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Non-Review Review: Big Game

Big Game is a rather unlikely combination. Jalmari Helander’s comedy action movie plays as a cocktail of Airforce One and E.T., a coming of age film blended with a old-fashioned action adventure film. It is a combination that works surprisingly well, allowing Big Game to be both playful and charming. Big Game feels like an homage to classic eighties and nineties cinema – the emotional beats are broad, the action is absurd, the irony is layered on pretty heavy. Big Game is always wry and self-aware, but never quite breaks character.

It is a potent mixture, and one that manages to hold itself together remarkably well across the film’s ninety-minute runtime. Big Game never takes itself too seriously, providing a light and exciting action adventure treat.

“I’m king… er… leader of the free world!”

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Non-Review Review: Sleeper

Sleeper is an enjoyable Woody Allen film, coming from relatively early in the director’s career. He had yet to direct either Annie Hall or Manhattan, arguably his two most popular works, but was coming off a string of well-regarded movies. Sleeper is an affectionate look at many of the science-fiction movies that Hollywood was producing in the late sixties and early seventies, to the point that Allen himself actually sat down with Isaac Asimov to make sure the science-fiction elements of the script were kosher. However, Sleeper is remarkably fluid, allowing room within that framework for Allen to really explore any and all ideas that might possibly have occurred to him. The result is, to borrow a quote from the poster, a highly enjoyable and almost whimsical “nostalgic look at the future.”

Robot in disguise…

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Non-Review Review: Independence Day

I think there’s a serious argument to be made for Independence Dayas one of the truly exceptional summer blockbusters. It’s not exceptionally clever or insightful, its characters aren’t necessarily more than plot functions given life by a wonderful cast, but it has a high-octane energy and wonderful sense of tone that makes it a joy to watch. It’s cheesy enough that it never takes itself too seriously, and yet it’s efficient enough and effective enough that it never descends to the level of pure camp. It’s a deft balance, and I suspect that it might be a fluke, but I think that Independence Day remains a gleefully enjoyable guilty pleasure to this day.

Don't run! We are your friends!

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Non-Review Review: Executive Decision

Are you manly? I mean really manly? In a way, Executive Decision is kinda what I was hoping for when I heard about The Expendables. It’s not an excellent movie, or even an exceptional one – in fact, it can be cynically described as Die Hard on a plane” – but it’s a perfectly serviceable action movie that gets bonus points for never trying to be anything more than what it is. There’s not tangential romantic plot or half-hearted attempts at characterisation: the movie is all business. And that business is attempting to give its audience testosterone poisoning. 

Not quite plane sailing ahead...

 

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Non-Review Review: W.

Oliver Stone famously rushed just about every aspect of this production in order to get it into cinemas before last year’s November election. Does that affect the movie? It does and it doesn’t. It doesn’t in that Stone seems to have a clear image of the President in his head and it’s perfectly captured on screen. It does affect the movie in that Stone has to choose an arbitrary cutoff point for his movie, since he can’t end it with the end of Bush’s presidency. So he chooses the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004 to serve as the film’s ending. That point arguably suits the central thesis of Stone’s psychological profile of the man, butit also serves to make that thesis seem heavy-handed or forced. The other side of that coin is that I doubt the Stone would have been able to market and sell the film for a few years after the end of the Bush administration, and the fact that so vintage a diretcor as Stone can still make such a raw and energetic film is a testament to his abilities (that some of us may have doubted after World Trade Centre and Alexander).

bush

Misunderestimate at your peril...

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The Palmers: A Reflection of the Kennedys?

Senator Ted Kennedy passed away last week amid a media frenzy. What interested me most about the Senator’s passing was the revelation of how he spent his final days: watching Bond movies and the entire run of 24. There are worse entertainments to be found, to be sure. I wonder if he watched that hallmark American television show enthralled by the actions of Jack Bauer, or if he saw something more hidden away? He wouldn’t be the first to find parallels between the show’s African-American Presidential family and the illustrious Kennedy dynasty. Did he see a reflection of what might have been, in another life?

I like the flag. Patriotic touch.

I like the flag. Patriotic touch.

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