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National Treasure: Book of Secrets

dir: Jon Turteltaub
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National Treasure: Book of Secrets is, like the film it is the sequel to, and like everything by this purest of Disney directors, hackwork of the highest order.

Hackwork works, for lack of a better term. Hackwork is what gets bums in seats, sells tickets and gets people to buy merchandise. By which I mean regular members of the public, and not the Asperger’s sufferers who will collect merchandise on the most obscure shit. Oh, look, a 12-inch Angela Lansbury doll wearing that tweed outfit from the third season of Murder, She Wrote! I’ve got to get me some of that.

Hackwork is when you make a dumbed down version (try not to choke on the irony) of the Da Vinci Code for audiences who found that tedious bore too involved and complicated. With too many big words and references to an actual earth history unknown to them all the same, to the point where its fictionalisation could sit just as well as a form of documentary for their tastes.

Rating:

War (Rogue Assassin)

dir: Philip G. Atwell
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Oh what a deliciously terrible movie. What a deliciously terrible 80s movie. How bizarre that they would bring out such a movie, as if constructed by random bits of other 80s movies, in the year 2008.

Actually, I’m going to have to apologise for using the word ‘deliciously’ to describe the abject terribleness of this flick. That makes it sound like the flick is worth seeing regardless. It probably isn’t. It probably, for other people, isn’t so bad that it’s good.

It is for me, because I found myself shaking my head and laughing appreciatively at just how moronic this script was, and how every scene in this flick has a nugget of pure shiteness casting its rosy glow over everything that happens.

As far as I can tell, the flick has undergone name changes and confused delays because of another flick that was going to come out at the same time (Greg Maclean’s Rogue, about a giant croc), and because of studio interference. Well, this flick is a giant crock, and the studio should have interfered more. Who greenlit this idiotic script? Who got these world class, master class terrible performances from everybody concerned? Which one of you executives deserves to have their balls cut off or their ovaries cut out?

Rating:

Shoot 'Em Up

dir: Michael Davis
[img_assist|nid=12|title=Babysitting with a gun makes sense to me|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=328|height=450]
Imagine a film where the hero shoots hundreds if not thousands of people. Imagine that same film actually has an anti-gun agenda as its plot.

Collect the pieces of your head after it’s exploded all over the place, and then try not to think about it again. Or about how truly loopy this movie is.

If you’re a fan of utterly mad gunfest actions films, especially the kind of stuff John Woo used to be able to produce back before whatever talent he possessed was drained out of him by Hollywood, then this insane flick is for you.

As my Canadian friend said of the film, he stopped watching it when, in the film’s first few minutes, the hero kills a bad guy with a carrot.

A few minutes later, he’s cutting a newborn baby’s umbilical by shooting it. That’s the insane level this flick is operating on. And it either gets better or worse, dependent upon your sensibilities.

Smith (Clive Owen), who looks like little more than a carrot-chewing homeless person, steps in to a situation not of his making. A heavily pregnant woman is being chased by goons intent on killing her, and he reluctantly steps in to save her. This sets him on a path of conflict with some progressively nastier men.

Rating:

Condemned, The

dir: Scott Wiper

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch a movie celebrating rape, torture and other cruelties as entertainment, and then have the same movie lecture you that you should be ashamed of yourself for watching a flick that celebrates such violence? Curious about whether it would work or not to have a movie made by a scumbag of Vince McMahon’s proportions that tells you that YOU are the reason why he produces the crap that he does.

On that same track, has anyone ever slapped you in the face with a handful of wet shit and then told you to say “Thankyou?”

All these experiences and more were mine for the enjoyment when I dared to endure this terrible film. I sat there, mouth agape, muttering to myself, “I cannot believe the shit that I am seeing.”

Maybe this isn’t just a terrible film. Maybe it is the Bad Lieutenant of ‘transgressive” survival-of-the-fittest films, made with ex-wrestlers, C-list American actors and soap opera calibre Australian actors in supporting roles with terrible American accents. Maybe seeing a clearly Australian town and pub standing in for a Texan town and bar was meant to be funny. Maybe the subtext was meant to thrill the kinds of media academics and cinema studies students who would never ordinarily crap of this nature.

Rating:

Hitman

dir: Xavier Gens
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It’s called Hitman. Use your imagination as to what it’s about, go on. I dare you, I double dare you.

It’s about a guy called 47 (Timothy Olyphant), bald and with a barcode on the back of his head, who travels the world at the behest of The Organisation, killing people for money. He’s very good at his job, as one would expect, since centring an action movie and a game franchise around a hitman who’s actually quite lazy and sloppy would seem to be counter-productive.

Varying from the game, 47’s origins are such that he was picked up as an orphan and trained ruthlessly by some macabre monk types before being unleashed upon the world. Orphans just cop it the worst every time, don’t they?

He is hired to take out the current Russian president, and does so, only to find that he is now a target, and that the Russian president seems to be fine despite having had his head JFKed with a high-powered sniper round.

Rating:

Resident Evil: Extinction

dir: Russell Mulcahy
[img_assist|nid=735|title=And yet I still haven't won the Nobel Peace prize|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=321]
The first flick in this franchise, based on the popular survival horror game, achieved the remarkable by not being an absolute piece of shit. The basic premise involved a poster child for genetic engineering, Alice (Milla Jovovich), squaring off against legions of zombies and the machinations of the evil Umbrella Corporation that created her.

Had a few stunts, few gory parts, the requisite rip-offs from better flicks like Aliens, plenty of references and in-jokes for the alleged gamer fans, and all in all didn’t represent a completely excruciating experience, despite being directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

The second flick, RE: Apocalypse, achieved the unremarkable by being a complete piece of shit that made no fucking sense and defied all laws of knowledge, gravity and common decency by being an aggressively, relentlessly stupid experience for all concerned. I’m sure it made audiences dumber just with partial viewings.

This third one, Extinction, is directed by Australia’s own Russell Mulcahy. Russell Mulcahy is a hack of the first order and top rank, so imagine my non-existent surprise when this managed to find an happy medium between the mediocrity of the first film and the utter shiteness of the second.

Rating:

Kingdom, The

dir: Peter Berg
[img_assist|nid=737|title=He thinks he's so cool. Who are you to disagree?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
No, not the Danish tv series by Lars Von Triers set in a monstrous hospital, no, not the US remake with a script by shitemeister Stephen King, which was marketed as Stephen King’s The Kingdom, which compounds the unnecessariness. This The Kingdom is an attempt to be current, to show Americans what America is dealing with overseas, to make themselves feel powerful in the pants about their efforts spreading freedom and democracy in other countries, and to act as a sterling appraisal of just what the origin of the problems are that the US faces against the Dar al-Islam, or the Islamic world.

Suffice to say that if that’s an accurate summation of where the flick tries to go, it fails miserably in its intentions and in its execution.

Execution is probably a tactless word to use in this instance. The plot of the thing is as follows: an American-hating, freedom-loathing group of Islamic terrorists in Saudi Arabia orchestrates a horrific terrorist attack upon the American expat residents of an enclave compound where they all thought they’d be safe from the predations of the outside world. Many hundreds of Americans die, and the House of Saud makes solicitous sounds to the Americans working in the oil industry, but doesn’t show any willingness to pursue the perpetrators.

Rating:

Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard

dir: Len Wiseman
[img_assist|nid=745|title=So old and sweaty|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Oh, Bruce. You are so old. But there’s no reason for you to stop acting. Still, please think about what it looks like when, in a flick where fighter jets blow up freeway overpasses in Baltimore or when a lunatic uses a police car to take out helicopter, the most unbelievable aspect of the film is the idea that you’re still capable of running around and beating people up.

Think of your fragile hips. I know I was for most of this movie’s duration. Not in an erotic way, oh no, but more in a “is he getting enough calcium in his diet?” kind of way.

Bruce Willis joins a list of other well-aged hams who are most recently, reluctantly coming to terms with their aging process. In a desperate attempt to remain relevant, in an even more desperate attempt to convince audiences that they’re still hard men, Willis joins Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Paul Hogan in reprising a character they played in some cases over twenty years ago in order to earn some beer money.

Rating:

Planet Terror

dir: Robert Rodriguez
[img_assist|nid=751|title=Ain't she sweet?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=413]
Now this is more like it…

The essential argument I’m going to put forth here is that Planet Terror gets right what Death Proof got wrong. The great difficulty I’m going to have pushing this barrow is that I can’t really pinpoint as to why, exactly.

Not ‘why’ as in ‘why am I bothering to inflict my thoughts again on an entirely uninterested populace’ but why as in why it works. And it does.

Fully embracing the 70s trashy movie aesthetic that it aspires to, Planet Terror is a balls-out, at times hilarious celebration of the best that trash cinema used to offer. The footage is deliberately grained up, butchered and cut and with all sorts of flaws and imperfections, including fake film burns and ‘missing’ reel segments. It also has the kind of dialogue that is as ridiculous as it is entertaining.

And it has a hot stripper with a gun for a leg taking on legions of zombie enemies with head and chest bursting alacrity.

Cherry (Rose McGowan) is a go-go dancer who cries every time she dances, much to the consternation of the management. She decides to up and quit one night, which works out quite handily.

Rating:

Death Proof

dir: Quentin Tarantino
[img_assist|nid=752|title=Car go boom|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=263|height=400]
I don’t think there are insults left to fling at Quentin Tarantino. The cries of plagiarism, unoriginality, lack of individual inspiration, immature fixation on the films of his youth, awful personal hygiene; all these barbs have been passed around and thrown at him for over a decade since he came to our collective notice.

And they’ve all stuck, because they’re all true. Yet he keeps going on and on, continuing to do his thing without giving a damn…

Death Proof is the Tarantino half of what was one movie when it was initially released in the States: Grindhouse. Grindhouse itself, whilst a wonderful idea that delighted all those shlubs old enough to remember drive-ins and the sleazy c-grade double bills that used to play at them and at grungy old cinemas that were literally called grindhouses, it didn’t set the box office alight.

As such, the Weinstein Brothers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to split the two halves, the other half being the Robert Rodriguez flick Planet Terror, and released them individually outside of America. Thus, we have Death Proof now, and Planet Terror coming out in a month or so.

Rating:

Flash Point (Dao huo xian)

dir: Yip Wai Sun
[img_assist|nid=757|title=Great fighter. Crap actor|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
This is superficial and pointless even for a Hong Kong action flick, but damn are the fights good.

They’re too few and far between, but at the very least you can rely on Donnie Yen to deliver the goods fight-wise.

Donnie Yen is the current superstar of Hong Kong fight!-fight!-fight! fighting. He’s in the position for two reasons that I can think of that have nothing to do with acting: every other half-able fighter has moved over to Hollywood, and no-one really wants the mantle.

It’s not because of his thespian abilities, that’s for sure. And if you were wondering if Donnie is the best, have no doubt, he’ll tell you himself. The special features on DVDs of his flicks, a term devalued purely by many of the features film producers consider to be special, will often have interviews with Donnie Yen wearing sunglasses indoors and telling the camera that he is the greatest movie fighter around. Humility doth flow from this man’s every pore, yea verily.

Yes, so he’s a monumental wanker. Thing is, though, whenever I watch him fight, I forget for those few minutes all about the sheer magnitude of his wankerishness, and I marvel at just how amazing the guy is when he’s kicking the absolute shit out of some poor shmuck.

Rating:

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.

Rating:

Smokin' Aces

dir: Joe Carnahan
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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.

Rating:

Spider-Man 3

dir: Sam Raimi
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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).

Rating:

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.

Rating:

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.

Rating:

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?

Rating:

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.

Rating:

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.

Rating:

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.

Rating:

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.

Rating:

Exiled (Fong Juk)

dir: Johnny To
[img_assist|nid=852|title=Just guys, standing around, looking over their shoulders|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=441]
Exiled is the latest flick from one of Hong Kong’s most prolific and stylish directors. Although it has a similar dynamic to To’s earlier action classic The Mission, it is in no way a sequel. Even with many of the same actors, playing similar roles, it’s still not a sequel. But it does have a lot of similarities, and that’s not a bad thing.

What you can expect in a Johnny To film is men, usually professional criminals or triads, doing manly things. The overarching and underlying theme is always friendship, brotherhood and the bonds of loyalty between men.

And, as with his more action-based films, as you would expect, there are guns. Lots of guns.

About the only thing that sticks out as being significantly different is the location. Instead of unfolding in Hong Kong, Exiled takes place in Macau, just prior to the handover of political control from the Portuguese to China in 1998.

Rating:

Casino Royale

dir: Martin Campbell
[img_assist|nid=851|title=More brutish than hoity-toity, this time around|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=365]
Around the time of the last Bond film Die Another Day, some horrified viewers were calling for the death of this tired, smelly franchise. The name had become so devalued by a long string of mediocre movies that it seemed kinder to just let it die. Or to put it out of its misery.

Of course there isn’t a studio on the planet that would rather go with a new idea over an old faithful cliche, so a new Bond film was an inevitability in the same way that night follows day, or when any celebrity videotapes themselves in a compromising position or two, the footage invariably ends up on the internet.

At the very least, if they’re going to make more of these Bond films, let them be as good as this.

Casino Royale is a rip-roaring old school adventure and a pleasure to watch from start to finish, even if it does drag a bit. That hasn’t been said honestly about a Bond film for decades. Daniel Craig plays the famous agent with the right mixture of cool professionalism and brutality. This Bond is less of a gentleman and more of a bastard than we’ve seen for a while, and the movie is the better for it.

Rating:

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

dir: Justin Lin
[img_assist|nid=862|title=Look! Cars going fast|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, could actually be an enjoyable film. Honestly, it could be, stranger things have happened. However, I am uniquely incapable of being able to assess if that is actually the case.

I would need to consume some magical kind of potion that would strip me of over twenty years of my life and about fifty or so IQ points in order to be able to judge the film on its merits. To say the movie is aimed at fourteen-year-old boys, or people with the brains of fourteen-year-old boys is an insult to, you guessed it, fourteen-year-old boys. I’m sure there are teenagers that will watch this and think, “damn, that’s a condescending film.”

It panders to a mindlessly immature mentality in a way only a movie produced by older adults with contempt for teenagers can. It’s with this kind of marketing mentality that Tokyo Drift was prematurely ejaculated onto screens worldwide in another desperate to milk teenagers out of their crack money.

Superman Returns

dir: Bryan Singer
[img_assist|nid=885|title=Looking down on the rest of us... who does he think he is?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=666]
Superman Returns is a re-jigging of an ancient franchise with the express intention of making more money from something old in lieu of inventing anything exciting and new. And, just like an episode of the Love Boat, there is the need to preserve the familiar (Superman’s powers, origins, and squareness, Lois Lane, Metropolis, Lex Luthor, kryptonite) whilst including enough new stuff to not make the producers look like the lazy, intellectually bankrupt cretins that they are.

Perhaps I speak too harshly of people I’ve never met. Perhaps you believe I should give one of the producers, Jon Peters, the benefit of the doubt. He was, after all, Barbra Streisand’s hairdresser before he became a producer. Not only that, he is rumoured to be an illiterate and violent man too stupid to know how dumb his ideas are. As such, he was uniquely qualified to produce such masterpieces as the first re-jigged Batman, that awful infected haemorrhoid of a movie Wild Wild West, and Bonfire of the Vanities.

At least they had Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men films and The Usual Suspects at the helm of this flick, to try to redeem a project over a decade in the making and destined for mediocrity.

Rating:

V for Vendetta

Dir: James McTeigue
[img_assist|nid=900|title=Bloody revolutionaries, always thinking they know better than our benevolent totalitarian masters|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=300]
You don’t get many films these days trumpeting the joys of anarchy. Especially not multi-million dollar movies produced by the Wachowski Brothers and based on an Alan Moore graphic novel.

And there’s a reason for that. Even in this day and age where the diversity of opinion and opportunities to voice one’s worthless opinions seem countless, it’s still essentially an illusion. Every side of politics, regardless of one’s upbringing or experiences at university, preaches change, justice or better ways, but all want their version of the status quo upheld.

Because people don’t want to lose their jobs, see their interest rates go up, or their petrol prices sky rocket. They want their television shows uninterrupted by news, they want to listen to the latest hollow songs produced by pale simulacra of humans whenever the tap of the radio is turned on, they want no disruptions to their broadband access, and they want their trains to run on time.

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Mission Impossible III

dir: J.J. Abrams
[img_assist|nid=901|title=Xenu is the real villain in Mission:Impossible III|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=348|height=332]
The world was crying out for another Mission: Impossible sequel the way children call out for a second helping of brussels sprouts, or for another trip to that creepy uncle who ends up putting them in therapy for the next 40 years. But who can say no to a man as charming and engaging as Tom Cruise?...

It is very tempting to veer off on rants about how bizarre the news has become over the last few years regarding this guy. The high point wasn’t the birth of the first heir to his Scientological throne just last week, but in the insane and inane stories about how he was going to chow down on the infant’s placenta and umbilical cord. But I don’t get paid to dissect the idiocies of Hollywood stars or the tabloid media, or the sorts of morons who devote their empty lives to endlessly talking about and reading about the entirely made up lives of celebrities.

Rating:

Sahara

Dir: Breck Eisner
[img_assist|nid=894|title=Quick, let's get out of here! The audience wants their money back.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=293]
What the hell is a “Breck” anyway? It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a person, director or otherwise with a name like Breck. Whoever and whatever he is, even with a name like that, he wouldn’t be directing films if it wasn’t for his father, Michael Eisner. Michael Eisner is the kind of person who at his peak probably dined with Rupert “Ubermensch” Murdoch, got him to pick up the bill and then split a hooker or two together over snifters of brandy made from the tears of virgins. As the son of the former CEO of Disney I’m sure that Breck Eisner had a lot of hurdles to traverse and obstacles to mount and then surmount in order to follow his dream of becoming a Hollywood director. It gives hope to us all.

However he managed to get there, we should only really judge him on his merits, on the works that he produces. I mean, come on, it’s only fair. I can’t be judged based on what my father Idi Amin, or my mother Lindy Chamberlain did in their lifetimes, surely? It’s just wrong to judge me based on anything else than what I’ve achieved in this life. And I am sure as hell going to extend that same courtesy to my man Breck here.

Rating:

Assault on Precinct 13

dir: Jean Francois Richet
[img_assist|nid=948|title=Howdy pardner|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=234|height=308]
I wouldn’t have thought that a remake of a John Carpenter classic could have worked, but it has. Let’s face it, it’s a good thing that Carpenter himself wasn’t involved, because everything he’s touched in the last decade has turned to shit. Although, now that I think of it, he did already remake Assault on Precinct 13. Except he called it Ghosts of Mars, and we all know how well that turned out.

This is good stuff, though. It’s never going to have as many fans as the 70s classic, and I’m sure many people are going to avoid it like it’s a stinky nappy in a swimming pool just because it’s a remake. But they’d be missing out on a decent B movie if they did.

This isn’t a life-changing experience; it isn’t visual poetry or Dostoevsky debating the Dalai Lama and Deborah Harry whilst covered in baby oil and wrestling at the same time. It’s an action movie where a bunch of people are trying to kill another bunch of people, and the ones that are going to survive are the ones who want it the most. It doesn’t wuss out on the violence, and maintains a relentless, dark tone throughout.

Rating:

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

dir: Alexander Witt
[img_assist|nid=969|title=Girls with guns is a good look|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
For a director with the surname Witt, there's a fundamental lack of it
in this movie, even by the meagre standards one might apply to the
zombie / horror / computer game adaptation genre. The presence of a
few vaguely entertaining action set pieces can't really elevate this
material from the cesspool from which most of this kind of crap oozes
out from. Of the recent plethora of zombie films this is both the most
recent and the least of them. Absolutely the least.

Bizarrely enough it even makes the original look good in comparison.
Those familiar with the work of the first one's director, Paul W.S.
Anderson, know what a criminal indictment such a claim must be. Anyone
who makes Anderson look good (apart from Milla Jovovich) must be in
league with powers darker than the ones at the beck and call of the
Republican Party.

Rating:

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