Posted on March 23, 2017 by Darren
CHiPs is what happens when you adapt a successful-yet-forgettable eighties action series in the style of a poorly-aged nineties sitcom.
There are a whole host of problems with CHiPs, but tone is the biggest concern. Writer and director Dax Shepard never seems entirely sure what he’s pitching, which leads to a bizarre mishmash of a juvenile gay panic comedy with retro nostalgia trappings strapped on to a lazy police thriller. None of these elements work particularly well on their own, but mashing them all together leads to even bigger problems. CHiPs tries to be several different things, and succeeds at none of them.
When he catches these corrupt cops, he’ll send them to the Peña-tentiary.
Who is the target market for CHiPs? The film pitches itself as a raunchy parodic reimagining of a show that was beloved at the time, but has faded into history. There’s obvious precedent here, and CHiPs can be reasonably placed as part of the movement that includes 21 Jump Street and Baywatch. However, CHiPs does not aim for nostalgia enough to appeal to fans of the show, and is not clever enough to attract the same audience as 21 Jump Street. The result is a reboot of an eighties motorcycle cop show aimed at fourteen-year-old boys.
Ironically, CHiPs feels retro for all the wrong reasons. CHiPs is largely defined by the idea that bodily functions (and male sexual organs) are hilarious, and that there is nothing funnier than two dudes touching each other’s erogenous zones, particularly when there’s at least one dude pointing out how hilarious it is. CHiPs is defensive nineties gay panic wrapped in eighties nostalgia. It is a strange cocktail.
Cashing their CHiPs.
Filed under: Non-Review Reviews | Tagged: dax shepherd, film, Movie, non-review review, review | 5 Comments »
Posted on March 22, 2017 by Darren
Life has a certain endearing b-movie schlock value to it, a cheesy and derivative deep space creature feature that indulges all manner of body horror in its race to the climax. With all due respect to the esteemed philosopher Forrest Gump, most viewers know exactly what they are going to get.
The biggest problem with Life is that the film is very predictable. There is very little here that seasoned science-fiction horror film fans will not have seen before. Indeed, this is arguably reflected in the biggest problem with its central monster. The first life form discovered in outer space, the creature that stalks the crew in Life is initially appealingly alien; a translucent starfish evolving into a mass of tentacles with a love of bodily orifices. Unfortunately, the creature quickly becomes more conventional. The movie even names the beast “Calvin.”
Caught in the Gravity of Alien.
And yet, there is a quirky appeal to all this. Life is a movie with an attitude mirroring that creature. It begins as something intriguing before morphing into something far too familiar. More than that, there is a ruthless efficiency to the film. Characters are rendered as little more than archetypes, information is delivered primarily as plot set-up rather than character development, the first act of the film races through what should be huge dramatic beats in order to get to the squidgy monster mayhem. Life knows what it is, even when it’s not pretty.
There is something endearing about this ruthless efficiency, the commitment with which Life seizes upon its b-movie stylings as a vehicle for really creepy space scares. Life suffers a little bit from its by-the-numbers second act, but it demonstrates enough enthusiasm for its schlocky sensibilities that it’s hard to hard. Life finds a way.
Needing some space.
Filed under: Non-Review Reviews | Tagged: film, Life, Movie, non-review review, review | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 10, 2017 by Darren
Our good friends at Omniplex are launching a new “secret screening” programme on Monday night, with a host of mystery screenings organised at Omniplex venues around the country. Offering audience members the chance to see a new movie and get a medium popcorn and drink combo for only €10, there’s just one catch: nobody knows with the movie is.
There’s something to be said for the thrill of going to see a film without knowing what it might be, getting to see it first hand without any preconceptions. You can book tickets at the Omniplex site, and guess online using the hashtag #OmniplexSecretScreening. The first screening is Monday, 13th March, at 6:30pm.
We have some suspicions about what the film might be, and if it is what we think it is, then audiences are in for a treat.
Filed under: Movies | Tagged: dublin, omniplex, secret screenings | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 9, 2017 by Darren
The best and worst thing that can be said for Beauty and the Beast is that it beautifully recreates the animated source material.
A lot of love and affection went into Beauty and the Beast. The production design is amazing, a truly stylish blend of physical objects and computer-generated imagery to create something that feels like a hybrid between live action and animation. It is a very skillful blending of two different approaches to film making. On a purely technical level, judged as a mechanical adaptation, Beauty and the Beast succeeds triumphantly. It is a live action fantasia recreation of a beloved animated film.
More than that, Beauty and the Beast works largely because it is so effective an adaptation. Beauty and the Beast scores phenomenally well because it so carefully and precisely translates material that has incredible emotional power. There is a case to be made that the original Disney adaptation is one of the best films in the company’s canon, with some of the best songs and the most memorable set pieces. The live action adaptation ensures that very few of these moments get lost in translation, which lends the movie a compelling weight.
Unfortunately, it is also a reminder that a nigh-perfect adaptation of this version of the story already exists. Beauty and the Beast runs a muscular two-hours-and-six minutes to the animated film’s eighty-two minutes, but that statistic is misleading. The additions are pointless at best and distracting at worst. As a whole, Beauty and the Beast makes the animated original look like a more streamlined take on this tale that cuts a lot of the fat, telling the same story in a way that is at once more concentrated and more concise.
Filed under: Non-Review Reviews | Tagged: adaptation, animated, Beauty and the Beast, film, non-review review, review | 12 Comments »
Posted on March 8, 2017 by Darren
Kong: Skull Island has an endearingly “pop” sensibility to it.
There are moments at which Kong: Skull Island feels more like an evocative theatrical-length montage than a film. This is only the second feature-length film from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and the movie has jarring and disorienting quality to it. Vogt-Roberts saturates the screen with reds and greens, whirls the camera at incredible velocity, and cuts at an impressive tempo. Even dialogue heavy scenes are constantly panning and cutting.
This approach does no favours to the cast. Most of the players in Kong: Skull Island seem to have more trouble finding a consistent character throughline than mythical monsters. Tom Hiddleston seems quite lost for most of the film. Brie Larson probably does the best job of any of the major players, although the rapid-fire editing helps John C. Reilly seem suitably eccentric as the obligatory insane exposition character. Veteran performers like John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are forced to hold on for dear life.
However, none of this is a problem. For all its flaws, Kong: Skull Island never over-estimates how interesting its human characters are, mostly treating them as a vehicle to get to the promised monster mash. Vogt-Roberts’ direction might seem hyperactive and over-caffeinated, but it understands this. The camera and the cuts are always moving towards the monster, with the characters serving to deliver thematic dialogue and look suitably moody as seventies music plays over montage sequences.
“Oh, so that’s why they call it Skull Island.”
Kong: Skull Island never feels entirely cohesive as a feature film. That is not a fatal flaw. The movie feels weird and ethereal, the audience constantly kept off-balance by the heighten stylistic choices and the gusto with which the movie seizes upon these opportunities. After all, the eponymous island is a place where anything is possible and nothing is as it appears. It feels somewhat fitting that the movie drifts into a loose free-form style driven more by imagery than by story.
Kong: Skull Island feels in someways like a monstrous monster movie, and there’s something quite appealing in that.
No bones about it.
Filed under: Non-Review Reviews | Tagged: king kong, kong, kong: skull island, Movie, non-review review, review, skull island | 10 Comments »
Posted on March 8, 2017 by Darren
The American frontier is a formative myth, one that permeates popular culture.
The cowboy is an American icon, as much as the gangster or the superhero. The archetype embodies a set of ideals that inform the country’s perception of itself. Indeed, part of the charm of Logan is seeing that archetype evolution rendered explicit. If The Wolverine posited its central character as a lost samurai who had evolved into a superhero, then James Mangold’s follow-up positions the character as a lost cowboy in a western wasteland. The third and final film in this series has been described as “Unforgiven, with claws.” It is a label that fits. A brand that sticks.
Logan even offers its closing judgment on the character by quoting directly from Shane, a very literal example of the superhero genre quoting from westerns. Mutants are not just an evolution of mankind, they also represent a storytelling evolution. Of course, the western has been evolving for quite some time. Many prognosticators announced the death of the western some time in the seventies, perhaps coinciding with the loss of faith in American institutions (and perhaps mythology) coinciding with the twin blows of Watergate and Vietnam.
Of course, the western film never really went away. There were always westerns lurking in the background, even after Heaven’s Gate was erected as gigantic tombstone to the genre in 1980. Pale Rider, Silverado, Dances with Wolves, Unforgiven, Tombstone. However, the many of the more successful (and impactful) westerns of the era tended to have a very mournful and funeral tone to them. There is also something to be said about the success of playful or deconstructed westerns, from Young Guns to The Three Amigos to City Slickers.
Many prognosticators would argue that superhero films came to take the ideological place of the western, accessible entertainment for large audiences built on an American archetype. However, the twenty-first century found the western creeping back into cultural awareness. This took many forms; the neo-westerns of films like No Country for Old Men or Hell or High Water; the self-aware Tarantino scripts for Django Unchained or The Hateful Eight; the prestige picture charm of The Revenant; the cultural smash of Westworld.
There were any number of interesting observations that might be made about these films. Most obviously, there was a recurring sense of horror to these reimaginings of the American west, whether reflected in the human-like form of Anton Chigurh or the zombie movie aesthetic of Ira Glass’ journey back to civilisation. However, there was also a very strong apocalyptic vibe to these modern westerns. Many classic westerns lamented the death of wilderness crushed beneath the heel of advancing civilisation. Modern westerns seem to fear the opposite.
Filed under: Movies | Tagged: films, logan, Movies, Shane, westerns | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 2, 2017 by Darren
This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017.
Tschick is a charming, if disorganised and overly episodic, coming of age road movie.
The basic set-up of Tschick is effective, if a little familiar. Maik Klingenberg is an imaginative and socially awkward teenager, the child of an alcoholic (if well-meaning) mother and a distant (and philandering) father. He is invisible to his classmates, except to the eponymous Tschick. Andrej Tschichatschow is a new arrival from Russia. He is antisocial, he smells bad, and he suffers from alcoholism despite only being a teenager. Naturally, he proves even less popular than Maik. The other students don’t know Maik exists, but they hate Tschick.
With his mother checked into rehab and his father absent for other reasons, Maik is left to fend for himself. He ends up embarking upon a cross-country road trip with Tchick in a stolen car. Along the way, the pair have a series of encounters with a wide variety of people and intersect with various other walks of life. As a result, Maik and Tschick have a unique shared experience, forging a deep bond and a mutual respect. The resulting journey is full of wry well-observed comedy and heart-warming moments, largely held together by the charm of leads Tristan Göbel and Anand Batbileg.
However, Tschick lacks the focus necessary to tie these elements together. It is both too focused on its own narrative and character arcs to fully embrace a stream-of-consciousness “on the road” travelogue style and too episodic to cohere into a single strong narrative. The result is a film that feels rather uneven and disjointed, a road trip constantly hitting speed bumps.
Venturing far afield.
Filed under: Non-Review Reviews | Tagged: film, Movie, non-review review, review, tschick | 2 Comments »