Saturday, March 19, 2011

Short Review of Season of the Witch (2011)

Nicholas Cage is an enigma wrapped in a mystery with a blanket of inconsistency.  He's capable of delivering a searing performance such as his extraordinary turn in the rebooted Bad Lieutenant.  But then he is equally likely to appear in drivel like The Knowing or Bangkok Dangerous mumbling and bumbling like a first year drama student. 

Season of the Witch falls squarely into the latter category.  It tells the tale of two Crusaders who on having a conveniently sudden attack of morals; desert and attempt to return home.  On their way back they are waylaid and coerced into escorting a witch to a group of specialist monks who will be able to stop the plague she has released on the country.  While having reasonably high production standards, the visuals and setting are reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (you fully expect to hear Eric Idle shouting "Bring out your dead!").  The casting of Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman as defiantly American Crusaders would be perfectly acceptable but for the woefully scripted banter and hapless attempts at showing the camaraderie between them. Ron Perlman can do this type of thing in his sleep and still be watchable, but Cage is especially dreadful.
However, despite it's many flaws, as the film progresses it becomes more and more entertaining until it reaches a fabulously ridiculous finale. Suffice to say, it involves a race against time, cod-Latin incantations and possessed zombie ninja monks.

Rating:  **

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Short Review of True Grit (2010)

True Grit is a quintessentially Coen Brothers movie.  It's crammed with richly rhythmic language and is bleakly beautiful with flashes of dark humour and light whimsy.

It's also their first proper western and their second remake after the the disappointing Ladykillers.  This new True Grit is a very different and arguably far superior animal to it's 1955 predecessor.  Much attention was focused on Coen stalwart Jeff Bridges' performance as grizzled marshal Rooster Cogburn but 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld more than holds her own.  Her depiction of the revenge-set daughter aged before her time by the murder of her father is funny, touching and remarkably assured.  Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and and a wonderfully eccentric supporting cast populate a sparse and coldly beautiful landscape.
True Grit 2011-style is an excellent film but two things hold it back from greatness.  Firstly, the ending feels somewhat contrived and almost un Coen-like in it's neatness.  Secondly, having Jeff Bridges in a major role is a reminder of the last time he and the Coens played out; the peerless The Big Lebowski.

Rating:  ****

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Short Review of In The Name of The King (2008)

Are any words less welcome in the movie lexicon than 'inspired by the video game...'? In the Name of The King is based on the role playing Dungeon Siege games. Directed in a manner completely devoid of aplomb by Uwe Boll, it's catastrophically bad. The cast is surprisingly starry with the mighty Jason Statham as the hero, Clare Forlani as his kidnapped wife, Hellboy's Ron Perlman as his mentor and a mind-boggling Burt Reynolds as the titular king. However, there is something about this film that elevates it into the fabled 'so-bad-it's-good' category; Ray Liotta's turn as evil wizard Gallian. It's a tour-de-force of epic overacting as Ray chews insanely on every piece of scenery he can get his chubby hands on. 
Add in the terrible script, inept fight scenes and cut-price orcs and you have a film so hysterically bad it becomes compulsive viewing. It cost $60m and took a total of $10.3m worldwide and is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Incredibly, there is a sequel on the horizon in which Dolph Lundgren plays an ex-special forces soldier thrown back in time to fulfil a prophecy. I'm not kidding

And I can't wait to see it...

Rating *

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Manchester Blog-Meetery

If you blog in Manchester, why not bob down to Common in the Northern Quarter for the Manchester Blogmeet tonight?

Give me a good reason you say? Very well, I will give you three:

1) The opportunity to meet your fellow Internet scribblers
2) Specially made cakes
3) Free booze-beers

Look with your eyes here for more details. Blogmeet site