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Dark Knight, The

dir: Christopher Nolan
[img_assist|nid=94|title=The Joker in all his posthumous glory|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=633|height=310]
We don't really have 'event' movies anymore. No movie, because of the sheer quantity of flicks that come out, and the quantity of other potential things a person can do (and might prefer to do) instead of going to the theatre, can come out and dominate the landscape like it could in the past.

The days of something completely massive in its level of public interest, a flick that gets everyone to watch it and everyone to talk about it, are pretty much gone. The last such flick, one that almost everyone worldwide went to see at the cinema, everyone talked about whether they saw it or not, and everyone just knew of its very existence was Titanic.

It’s why Titanic is the all time box office champion, and will continue to be until something magically compels people to go back to the theatres instead of watching flicks on their home theatre set-ups, computer screens or handheld devices.

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Hancock

dir: Peter Berg
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There seem to be superhero flicks coming out every goddamn week, and mostly they’re the tried and tested superhero properties carefully branded and nurtured by DC and Marvel Comics over the last century. They are, at least the successful ones, considered to be powerful box office draws and dependable investments. Yes, I’m talking about Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Fours and the X-Men flicks. You can now, due to its inexplicable success, add Iron Man to the list.

Then there’s the second tier of flicks based on lesser known superheroes which seem not to do as well simply because they’re not as well known, and aren’t considered serious draws, no matter how well they do (Spawn, The Crow, Blade, Daredevil, Electra, Hellboy, Constantine, Ghost Rider, The Phantom, The Shadow et bloody cetera.) The primary difference is that the top tier characters are so well known and so recognisable that everyone goes to see them at the cinema, and children the world over whine until their parents buy them the merchandise. With the second tier, only the fans and nerds go or care.

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Incredible Hulk, The

dir: Louis Leterrier
[img_assist|nid=107|title=The male id on the rag|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=470|height=256]
Hope. People hope for a lot of things. Some people hope they’ll have enough money to feed themselves and their families tomorrow, after of course they’ve bought their daily requirement of drugs. Others hope for the election of a leader with the audacity to claim that everything instantly will get better everywhere once he gets elected.

Others hope for a way to forget the Freudian nightmare that was Ang Lee’s Hulk. Well, Marvel and French action director Louis Leterrier, previously celebrated for making the entertaining but utterly brainless Transporter movies with Jason Statham, hope that you’ll be able to replace all memories of the previous instalment with the current one.

The Incredible Hulk jettisons absolutely everything from the earlier film: It’s like it never happened. All new actors, all new origin, and absolutely none of the psychomalogical Oedipal rage crap that dragged down audience enjoyment levels in the past. And it is far more of a generic comic-book adaptation than anyone could have ever dreamed or imagined.

Or maybe we’re supposed to pretend that other Hulk never existed. Don’t mention the war.

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

dir: Steven Spielberg
[img_assist|nid=58|title=Let me die with some dignity, please|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
The wave, like any wave, builds slowly at first. The forces at work that generate a wave are staggering, truly, physics and hydrodynamics on the grandest scale. The effect of the moon’s gravitational pull, weather patterns, the Coriolis effect, currents, underwater structures like reefs and rock formations, tectonic plates and volcanic activity; all combine to generate the mightiest and meekest of waves that plague our oceans and seas.

Other forces include anticipation, nostalgia, relentless marketing campaigns and the blind willingness to believe that something that has to be shit could actually be all right against all the logic and sense available in the universe, let alone under the sea in an octopus’s garden in the shade.

The wave I’m referring to is the crashing wave of disappointment that is this motion picture in its entirety: this picture in motion of such staggering awfulness that it makes me weep for the lost childhood that Spielberg and Lucas have stolen from me retroactively.

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Iron Man

dir: Jon Favreau
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The only real criteria I had initially for whether the flick would be great or disastrous shite was the demand that the guitar riff from Black Sabbath’s Iron Man had to be used at least once during the whole experience. So I watched it all, forgetting my initial charge, until the film ended on a deliriously funny high note, with the riff then booming out of the theatre’s speakers. I was pretty damn happy about that.

Still, it shows at the very least how profoundly low my expectations were.

The most surprising element of this whole Iron Man extravaganza is not that Robert Downey Jr is great in the title role (he’s a great actor, fully comfortable with a role that is a gift to him), or that the flick itself is very entertaining. The surprise is that Jon Favreau has now finally made a flick worth watching.

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Cloverfield

dir: Matt Reeves
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Disaster movies seem kinda superfluous in this day and age. Even major cities suffering horrendous destruction hasn’t been a rare occurrence (obviously) in, let’s say, the last decade or so. And with war, arbitrary death and ‘splosions being common in the less white parts of the world, getting to enjoy a film where a nebulous horror visits destruction upon hapless urban sophisticates seems like a pointless indulgence.

Of course, by that logic, practically no films have any moral justification for their existence at any time. And then where would I be? Writing reviews of plays and the goddamn opera? I’d have even less people reading my reviews. How do you get less than zero again? Okay, negative numbers. I’d have negative numbers of readers reading my reviews, which, if I’ve got the temporal mechanics right, would mean that the reviews would be being unread by increasing numbers of non-existent anti-matter readers.

Then there’d be some kind of tear in the fabric of space-time, and I’d be responsible for damning the universe to non-existence as it turned itself catastrophically inside out.

Who are you to say that it isn’t feasible? Hey, according to string theory, any point of time and/or matter could be existing simultaneously in 26 different dimensions. So there. Anything’s possible.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Shoot 'Em Up

dir: Michael Davis
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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.

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