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Non-Review Review: Pompeii

Pompeii is a cliché love story nested inside a cheesy b-movie sitting inside a good old-fashioned disaster movie. None of these elements are entirely successful – in fact, there are points where the love story is downright painful – but Paul W.S. Anderson manages to construct a reliably pulpy (if entirely predictable) action adventure. While by no means exceptional – it’s a mess from both a plotting and a thematic perspective – Pompeii does look as sound quite nice. As with a lot of Anderson’s films, there’s a sense that the director is more interested in his action sequences than the characters trapped inside them.

Setting the town alight...

Setting the town alight…

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Non-Review Review: Jack Reacher

Much like its eponymous leading man, Jack Reacher is efficient. That’s probably the best thing that can be said about this adaptation of Lee Child’s One Shot. Coming in at two hours, the movie manages to keep everything relatively under control. Any fuzzy logic is masked by the smart decision to keep things moving at a quick enough pace, distracting from the fact we’ve seen it all before, or that the characters seem especially paper-thin. At times, Jack Reacher suffers from being a little too shallow, a little too safe, a little too predictable. While Christopher McQuarrie can be an excellent writer, he seems to be only developing as a director. He handles movement reasonably well, but the direction amps up the melodrama to almost unbearable levels at certain points in the film.

It’s not terrible, and it’s certainly not an out-and-out failure, but I’d struggle to argue that it’s a successful franchise launch. For most of its runtime, Jack Reacher succeeds at merely being inoffensive and trying not to weigh too heavily on our patience. It’s not the most convincing of victories, but it could have been a lot worse.

Gearing up for a franchise...

Gearing up for a franchise…

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Non-Review Review: Phone Booth

Phone Booth is proof that the high-concept thriller isn’t quite dead yet. A concept that had been floating around Hollywood for decades (with the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, lined up to direct at one point), it seemed that – with the decline of the phone booth and the rise of mobile phones – perhaps the window in which to tell the tale might be closing. Of all the directors to bring the tale to the screen, I don’t think I ever would have expected Joel Schumacher to make one of the most intense and superbly intimate little thrillers ever written to the screen.

There's a lot on the line...

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Non-Review Review: Dark City (Director’s Cut)

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir. Today’s theme is “cyber noir” – the unlikely combination of sci-fi and film noir to make an oh-so-tasty film.

A man jolts awake in a bathtub in a strange motel, and seems somewhat surprised by his surroundings. As seems to be mandatory in all good sleazy establishments, the light bulb on the ceiling swings back and forth – teasing illumination around the otherwise dark tiled room, but never showing everything. Confused, the resident stumbles to his feet, and searches frantically for what must be his clothes. However, there’s an unpleasant surprising waiting for him inside the anonymous cheap room: a dead body of a beautiful woman, carved and cut up in a mysterious spiral pattern. Our protagonist recoils, horrified by the discovery, and leaves the seedy dive as soon as possible. He assures himself, repeatedly, that it isn’t what it looked like. He isn’t a killer, he’s a good man.

However, it would be much easier to make that argument if he could remember anything before waking up in the water. Even his own name.

One to watch...

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Jack and Tony: Brothers in Arms?

I had the pleasure of rewatching bits and pieces of the seventh season of 24 with my parents (as they are equally avid fans of the show). We recently completed the final double episode and I have to admit that it only really occurred to me how well the writers had constructed Tony as a shadowy counterpart to their lead. I’ve already expressed my thoughts on the season as a whole, but I just thought I’d make a quick note of some of the more interesting parallels and ponder whether Jack is really so much better than Tony.

jacktony

Clothes colour coded for your convenience... white=good, black=bad....

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