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Non-Review Review: The Frozen Ground

Despite strong central performances and a firm directorial hand, The Frozen Ground never quite manages to find its footing. Part se7en, part secondary school civics lesson, The Frozen Ground suffers from a ham-fisted script which feels the need to constantly remind the audience about how terrible the whole situation is. Characters don’t deliver dialogue so much as thematic statements, with the script playing out as an over-extended advertisement for a women-in-trouble charity.

The issues raised by The Frozen Ground about how society treats the abused and the dispossessed are definitely worth talking about. The film makes a lot of poignant criticisms about how the opinions and experiences of a certain class of women are conveniently dismissed and overlooked by those in positions of authority. The problem is that the script is far too earnest about such matters, as if afraid that the audience might be unable to grasp the exploitation of these women unless it is pointed out repeatedly and awkwardly.

It’s less of a film, and more of a blunt mission statement. Less of a story and more of a bleak public service announcement. Which is a shame, because John Cusack is legitimately great here, and Nicolas Cage and Vanessa Hudgens do the best they can with the material afforded to them.

Feeling quite Cage-y on the subject...

Feeling quite Cage-y on the subject…

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Non-Review Review: (Seeking) Justice

The premise of Justice (or Seeking Justice, as it is named in the States) is not fundamentally unworkable. The basic plot seems almost like an affectionate homage to Hitchcock, with people essentially trading motivations for murder, with a mysterious organisation (known as “the Organisation”) offering people a chance for revenge against the person who hurt them – but with a caveat. If they do you a favour, you will have to do them a favour later on. It’s not a bad premise for a revenge thriller, but the problem with Justiceis that it takes itself far too serious, and expects us to do the same. What could have been a cheesy-yet-enjoyable thriller becomes an overly long and self-important waste of time.

Cage rage!

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Non-Review Review: Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengeance

I’m convinced that there must be a half-decent Ghost Rider movie to be made. In fact, I’m sure that Nicolas Cage already made it, in the form of the deliciously pulpy Drive Angry, which touched on a lot of the grindhouse and B-movie qualities one expects from a movie featuring a stunt driver with a flaming skull who sucks souls from criminals. In contrast, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance feels like it’s trying a little too hard. The script feels just a little bit too stilted and conventional, while the direction seems to overcompensate, feeling gimmicky to the point of being distracting and almost disorientating.

Hell’s Angel…

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The Sequel Dilemma: What Does It Take to Convince You To See a Sequel to a Really Bad Movie?

I can’t help it. I am kinda excited to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I know the first Ghost Rider was terrible. I sat through it. However, there’s still a little part of me that’s yearning to get a look at what Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have done to the series. After all, the pair helmed Crank, perhaps the quintessential “very silly, very exciting” action movie. And, to be fair, there have been any number of movie franchises that have recovered from a near catastrophic instalment to offer something new and exciting and engaging.

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Non-Review Review: Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes could have been a much better movie than it ultimately turned out be. Brian De Palma can be a frustratingly uneven filmmaker, but the basic premise of the movie isn’t sort of promise. A murder mystery and conspiracy thriller in a crowded auditorium, with the investigating officer a corrupt cop? That’s a fairly interesting hook right there, even before you add Nicolas Cage and Gary Sinise to the mix. Unfortunately, the movie never seems entirely sure what it wants to be, ultimately serving as a random mish-mash of different elements that never add up to a conclusive whole.

In the Nic of time...

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Non-Review Review: Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call New Orleans

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is a mess of a movie. I don’t mean that as praise, nor do I mean it as criticism. It’s just a jumble of ideas and scenes, plot contrivances and random incidents, all tied together through the central performance of Nicolas Cage as Lieutenant Terrence McDonagh. Watching the film, I’m not entirely convinced that it really works, but I do have increased respect for Nicolas Cage, who seems to hold Werner Herzog’s shattered examination together through the sheer force of his performance.

Off the cuff...

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Second Chances for Sequels…

What if you have to pee when you’re on fire?

It’s awesome.

I have a confession to make. I am actually kinda looking forward to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The trailer looks like it could be either off-the-wall over-the-top brilliant, or mind-numbingly terrifying, but promises to be interesting either way. Still, the taint of the original Ghost Rider, perhaps the weakest comic book adaptation of the past decade (and there have been some weak adaptations), hangs around the title, and I can’t help but wonder if my dislike of the original film should somehow mute my anticipation for the sequel. After all, I’ve seen the concept fail on screen before, so why should I feel even a hint of excitement for a follow-up to a ridiculously crap film? Appropriately enough, with sequels, is it once burnt and twice shy?

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