Happy New Year everybody! And trust me, nobody appreciates it being a new year more than I do as it means that the tyranny of ignorant/rude cretin Christmas shoppers has left my retail working life and I finally have the time to get back to these reviews. Seriously, Christmas shoppers are jerks! But enough on that, I have a treat for you all. In my Christmas break I didn’t stop my movie going life altogether, that would be ridiculous; no no, I saw many a film in fact. Well, three. Just three. But all three of these films didn’t really inspire me with a passion to ramble about them to a huge extent so I have instead decided to condense my reviews of them all into one post! That’s right people, you’re getting three reviews in one; isn’t that a good deal? Does that please you?
…man I need to get out of retail mode.
The Adventures of Tintin tells the story of young investigative journalist Tintin (Jamie Bell) who is on an adventure to find out why a creepy British man (Daniel Craig) is so keen to find out the secret behind the old sailing ship “the Unicorn”, and also what the hell a drunken sea captain named Haddock (Andy Serkis) has to do with it.
I was very excited to see this film as I loved the Tintin books when I was a kid. And all my old favourites feature in this film adaptation, from Tintin and Haddock to Snowy the dog and Thompson and Thomson. However having said that, this is not the Tintin I remember from my childhood. I didn’t really notice it at first given that the majority of the first act was very much like the old Tintin books, with Tintin stumbling upon a mystery that leads him to be kidnapped and eventually lost in a remote area. You know, classic Tintin. But it was around the latter half when suddenly there are huge car chases, tanks demolishing buildings, huge explosions and a climactic scene evolving two characters having a sword fight but using two giant industrial cranes instead of swords, that I realised that we’d left Tintin behind a while ago.
Visually the film was a bit hit and miss. I saw the film in 3D, which was implemented very well so points for that. And the computer graphics themselves were stunning, the characters looking very real but sadly we are still stuck in the uncanny valley as the characters seem lifeless. I would put it down to their eyes, there was no life in their eyes. On top of that, the framerate wasn’t too good either, so when the camera was panning anywhere it was very jittery and blurry.
My biggest disappointment of the film was the script. That is not to say that the script was bad, it was actually quite decent, however the film was co-written by my two favourite British screen writers (Steven Moffat of Doctor Who/Coupling fame, and Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz fame) so I expected more. Moffat and Wright have written some of the funniest and most moving scripts I’ve ever seen on film, but this script just felt average. It did the job and wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t blown away.
Out of all the three films I am reviewing today, Drive was the one I was most looking forward to seeing. I had heard from critics and friends alike that it was a wonderful piece of cinema and was also regarded as the movie of the year by some of them. This was clearly a film that I was going to find very interesting! Well, I didn’t.
Drive follows the activities of “the Driver” (Ryan Gosling), a stunt driver who also works as the getaway driver on heist jobs in his spare time. One day he meets his new neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son and forms a bond with them. Irene’s ex-con husband owes some mobsters some money and, out of the goodness of his heart, the Driver offers to assist him on stealing the money. The job goes south and suddenly the Driver is in deep trouble with some mobsters (Ron Pearlman and Albert Brooks).
My initial reaction to this film was: “good lord, Nicolas Winding Refn really wishes he was Quentin Tarantino!” If “Tarantino” was a genre, this film would be classified under it. It just screamed that it was a Quentin Tarantino movie. The pacing was slow, majority of character interactions were just mundane conversation and towards the latter half there was suddenly bursts of ultra violence. And I’m not having a go at Quentin Tarantino here, he is very good at what he does. But other people are not. Character relationships and conflicts form so well in Tarantino’s films because the mundane dialogue taking place between them is coming from such interesting people and is at least an interesting conversation even if it doesn’t mean anything. In Drive, the Driver and Irene barely say four words to each other in their first meeting (involving him helping her carry her shopping) which is then then followed by a montage of how the Driver seems to become a new dad for her son. The thoughts running through my head were: “Why did she even see him again?!” It just didn’t feel right.
And the Driver himself bugged me as a character. We know absolutely nothing about him. And that is fine in a lot of films, it can work. But it works when we aren’t told what a character’s motivations are but can discern it from paying attention to what they say and how they react to their happenings. Stunt Man Mike in Tarantino’s Death Proof is an excellent example of this, as we have no idea why he is a crazy serial killer but we can figure out an explanation based on his behaviour throughout the film. Whilst in Drive, who knows why the Driver is also a heist driver! I feel the film crossed the line from “mysterious character who we can deduce from the events of the film” to “there is no character here at all”.
I suppose I could go on, but I was just disappointed by Drive. Everyone I knew who saw it raved about the proverbial boners it induced in them; and whilst the opening scene was amazing in this film, for the feature’s duration my proverbial (and literal) penis remained flaccid.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
Directed by: Brad Bird
Running time: 133 minutes.
Oh you all thought you were done with him, but no, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back for another bout of insanely far fetched, technological espionage! After being implicated in a terrorist bombing of the Kremlin, Hunt and his team are informed that “Ghost Protocol” has been initiated, which basically means that their team has been shut down and they must go off the grid to clear their names. Pretty simple stuff. The plot of this film is no where near as complex as the previous installments, but it is still interesting and allows for many awesomely tense scenes using crazy gadgets to fool the bad guys.
That’s really what I was there for, to see the crazily complicated ways that Ethan Hunt would extract information or infiltrate buildings. And boy did this film not disappoint! He scales the tallest building in the world with magnet gloves, uses eyeball cameras to scan a document to print into his brief case and also tricks a lone guard with the best use of an iPad I have ever seen! And what’s more, the cast was great. Nothing Oscar winning of course, but they performed with conviction and were believable and interesting. All the scenes involving Simon Pegg were just awesome. Haven’t really got much more to say about this film, it was just fun. I had a good time, and that’s really what this all comes down to. If I had a number system (and I don’t!) I would give it a 7 out of 10.
Ok, so maybe I did ramble on about the films a bit much but I was making up for lost time! I hope you all enjoyed this extended review, and I look forward to many more post in 2012. We have a good line up this year, including The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus. This year is going to be fun!
See you next time!