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Non-Review Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a movie that really works very much better than it really should. It’s clunky, predictable and standard box office fare, hardly designed to provoke or probe the extremes of the human imagination. It opens with a clunky exposition-filled narration which crams an entire franchise’s worth of back story into what should be a simple and straight forward tale, which even Ian McShane’s distinctive tones can’t completely elevate. From there on out, its by-the-numbers and fairly straight-forward. On the other hand, the movie has something that the vast majority of other summer blockbusters are seriously lacking in.

And that thing, my friends, is Nicolas Cage.

Cage certainly takes some balsy roles...

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Your Highness Trailer

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for eighties fantasy. Classics like Willow and Labyrinth were among the favourites of my childhood (although, I must confess, I have never actually seen all of Legend – Tim Curry gave me nightmares). So I’m actually really looking forward to Your Highness, which looks to be a sort of (vaguely) affectionate spoof of all those classic campy fantasy movies. Seriously, check out the appearance from a very Jim-Hensen-esque puppet at the end of the trailer. It’s written and starring Danny McBride, who you’ll probably be familiar with from great roles in some of the better comedies of the last few years (like Pineapple Express with co-star James Franco and Tropic Thunder). The movie filmed in Northern Ireland, and recently had students from around the US competing to host the world premiere, so it’s one to watch. By the way, check out that supporting cast – Damian Lewis, Charles Dance, Toby Jones and Justin Theroux (alongside leads McBride and Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Dreschanel).

Are Spin-Offs the New Sequels?

It seems that year-on-year, the cinemas are flooded with sequels to banal action movies. This year we have Iron Man 2, Shrek 4, Predators and Sex and the City 2, among others. It’s been that way for years. If you summer blockbuster isn’t an adaptation (of television show, novel, comic book, earlier film or even video game), chances are that it is a sequel (or a prequel). It makes shrewd business sense. Given the huge amount of money spent on these tentpoles ($150m for just the production budget, let alone other costs), so it feels somewhat safer to spend it on a known quantity. Franchises have built in fanbases, more merchandise, already had several DVD releases (which means more people are aware of it than casual cinema goers), which means a bigger audience, more awareness and more money. It can be quite exhausting, however, from a cinema goer prospective. However, Hollywood likes to innovate in its own insanely boring way. Much as they redefined cinema by bringing back a gimmick from the fifties, and turned the glut of sequels into prequels, it appears Hollywood has found a new way of generating money from established properties: the spin-off.

Think of the Gross, baby!

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My Top 50 Movies of the Decade…

Alright here it is, my top fifty films of the decade. I’ve decided to stop complaining about Donal Clarke’s list in the Irish Times and just let rip myself. There’s more than a few crazy choices down there, but – after a week in the works – I’m happy with it. I doubt that a lot of other people will be.

Like the Oscars, but... you know, better...

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Non-Review Review: Tropic Thunder

I make no apologies, I love this movie. Though it might not always hit the perfect notes, it maintains Ben Stiller’s pitch-perfect ability to just throw tonnes of stuff at the wall and if even 30% of the jokes hit, you’re at least grinning for the film’s runtime. He also has a fantastic cast full of the talented and the one-note, all of whom are perfectly chosen for the roles that they play within Stiller’s war comedy. Sure, the film may lose focus a bit, and it has a fairly short attention span, but this means that Stiller isn’t afraid to pull away from a gag that isn’t working.

Jungle Fever

Jungle Fever

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Cruise Control – Thoughts on Tom Cruise

I am going to just come out and say this. I like Tom Cruise as an actor. I think he’s hugely talented and vastly underrated. I think he suffers from a subset of the Sean Penn Syndrome that affects Christian Bale – his wacky personal life tends to overshadow his on-screen roles, which is a damn shame, given the talent that’s been hinted at repeatedly throughout his career.

A pleasant cruise...

A pleasant cruise...

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