The World’s End: five middle-aged friends re-unite to tackle the 12-stop pub-crawl that they never finished as teenagers. If you watched the trailer and thought that this looked a bit empty and silly then you’re completely right. No matter how good the director is (which he is), or how on-form the cast are (which they are) this is a great example that if you have a silly idea, you’ll probably end up with a silly film. It also has a few long stretches where there’s not many laughs – namely backstory. The cast are truly the best of contemporary British comedians, and a few bigger players thrown in: Paddy Considine and Pierce Brosnan, to name but a few – a well-picked bunch. The World’s End boils down to being a silly bodysnatchers movie that’s overflowing with 90s nostalgia, whilst pulling from some modern sources like Attack The Block, Hitchhiker’s Guide etc. Given the quality of Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect more from The World’s End, still, it’s a decent Brit-Com, and a good enough way to close out the ‘Cornetto trilogy’.
Westworld: a luxury adult amusement park where holiday makers can relive the lawless Wild West for a thousand dollars a night; nothing can go wrong, and you can kill or get off with as many robots as you can! The concept is made more believable as it’s backed up with dozens of one-liners that explain the robots, the park, and answer the obvious “how does that work” questions. The three mains are all good, but Yul Brynner’s evil robot gunslinger stands out as being absolutely chilling: his mannerisms (particularly the slow, but efficient, walk) are unsettling as he malfunctions and chases down the lead – this is clearly the starting point for The Terminator. For an oldie, the film looks great, and is plenty stylish – hat’s off to the photographer and director. Storywise, it could have been a little better proportioned: 60 minute lead up, 5 minutes of destruction, 25 minutes of chasing… felt a little short-changed given the premise. Like all of the best Sci-Fi movies, at the heart of Westworld is a single, great idea, that just hasn’t aged a day, and if anything is more relevant to modern science – right down to the technical jargon. Even if robo-madness isn’t fully maximised, Westworld is a solid film made all the better with its creepy – prophetic – tone, and a retro / kitsch vibe.
Russel Crowe: First off, I reckon you’d be a fool to argue with this man’s on-screen talent as he’s one of the best actors of our times. Unfortunately it’s his off-screen capers that seem to get him such a bad rep. He’s been alleged to have terrorised, offended or punched the shit out of people in hotels, restaurants, bars, harbours… nowhere is safe! From hotel porters & security guards to pensioners… nobody is safe! My favourite Crowe-based rumour was him going in to a busy Canadian bar, slagging off Ice Hockey for being a ‘womans sport’ and calling the bar tender a ‘Gabby Old Trout’ (allegedly). He also underwhelmed the world of folk-rock with his band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, although his fame is arguably the only reason anyone’s even heard of them. When sober he can be a charitable chap; rebuilding libraries, saving schools & rugby teams as well as gifting £1,000 to Cancer Research UK and film props to charities during the Robin Hood filming. Like every other man in the world, Crowe goes a bit feral when he’s shit-faced, maybe more so than most, but at least he never gets ‘Mel Gibson’ drunk…
Verdict: for me Crowe’s manly-man-Genius and I’d love to party with him. He definitely gets a disproportionately hard time for his bad-boy antics.
Maximus Genius or Cinderella Arse – You Decide!
Redbelt: (Blu Ray) Follows a badass martial artist – that goes around unintentionally making everyone else look rubbish – and his nagging wife as they end up in the world’s biggest cluster fuck. For the record, this one’s all story and no action, with what has to be the worst main ‘non-fight’ ever. There’s almost no fisticuffs throughout and what little action you do see is comprised of 1-2 second shots that doesn’t really flow like MMA should. This is made more annoying because the soundtrack really gets you pumped up for a big rumble several times. Fighting gripes aside the story’s a tour de force in every sense of the word, although it gets a bit unlikely towards the end. It’s masterfully told / directed and superbly acted; Ejiofor and Mortimer in particular standout despite all the distracting big-name athletes, actors and personalities that pop up throughout. The BD picture’s sharp, but there’s nothing eye-popping on show, the sound however is immense, crisp and feels very natural – a pretty impressive disc. The judges score; marketing this as a ‘fighting’ film (Sony Fight Factory Label) is like branding The Blind Side an American Football movie, Borat an Educational one or Crank ‘good’… you do feel totally cheated; but what was on show is great.
Sukiyaki Western Django: Takashi Miike’s Japanese take on the spaghetti western & samurai films of yesteryear. Most confusingly all dialogue is English, but it still requires subs because the Japanese actors (naturally) struggle to deliver the Americanized lines – everyone’s acting totally suffers because of this huge distraction. All of the action is good to watch, from the quick draws through to Gatling Gun mayhem and the action-packed showdown is pretty immense. The gang costumes are flamboyant and seeing the red & white colours constantly jumping out is a real treat on the eyes. Miike does a fantastic job of keeping it stylish throughout, whilst minimising his trademark ‘weirdness’ – although the sheriff character was truly pants. You can’t help but think that if he focused on perfecting one or two films a year instead of 5-6 he’d be one of the best directors on the planet. Overall there’s no denying this is a bunch of tried themes, concepts and characters tied neatly together and packaged as homage. Still, this one’s worth a watch if you like foreign and offbeat movies.
Hell Ride: Biker ‘Pistolero’ is out for revenge after a rival gang had his lady killed years back. Scene one: guy lying on the ground with an arrow in his stomach. Scene two: some chick being beaten, tied, throat slit and burned. Rest of film: bodies dropping right, left and centre. This my friends, is ‘Bikesploitation’ – bikes, babes, beards and beer tediously linked by a wafer-thin plot. The casting is just as poor, especially Michael Madsen, who is 100% Budd from Kill Bill, Vinnie Jones as another badass, and remember cyber nerd Milo from 24, just pretend he’s really mean. The dead men walking supporting cast were so indistinguishable (hairy, shades and stupid names) that it was pretty hard to follow who was who, although they all got killed, so meh! It’s good to see Dennis Hopper and Dave Carradine on screen again. It had so much potential and although I wasn’t expecting much it still disappointed; it really is one of those films that is so bad it’s… bad. Note to Tarrantino: please stop presenting shite films!