Homefront: when an undercover narc is re-located his past eventually comes back to bite him, and his daughter. I was really looking forward to this: Statham playing Statham in an action film, James Franco as the baddie, and Wynona Rider… things were looking up; then I saw this phrase in the credits “written and produced by Stallone” and my heart just sank. We know Statham’s a badass (he’s Jason Statham), we know Franco is the baddie, we know the cop is bent, we know the revenge story… don’t spend over an hour backgrounding these basic characters, and genre plot. And don’t sell it as a non-stop action-fest when it’s only really the finale that’s action-heavy. And don’t cast a young girl with an old-lady’s face! (She was like ‘Chloe from Vine’). And don’t be so loose with your accent, Statham. While this isn’t a completely terrible film it just feels like nobody’s really trying: not the writers, not the director, not even the actors… everyone involved is better than this. Distressingly average.
The Iceman: biopic / mobster film based on the notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski – who has killed over 100 people (believed to be nearer 300). This is definitely a post Killer Inside Me / Killing them Softly type film, a real focus on keeping things real, and when they need to be, graphic. The biggest problem is that film is that it’s essentially an indie re-telling of the Goodfellas story arc, but based on a hitman – so when the focus is on his life collapsing in the last act, you don’t care much because… well… he’s a hitman, and he should be in jail long before then; the film seems to make him a little more sympathetic. Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard Mobster piece, that doesn’t stray far from the path – other than a random scene of political opinion thrown in for no good reason (Vietnam war). Seriously!? Who the fuck casts David Schwimmer as a badass gangster? As soon as he opens his mouth, BOOM, character ruined! Quick note for Ray Liotta – change it up bro, this is getting hella boring. Winona Ryder’s decent, but flaunts her boobs an awful lot (distracts from her good performance). Chris Evans is really good – could have done with more of him. But the biggest, and most obvious, outcome of this is to cast Michael Shannon in as many films as possible – he can, and does, act with every single muscle in his face and body. In the end, The Iceman is a decent enough gangster film that focuses more on the hitman himself than his actions – but Shannon keeps this watchable with a captivating depiction of the cold-blooded mobster.
127 Hours: true story of a climber who got an arm pinned between a boulder and rockface, and did the unthinkable in order to survive. I first heard about Ralston way back here, but never, ever thought it would become a movie (well, at least not the factual part). For being 75 minutes of a man who can’t move, Boyle is superb – utilising every trick and effect in the book to keep the story moving, interesting and avoid reparative profile shots again and again… you’d never think someone stuck in one place could be this cinematic. Franco is great; and gets to cover every kind of acting there is – overacting, subtlety, madness, super-cool, heroic and desperate… it’s all there, and it’s great to watch. Surprisingly, he’s not the only major thing in this; it may sound stupid but he could share the credits with his arm, video recorder the boulder, water, sweat – which are all personified to perfection and play pretty pivotal roles in the story. My only real problem was a lack of empathy; mostly because the situation would be totally avoidable if you were sensible and cautious! 127 Hours is a great interpretation of an unfilmable story, Franco is fantastico and every second feels like it genuinely counts.
Your Highness: when a lovely damsel is kidnapped, her heroic husband-to-be and his useless brother set out on a quest to save her. With this big budget, cast, and timeless mix of fantasy / peril it would be hard for this to go wrong… Above all, this film is pegged as a comedy, and for me it delivers, particularly if you enjoy some reductive and juvenile toilet humour. The special effects are turned up to eleven in parts – to keep the kidz of 2010s amused, and my nemesis (shaky cam) appears big-time during the last big set piece. The entire cast all play it well; Franco and Portman appear to be having fun and role-reversing both their Oscar-nom roles of 2010; Danny McBride does more of what he’s good at, as does the ever wide-eyed offbeat Deschanel – basically everyone is perfectly cast to play to their strengths. Big fights, dragons, magic, damsels, knights, nudity, swearing, hot pixies, drug jokes, robots, and the most unsettling ‘great wise wizard’ in cinema… what more could you ask from a rompalicious comedy? Laugh-a-minute, potty mouthed x-rated kids film.