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2007

Hot Fuzz

dir: Edgar Wright
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Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and probably a whole bunch of other people, try to do to the buddy cop genre what they did to the zombie genre in Shaun of the Dead. If you saw and liked Shaun, then you know what to expect.

If you hated Shaun, then you probably haven’t got a hope in hell of getting anything out of this here flick.

Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is an extremely driven cop who is so good at his job with the metropolitan police that they transfer him out to the boondocks because he makes the rest of them look bad. When he gets to the sleepy, quiet town, he discovers that there’s more going on than meets the eye.

The locals are the expected group of quirky hicks you’d expect from a British flick of such a nature, populating the place with some characters that wouldn’t be out of place in a show like Ballykissangel, Monarch of the Glen or Doctor Martin, and some who you only find in the shows and flicks made by Edgar Wright. Once on the town beat, the police chief’s chubby, somewhat simple son Danny (Nick Frost) latches onto him and makes him the wind beneath his wings. What follows is one and a half hours of set up, and twenty minutes of utterly over the top gun action which would deafen John Woo himself.

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Breach

dir: Billy Ray
[img_assist|nid=782|title=Did I leave the iron on at home?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Finally, a flick still playing in Melbourne cinemas, at least for the next day or two, that I can review for the hungry, hungry masses. Hungry for something that isn’t the third part in a series, perhaps. Pirates of Shrek’s Silver Spider Phoenix, Um, Three?

Do you know who Robert Hanssen is? Do you care about the single most hideous security breach in the history of the FBI that didn’t involve J. Edgar Hoover’s frilly underwear? Do you have the patience to watch a low-key, flat story about a deeply troubled individual whose surface hid terrible turmoil beneath told within the trappings of a bureaucratic thriller? No one gets shot with a silencer, no one gets stabbed with a poison tipped umbrella, no radioactive Polonium was used or harmed in the making of this movie. So you’ve been warned.

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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.

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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).

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Shooter

dir: Antoine Fuqua
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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
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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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300

dir: Zack Snyder
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It’s history as the backstory for a deliciously violent computer game. Games with a solid backstory
are always more enjoyable; it makes the slashing and dismemberment all the more entertaining and meaningful.

See, there was a Battle of Thermopylae. And there were 300 Spartans who fought and died in
battle against a much larger army of Persians. But I doubt any of it looked as pretty as this.

The Spartans, proudly led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), are incredibly handsome and ridiculously
buff. They are noble, strong, resolutely heterosexual, fearless and fabulous in their leather codpieces.
The Persians are sexually ambiguous, freakish, have tattoos and multiple piercings, and are inhuman
and monstrous.

The Persians come to enslave all Greeks. The Spartans, lovers of freedom that they are, fight for
honour, for freedom and for justice.

The Persians use rhinoceroses, elephants, bombs and arrows, and all sorts of nasty tricks in battle
because they have no honour and they fight like cowardly girls. The Spartans, warriors to a man,
fight with vigour and honour, fronting their foes face to face before rending them limb from limb.

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