Law Abiding Citizen (mild spoilers): when his wife and kid are murdered and the legal system fails him, a disgruntled everyman with nothing to lose spends years engineering his quasi-legal revenge. Gerrard Butler (Shut up, Butt wad), WTF are you doing man? You’re all over the place and why the fuck did your character get nude when you were arrested? The Fantastic Mr Foxx is OK, doing what he does (normal guy in a moral quandary) but his character’s role is unbelievably wonky: supposed to be a prosecutor, but does loads of detective work. The film starts off interesting – and the opening in particular is powerfully violent – the set-up is theatrically gruesome, but once Butler is in prison it turns absolutely ridiculous – and when you hear about his previous employment it’s like being slapped in the face with a big silly stick. However, it’s quite funny and enjoyable despite being so bizarrely cheesy and shockingly stupid. Deliberately 18-rated, over-the-top B-movie with an A-list cast.
Cold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚, Tsumetai Nettaigyo) (mild spoilers): a mild-mannered fish-shop owner crosses paths with a larger competitor who at first seems like an ideal business partner – but that veneer doesn’t last long. It feels like the director started out with two completely separate film ideas; the first 1-hour 45 contains a pretty credible, low-key, tense, but slow-burning con-man drama – with an off-kilter / black comedy undercurrent. The final act transforms the film into a full-blown slasher – which dwells on depraved sex, violence, gore and some body disposal scenes for a little longer than would be deemed comfortable (or necessary), peaking in a hyper-messy crimson-soaked blood ‘n’ guts finalé – shock cinema at it’s best; or perhaps worst! This wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but at 2.5 hours you could have cut two (better, and) entirely different 90-minute movies out of it – an Evil Dead style gore-romp, or Coen–esque black comedy. There are glimpses of superb direction and storytelling, straight off the bat, but they end up getting lost in the bigger-picture. Acting is also solid (the runaway star being leading man Mitsuru Fukikoshi’s full-bodied transformation) – although, along with everything else, it all gets watered down and lost within the superfluous runtime. This would, by normal standards, be anything but an ordinary film – particularly because it’s littered with gropey and sensational sex scenes – but when you’re following up from an epic like Love Exposure, this feels lukewarm in comparison.
The Princess Bride: a beautiful princess is captured and her childhood sweetheart (now a pirate!) must embark on a quest to save her. What elevates this above all other films in this genre is a high-quality script that’s saturated with witty, understated and dry jokes that you could easily miss. There’s also some rather good action for a motherflippin’ fairytale – the swordfights are all decent – first proper one in particular is immense – and we get to see WWF star Andre the Giant get sleeper’d out!!!WTF!!! As you’d expect, the acting’s quite hammy – although Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) is an absolutely legendary comedy character – for expressions and use of language alone. There’s a cheap / budgety vibe given off by the sub-standard scenery and props; which combined with everything above creates more charm than most high-end films could wish for. The Princess Bride most reminded me of the fabulous TV series Blackadder in that its ‘historical’, hysterical in parts, and much smarter & aware than it first appears. Definitely one of the best anti / post-modern fairytales I’ve seen!
Hello. My Name is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to die
Killer Elite: when his mentor is captured, a contract killer must avenge an Arab sheikh’s dead sons by killing several high profile ex SAS soldiers. The plot was actually decent enough to make the film a Syriana / Body of Lies affair, but with Statham at the helms it ends up being a bog-standard action vehicle – and a poor one at that. There’s absolutely nothing memorable about the film; from the humdrum action, to the bleak washed-out colours – honestly, one week later I can recall about two minutes of the movie. Despite being two hours long, it feels like a 4 hour megafilm that keeps teasing you, but never actually ends. De Niro continues to disappoint, carrying on his ‘cash for billing’ scam, giving the most bog standard of his recent 20-minute performances. The action editing’s not very good either – particularly with his hospital/Owen fight, which was so incoherent that it hurt my head. Even the travelogue aspect feels gratuitous and disappointing. Nothing much to see here other than a nuts and bolts Statham flick.
Hot Tub Time Machine: 3 middle-aged guys and a nephew go on a Ski Trip, and get transported back to the 1980s via a malfunctioning hot tub; partial hilarity ensues. It’s essentially a mish-mash of several tried and tested movies: American Pie, High Fidelity, Back to the Future, The Hangover, any ‘Buddy Comedy’ you can think of and the Butterfly Effect. Additionally, the characters are all pulled from the ‘Familiar and Safe’ cupboard; the cool / normal guy, Mr under the thumb, the wildcard and nerd loser. The strangest aspect was that it’s essentially a teen movie, but starring adults… weird to watch. There’s puke, piss, shit & many a gross-out but the ratio of hot tits to saggy men’s asses was disappointingly even (note to the director, this shouldn’t even be a ‘ratio’) HTTM is funny, and by no means a bad film, but it’s exactly what you expect a film called “Hot Tub Time Machine” to be and nothing more. Inevitably suffers from trying to be to broad and tick a huge bunch of ‘safe’ boxes, stick to the Hangover.