Family Jewels / Barry Munday: just weeks after losing his testicles in a trumpet-based attack, Barry is faced with a paternity lawsuit from someone he can’t remember humping! Being in almost every scene, Patrick Wilson really keeps this moving in the right direction; his comedy timing in particular is top-notch, and having seen him in Watchmen and Hard Candy he’s rapidly shooting up my list of most watchable actors. The rest of the cast are good, although most characters feel like they’ve been plucked from other films. The funny moments are mostly awkward/cringe-based with a hint of deadpan – lines like “one second I was watching a movie, six hours later I woke up in a hospital… where they had removed my testicles” – or 5 guys talking about their mangled penises – may not sound amazing, but are absolutely nailed with comic conviction. For a cringedy the laughs are paired with some surprisingly deep and emotive scenes & themes centering around paternity, fatherhood, pregnancy and family. Sure Family Jewels is a little slow-paced and has some questionable plot points, but it very uplifting and loaded with charm – right up to cheesier than cheesy ending. Decent debut from Chris D’Arienzo
Skyline: Brain-eating bio-tech aliens invade earth, consuming anyone that looks at their blue light. This wasn’t too shy about plagiarising massive chunks from previous sci-fi blockbusters like The Matrix, Cloverfield, Independence Day etc – it could have been a re-write of any of those films. The TV actors do alright for the most part, although nobody really gets characterised beyond b-movie territory, and you’ll have heard the script a hundred times before. The only redeeming aspect of this was that some of the destruction and mayhem looked pretty sweet, however, most of it just looked plan old ridiculous. The last five minutes sucked out what little credibility the film had by the end; one of the worst endings ever. Patchwork, hackneyed Sci Fi.
The Matrix: Action. Adventure. Sci-Fi. Technology. Love story. Tragedy. Mythology. Drama. Explosions. Chases. Fighting. Guns. Lots of Guns. Style. Homage. Technological Advances. Solid acting. Vision. Betrayal. Great characters. Fantastic Soundtrack & OST. Tight script. Mouth-watering visuals. Slick editing. Stunning concept… Absolutely everything about The Matrix is pitch perfect, right down to Reeves’ vacant, and emotionally retarded acting – it just fits the film so well! (Will Smith/Nicholas Cage were first choices for Neo!) Hugo weaving is also brilliant as the borderline pantomime baddie. The fight scenes are outstanding, especially given that none of the actors are martial artists. Unlike 99% of films out there The Matrix is absolutely all killer – every single scene has a purpose. It’s been a career-defining film for everybody involved, and rightly so: cast, directors, tech teams etc. Even over ten years on everything about this is still so, so, so cool. It’s a modern Alice in Wonderland, but where Alice cartwheels while firing a machine gun and bends some spoons with her mind! The film also raised the bar for action / sci-fi and special effects, and the wider cultural impact is enormous. Despite an unhealthy number of viewings over the years (guessing at least 40) this film never gets boring and never loses the awe-factor. I’m struggling to find a single fault in it!
The Expendables: A band of gruff mercenaries feel up to the task of overthrowing a corrupt Latin-American dictator. First thing’s first: this film has the action cast to end all casts – while it’s not 100% perfect, you just don’t see this many huge names in a film these days. It’s hard to describe but seeing star after star after star is spectacle in itself. Then there’s the action, which is awesome – and although CGI heavy, it’s great fun watching henchmen get mauled by fists, blades, bullets, fire and grenades; watching anything and everything get blown up; watching all the standout musclemen fight each other; and watching set piece after set piece. Little else is particularly noteworthy, but little else matters in a film like this; the script’s terrible laughable, the plot is contrived beyond belief, the acting’s utterly forgettable (everyone’s on auto-pilot) and even the ‘hot chick’ was a bit of a dog. Essentially a B-movie with an A-star cast and massive budget, this isn’t a homage to 1980s blockbuster action films, this is a 1980s blockbuster action film. It’s also an action film for action fans, and it does the big scenes way better than anything else I’ve seen recently. I laughed, I cringed, and I shouted ‘Holy Shit’ (usually while clutching a limb that’d just been snapped on screen) about 20 times. What can I say? I’m a sucker for big names, big guns, big explosions and big set pieces. Roll on the Expendables 2!