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2008

10,000 BC

dir: Roland Emmerich
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The name Roland Emmerich, for most people, isn’t one that drips with infamy. It’s not used in the same sentence as “a horrible, big budget hack as bad as Stephen Sommers, Bret Rattner or Michael Bay”. It probably should, though.

Clearly, if the name means nothing to you, you don’t remember who directed noisy big budget shitfests like Independence Day, Godzilla, Day After Tomorrow or the loathsome The Patriot starring Mel “I love the Jews today, I really do” Gibson.

As such, it’s not clear whether Emmerich has made any films ever worth the celluloid expended in making and screening them. There are some terrible films on his resume. Awful, godawful movies that sapped the will to live of audiences worldwide.

It would be reasonable to expect that since almost every film he’s made has been dire, that any future films he makes will be dire too. It’s only fair.

Well, of all the films Roland Emmerich has been responsible, this one, 10,000 BC is the most recent. That’s probably the nicest thing you can say about it.

Rating:

Jumper

dir: Doug Liman
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And I thought this was going to be a movie about someone’s woolly pullover.

No, a jumper is a person with the innate ability to teleport around. David Rice, our main character, teleports around. He discovers he can do this at around age 15, and abandons all semblance of a normal life.

Since he lives outside the bounds of regular society (he abandons his surly father, and their small hick town of Ann Arbour, Michigan), he also freezes at this point in his intellectual and emotional development.

Eight years pass, and now David is played by Hayden Christensen, arguably one of the greatest and hardest working actors of his generation.

No, wait, I meant to say he’s a terrible, woeful actor, so – so - terrible that he is almost a joy to watch. Almost.

The greatest, most awesome aspect is that Christensen isn’t even the worst actor in the movie. The love interest is so fucking awful that she actually makes Christensen look less terrible.

Goddamn is she godawful. If no-one stopped her, I can imagine she would have started and ended every sentence of dialogue with, “like… you know, dude” as if she was a hippie chick from a 1960s Roger Corman biker pic. Oh good gods was she terrible.

Rating:

Incredible Hulk, The

dir: Louis Leterrier
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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.

Rating:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

dir: Steven Spielberg
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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.

Rating:

Other Boleyn Girl, The

dir: Justin Chadwick
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First up: I haven’t read the book this is based on, and I’m never likely to. So this isn’t going to be either a bitchfest about how it doesn’t conform to the book, or a point by point comparison betwixt the two. Seeing the book (and, to a lesser extent, the film) advertised gives me a strong sense that it’s chick lit/flick material.

Of course, it’s not: it’s history! With Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman! And Eric Bana (who cops third billing, which must be somewhat humiliating) playing Henry the VIII! Sorry, Henry Tudor, King of England.

It’s pretty hard to take a set-up like that seriously. With due respect to Bana, who can play everything from a loathsome criminal (Chopper), to a Hulk, to a noble Trojan prince (Troy) to a Mossad hitman (Munich), such a cast list invites derision even before parking one’s arse in the theatre. It’s simply ridiculous. Hollywood goes middlebrow: that’s always a recipe for disaster.

It’s preposterous on paper, and comes at a difficult time for historical ‘epics’ to be taken seriously, especially after that recent Elizabeth: The Golden Age abomination, which was an act of cinematic atrocity inflicted upon an all-too-forgiving audience.

Rating:

Untraceable

dir: Gregory Hoblit
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Oh, it’s SO unnecessary.

Director Greg Hoblit makes thrillers, mostly, and oh are they formulaic. So formulaic that watching them, in fact, is quite pointless. The only time he managed to have a twist worth arching an eyebrow over in one of his films, it was thanks to Ed Norton. Nothing else, no matter what actors he uses, ever transcends the level of ‘hackwork’ or general hackery on the scale of directorial ability.

Why so harsh, you might think? Did he fuck my girlfriend, knife my best mate in the nuts, or run over my dog? Knife my girlfriend, run over my best mate, fuck my dog? Knife my dog whilst fucking my girlfriend and running over my best friend? After all, aren't directors supposed to be multitaskers, or at least have enough of an entourage of assistants to be able to do everything simultaneously?

Nothing so terrible. All he represents is the quintessential manner in which Hollywood propagates itself pointlessly, almost unconsciously, through making films that don’t need to be made. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of movies coming out. In fact, considering how many movies clog up the multiplexes and rental shelves, do you reckon they could stop themselves even if they wanted to?

Bank Job, The

dir: Roger Donaldson
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I loves me a good heist movie, I does. Big fan of heist movies. Probably one of my favourite genres, since my tolerance for vampire movies, zombie movies and Merchant Ivory productions has waned.

Who am I kidding, I still love that lace doily, maiden aunt with scones Merchant Ivory shit.

The Bank Job, you might think, is something of a heist movie. But it has the added bonus of allegedly being based on a true story. As well!

As far as I’m concerned, this is based on a true story the way 10,000 BC, Pearl Harbor and Transformers were based on true stories. Sure there were woolly mammoths building the pyramids. Sure giant robots travelled to our planet searching for Rubik’s cubes. Sure, Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale fought the Japanese and won with their dignity and 40s hairstyles intact in a love triangle story that echoes throughout the ages..

So, to reiterate, I believe the “true” elements in The Bank Job involve the fact that there is a place called London, and it is populated by people, some of whom are British. And there was a calendar year called 1971.

Other than that, I don’t even believe there was such a time and place as the so-called 70s, at least not as represented here. And a Princess Margaret? Who ever heard of such a being?

Rating:

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

dir: Nicholas Stoller
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This is being released under the “Judd Apatow” banner as if Judd’s name alone is now a seal of filthy comedy approval. Wondering if a comedy is funny? Well, Judd Apatow was involved, so it must be so funny you’ll laugh until you rupture something.

Okay, so 40-Year-Old Virgin was funny, and Knocked Up was funny. Apatow directed them. But now are we really meant to believe that Apatow doesn’t even have to make the movies for them to be funny? He just “produces” them under the Apatow Productions banner, other people direct them, and they’re still full of Apatow-y goodness.

I think not. Even with the commercial and critical success of some of his comedies, the law of diminishing returns kicked in around the time of Drillbit Taylor. Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn’t going to kill off the Apatow bandwagon, but it might throw a wrench or two into the spokes.

It’s not a horrible film, in fact it’s relatively funny at some stages. The main actors aren’t horrible, the costumes are nice, the lighting was okay, and the make-up work is top notch throughout. I don’t know what the catering was like, but it was probably okay. No-one looks like they got sick from bad food, so that’s my assumption as to the relative merits of the food service.

Rating:

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.

Rating:

Vantage Point

dir: Pete Travis
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What these kinds of flicks usually have going for them is momentum. It’s not brains, it’s not character, and it’s certainly not depth.

Vantage Point is essentially a Bourne-type film without the advantage or the anchor of a Jason Bourne-like character. To compensate for this they fracture the narrative, replay the central event what feels like fifty times, and then break out of the temporal loop by moving forward at break-neck speed to the big action climax.

Initially, we watch the occasion of an anti-terrorism summit in Salamanca, Spain, from the confines of a news van covering the event to the side of a jam-packed plaza. The US President (William Hurt) is here on this historic occasion where the leaders of many nations are banding together to assert that terrorism is bad, m’kay? He is guarded by Secret Service agents (Matthew Fox and Dennis Quaid), one of whom recently took a bullet for him, or at least thinks he did. An American tourist (Forest Whitaker) watches the event through his video camera, uncomfortable with the idea of trusting his memory alone. Or is it because the camera has some plot significance later on?

Rating:

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