Saturday, 24 December 2011
Film Roundup - November - Part 2
Continuing on from a previous article – Film Roundup November! …Part 2!
First up we have the horror movie The Rite starring Anthony Hopkins as an exorcist tasked with showing the ropes to a younger, more cynical priest in training. It starts off promisingly, with a creepy realistic build up, trying to separate the fact and the fiction of what goes on in an actual rite of exorcism.
Despite its attempts to remain grounded in tone, (“what did you expect,” snorts Sir Tony at one point, “spinning heads and pea soup?”) the film eventually falls back into the regular possession tropes such as snarling demon voice cursing and body contortions. Although I’m all for that sort of thing (possession movies probably scare the shit out of me more than any other), the fact that The Rite attempts to distance itself from all that at the beginning but then almost reluctantly falls back on it leads to an uneven tone and presentation.
It would have been better overall if the filmmakers tried to stick to one or the other but Anthony Hopkins is always watchable and does his best with what he’s given.
The Farrelly brothers once reined supreme with high grossing comedies such as There’s Something About Mary and personal favourite Stuck On You, but their output has seemed somewhat low profile of late. Hall Pass, their latest starring Owen Wilson presents the story of two married men getting a allowance from their wives to sleep around on the grounds that a) they can get it out of their system and remain faithful for the rest of their lives, and b) they probably wouldn't be successful in their endeavours anyway.
Although the majority of the film is pretty predictable and jokes fall flat left right and centre, Christina Applegate is the only actor whose performance stands out and Stephen Merchant (whose funniest bit only appears during the credit sequence) seems weirdly out of place in the brief moments he crops up in during the film.
It's a shame really when an exploding poo gag is pretty much the funniest thing in this film.
Continuing on with comedy, I finally got around to watching the highest grossing R-rated comedy film ever: The Hangover. Whilst mildly entertaining, and the best bits inevitably spoiled by people and trailers beforehand (yeah you, Mike Tyson cameo!), the film actually doesn't have that much going for it.
You see, the problem with high concept films like this is that once you know the mystery of what happened you cant really watch it more than once if the actual content within is fairly mediocre - No endlessly quotable Anchorman lines or Zoolander gags here, folks. A quick litmus test on whether or not you will like this film: do you find a naked Chinese man jumping out of a car boot to be absolutely hilarious? Surprising, sure. But comedy gold? Not for me.
Still, its worth watching once and Zach Galifianakis is always endearing in his childlike manner.
Last up we have Kung Fu Panda 2 – featuring a ridiculously star studded cast. Pretty much everyone from the first film returns along with the inclusion of Gary Oldman, Danny McBride, Michelle Yeoh and Jean-Claude Van Damme. If this wasn't an animated film and you had all these people on set it would have been truly unbelievable but alas, most of them probably even get together except for the press junket. Alas, such is the nature of voice over work.
The film itself is pretty competent with superb design and animation; the voice work is great and the fight choreography and action sequences are (as they were in the first film) top-notch. The standout for me was Gary Oldman’s preening, scheming Peacock villain Shen - an original and inspired antagonist.
Although more of the title character Po’s origin is revealed, it’s slightly disappointing that there is not as great a character arc as he had in the first film when he first learnt to fight (now its just about him finding inner peace) and you never truly feel that he has met his match whenever he gets into a scrap. After all, he is recognised by everyone as the fabled 'Dragon Warrior' now.
Still, Kung Fu Panda 2 delivers and proves that Dreamworks is still up there with Pixar producing quality animated CG flicks. Good thing the Kaboom of Doom suffix was dropped from the title. Now that just sounds silly…
23 Dec 2011