Everybody’s gone surfin’

Been slacking a bit with these updates lately. I knew I would. Anyways, back to the films. Next up was Point Break. I only watched this film for the first time last year when BBC One shown it. It was on the BBC again and I couldn’t resist another viewing of it.

The film is a 1990s action film starring Keanu Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze. The story revolves around Keanu’s FBA Agent character, Johnny Utah, going undercover to infiltrate a group of surfing bank-robbers. Yes.

Right, so the story isn’t exactly award-winning stuff but it allows for some brilliant action scenes. The film is constantly flip-flopping from amazing to awful and back again. The script and plot are stupid and the dialogue can be very cringeworthy. But at the same time it’s all very cool and exciting. Some of the stunts and action scenes are amazing – the chase scene in particular. Patrick Swayze is just a complete dude as bank-robbing surfer God Bodhi.

Point Break is a dumb brainless action film. But it has coolness and enough high-octane action to elevate it above the average action flick. It really does deserve the cult-status it has garnered.

7.5/10


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Better the Devil You Know.

Remember M. Night Shyamalan? He made some decent films once. Signs possibly being his last decent one. Some eight and a bit years ago. Perhaps the bad reception of the films since then is why he’s decided to take a step back with The Night Chronicles. Which is where other people make the films based on his ideas.

The first of Night Chronicles films is Devil. The plot of this film is simple. A group of five strangers get trapped inside a building elevator and one of them is, well, the Devil. Shit hits the fan and it’s up to a police detective and security staff to try to get the people out of the elevator before they are all killed.

To be honest I was expecting this to be a load of rubbish. But in a Shyamalan-style twist I was actually pleasantly surprised by what I watched. It wasn’t spectacular but I did quite enjoy the film. I liked the idea and the way it was all concentrated in the same location. That, the fairly unknown cast and the relatively short running time (80 minutes) made it feel more like an episode of a decent mystery programme than a film. Like a supernatural Jonathan Creek.

On the downside there was very little in the way of scares and it was somewhat predictable. Well I successfully predicted the main plot points anyway. Despite this I would appreciate more films in the same style as this so hope the rest of The Night Chronicles can live up to, and better, this film.

It’s a tight, atmospheric mystery thriller that is worth giving a go. A post-Signs M. Night Shyamalan-associated film that isn’t awful? Well that’s certainly a twist.

7/10

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A Bug’s strife.

There are many films I watched as a child, or saw bits of while younger, that I can barely remember now. Last night’s film was one of these. The film in question being Starship Troopers. All I could remember from this film from viewing it ‘back in the day’ was someone shooting a big beetle and a shower scene.

For those that don’t know Starship Troopers is a science-fiction film set in the 23rd century during an interstellar war between the human race and an arachnoid alien species known as the bugs. The film follows the exploits of Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), a young soldier in the mobile infantry and Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), a trainee at the flight school. The film also stars Neil Patrick Harris but sadly he’s not in it as much as he should be.

The film is cheesy and littered with silly impossibilities. But it’s all intentionally like this. The film never takes itself seriously which is just as well because if it did it’d be pretty bad. Action scenes are often ridiculous and the gore levels are high and very fun. Some of the special effects, of the little spacecraft flying about, are a bit dodgy. The bug enemies on the other hand still look great today.

One thing I did think while watching is the film feels older than it is. It was released in 1997, but if I hadn’t researched that I would have thought it was from the late 80s/early 90s.

Nonetheless this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the film. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece but it’s a thrilling and very entertaining film. Could have done with more Neil Patrick Harris scenes mind.

7.5/10

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Codzilla!

In recent years I’ve started to expand my movie horizons by watching more foreign-language films. The first foreign-language film I’ve watched this year is one I’ve previously not seen; The Host.

The Host is a South Korean monster movie that blends comedy, horror and drama. The monster of this film being some kind of giant mutant fishy thing. To give its technical name. Gang-du runs a snack-bar beside a river with his father. When the mutant emerges and attacks the area Gang-du’s daughter Hyun-seo gets taken by the creature and is presumed dead. However the creature has brought her to its sewer lair. She manages to phone Gang-du to let him know she’s still alive.

The film follows Gang-du and his family (father, brother and sister) as they attempt to find Hyun-seo and avoid being captured by the government, who have quarantined those that came into contact with the creature because of an apparent virus the creature was host to.

While I enjoyed the film a great deal it was a little bit strange. The mix of family drama and humour outweighs the horror or action. Some say it’s too long and there’s not enough scenes with the monster. However I personally thought the scenes involving the relationships between the family members were very well made and gave the film more character. It says a lot about a “monster movie” when you can enjoy the scenes when the monster isn’t on-screen just as much as the ones where it is.

I really found the film entertaining. You get more than just a monster movie. Sure it doesn’t have much in the way of scares, but it’s fun, thought-provoking and moving. It manages to perfectly blend the thrills of a monster film with the humour and slapstick typical of a dysfunctional family comedy film. It also makes for a decent political satire in regards to America’s military presence within Korea.

As you can probably tell I really enjoyed the film. Those looking for an all out action packed monster movie should look elsewhere. For those who want some monster-flavoured humourous-yet-touching melodrama then this is for you.

8.5/10

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I look like a magician.

Confession time: I don’t mind romantic comedies. No, I’m not a woman. I can just appreciate a decent rom-com. One of my favourites being Serendipity. I first watched this film, back on its release, mainly down to the fact John Cusack is in it. And John Cusack is awesome.

As already mentioned the film stars John Cusack, he plays Jonathan Trager who, during some Christmas shopping, meets Sara Thomas (played by the lovely Kate Beckinsale). Despite them both being in relationships they spend the evening in each others company in Manhattan. At the end of the evening, on Sara’s suggestion, they decide that they will let fate decide their future and leave it there.

The film then skips ahead several years where both characters are now engaged (to other people) but as their respective wedding days approach they get cold feet and attempt to track each other down.

The way the film weaves Jonathan and Sara’s attempts of finding each other together is well worked, though the near-misses of them meeting can get a little bit frustrating but will be sure to put a smile on your face at the same time. Where this film shines is in its use of unlikely coincidences and fate. While other romantic comedy films do this all the time, here it doesn’t feel wrong or out-of-place.

Serendipity is well scripted with fine performances from the cast all round. You’ll be able to predict the ending pretty early on but the way it gets there is so uplifting and delightful you won’t mind.

Perhaps I like it more than I should, but really it’s such a nice film that I don’t care.

8/10

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Daisy Duke, bikini on top form.

So following on from Starksy & Hutch we have another film based on a 70s American TV show. This time it’s The Dukes of Hazzard and once again I’ve not seen the original show so can’t comment on how this film compares.

The film stars Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as cousins Luke and Bo Duke, a couple of moonshiners living in the fictional Hazzard County, Georgia with their other cousin Daisy and Uncle Jesse. Unlike Starsky & Hutch, which set the film in the 70s, this film brings the setting forward to the current day. Which feels a bit strange at times.

From the IMDb rating I was expecting something awful but was happily surprised. It isn’t that bad. I happen to quite like Knoxville and Seann William Scott and think the two of them here work really well together as the hick cousins. And Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke is just pure fanservice that can improve any film. Though perhaps the real star is not any of the actors but Bo’s beloved car The General Lee. The stunts and car chases throughout the film are really enjoyable and fun.

The plot is pretty poor but ultimately you won’t really care about that. It’s a good old dumb comedy with some entertaining car-action and eye-candy thrown in for good measure. You won’t find a comedy masterpiece here, but it should provide some laughs and not tax the brain. An enjoyable, if shallow, romp.

6/10

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Smoking Is Cool!

Several years ago I saw “Thank You for Smoking” on sale for a couple of pound in a supermarket. I assumed it wasn’t very good so left it on the shelf.  Since that day I’ve heard a lot of praise for this film, so when I saw it was on TV the other night I had to tune in and watch it. Needless to say my previous assumptions were wrong as it turned out to be a very good film.

Based on the 1994 Christopher Buckley novel of the same name, Thank You for Smoking is a political satire film centered around the tobacco industry. The film follows a tobacco company’s chief spokesman, Nick Naylor, whose job it is to defend smoking and spin for the company while still trying to remain a good role model for his 12-year-old son.

Aaron Eckhart puts in a stella performance as the smooth-talking Nick Naylor and despite his questionable morals you will admire the character and really root for him and his cause. The supporting cast consist of many familar faces who, mainly all, put in great performances. A special mention has to go to Rob Lowe who is brilliant as the Japan-obsessed Hollywood agent Jeff Megall.

What’s great about the film is it’s not afraid to make light out of the seriousness of its subject matter. And does so in a smart and thought-provoking way. Plus it will make you laugh a lot. A really enjoyable film that I wish I had watched all those years ago when I saw the DVD in Tesco.

8.5/10

 

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