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Bourne Ultimatum, The

dir: Paul Greengrass
[img_assist|nid=769|title=Just keep moving, just keep moving|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Jason Bourne gets the job done.

If you sent him to the supermarket, he would power through the aisles, hip-and-shouldering other customers out of the way, strategically rolling cans of kidney beans under the feet of pensioners and somersaulting over the shelves in his single-minded determination to get to the cat food before anyone can stop him. During his manic dash towards the checkout counter, he would be plotting intercept vectors and ambush choke points whilst mentally calculating the savings he’s making versus the current cost of 1400 other brands of cat food that he memorised prior to entering the store.

If anyone got in his way during his exit strategy towards the carpark, he’d kill them, probably with the cat food, even if it was in those soft foil sachets. The cat food would be unharmed and still tasty when he force-fed it to your cat using a funnel and some improvised explosives.

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Smokin' Aces

dir: Joe Carnahan
[img_assist|nid=785|title=A very stupid and pointless movie. But she does look pretty with a gun.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=298]
Some films fill your soul and entire being with joy after you’ve watched them. Others fill you with adrenalin, disgust, dread or relief. Most leave you feeling as much or as little as you did when you walked into the theatre, but at least they distracted you for a while.

A select few movies make you feel so empty inside that you wonder why the fuck you bother anymore.

Smokin’ Aces, which sounds like a cool, hip title aimed at people who think smoking is aces, is stuffed to overflowing with actors with little of importance to do. It has a plot which is meant to be outlandish and anarchic, and whilst it succeeds in being chaotic, it has little more to justify its existence. All these actors aren’t really called upon to do much acting by a schizophrenic script that tries to be equal parts Guy Ritchie (of Lock, Stock and marrying Madonna fame) and Tarantino, and is worse than both. With too many actors and too little for them to do, it doesn’t know where its loyalties lie.

It also insults us with its pointlessness, underlined by an ending no-one could care for. It is mired in a 70s aesthetic that never convinces and never gets beyond looking like a limp parody of a parody.

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Spider-Man 3

dir: Sam Raimi
[img_assist|nid=786|title=Third trip to the law of diminishing returns well|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=270|height=400]
You know, I'm ashamed to admit this, but maybe George Lucas was right. Lucas delighted the no-talent shlubs who write the entertainment gossip columns by announcing that, in his lofty opinion, Spider-Man 3 was 'silly'. I ridiculed him for it, pointing out that the man who gave the world Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks and nancy-boy Anakin Skywalker was in no position to be telling other people their films are silly.

Thing is, though, he might be right. Just because Lucas is a shitheel doesn't mean his opinion in this instance is wrong. And just as his spite might be motivated by jealousy over the massive juggernaut that is the Spider-Man franchise, which has eclipsed his own 6 instalment
franchise in terms of box office power, he still might be right.

Spider-Man 3 is, in many bits, very silly. Whilst watching the opening battle between the Son of Green Goblin and Friendly Neighbourhood Spidey, I thought I was watching the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick. That isn't a good frame of mind to be in when you're watching the supposed blockbuster of this or any other year and the most expensive flick ever made (til now).

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Shooter

dir: Antoine Fuqua
[img_assist|nid=787|title=Look at my shiny muscles. Go on, you know you want to.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
It feels a bit wrong reviewing a film called Shooter considering what just happened in the States a little while ago at Virginia Tech, where 32 people lost their lives at the hands of a crazed, but utterly calm gunman. However, in this courageous ‘reviewer’ caper, you have to occasionally suck it up, as they say, and get on with the job. Be a trooper, soldier on through, above and beyond the call of duty.

Because as awful as that mass slaying must be for all those people who lost loved ones, and for those who lost people they kind of didn’t mind, and for those people who had people who they couldn’t stand cruelly and violently taken from them: it’s just as hard on those of us who have to hear about it.

It’s at moments like these that entertainment becomes most crucial: It’s time to laugh again. So why shouldn’t people go and see a film where a cool, calm guy with a gun kills a shitload of people?

I can’t think of a single reason why not. This is a proudly American film about an American hero taking on the corrupt American system in the only way an American (at least on film, certainly not in reality) deals with conflict: by shooting lots of people. The Way of the Gun indeed.

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Ghost Rider

dir: Mark Steven Johnson
[img_assist|nid=788|title=It's worse than it looks|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=335|height=400]
I knew this flick would be a disaster. In concept, in implementation, and in the fact that they chose to film it in Melbourne. For a big budget comic book adaptation, this had stinker projecting outwards from it when they were making it two years ago in Melbourne’s side streets and cemeteries. Melbourne standing in for a generic Texan city: that’s hilarious.

But mostly I knew this would be craptacular because of the singular absence of the Alan Vega / Suicide version of the song Ghost Rider. They couldn’t even get the Rollins Band version of it. They couldn’t even get some crappy contemporary emo band like My Chemical Romance to cover the goddamn song. Now that would have been a treat.

From such an inauspicious beginning does the rest of the fiasco proceed. Then they cast Nicolas Cage in the lead role, who attacks it with the kind of hopped-up Elvis impersonation he only gives in his most awful performances. His excruciating performance rivals anything he recently did in the equally appalling Wicker Man remake. And that wig, my gods above, that wig on Cage’s head: it is the most unbelievable special effect in the entire movie. And when a movie contains demons, spirits and a flaming skeleton on the bike from hell, and it’s the wig that looks the most unbelievable, you know the problems are just starting.

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Snakes on a Plane

dir: David R. Ellis
[img_assist|nid=820|title=There's the plane. There's the snake. And there's Samuel L. Jackson. Happy now?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=390|height=293]
Of all the flicks that came out in 2006, this was by far the most pointless. That’s not the same as saying it was the worst. There were far worse films in that and every other year. It’s just that few of them managed to be this superfluous.

Do you ever think about how some films get made, or why, which is probably more relevant? In the main it’s easy to assume that the reason why any film gets made is for the money. Movie-making is a money-making enterprise; that goes without saying, which seems redundant since I just said it. But why the producers and studios decided to try to make money out of Snakes On a Plane is a mystery that only P.T. Barnum could explain to me.

I can’t figure out anything on that score past someone trying to profit from underestimating the stupidity of the movie-going public.

I mean, look at the title. Snakes on a Plane. What do you think the flick is about? Strawberry harvesters in the hilly regions of Provence just before WWII? A geisha’s coming of age during the Tokugawa Shogunate? Crop circles in Nebraska; the impact of divorce on a middle class Midwestern family; someone finding redemption by singing duets with benevolent green aliens found hiding in one’s underwear?

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Crank

dir: Mark Neveldine and Mark Taylor
[img_assist|nid=822|title=Crank: films by meth addicts for meth addicts|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=358|height=509]
Crank is an aggressively adrenalin-fuelled odyssey in the day of one lunatic in LA. This bad day for professional killer Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is courtesy of being murdered by criminal rival Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo).

He’s pretty loud and violent for a dead guy. Verona has given him a Chinese poison called the Beijing Cocktail which attacks the heart of its victim. If Chelios’s body doesn’t produce enough adrenalin to keep his heart rate up, he dies. He’s like the bus in Speed that can’t slow down or it will blow up.

The next 80 or so minutes are essentially Chelios doing two things: staying alive via keeping his adrenalin as high as possible, and tracking down Verona to get revenge before dying.

Yes, it’s as incoherent and stupid as it sounds. Actually, I made it sound linear and sensible, thus I’ve failed to encompass the true stupidity of what is on offer.

To keep his adrenals pumping, he commits robberies, gets into fights with large groups of black guys, uses cocaine, drinks heaps of caffeine drinks, takes on the cops, performs some idiotic stunts on a motorcycle, and fucks his deeply stupid girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) in full view of a large crowd in Chinatown in broad daylight.

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Host, The (Gweomul)

dir: Bong Joon-ho
[img_assist|nid=834|title=The Host|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=444]
It’s been a while since there’s been a decent creature feature. When was the last semi-decent flick where a monster takes on a city and the city loses, at least for a while? Godzilla’s the granddaddy, Jaws was the red-headed stepson, but most monster flicks are just crappy clones and we all know it.

I guess King Kong qualifies, but that bloated morass wore out its welcome with me a long time ago. Three bloody hours of monkey love is barely enough. That he released an extended director’s cut is the final insult. Was anyone craving another 45 minutes of that film? Do you remember anyone saying to you, “yeah, Kong was okay, but it really needed another hour or so to be really great”?

If they did, feel free to punch them in the throat for me. It’s okay. I’ll take the blame. I have ever so broad shoulders.

The Host is a decent enough monster flick, but people are really going berserker over it, I think, because it’s Korean. If this flick came out in the States, which it will, since it’s been snapped up for a remake already, it would go straight to video. Of course when Universal remakes it’ll be for 50 times the budget and will star Tom Cruise. Tom Bloody Cruise, you bastards.

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Apocalypto

dir: Mad Mel Gibson
[img_assist|nid=843|title=Would you like to buy a copy of the Big Issue?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=372|height=300]
Ah, Mad Mel is at it again. He had money before, to be sure, from his successful career as an actor, director and bus driver. He’s even received Oscars for his efforts. Actual Oscars, not just Logies or Golden Globes or Berlin Film Festival Golden Bears.

Then, led by his strong Catholic faith, he decided to make a film about a guy getting nailed to two planks of wood.

The Passion of the Christ made an absolute packet at the box office, ignited religious furore and debate across the world, and, more importantly, gave Mel an incredible war chest from which he would be able to fund and make whatever films he wants for the rest of his life. You can argue that such a circumstance doesn’t guarantee that anyone will distribute or see his films, but getting them made without having to kowtow to conga lines of producers or studio executives is more than half the battle.

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X-Men 3 - The Last Stand

dir: Brett Ratner
[img_assist|nid=846|title=So many dickheads with nothing worthwhile to do|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=284|height=425]
I didn’t want to believe that the stepping down of Bryan Singer as director for this flick, the wunderkind director of the first two X-Men instalments and the post modern crime masterpiece The Usual Suspects, was a bad sign. I didn’t want to believe that the stepping up of Brett Ratner, the director of Rush Hour 1 and 2, and a whole heap of Mariah Carey videos, was a bad sign.

There were, in truth, a multitude of signs I chose to ignore.

It’s like owing a shitload of money on your credit card, and trying to put the massive debt out of your mind by throwing away the constant stream of nagging bills unread. That works until the credit provider sends hired goons to your place, but at least you can bask in the illusion up until that fateful day where your patellas cease to be your property.

I did enjoy the first two other films, I really did.

Bubbles by their very nature are obligated to burst. It comes down to physics more than anything else, including the so-called law of diminishing returns, but in this instance, I have a lot of questions as to how and why they (the makers) went the way they did with this flick, and I suspect I’m never going to get the answers I want.

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