
1
Specky Twat and the Deathly Hallows –Part 2
$1,328,111,219
2
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
$1,123,196,189
3
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
$1,043,871,802
4
Kung Fu Panda 2
$663,024,542
5
The Twiglet Saga: Breaking Down In Tears – Part1
$634,051,891
6
Fast Five
$626,137,675
7
The Hangover Part II
$581,464,305
8
The Smurfs
$562,158,353
9
Cars 2
$551,850,875
10
Rio
$484,635,760

That has got to be one of the most depressing top grossing film lists I have ever seen. Out of all of these films I have liked and enjoyed exactly one of them and it’s a fucking Fast and Furious instalment. Seriously Hollywood, what the fuck.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

50/50 (2011)


WARNING
THIS REVIEW MAY NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

As some of the more attentive of you may have gathered, my past two reviews were my attempt at bringing you all up to speed. I took two months off in order to move house as well as finish The Expositionist website and as a result I got behind with my reviews. My next review was going to be the final installment in the catching up saga, Red State, but instead I have decided to hold off on that for one more week in favour of reviewing a film that hits our big screens tomorrow. 50/50.
  
The undeserving masses would be regrettably forgiving for assuming that 50/50 is a comedy. The trailers for the film highlight the films more light hearted moments and advertise a cast that many would associate with many of hollywoods most recent attempts at comedy. I do feel I should point out however that 50/50 is a drama, not a comedy. If you're wanting to laugh away your tears, chuck down a beer and loose yourself for a couple of hours or even sneak to the back of the cinema to ignore the film while you clumsily fumble the sick crotch of your loved one then this is not the film for you.

50/50 tells the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a regular guy with an escalating case of OCD who gets diagnosed with Neurofibrosarcoma Schwannoma which despite as well as being something that Blogger can't spell is also a rare form of cancer. Adam then has to go through the trials and tribulations of dealing with his disease with the help from his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogan), his estranged parents (Anjelica Huston and Serge Houde), his soon to be qualified therapist (The Twiglet franchises only worthwhile export, Anna Kendrick) and his emotionally incapable girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). Needless to say, it's not an easy ride for Adam.

         
If I were to describe what kind of film this is I would refer you to the numerous "based on a true story" dramas that tend to briefly grace our screens every year. They're usually aimed at the middle aged, based on best selling books that your grandmother read and tend to carry slightly obscure titles like 'The Wright Eye' or "My Left Arm'. That is the ballpark within which you will find 50/50 but with the twist here being that it's aimed at a younger, intellectual audience rather than the parents of the younger, intellectually inferior and for my money it works a treat.

The balance between the films comedy and drama along with the near perfect pacing of the film lends itself very well to the attention spans and attitudes of our modern day twenty-somethings. The very smartly written script by Will Reiser is interesting, deals with the subject matter in a mature yet manageable manner while using a style of language that will ring true to any child of the 80's or 90's. The reason for this is most likely down to the script being loosely based upon the screenwriters life, something which undoubtedly contributed to the script in a way which very few unrelated script writers could have pulled off.

The direction has been handled rather well too. The Wackness director, Jonathan Levine shooting a film that pulls you in from the get go, forces you to relate to the characters and route for them right up until the closing credits. There isn't a single wasted frame in the film and that only happens when you have a good director who knows exactly what he is doing. It's probably not going to win him any awards but it has earned him my respect which in the scheme of things is way more important.

As for the acting it's a winning formula across the board. Joseph G-Lovitt has always been able to churn out great work and this is no exception. You totally buy into every emotion his character suffers and the performance never strays into any kind of over the top territory, it's subtle, realistic and worth praise.

Even Seth Rogan impressed me. Many of my more astute readers will be familiar with my up and down relationship with Rogan but in 50/50 we see a new side to the actors talents. Obviously, his character serves as the comedic relief for the entire film but Rogan balances his usual schtick with a more sombre, heartfelt side, something which was attempted in Funny People but no where near as successful as it was here.

A final performance nod should also go out to Anna Kendrick who has to carry what could have been the films more cheesey and cliched rom-com story aspect. Her solidly grounded performance however lends weight to the character and in turn scales back the love story in a way that has it add a background to the proceedings rather than compete with the films more important cancer thread.

I'm going to begin summing up this review now, because all of this praise is starting to make me want to throw up on and kill things.

50/50 is a great watch. I'll fully admit that it isn't for everyone, yet then it's not pretending to be. As a film it's not good for escapism or uplifting your spirits, but if your in the mood for a heartfelt, human drama with a kick ass soundtrack then I recommend you trip it down to your local cinematic regime and check this out. Don't cave in to Twiglets breaking down or those depressing dancing penguins, go see 50/50 and stimulate you cerebral cortex because lets face it, it could do with the exercise.

50/50 is more than 50 but less than 50 + 50, in fact 40/40 + 20 is...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Missed Movies: The Change Up (2011)


WARNING
THIS REVIEW DOESN'T CONTAIN SPOILERS.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

What I knew about The Change Up prior to actually seeing it can easily be summed up in two words, digital nipples. I knew nothing of the story, nothing of the initial reception to the film and almost nothing about the cast with the exception of Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman. Despite not actually knowing anything about the film and baring in mind my indifference to Reynolds thus far this year I had unfairly placed The Change Up in my 'can't be arsed' pile. Sadly for me however after a friend of mine showed up predictably late one evening and as a result of an unfortunate coin toss we wound up tripping it to my local Vue to take The Change Up in.

The Change Up is the story of two friends Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman). Mitch has achieved nothing other than a sizeable drug habit while Dave is a successful lawyer with a large family whom he is slowly alienating. Unsurprisingly both friends are envious of each others lives, Mitch longing to be successful and have a family with Dave longing for the days of no responsibility and meaningless sex. The rather boring tale suddenly takes a turn for the bizarre when the two drunkenly piss in a fountain and switch bodies, providing them with the opportunity to have the lives they desire only for them both to find out its not all it's cracked up to be. 

The story in incredibly clichéd, predictable and really rather tiresome but it does succeed in one thing and thats providing both Reynolds and Bateman with the chance to play against their respected usual types. Both actors do a bang up job and are the only things in The Change Up that are worthwhile watching. The two performances aside the rest of the film is dull and lifeless leaving the film as a whole to become yet another forgettable body swap comedy.

The comedy style of the film isn't incredibly consistent. During the opening scene of the film the audience are presented with a situation that results in a baby shitting directly into Dave's mouth followed by a slew of scenes that present the comedy in a more traditional, dialogue driven manor which is in turn followed by sequences so filthy that they could have been ripped from the unwanted pages of the Superbad script. As an audience member this left me constantly having to change my mindset in order to sync up with the kind of film I was watching, a process that not only exhausted me of the film but also stinted the films hope of producing a genuine belly laugh from my begrudging interior void.

Direction wise the film is flawed but on the whole an adequate effort. David Dobkin's work here very much resembling his previous efforts which include Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus. The compositions are dull yet to the point, the delivery is nothing special (with the exception of the two leads, who's comic timing doesn't require direction) and as a narrative the film passes by comfortably but never does anything to really draw you in. It's all very "middle of the road".

The biggest problem The Change Up has is it's writing. The script is unoriginal, unmotivated and relies too heavily on shock value in order to produce laughs. The situations played out in the film are variations on scenes that I've seen many times before and many of the characters are too one dimensional for any audience to ever begin to care about their plight or predicament. If it wasn't for Reynolds and Bateman, The Change Up wouldn't be funny in the slightest.


My final words on this are to avoid The Change Up unless your are drunk, stupid or off your face on crack, which based on what is left of modern day society should consist of everyone reading this review. So on that basis see the film, you'll love it.


However, for intellectual, superior minds like mine you should be warned that The Change Up is actually  

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Missed Movies: Bridesmaids (2011)


I take this opportunity to apologise to my readers for the lack of fresh content during the past two months, I was busy building a website and sitting on my perfectly plump posterior eating bacon bits with bread. I will also take this opportunity to say that I hate every single one of you for expecting content while I was away on the basis that you're all lesser beings with less interesting attributes than that piece of foil that covers every margarine tub underneath the plastic lid. 

This post has been dedicated to me. 
Welcome back, this blog hasn't been the same without you.

WARNING
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS THEN DON'T READ THE BITS WRITTEN IN RED.
OTHER THAN THIS BIT, OBVIOUSLY.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

 I had zero intention of seeing Bridemaids on account of it looking genuinely insulting. Now I don't mean insulting in that "your momma's pussy is so hairy, when your brother was born he died of rug burn" kind of way, I mean insulting in the  same way I find Michael Bay's films insulting. It looked about as funny as a beheading, about as interesting as the colour grey and all in all about as enjoyable as herpes. Despite this however I kept being told by those who had seen the film that it was not only enjoyable, but it was also one of the funniest films to have come out of Hollywood during the past year. 


Well, a few months ago I caved in and decided to clean the dishes, insert my tampon and finally take in the comedy extravaganza that is Bridesmaids and to my utter surprise it turned out to be better than I expected. 


Now before you all run for your nearest video store in order to pick up the triple play edition of Bridesmaids let me make it clear that my overall opinion of the film lies a hell of a lot closer to the negative camp than any other. The film is, to put it simply a bad watch.


To kick off my triumphant return I will begrudgingly start with the praise portion of this not so brief summing up, namely Kristen Wiig.


The cast, for the most part is shitter than a shit born of a shit and a shit in shitsville just south of Kent, but the same cannot be said for the films leading lady Kristen Wiig. I've kept my beady little judgemental eye on Wiig since I saw her in Knocked Up. She was by far the funniest thing in that film and has proven to be the similar rule with pretty much every role she's had since (with the exception of Paul in which she was beaten to the post by almost every actor except Simon Pegg). Here she not only gets to play the lead, but also manages to maintain her reputation for stand out performances while filling the role that's essentially the straight man (or woman). Her delivery is spot on, the character is believable and likeable and for at least half of the film I gave a crap about the outcome of her character. Wiig manages to hold her own as a leading lady and manages to carry the film well despite the amount of rubbish being piled up against her. 


There, thats the good bits taken care of, now on to the bits that make me want to slit your wrists.


The rest of the cast bored me. The group of girly friends appeared to gel well upon first appearance but as the film went on it felt more and more like each of them were competing for screen time and bigger laughs, which is never an enjoyable experience. Particular distain was held for Melissa McCarthy who looks way to much like Ricky Gervais for me to ever find anything she does remotely funny. And finally we have Chris O' Dowd, the weakest part of the IT Crowd providing the weakest love interest character I've seen since Portman in Thor. 


Direction wise I guess the films ok, but it does feel a little half arsed. Its clear that no effort was put into making the film unique or interesting. The pacing is lacklustre, the performances are mostly dull and the composition would be average by live TV standards. I think the point of the direction was to be unnoticeable in an effort to make the script stand out more prominently. Which would be fine if the script was able to stand on its own two feet to begin with.  


My biggest issue with the film was either its writing or its editing, and I'm not sure which to blame. Most of the jokes that failed to be funny in the first place go on for way too long. For example there is a scene early on where Wigg and some other snobby bitch are battling for Mic time at a party. The joke being that as soon as one person finishes a lovely complimentary speech the other butts in and attempts to better it, before the first one butts in again and so on. This joke goes on for what felt like an hour but I'm sure was more than likely closer to two.


Now it's obvious that the script was written this way so I'm more than happy to jump at the throats of Kristen Wigg and Annie Mumolo for it but on the other hand any decent editor would have realised that this kind of thing killed the pacing and would have recommended a cut. Instead though we are treated to a fair few scenes that have the same issue, implying that someone in the works figured this to be a grand idea, when in reality it's something best left to the only people who can pull that joke off correctly, Family Guy.


The other issue with the script is to do with the writers ability to tell a coherent story, which they can't. The script works in the same way many Apatow related productions do, it feels more like a series of badly written, unfunny sketches than a feature length story. The plot drops in and out of the film more frequently than I drop in and out of the blogging community. It was tiresome and slow, something which wasn't helped at all by the already mind numbingly boring and non-original story idea that the film portrays to begin with. Its yet another mega successful hit film that has found success by exploiting the stupidity of todays cinematic audience. The film has gotten by by being immature, simplistic and vulgar, and not in any kind of ironic way. This kind of thing is slowly degrading the once ever expanding world of big screen comedy and it sickens me. I guess, with the impending departure of Kevin Smith I should reside to the fact that the only good comedy I'm going to see on the big screen soon will be little known independent features, obscure book adaptations and remakes of older, much more funny films. 


At the end of the day, I'm still not convinced that this film is best suited to a male audience. Despite many of my supposedly hetro' male friends really liking the film, I would say that this is a film best suited to a bunch of girlfriends getting together to enjoy over wine and chocolate while they sync up their menstrual cycles. I, being the manliest of manly men am way too far removed from this demographic and therefore would never have been well suited to the film and I can hardly pan the film for this. It's my fault really, I shouldn't have watched it. I knew I wouldn't like it and I knew it wasn't my cup of tea.


To sum up you simply take the first number and multiply, divide, add or subtract it by the second number. Or, if your me you can say this...


Watching this film reminded me of every time I've sat down to meet someones new born baby. The presentation was being portrayed in the brightest of beaming lights and in such a manor that it made me uncomfortable to mention that rather than being the most beautiful thing I've ever seen it is in fact a sloppy looking, ugly meatball that persists to slowly shit into the palm of my hand. The experience was less than enjoyable and I can now, quite happily go without seeing it again until it grows up and starts acting like an adult.


Bridesmaids is

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

WARNING
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS THEN DON'T READ THE BITS WRITTEN IN RED.
OTHER THAN THIS BIT, OBVIOUSLY.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Cornwall, England is behind in the times when it comes to films. More to the point Cornwall is behind the times in everything from technology to racism but the mere fact that most of the county is still eagerly awaiting Terminator 2 should give you all a good idea as to how tough a situation I find myself in this week, having been stranded here after a planned stag weekend dived head first into a shit ravine with less than a days notice. I've not seen anything new, I've spent most of my time either walking on a beach or walking on a cliff and the idea of writing a film review for this site is very much second on my list of things to do next to getting the hell out of this backwards place. But fear not, I would hate to deprive you, the masses, of my superior intellect and so have booted up Windows 95 and hogged the phone line in order to use the dial up all so I can bring you a review that even Cornwall would be excited to read. This week I will be reviewing 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

I first saw WFRR back in the summer of 1989 on a Ritz rented VHS copy and loved 90% of it. I can't honestly say that I understood what was going on throughout the film but I can honestly say that I enjoyed what I witnessed, even if the films final few moments scared me witless.

In the many years since that day I must have seen WFRR almost a hundred times and still to this day manage to get something new out of the expirience. The same can't be said for most of my friends who simply remember it for being a loud, stupid kids film with a rather boring plot. I have, however, always managed to buck the trend and unconditionally offer my upmost praises for WFRR on the basis that I think it's near enough a perfect example of what a film can be.

The plot to WFRR is a lighter hearted rendition of a the kind of classical story you would find in any given 'film noir' picture. Roger Rabbit, a living and breathing hand drawn cartoon who lives amongst us in the real world, is framed for the murder of Marvin Acme (The famous cartoon gag king). In order to prove his innocesence he hires the detective tallents of Eddie Valiant played by everyones favorite london gangster, Bob Hoskins. Together the two work their way through a fictional version of 1940's L.A. in order to get to the bottom of the case and uncover a massive conspiracy.

WFRR is loosly based on a book called Who Censored Roger Rabbit from which the film borrows it's primary setting. WFRR is set in a bizarre alternative reality where cartoon characters and human beings all live side by side. Cartoons (or 'toons') work very much in the same way as actors do, starring in their own shows which are shot on stages, with cameras, very much in the same way as real films are. Unlike the book however WFRR is set in 1940's L.A. rather than in the modern day which aids the film in aquiring a timeless feel that has restriced it from becoming dated in the many years since its production.

Technically WFRR is dumbfounding. Costing an at the time record breaking 70 mil', the film blends a real life motion picture with hand drawn, frame by frame catroon animation in order to pull off the films wacky premise. This has been done with computers since in the forms of Space Jam and Loony Toons: Back In Action but back in 1988 computers weren't around that could pull this klind of effect off. So what had to be done was for a team of animators to go into the film after it had been shot and hand draw the 'toons' into every required frame while matching up with the pre excisting lighting and on the set practicle effects.

On paper it's very hard to explain how well the film makers pulled the special effects off. You'd expect, prior to seeing the film, that the animation would look silly and out of place when inserted next to the real actors, but in WFRR you honestly never give it a second thought. The reason for this is down to how much effort the film makers put into making the 'toons' interact with their actors and sets. By utilising robotic contraptions, puppeteers and wire gags the film was shot as if it were an invisible man film. Everything was thought of, objects would wobble on desktops, boxes would rock and things would fall over in order to give the animators a perfect reference for where the 'toons' were to be inserted. It's this attention to detail that really sells the effect and prevents the film from ambitiously falling flat on it's face. It took a year of post production work to pull this off and has gone down in history as a film that would never be made again.

Obvisously none of this would be worth anything without a cast that could knock the film out of the park without their animated aids. Bob Hoskins delivers such a flawless performence in WFRR that it is still a highly praised piece of work to this day. If it wasn't for his total commitment and tallent the entire film would fall completely flat. If you watch the film closely and really focus on his performance you can tell that he believes that the rabbit is really there. If you were to watch the film without any animation effects at all, it would still hold up perfectally and this is all down to Hoskins's performance, truely outstanding.

Opposite Hoskins we'll find the usual geneous being handed out by Christopher Lloyd as county judge Doom, a solid and consistant performance by Joanna Cassidy as barmaid and love interest Delores and an interesting layered portrayal of studio owner R.K. Maroon from Alan Tilvern. Each of these actors faring well in their own right and doing their part to sell the animation effects while delivering any relevent emotion as and when required. Even the more humourous lines are delivered with a level of deadpannery that any Brit, such as myself will find endlessly entertaining. I really can't flaw the physical cast of the film.

On the voice acting side we have some great contributions especially from the films lead, Charles Fleischer. Roger Rabbit is annoying, hyperactive and loud, yet as a direct result of Fleischer's performance the character still manages to come off as a loveable hero who the audience can sympathise with. The voice acting works on so many levels mixing parody, reference, comedy and passion all the while not really becoming noticeable as a performance while your watching which is a key element to any good piece of voice acting. Fleischer aside, Kathleen Turner also does a bang up job voicing the worlds most famous boner enduing animated cartoon character ever created. Jessica Rabbit has gone down in history as a sex symbol in the world of cinema, something which quite simply wouldn't have happened without Turners smooth and dangerously sexy tones. The rest of the voice cast also pull out all the stops for this film with many of the vocal greats including Mel Blanc, Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo and David L. Lander all contributing their trademark trade with style and aplomb. 

Obviously these performances wouldn't have been anywhere near as memorable without a knockout script to back them up. The script for the film works well on multiple levels, being forced to balance a dark noirish detective story with outlandish cartoon humour both of which it serves perfectly. Neither the comedy nor the drama outweigh the other in WFRR, something which could have happened very easily if it weren't for Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman's skilled penmanship. It's an impressive script which only gets more impressive the more consideration you give it. Having watched the film as a pre-schooler and as a young adult and having discussed the film with people nearing their middle age I can certify that WFRR works for a massive age range. This is great example of how good a family film can be. It's got the silly, slap dash humour and manic action set-pieces for the kidlets while giving way to a sensible plot with genuine suspense and dark elements that will keep the adults intrigued without ever becoming boring for either party. Too many films before and since have failed when trying to cater for a wide, family audience but Seaman and Pierce struck a winning formula with WFRR. It's a great piece of writing to listen to and to study.

Sadly though, absolutely none of this gumpf would be worth anything without a skilled director helming the project, or in this case two skilled directors. Many people remember WFRR for being a Robert Zemekis film when in fact he only took on the live action half of the directing responsibility. On the animation side that responsibility fell upon the shoulders of Richard Williams. If either one of these two talented individuals attempted to direct the entire film alone I am sure it would have resulted in a flop. Thankfully both recognised their talents and didn't encroach on the other's work resulting in a perfectly directed live action film and perfectly directed animated film. On the live action side Zemekis's direction is heavily noticeable. Many of his trademark, stylistic decisions adding further depth and style to an already impressive looking feature while Richard Williams's understanding of what makes decent animation fun while marrying it with Zemekis's work fully completes what has to be one of the most complicated films ever to be produced. Both deserve heavy praise for their work and have rightly received it in the years since WFRR.

Finally we arrive at a few more words to follow the words that came before them, in this case words that will attempt to sum up this lengthy review. I love Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I have for twenty two years now, so the chances of that changing are slim and none. It's a piece of cinema that defies belief. It shouldn't have been possible, nobody should have taken the risk and it will never happen again. It's a great example of what can happen if a studio decides to take a risk and how wonderfully those risks can pay off when handled correctly. 

The idea that a studio would spend so much money on a project that has potentially no audience is both preposterous and rare, but give credit to Disney, they've made that leap a few times. Its films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Pirates Of The Carribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl that lend credence to the notion that cinema can still be relevant, imaginative and fun. I only hope that this already floundering concept isn't totally lost on everyone in the business of film, but if it is then at least I'll always have Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the film that allows me to marvel and dream in a way that all 'GREAT' movies do.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit gets...

5 out of 5 (Yeah nothings perfect but fuck you, this is my review!)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)



WARNING
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS THEN DON'T READ THE BITS WRITTEN IN RED.
OTHER THAN THIS BIT, OBVIOUSLY.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

I was hooked on the Inbetweeners television series from the start. I tuned into the first episode back in 2008 expecting very little. The early TV trailers made it look like a forced, low brow comedy made to cater to E4's 'trendy youth' target audience. Thankfully I was wrong. It only took the show four minutes for force a laugh from my begrudging innards, the use of the term briefcase wanker granting me access to a slew of non stop seemingly juvenile but actually quite clever comedic one liners that would become a staple of the show during it's three season run.

The Inbetweeners never really had a bad episode, sure there are some that are funnier than others but Damon Beesley and Iain Morris's writing was so spot on for the show that it never felt like a chore to sit through. It's one of the UK's best produced comedy shows of the 2000's and deserves every bit of high praise that it receives.

That being said the story wrapped up very well at the end of the third and final season so when it came to the run up for The Inbetweeners Movie, I wasn't quite sure if it would pay off. Remembering how tragically bad Kevin And Perry Go Large was and considering how close this films plot and background was to that film I went in expecting the worst. Luckily, The Inbetweeners proved me wrong a second time.

The story is simple. Will, Simon, Jay and Neil all go on holiday to Malia, Crete in order to escape the mundanity and depressing nature of their sad pathetic little lives. Their aim, in true teen comedy fashion is to party hard, get shitfaced and have as much sex as humanly possible. Obviously, their plan is doomed from the start and one bad turn begets another, providing much amusement.

As I said, the story has been done before to varying degrees of success. On the whole the story works quite well, the genre has been well explored in the past but it doesn't feel stale here. For the films entire ninety minute running time, The Inbetweeners Movie is fun and energetic with plenty of comedy set pieces to keep the audience entertained. With that being said the plot is extremely generic and forces the film to stop dead every time it begins to pick up speed in order to further itself and the characters development. The reason for this happening is that this is a film and not a TV show and it's this factoid that winds up doing the most damage to the film.

Part of what made the TV show so fun was it's pacing and timing. The humour in The Inbetweeners show was predominantly dialogue driven with plots that lead to a climactic scene designed to cause the characters a major embarrassment. This was usually pulled off trough the shows expert writing and a brisk delivery style crafted by the actors, directors and editors. The problem with doing a motion picture is that this style will not translate. You can't keep adding layer upon layer of jokes in a lead up to a spectacular climactic moment for a full 90 minutes without the film becoming exhausting or losing steam. So in order to remedy this, writers Morris and Beesley have created a script that works like a collection of three back to back episodes with a forced generic plot that strings the entire thing together. Now I can't stress enough that the problem this film has isn't the writers fault, its the fault of how cinema works. I honestly feel that they did the best job they could have done, given the circumstances. That's not to say that they couldn't have embellished a little more in some of the shows stronger aspects in order to downplay the restrictions brought upon by the rules of cinema.

My favourite aspect of the TV show was the adults. The parents, Mr Gilbert and any other adult characters that inhabited the world of the four leads often had a major part to play in many of the shows best moments. It's their reactions to what the boys get up to and their inherent childishness that made them the perfect foils to the boys adventures. The film however, barely feature the adults, only showcasing their talents during the films opening scenes. The reason this was done, no doubt, was to allow the boys to go and adventure on their own, but personally, I think this was a mistake. If it were me, I'd have written the script so that the parents followed the boys to their holiday destination in order to check on how they were doing and what they got up to. It would have been played out in the background of the story in a way that made the boys unaware of their presence and would've allowed the film to climax with a scene where it all comes out into the open in the same manor the TV show always closed, with an outright embarrassment. Sadly however, I was forced to mourn the loss of these characters and wound up feeling that the film was lacking much of what I dug so much about the show.

On the up side the cast were, as in the TV show, outstanding. By this point Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley and Blake Harrison inhabit their characters so fully that it's become almost impossible to remember that these four teenagers don't actually exist. Will, Simon, Jay and Neil all act in ways that feel completely natural to the characters, making them fun, likeable and at times sympathised with in a way that supports the film perfectly. Between them they carried the entire film with apparent ease and turned what would have been a lacklustre cinematic experience into a memorable fun night out. It's a shame that this is the last time I'll get to see these four actors again but at least they've gone out on a high.

The direction was as good as to be expected. Ben Palmer, who directed the majority of the TV shows, recaptured the feel of the TV show and helmed this project with style. The Inbetweeners Movie looks good and plays well. If a new director, unrelated to the project had come in in order to direct the show for the big screen I'm in no doubt that it would have turned out to be a mess. The way film was done doesn't feel like a sell out affair which it so easily could have, and I'm in no doubt that this is thanks to Palmers work on the film.

My final piece of praise has to go to the written stylings of Morris and Beesley. Unavoidable plot issues aside the script was funny, had an original voice and made me laugh multiple times. The dialogue, as it always did in the TV show, feels natural and is uncannily reminiscent of how me and my friends talked when we were that age. There are plenty of gross out and cringe worthy moments to be found within The Inbetweeners Movie with the occasional intelligent, witty one liners that were sadly lost on the audience I watched the film with, but I enjoyed them and thats all that matters.

To wrap this up then I'm going to say that I enjoyed The Inbetweeners Movie on the whole. It was funny, it didn't go all Kevin and Perry and the cast were great fun. On the downside the rules of modern day cinema held the film back from becoming truly amazing, something which makes the big screen adventures of the inbetweeners a far less enjoyable piece of comedy than the TV show which spawned it.

The Inbetweeners Movie gets...
3 out of 5

Friday, 19 August 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)


WARNING
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS THEN DON'T READ THE BITS WRITTEN IN RED.
OTHER THAN THIS BIT, OBVIOUSLY.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

And so it has come to this. Forty three years since the arrival of Planet Of The Apes, after numerous terrible sequels and a totally pointless remake, we have all arrived at the only logical final step for this franchise, a reboot. This isn't your average reboot though, not only does it succeed in rebooting a long dead franchise, but it also works as a prequel to the original 1968 film and as a loose remake to the series fourth installment COTPOTA.

For the few of you with a high enough IQ to be able to cast your minds back to four days ago, you'll remember that I quite enjoyed COTPOTA. My favourite aspects of that film being the lead characters dark evolution throughout the flick and the slightly unsettling 'we're all fucked' ending.

The story this time revolves around James Franco raising an ape by himself after his Animal testing lab has been shut down. The baby ape (named Caesar) has a much higher than expected IQ on account of him being born of a mother who had been used to test a drug that had the potential to cure Alzheimer's by regenerating dead brain cells, thusly making a healthy brain more intelligent. Caeser soon grows up to become as smart if not smarter than many of his human cohorts which eventually lands him into some trouble, getting him locked up in some kind of ape prison. I'll allow you work out the rest of the plot based on either the title or the films over revealing trailer.

The aforementioned trailer for Rise really does do a good job of giving away much of the films third act. It also misleads the audience into expecting a big, hollywood blockbuster action film when in actual fact the film is a deliberately paced drama, something which makes Rise a much better film than the trailer advertises.

As any regular movie goer will know, two major keys to a successful drama is good acting and good direction. The acting side of this film relying almost entirely on the shoulders of Andy Serkis's mo'cap performance as the films leading ape. Serkis, now becoming a veteran of motion capture acting, delivers a performance here that is emotionally engaging, tense, enjoyable, fun and menacing all at the same time. The performance, unlike Serkis's live action attempts, is remarkably subtle, relying entirely on facial expression rather than vocal work. At the time being, it's hands down my favourite performance of this year. Sadly the same can't really be said for the human actors.

The downside to the film being told from an apes perspective is that we don't get to spend much time with the human beings in the film, leading to many of them coming across as one dimensional plot requirements rather than fully fledged characters. Playing Will Rodman is James Franco who does his usual decent job, making the somewhat ridiculous story believable while supporting the performace of Serkis's Caesar. The trouble is though that by the films end we still don't know very much about Will. Same can be said about John Lithgow who does a great job of portraying Will's dementia suffering father, only to drop out of the story during the films second act. Freida Pinto, a great actress in other movies, also suffers by playing a one dimensional, typical girlfriend role who, as far as I'm aware, only exists in order to prevent the film from becoming a proverbial sausage fest'. It is worth noting however that the human characters aren't very important to Rise's story and had they been featured more heavily then, no doubt, the film would have suffered in terms of pacing, something which Rise gets spot on.

There is very little writing going on in Rise, not that this is a bad thing. What dialogue there is, doesn't come across too badly with the exception of that inevitable moment when they quote Heston in very much the same way the writers did in Tim Burtons film. As I have already said, Rise follows the story from Caesars point of view which ensures very little talking seeing as the ape doesn't possess the power of speech. What this means is that the film rely's more heavily on its actors and director rather than the power of the written work, but for what its worth, the writing is on the whole solid and serves the film well, albeit in more of a supporting role.    

At the head of the Rise project is relatively unknown director Rupert Wyatt, a man who's previous credits include a small budget brit' flick called The Escapist and a few episodes of Hollyoaks. After reading that kind of resumé you'd be forgiven for expecting the direction of Rise to be akin to that of the Titanic's maiden voyage when in fact the end result is much closer to the experience of watching a toddler fellate a horse, namely captivating and oddly pleasing in a non sexual way. The films tone, pacing, atmosphere and dramatic weight are all top notch. Rupert Wyatt's work levelling that of many other, more experienced directors. His control over the films dramatic first two acts is wonderful, as is his visual flair during the all action closing moments. His work in Rise as a whole comes across as fresh and original, something which I feel should make him a dead cert' when it comes to hiring for Rise's inevitable and in my opinion much needed sequel.

I think its pretty obvious by now that I'm going to award Rise fairly well. I enjoyed pretty much every aspect of the film, only being drawn back when it came to the handling of the human characters. I can only hope that the writers have something more in store for Franco and company in When The Apes Have Just Taken Over And Plan To Lead The World Down The Wrong Path, Turning Humans Into Lesser Beings And Loosing Their Way On An Emotional Level While Trying To Live Happily On The Planet Of The Apes, or whatever they plan to call it.  

It will probably be this years best big budget Hollywood blockbuster. It also supplies 1968's Planet Of The Apes with its 'prime' mate. (Thats the last one, I promise. I just couldn't resist one last chance to monkey around!)


Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes gets...

                              

4 out of 5