Monday, 30 December 2013

My End of Year 2013 Movie Review

So, it’s been a while because I’m lazy and there’s no other excuse. So, instead of listing my favourite films of 2013 during this 2013 list-making season, I’ll instead talk about the last 5 movies I watched during the 2013 list-making season. That and I haven’t written anything in ages so to do several mini-reviews will make up for not writing anything in ages. So, good or bad, here are my list of movies I watched at the end of 2013

Phantoms (Joe Chappelle, 1998)

After the death of Peter O’Toole, I wanted to watch The Lion In Winter, one of the greatest movies, in terms of performance, ever. Failing to find a good copy of that I instead watched Phantoms, probably his lowest point. He did admirably, all things considered, and there is one awful moment of shit dialogue he had to contend with, he was pretty cool in it. Though I don’t usually side with the Ben Affleck haters, I will agree he really wasn’t great in this one. Liev Schrieber was fantastically creepy, however.

One thing that impressed me as a kid watching this is that the common sense thing happens: the military gets called in and scientists check out the bullshit supernatural thing. They all die, of course, some of them in particularly horrific ways (some I had forgotten since I’d watched it as a kid), and their role was simply to have more bodies to add to the kill count. There were some good creepy moments, and it’s strange that such a bullshit film like this will set up and pay off stuff, whereas bigger budget, better received films don’t bother and cut shit out completely and confuse the audience. I’m referencing a scene where two main characters drive through a ghost town, and find a car sitting there with the engine running and no driver, as if the driver simply vanished. Later, when they find that their car wont start, one of them gets and idea and they return to that first car to find that it’s dead as well. Its nothing much, but it tells you something about modern movies that many things aren’t set up well enough of the pay-off is erased completely.

Aside from the gross-out moments (there aren’t a lot, but a mutating dog is gross enough for me to look away) you’d be surprised the kind of mileage the director Joe Chappelle can get out of mundane, un-horrific things. A friendly looking dog, sitting under a street lamp, is an ominous sentinel for a larger monster. A silent, staring man is creepy, and its surprising how simple and effective back-lit silhouetted people in terms of freakiness. Some of the scares are undercut with cheese, like two severed heads in a bakery oven (?) because the monster wanted to store them for later?

There is one scene in particular that is very nostalgic for me, and one of the reasons why I wanted to revisit this film. Once a bunch of the main characters meet up they find themselves in an inn. They hear music from upstairs and split up to investigate. Now, when I was younger, in the primary-to-early-high-school age, I spent a lot of time with this one guy. He was exposed to shitty movies like this (he had cable before a lot of us had) and thus we’d end up watching shit movies like this on DVD, or a bad cam version someone had burnt for him. One night I was over with my folks, and while he and I watched Phantoms his mum, a piano teacher, and my mum, who can sing and taught the choir, played music and sung songs together. Loud enough that I thought that the music I was hearing was the one that was freaking out the characters. It means very little to anyone but me but that was very nostalgic for me to revisit.


Virus (John Bruno, 1999)

Would you believe I watched this before I made everyone breakfast on Christmas day? Virus is one of those movies that I had seen as a poster in the back of comic books and decided once years ago that I had to tape it from the TV when it showed up. It’s a very simple movie, but it stood out in my mind as one of the few horror movies that uses cyborgs as a source of terror, as opposed to zombies or other monsters. The other film from this time period is Star Trek: First Contact, never the less I suppose that the fear of technology element was a response to Y2K, but maybe not as this film was written by Chuck Pfarrer, a former navy SEAL who wrote this as a comic book in 1992 as Hollywood didn’t have the technology to create it competently back then, or so the reasoning was. Pfarrer is an interesting guy, who wrote many a screenplay and one of the first to write about the assassination of Bin Laden.

The plot is basic, as a living energy bolt takes over the MIR space station, and gets beamed down to a Russian research vessel. There it takes over the machine shops, churning out little robots before using the crew as spare parts. A salvage crew (Donald Sutherland, Jamie Lee Curtis (she considers this her worst film) and William Baldwin) come to take the ship and claim the money but inadvertently wake up the virus and begin bullshit all over again.

The movie has some great production work, with the robots and cyborgs and such, little techy gears and wires and animatronics and puppets and that sort of thing. But other than that, it’s a dud, but an ok way to pass the time. One other thing to note, is that this is one of the post-Once Were Warriors Hollywood films that Cliff Curtis was in. That movie sent him and Temuera Morrison to the states. Morrison ended up in Barb Wire (1996) and Speed 2 (1997) during the 90s, and Curtis did things like this and Deep Rising (1998), where he played another sea-fareing dangerous Maori.


Battle of the Damned (Christopher Hatton, 2013)

I saw a trailer for this and wanted to give it a try. It’s a pastiche of Escape from New York, Hatton’s other film Robotropolis (2011), and a series of zombie movie clichés. Dolph Lundgren’s character Max is sent into Singapore to locate a rich man’s daughter, and escape the zombie plague contained within. In aid of this he uses killer robots that the stumbles across.

This has all the makings of schlocky trash, which means it could be fun. It certainly has better CGI than Sharknado, that’s for sure, and there’s generally a level of care put into the production. It borrows a lot of shaky-cam from the 28 days films, and has a cold washout effect placed on all the visuals, which can get pretty boring.

Max is a pretty boring character, despite Lundgren’s presence. He isn’t cheesy or silly enough for him to be fun in the context. There are moments of making him a little bit interesting, like how he has to use old-man glasses to read maps, that kind of thing, but not enough to make him stand out in a cheesy, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon kind of way. One super-distracting thing for me was how badly Dolph runs now. Its like he has a really bad back, or knees, and runs with his shoulders back like it hurts, its really noticeable, as zombie movies have tons of running. The rest of the cast is ok, none of them really stand out. David Field, who is an amazing Aussie actor and does these great Oak commercials, is pretty substandard as the prerequisite human villain of the piece. He does get one amazing moment when he literally screams ‘BETRAYAL’ just before he’s killed, though.

All in all it felt like it was a waisted opportunity. The thing about these straight to DVD b-movies is that the marketing, the title or the trailer, is always infinitely more cheesy and more fun than the actual film itself. They had oppourtinities to make this film super self-aware and fun but it just doesn’t work. One character saying ‘serious nerd-gasm’ upon seeing the robots felt both out of character and forced. Now if the whole this was filled with this kind of cheese, it just might have worked.

Matt Doran, who plays Reese in the movie, lives near me, and I missed out on serving him at work recently. I was going to tell him I kind of enjoyed the movie, in a trashy way. I’ll have to wait until next time.


DOA: Dead or Alive (Corey Yuen, 2006)

I just wanted to watch something a little sexy on Christmas, so I thought about this. I never got around to seeing it when it came out, knowing full well that it was going to be shit, but I was more lenient in my assessment this time around.

The film is very simple, as a host of characters from the video game meet up on an island to have a fighting tournament. Of course there’s something a little bit more sinister going on, involving Eric Roberts as the main villain (a lovely surprise to see him here) but that’s because a movie needs a plot, whereas games don’t. In fact, why DOA is popular is because the designers of the original game worked out a way for the breasts to bounce on all the girl characters in a titillating way, and thus turned an otherwise unremarkable fighting game into something legendary. Hence the need for a beach volleyball scene, as in the game the breast bounciness was so appealing in the volleyball sub-game they made a whole volleyball game around it.
Its along these lines that I must mention that, while the girls are all very lovely, none of them have the soft, bouncy breasts of their videogame counterparts.

The fights are all great. The film is a mess in terms of focus, scope and visual styles (one character is a master cat burglar, the other like someone out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.) but the fights are all well done. Its like you’ve made a car-racing movie; the plot and the acting can be crap, but if the car races look like shit then you’ve failed on a fundamental level. So at least it has that.

One scene I want to point out is a fight between the wrestler character Tina (Jaime Pressly) and her dad Bass (Kevin Nash). It was set up by Eric Roberts to be this whole thing as a fuck you to the characters, but it ended up being fun. The daughter beats the father and he’s proud of her, and gives her a big smile and a thumbs up. She doesn’t hate him but he embarrasses her like a proud father tends to do. It’s refreshing to see that, in Hollywood populated with post-Spielberg-daddy-issues-for-all-main-characters style directors, we could have a father and child ACTUALLY come to blows and have them still love each other afterwards with no moody angst. I mean, the movie is trash but that bit made me genuinely happy. That and all the hot girls.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson, 2013)

The movie looked great. And we saw it in 48 frames, which was amazing. The cast were all top notch, the action was amazing and the locations, the sense of scale, was staggering. Martin Freeman is a triumph as Bilbo, particularly in the scene where he meets Smaug and he makes the most out of every second. That’s just about it. I want to watch it again.


Faster (George Tillman Jnr, 2010)

Here’s a movie that suffers from a bad title. I don’t know what you’d call it but Faster is the shittiest name you could have used. It’s a movie that’s surprisingly involved, one of those kind of movies where you’ll just pop it on while you do other stuff and find that it takes a lot more to watch. The film has style, with a lot of great music. Some scenes have tremendous pace and energy, others don’t, and sometimes the film slows down the momentum to its detriment. It’s also a surprisingly long film.

The story revolves around The Driver (Dwayne Johnson), who gets out of prison on a trail of revenge over the murder of his brother. While on his rampage Driver is being stalked by The Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) who is out to stop him, and The Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) a slick assassin hired to take him out.

To the films credit it goes into great detail with these main characters, which is good as it gives them all strong motivations. You feel for all of them, and understand them, which is a rare thing for dumb action movies and that sort of thing.

(spoiler zone)
What I want to talk about mainly is the disconnect between the poster and the title, which seem to market this film to the Fast and Furious crowd, and the tone of the film, a ballsy 70s action crime revenge film. This also plays to the soft ending, where he gets his revenge and moves on with his life. The trailer shows us the original ending, more nihilistic, where I assume the Driver dies in battle with the Killer. Its even suggested that the Killer’s wife (Maggie Grace) kills Driver, if the movie stills are to be interpreted as such. This fits the tone of the film and the 70s crime dramas its imitating: the Killer could have chose to leave the Driver but is constantly testing himself and is obsessed with seeing who will win. A theme of the film is that not all people he wants to claim revenge on are unrepentant in their crimes, others have made amends and the path of revenge isn’t always righteous. As such he should have died at the end, confirming this message, that his path will ultimately end in destruction. They even have a scene where he visits his ex-girlfriend to find that she has a husband and a family to this new guy, and the child he had impregnated with her had been aborted. Thus he has no ties to anyone anymore, there’s only revenge. The final action scene suggested in the trailers was pretty sweet as well, unfortunately, so the end is a bit of a let down.

All in all though, it was worth watching. Especially for the first 10 mins alone.


wow I'm a lazy fuck. Happy new years

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Tournament Review

I remember having a conversation with my friend Josh regarding a poster for a movie called Gangster Squad. I told Josh that it reminded me of the kind of ideas a I had when I was in high school, and if I were the one writing the movie (back then) it would be about 4 disgruntled assassins, who all worked for different gangs: a disgruntled ex-cop mob guy (who resembled me), a ninja for the yakuza, a big heavy machinegun guy for the Russians, etc. It would end with a massive battle as the gangster squad take on 100s of goons who work for the gangs that dissed them. It all sounds pretty puerile and immature, a reflection of my lack of understanding of the world around me, and of crime.

That’s not to say that Jonathan Frank and Nick Rowntree are immature. The conceived this film whilst at college with the director Scott Mann. The film is about a tournament of the world’s best assassins, who compete to see who’s the greatest in the world while the richest bet on its outcome.

I say this with love: the film is like something I would have wrote when I was younger. It speaks to me on a certain level, what with the glamorisations of assassins and the fetishisation of weaponry and insane skills. The lack of understanding of the real world: hackers simply redirect calls and emergency services are suspended, so the environment is lawless like a modern day wild west. It even includes a major role for Kelly Hu, with whom I had a massive crush on in year 10. In many ways this film was made for me.

The characters are paper thin, and like big action ensembles their only distinguishing features are their appearance and their abilities. Ving Rhames is a big, old-fashioned style hitman, Sebastian Foucan as an agile parkour killer, Scott Adkins as a crazy Russian with a cool scar, etc. The most interesting to me is Ian Somerhalder’s psychopathic Texan, who we first see shooting a dog. He screams anime to me, with his garish white coat, crazy hair, and ‘skilled rival’ mindset in contrast to Rhames’ character. So much of his construction resembles what a non-American thinks Americans are really like. Robert Carlyle rounds out the cast as an alcoholic priest caught in the middle of the tournament.

The action is fun, sometimes exaggerated, and very violent. You can tell this is an independent film. Many people completely explode in this movie, and the beginning sequence is soaked in blood. I also love how each assassin kind of goes outside their gimmick, like the Russian martial artist throwing grenades and the parkour expert shooting guns. Some of the action setpieces are a lot of fun and pretty imaginative. Again, this reminds me of something a teenage me would have written, and that’s what makes this movie so cool.

This brings me back to the days of my youth where the coolest things ever were silenced SMGs, night vision goggles and samurai swords, and the word ‘assassin’ denoted something skilled and deadly and awesome. Back before maturity and an understanding of the real world set in. I’ve been dealing a lot with childhood nostalgia, thinking back to how I felt and how media affected me when I was particularly young, this film spoke to the fantasies I had when I was a teen. I could almost imagine myself writing this thing as it transpired onscreen.

So, while this movie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, if you were a teenage boy in the early 2000s this movie is right up your damn alley.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

ADKOB Music Video

This is the music video I conceived and directed for emerging Sydney talent ADKOB, who is a longtime friend of mine. The shoot turned out amazing, shot by my creative partner Joshua Skinner, and edited with amazing ease and talent by Peter Makryllos.  Check out ADKOB's Triple J Unearthed page and his soundcloud where you can check out his music, his tunes are catchy and he's a great guy.

There is also a colour version of the video available for viewing on my creative partner's Vimeo.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

'Raptor' Music Video

This is the proposed music video for the song Raptor by the band Teal. The video was conceived by myself, was produced, directed and shot by Joshua Skinner and edited by Skinner and Julia Allsop. The clip stars the band alongside Reid Singleton as the teacher/monster, with Robbie and Johnny as the two kids. The whole production, start to finish, took 5 months to complete with a crew of three. The latex SFX was designed and created by Joshua Skinner while wooden mask was made by Alice Wong and Roma Sato, with some assistance from myself. Ultimately the clip was rejected by the band and their management.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ant Reviews: Iron Man 3 (2013) -->

While the previous two Iron Man films were great money-makers, and the first in the series having reinvigorated and redefined the superhero film genre, the decision to replace Jon Favreau with Shane Black (at Robert Downey Jnr’s suggestion) was the best decision made for the franchise. Iron Man 3 stands as the freshest, funniest and most interesting Iron Man, and Marvel film, made thus far.

Shane Black worked with RDJ on a film called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) at a time when RDJ was still considered a risk to hire. The modern-day noir was very well written, had a lot of spark and great performances, and was something of a minor classic (at least for me). It set the tone for RDJ’s return to form, and his performances in all subsequent films, that is to say the use of the lovable, charming arsehole. While it may work for some characters (Tony Stark) it doesn’t work that well for others (Sherlock Holmes) but never the less KKBB is where it all began, and is the best example of this RDJ character in use.

With Drew Pearce as co-screenwriter, Black brings back some of that charm to RDJ’s Tony Stark, and contains some of the most successful dialogue moments the character has ever utilized in any film appearance. It’s good to watch this film with a good crowd as it only enhances the experience, and the jokes really work. The jokes aren’t that obvious and that’s a great thing for a film for kids involving kids. The film contains the most surprising and cringe-inducing opening song I’ve heard in a film (you’ll know what I mean), which was a great experience to sit through.

It is a fine choice to show the effects the Avengers film had on Tony Stark’s psyche, and the effects and interesting and convincing. One of the major problems I had with Iron Man 2 is that even after all of the character development of Stark in the first film Stark was still arrogant as hell. This film dials that down significantly, where he is a bit more subdued but not out-of-character, showing more progression than previously. The focus on Stark being a mechanic and a tinkerer helped in making him more like an individual and not just a flashier Bruce Wayne as well.

Guy Pearce is great as Aldrich, a sinister former employer of Pepper, played by Paltrow, who’s as solid as Rebecca Hall and Don Cheadle, who is now known as Iron Patriot. If there is one major complaint about the film is that these characters are sidelined for most of the film, and their appearances are almost an afterthought. The great Stark stuff is more than worth it, but I wish Iron Patriot got more of a better run. Ben Kinglsey is a revelation as the villain Mandarin, one of the most memorable villains of all of the Marvel Films. William Sadler is an odd choice to play a president, as he usually plays villains. This leads to some of the interesting political content the film contains.

The film seems to contain some kind of Bush-era criticism, which while still relevant to an extent seems a little out of place. Pearce’s character makes mention of Sadler’s president pulling strings for rich industrialist friends; a criticism levelled at W. Bush. In addition to this fact that Sadler looks a bit like Bush adds to this comparison.
Cheadle’s War Machine is re-branded Iron Patriot. War Machine makes no appearance in the film, despite what the merchandise will tell you. At one point in the film Iron Patriot has been tasked with hunting down Kinglsey’s Mandarin in Pakistan. The film presents an image of a living weapon, coloured like an American flag, kicking in doors and aiming space-age weapons at Muslims. The obvious Bin Laden comparisons to Mandarin aside, and you find yourself with a 2013 film that has themes and images that seem to reflect a pre-death-of-Bin-Laden War on Terror film, only with less criticism that films from that era would provide. Even the comic book The Ultimates (by Mark Millar) questioned the use of Captain America in Iraq, a living WMD wrapped in an American Flag. The invading ‘knight in shining (American) armour’ idea is presented with very little irony, which is a shame.

I find it interesting that Iron Patriot occupies such a role in this film. The image of a Captain America-esque Iron Man came about from someone tinkering with a Marvel Civil War cover of Iron Man holding Cap’s shield. This inspired the villain Iron Patriot, which was worn by Norman Osbourne, a Spider-man villain. The role suits Rhodey and like the design in the film, I just wish there was a bit more of it in the film.

So an interesting film, well made, even if some of the themes seem out of place or a little dated in a contemporary mindset. The supporting cast get little to play with (comparatively) but the overall experience is satisfying and all make great use of their time. It also contains the greatest third act of the franchise (I love all the extra armours!). And if you’re wondering why this film takes place at Christmas: Black wrote Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boyscout, Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, all of which take place at Christmas. It’s his thing.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ant Reviews: Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore (2013)

The OTHER Iron Man movie of 2013 is a straight-to-DVD anime that may or may not take place between The Avengers (2012) and Iron Man 3 (2013). The story centres on mysterious new villain Technovore, who targets Tony Stark with his strange and unstoppable bio-organic technology. This forces Stark on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. and features non-super-powered heroes Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and, surprisingly, The Punisher.

I had watched the Iron Man Anime series, which shares a few similarities with this film in that there is a link to the live-action Marvel Universe, with the series taking place after Iron Man (2008) and featuring characters from that film. Iron Man is a character well suited to a Japanese audience, and that series saw Stark setting up a shop in Japan with a Japanese scientist counterpart fulfilling the role that Pepper Potts normally would. The series was OK, it had a better pace and was more interesting than the snail-pace X-Men anime and had an art style more consistent than the uneven Wolverine Anime.

The animation is fine; mixing what I think is traditional animation with digital representations of his armour for the action sequences. Some of the action flies by too fast, and no real sense of geography is offered. The character representations are pretty, and the villain’s method of killing people is visually interesting, so overall the art is solid if frenetic.

In terms of voices, the series had the star power of Adrian Pasdar, which the film replaced with Mathew Mercer, a fine replacement who sounds a lot like Nolan North when in Tony Stark mode. Troy Baker, known for being Nightwing in the new Injustice: Gods Among Us game, is Hawkeye while Seth Green’s wife Clare Grant is Black Widow. All do fine work, though the guy who plays Nick Fury is a little off. They also draw him as if he’s stoned throughout the whole thing, bizarrely. He’s not calm and collected like Samuel L Jackson’s version, just sedate.
The celebrity draw of the film is Norman Reedus, who plays Frank Castle, the Punisher. He gets top billing, and I think they designed the Punisher to look more like Reedus then any Punisher that has been on-screen before. He ads a cold calmness to the role, and lacks the southern accent I became used to hearing out of Darrel Dixon. I always enjoy hearing a familiar voice in a cartoon; half the fun of watching contemporary DC cartoons is to pick out the celebrity voices and see how well they suit the roles.

He is a surprising and welcome addition, and his absent is strongly felt. He’s only in the film for a little bit, in the first half. And it is in this first half where the film has any interest and innovation. Once he leaves the film devolves into boring and uninteresting clichés, many of them associated with Japanese animation.

The villains are children who haven’t grown up, and who live in one big room. One of them is weird, catatonic, and sits in a chair. The whole sequence reminds me of Akira (1988) when we are introduced to the superpowered children. There are a few visual cues from the location as well as how the villain’s physical damage towards the end resembles Akira’s Tetsuo. And, like Tetsuo, the villain takes control of a satellite. The final 20 mins of the film deal with the villain’s powers in overdrive, and a lot of this visually looks like some Neon Genesis: Evangelion in both design and action. The Technovore, in human form, waxes lyrical in a very wordy, unrealistic fashion, which is common of Japanese animation and is a staple of the form, I suppose.

Safe to say that in this second half I lost the most interest, and wasn’t paying enough attention to what was going on. Rhodey was injured but came back OK, the villain took over the Helicarrier and then a whole city and it was all very confusing, and to be honest, boring. The whole affair is an OK way to spend your time, but it ultimately isn’t the most original piece nor is it the most exciting. The Marvel Anime have always been hit-and-miss, and at this point I’m not sure if it is a problem with the quality of the productions or all the moments I have issues with are simply conventions of a medium I’m not all that familiar with. That is to say that I’ve asked myself “would I enjoy this more if I was Japanese and understood anime?” So…I’m hanging out for Iron Man 3 tomorrow. That should be fun.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Ant Reviews: Welcome To The Punch (2013)

Eran Creevy’s Welcome to the Punch centres on Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) and his feverish pursuit of master thief Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong), who returns to London to help his son who’s caught up in a nasty conspiracy. Fans of British television would recognise a vast majority of the cast, made up of David Morrissey, Peter Mullan (currently kicking arse in Top of The Lake) Daniel Mays, Andrea Riseborough (who’s starring alongside Tom Cruise in Oblivion) among others.  

Ed Wild’s cinematography is slick, cold and sharp, and presents an unrecognizable London, with its lights shining in the dark under a blue hue. The look is very alien and very modern European. While rendering familiar places unrecognizable is a cool thing to do (see Leon The Professional and how New York looks like the Parisian underbelly) this does little to make the film stand out as a British version of Heat (1995); many shots look like the film could have been shot in Sweden.  

And that would not be that bad, though, if not for that glaring Heat comparison. This film is another action crime epic, like Michael Mann’s masterpiece, with the central protagonists being cops and robbers playing cat and mouse. This time there is more of a third party threat than there is in Mann’s film, but the comparison is unmistakeable. Going back to the problem of it not looking too much like England: the film could have been shot in the US without much of the dialogue being changed, and as a ‘British Heat’, I feel the film needed just a bit more to make you associate it with the UK. 

But perhaps a British audience with receive the plot better than I did, as the conspiracy that ties all major events together involves guns, and the issue of providing guns to UK police in a standard capacity a la the US. This may be a big issue in the UK post-riots, but in the film to me it lacked a certain kind of relevance, and felt fake and un-British as a conspiracy idea. 

The whole thing feels just too American to me. I suppose that’s a trapping of the genre, as action films of this type originated there and as such the plot and character conventions feel too American. The film is peppered with these clichés here and there, and as such the film feels like Brits trying to make an American movie. It feels odd as all the actors on display are top-shelf and at times the story and the dialogue feel amateurish. 

I say amateurish as I recognise the film in a certain way, its very familiar to me. Not to say that it is; the script won third place in a competition regarding unproduced screenplays, and found itself with Ridley Scott as one of its executive producers. I’m just saying that at a young age I felt like I could make a ‘smart’ action movie, more of a drama with shooting in it, and had many ideas of writing a film that would have probably turned out very much like ....Punch. Maybe I will write something like that someday, and it feels sometimes like the film is cramming American ideas and scenarios into a British setting, and that feels to me like something a teenager would write. 

Which brings me to the film’s misleading title. It feels like the title of a sassier film, and while there actually is a plot-based reason as to the name of the film (the words ‘welcome to the punch’ are blink-and-you-miss-it, but there) the film overall lacks the kind of energy that the title suggests. There is one great scene, however, where three heroic characters hold a villain’s grandma hostage, and shootout ensues. This scene crackles with energy and innovation, and is shot brilliantly. It makes one wonder why the rest of the film is rather flat, and one must assume that this scene was a ‘this has to be in the movie’ kind of scenes that the director must have dreamt about making, as it is the only one with a discernible amount of care put into it. It’s the most exciting and certainly the most memorable scene in an otherwise unmemorable film. 

The performances are ok. The cast are made up of UK TV favourites of mine, with some of their great film actors thrown in for good measure. The problem is they’re not given much to work with. In a short amount of time the two main characters are dealt great personal blows, and both reactions aren’t given the right amount of time or gravitas they deserve. It’s easy to determine who the bad guy is behind it all (it rhymes with ‘flavid florriesy’) and the reasons and motivations for such criminal acts are hastily sped through. 
The problem is we’re not given much of a reason to care what happens to any of the characters, really, which leaves us with a cold film that goes through the motions at times, save for the before mentioned hostage scene. It at times feels like the actors filmed this on the weekends while they worked on bigger, better productions during the week; Daniel Mays looks liked he walked straight off the set of Ashes to Ashes. But it is good seeing McAvoy with a ginger beard (my friend Andrew has the same problem) and being more like a tough man than the grown teenager he looks like in Wanted. He turns in a good performance, but Strong’s scenes needed a bit more oomph. He’s a bit too cold and calculated, and needed more life. 

In all Welcome to the Punch is ok. It’s certainly not the worst film in the world, but it is by no means the most memorable or the most original. It’s also a surprisingly long film, so if you’re in the mood to watch quality UK actors do an ok job in an predictable American style heist revenge film, give it a look. But I had a better time watching The Sweeney (2012).

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I Got Published!

I haven't been posting as much as I've been busy interning at Inside Film Magazine, where I did a bunch of interviews with people like Paul Fenech, Tim Ferguson, one of the creators of Super Dingo, and lastly John Jarratt, who was a lovely guy. My first piece published was our interview and it was a full page. I'm proud as punch.