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.
Twilight: after moving to the sticks Bella discovers that her new boyfriend, and his entire family, are vampires – I hate when that happens!! What surprised me is how much this is just a bog-standard coming-of-age, high-school teen-drama, with a side serving of vampires. Most ‘classic vampire traits’ are there, but the film doesn’t really dwell on them, and quickly explains the ‘workarounds’ – like how they can go out in daylight. K-Stewart is actually pretty good as the dowdy girl-next-door ‘new kid’ at school; R-patz on the other hand seems to just scowl at other characters, ridiculously, and in an infinitely broodily manner – he’s embarrassing to watch at times. The rest of the characters are well-cast, and do what they have to. The picture is very drab, devoid of any life and colour – pretty depressing and glum to watch – at least until R-Patz started SPARKLING!! Added to the plain direction, and it feels very much like a TV movie. Other noteworthy points are the: easiest vampire family infiltration ever, Edward pretty much shows/tells Bella everything; ridiculous meet the family scene; superhero baseball, lots of emo / indie music; and who’d have thought that Volvo’s were COOL COOL COOL?!?! It’s not a fantastic movie, nor is it a particularly original one, but the first Twilight film is a run-of-the-mill high-school movie, with vampire cloak over it; but what bugs me most is that vampires aren’t monsters any more, but merely ridiculous teenage sexual fantasy-projections. It’s a franchise opener that ticks the boxes, and ends up being way more chick-lit-flick than vampire/action/thriller movie.
Emo Vampires 1 – Vampire Goths 0
Could have done with way more Anna Kendrick
Casino Jack: the rise and fall of top Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, after his increasingly flaky attempts at influencing politicians lead to some ugly outcomes. It’s quite an interesting story, that’s part drama and part comedy / political satire. The film’s at it’s best when it’s dramatic: both Spacey and Pepper are red-hot, top-drawer, scene stealingly good. The comedy moments cover everything, from solid gags and witty lines all the way down the scale to unnecessary quirk – most annoyingly, Spacey‘s cinephile character bursts in to (some pretty good) cinematic impressions in every second scene. The direction matches what’s on screen, ranging from sensible handling of the dramatic moments, through to playful snappy quick-cuts and comedy timing. While the tone leaps all over the entire spectrum, there’s enough good performances, and moments of drama / satire to keep this watchable and entertaining. Not least, the film’s good for bringing Jack Abramoff, and his insane life story to your attention.