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Non-Review Review: The Children Act

Perhaps the most striking thing about The Children Act is how it manages to combine so many stock prestige drama beats into such a chaotic cacophony.

The Children Act is a mess from beginning to end, all the more jarring for how familiar and how recognisable the constituent elements might be. The Children Act often feels like a fairly standard IKEA table where all of the pieces have been assembled to create something monstrous. Often during the runtime, the audience might spot a familiar beat or plot point, but often one deployed with little consideration for how these elements normally work or how they might better service this particular story.

Come what May.

The Children Act is a film that very clearly aspires towards a certain style of prestige cinema. It is directed by Richard Eyre, responsible for awards fare like Iris or Notes on a Scandal and even the recent highly successful BBC adaptation of King Lear. It is written by Ian McEwan, adapting his own novel, the writer perhaps still best know to movie-going audiences as the novelist who provided the source material for Atonement. It stars Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci, two actors who are always highly engaging, and who should bounce off one another.

Unfortunately, almost nothing within the film actually works, with strange decisions contorting the narrative into strange shapes. The Children Act is a curiousity that is more intriguing than it is engaging, more compelling for how completely it refuses to work than for anything that it is actually trying to say.

Just this.

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Non-Review Review: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters demonstrates just how lucky the Harry Potter films were when it came to casting teenage performers. As a movie series centred around the off-spring of Greek deities, the movie relies on the charisma of its leads to sell the premise. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite up to the task. While none of the performers are terrible or wooden, the film drags to a hault when the teenage actors are asked to carry a scene. As a result, a quiet boat ride in the middle of the film seems interminable, and a heart-to-heart before the climax feels overlong.

None of the cast are assisted by a script from Marc Guggenheim. Guggenheim is capable of a well-placed zinger, and the movie offers its fair share of wit, but everything about the movie feels pandering and simplistic, as if Guggenheim doesn’t trust his audience to pick up on the plot points if they aren’t painstakingly catalogued and repeatedly spelt out with cringe-worthy dialogue. Indeed, Guggenheim’s desire to slow everything down so he can repeatedly explain what’s going on only adds to the pacing issues caused by the weak leads.

It’s a shame, because the adult cast seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves, and there’s something quite charming about the idea of “demi-googling” as a means of retrieving information.

Another stab at a Percy Jackson film...

Another stab at a Percy Jackson film…

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Non-Review Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a solid science-fiction action movie that brushes fleetingly with greatness. Borrowing liberally from various sources of science-fiction cult lore, director Gary Ross provides an efficient little adventure movie that alludes to depths it seems afraid to explore. The result is a stylish little film, one constructed with considerable style and technique. It keeps the audience interested for most of its two-and-a-half hour run time. The problem is that it feels like it should be so much more than it ultimately ends up being. It lacks the killer instinct that it needs to define itself as a truly exceptional piece of work.

Straight arrow?

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Non-Review Review: Easy A

“Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason,” Olive – our plucky teenage protagonist – moans at one point, before sadly reflecting, “But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.” However, her life really isn’t that far off. Easy A recalls, in the best way possible, all those great teenage comedies from the eighties, like The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It isn’t that it’s a generic imitation – it works very well on its own merits, and selling it as a nostalgic trip doesn’t do the movie justice – rather that is displays a genuine understanding about the facts of being a teenager growing up and the way that social interactions work at that age.

Funny, my hairdresser gave me the same advice...

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Non-Review Review: The Lovely Bones

There are somethings you can’t put a positive spin on. The rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl is one of those things.

A little too lovely...

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