Sunday, 23 December 2012

December Film Roundup - Part 1

        ‘Tis the season to be jolly… and watch films! Read on to hear about what I’ve been watching in December in Part 1 of this month’s Film Roundup!

        First up we have the monumental disappointment of The Watch, which just by looking at the cast looks like it could have been immense fun. Starring, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade and directed by SNL/Lonely Island member Akiva Schaffer - this story about a neighbourhood watch group going up against a possible alien invasion had the potential on paper, but a dull plot, uninspired alien design and much of the comedy falling flat with lazy jokes, makes this a forgettable and thoroughly mediocre experience. Attack the Block had a similar setup last year but the execution was much better - and done on a smaller budget.

        Follow up to the fun but scrappy 2010 remake of Clash of The Titans, comes the sequel Wrath of the Titans – this time actually featuring a Titan! More of the same really, with Sam Worthington returning as Perseus who goes on a quest whilst battling huge CG monsters, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes enjoying themselves once again as Zeus and Hades and Danny Huston as Poseidon who is (once again) given hardly any screen time.
        Toby Kebbel injects some welcomed humour in the form of wisecracking Agenor and Rosamund Pike taking over the role of Andromeda puts on a brave warrior face but unfortunately isn't given much to do except get thrown around a lot.
        There are odd bits of excitement – the opening chimera attack and Zeus and Hades going into ‘God Mode’ toward the end are fun but it lacks the bite of Leterrier’s earlier film – so you wont see a mutated Jason Flemyng rip a soldier in half. Shame.

        Also a shame is Snow White and the Huntsman. Initially I was surprised at just how dark this film was – a welcome change to the twee and bland rendition of this year’s other Snow White adaptation Mirror Mirror. This definitely works in the film’s favour and the whole thing looks fantastic – it's just a tad overlong. Chris Hemsworth is solid (both literally and in his performance), although his sometimes-Scottish accent can be rather distracting. K-Stew gets a lot of flack for her acting but she isn’t that bad in the role of the Snow White – maybe its just because she isn’t given much to do except run and frown in this film.
        The real performance however belongs to Charlize Theron, who plays the deliciously evil queen Ravenna. Although occasionally reduced to just bellowing at people, she is what makes the film worth the watch. Coupled with great use of CG and a bunch of awesome British actors as the dwarves (Ian McShane! Bob Hoskins! Ray Winstone! Eddie Marsan! Toby Jones! Nick Frost!) – this one is definitely worth a watch once, although having an oddly out of place siege sequence at the end makes the film half an hour longer than it should have been.

        Finally we have Pixar’s latest, Brave. At first I was a little disappointed by the lack of perceived scale of the film, as the story felt a little contained. But really it's about the relationship between a mother and a daughter, rather than a more Mulan-esque epic adventure of a girl wanting to fight like a boy that the marketing hype and trailers may have you believe. That being said, hats off to Pixar for being (ahem) brave in their decision to try something different by having a more emotional and family relationship-driven story (think more Miyazaki), and set their tale in medieval Scotland - rendered beautifully in all it verdant mistiness.
        Praise goes to the authentic Scottish voice cast, especially Kelly McDonald who is excellent in the lead role. It doesn't quite scale the emotional highs of Wall-E or be as fun as The Incredibles but is still a welcome addition to the Pixar catalogue.

        That’s it for Part 1, join me in again soon in Part 2 of December’s Film Roundup!

23 Dec 2012

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