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Non-Review Review: Inferno

Inferno is not a good movie.

It is clunky and contrived, moving at so gentle a pace that even the character need to constantly remind each other that the fate of the human race lies in the balance. Its action sequences are clumsily staged, its twists are all entirely predictable and its impressive international cast strain to stretch their roles out to two dimensions. This is a film that has trouble generating tension despite the fact that there is an imminent threat to half of the world’s population. Inferno simply doesn’t work.

"It says... 'one if by land, two if by sea'?"

“It says… ‘one if by land, two if by sea’?”

And yet, in spite of all that, there is something strangely compelling about it. Inferno is amess of a film, but one that holds attention by virtue of how strikingly odd it is. Inferno feels very much like a James Bond film, if only they’d sanded down the rough edges of that nice old Roger Moore fellow, cast that quirky uncle who is really useful at table quizzes, and combined it with something like The Crystal Maze. The film plays like afternoon television on an epic scale, with Robert Langdon feeling like he could call in a favour from Perry Mason or R. Quincy at any moment.

Inferno is strange enough that it holds interest, feeling more unique than the recycled pseudo-histories of The DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons. There is an endearing eccentricity to the film, which might just be the gentlest apocalyptic thriller ever made. It is a weekday afternoon blockbuster.

"I belong in a museum!"

“I belong in a museum!”

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Non-Review Review: Angels & Demons

Well, the only way to go from The DaVince Code was up, right? Good, because this doesn’t go too far up, lest you get all excited. It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill chase movie without any charm or wit or intelligence (and severely lacking in logic, one might add). It commits the cardinal sin (he he, cardinal… geddit?) of thinking that it is far smarter than it actually is, and it never manages to be particularly exciting or engaging. Still, Ron Howard can’t completely hide his talent amid a jumble of half-baked action sequences and illogical clues.

Try as you may, you can't outrun the inevitable threequel, Hanks!

Try as you may, you can't outrun the inevitable threequel, Hanks!

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Hair-Raising Thriller

As the release of Angels & Demons approaches, I have one question. Just one question about Tom Hanks’ intrepid symbologist’s symbologist, Robert Langdon. It’s not why everyone seems to turn to him when they have a problem probably more suited to… well, the police. Or how he never seems to need to look anything up, ever. Or what he does when he’s not uncovering the seemingly endless array of underground Catholic-themed conspiracies (I reckon it’s a niche market). Nope, but I sense it may be related to the above. My question is this: what the hell is going on with his hair?

Seriously, who convinced Tom Hanks, let alone Ron Howard it was good idea? In hindsight maybe it was, as perhaps it distracted me away from the poor plotting, pacing and action in The DaVinci Code – indeed, I dislike it a lot less than most critics. Perhaps it’s designed to hide the movie’s plot hole, like some sort of plot-hole-cloaking device. Hell, the Angels & Demons features a plot to destroy the Vatican with dark matter (you gotta give those plotters props for creativity – not even the laws of physics can stop them! Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!).

langdonhair

"This is so awkward... We've all got the same hair..."

In fairness, Hanks is doing his best to downplay the hair – perhaps he’s afraid be being upstaged? – placing the blame on stylist Manny Miller, who tells the movie’s stories through hair apparently. Though, it that’s the case, Hanks really didn’t need the hair upgrade – thinning seems rather adequate for the movie on hand. Perhaps they should have George-Lucas-ed the recent box set edition of the first movie to tone the hair down a bit. I can’t think of any other reason people might consider having a DaVinci Code boxset. Perhaps if it came with your own Robert Langdon wig…

I apologise if I’m being flippant, but it really is quite distracting. It looks greasy and sleazy – two things that Hanks couldn’t be if he tried. Langdon looks like he’s selling pills at an disco, not a world-renowned expert in symbology. Even the news that the ponytail is gone doesn’t relax me none, though it is a good sign that even the screenwriter thought the hair was a bit too much. Maybe for the inevitable third part of the trilogy.

The film looks like a by-the-numbers thriller, and is getting pasted by critics. I’ll admit I haven’t read the book (The DeVinci Code was enough Dan Brown for me), but I didn’t find The DaVinci Code film too offending (it managed to be less patronising than the book). Not stellar, but not terrible. I imagine I’ll catch this sometime, but probably not in the cinema.

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Angels & Demons is the new film from Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon), starring Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Forrest Gump), Ewan McGregor (the Star Wars prequels, Shallow Grave) and Tom Hanks’ hair. It opens worldwide tomorrow, 14th May 2009.