‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ is one of the most despicable displays in the collision between consumerism and filmmaking. Yes, the film is based on the toy company Hasbro’s stable of action figures so it would be lofty to expect something groundbreaking. It could be easy to shrug and say “it is what it is” but there is something dangerous about a film made to sell toys using war.
The deadbeat dad storyline is a familiar one in cinema but it has never been done with a combination of killer whales, Katy Perry music and mixed martial arts (MMA) before. If it sounds a little overloaded, that’s because it is, but there is a touching story of fatherhood and family at the core of ‘Rust and Bone’.
A bad omen at the start of any film is when main plot details are dropped by a news report and in the opening seconds of ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ there’s a news update. It’s an example of one of the many ways the film languishes in mediocrity. The Die Hard franchise has had highs (‘Die Hard’ and ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’) and lows (‘Die Hard 2′ and ‘Live Free or Die Hard’) but ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ breaks the deadlock and pushes the series deep into the trash heap.
The world of Las Vegas magicians is ripe for parody but ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ feels like a joke that has been waiting to be told since the 1980s and they’ve mangled the punch line in 2013.
‘I Give it a Year’ is so obsessed with how clever it thinks it is that it completely sinks the romantic comedy pirate ship it sets forth to be. Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) fall in love in the most clichéd movie way via a montage. Before you can say “I feel like I’ve seen this all before” the happy couple are suffering through an awkward wedding complete with all the trademark comedic trimmings of such an event: strange parents, odd priests and the cringe worthy speech from the best man (Stephen Merchant).
In the ‘Wizard of Oz’, the Land of Oz was the perfect embodiment of the optimism and fear transferred over from Dorothy’s (Judy Garland) life in Kansas. Her protectors on the farm became a cowardly lion, a tin man and a scarecrow while her enemy became a wicked witch. It’s sad that in ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Disney have chosen to pillage from the 1939 film and L. Frank Baulm’s novels to create a prequel that plays out like fan fiction written for Playboy magazine that almost completely negates the material it’s based on.
A cricket tournament in India provides the path to enlightenment for a group of thirty-something men stuck in an adolescent mindset in the charismatic new Australian film ‘Save Your Legs’.
The murder mystery has been given a stylish medical makeover by director Steven Soderbergh in ‘Side Effects’. It’s Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’ with a prescription in hand.
Making the commitment to spend the rest of your life with someone, through sickness or health in marriage, is one of the oldest traditions in the union between two people. The tale of an elderly couple in filmmaker Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ sees that marital commitment through to the absolute end.
There is a moment in ‘The Last Stand’ where the film’s villain is about to initiate part of his evil scheme and someone asks “what’s that?” He replies with flamboyant delivery “EXCITEMENT!” If he was attached to a lie detector it would have exploded because the new film from filmmaker Jee-woon Kim featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger is far from exhilarating.
The aforementioned bad guy (Eduardo Noriega) – who is said to be “worse than Pablo Escobar” – escapes from the authorities with plans to seek refuge in Mexico. Standing in his way is the border town of Sommerton Junction and the resident sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger).
Schwarzenegger makes his comeback after close to ten-years away from a leading film role and he appears like an action figurine that has spent way too much time melting under a magnifying glass. The former Mr Universe fails to make a big bang and in the first hour of the film, while the baddies hatch their plot, Arnie wears boat-shoes, sleeps (a lot) and enjoys the serenity on his front porch. It seems at times that the biggest threat may not be the drug lords but arthritis. Though, once the guns are unsheathed deep into finale of the film there is a little glimmer of the once great action star with a few well timed one-liners, a deadly aim and the ability to make the hired goons pay for their sins in the special Schwarzenegger way.
The plot offers absolutely nothing to engage with and it’s as straightforward as a madman on the loose and a police force too inept to stop him. Due to poor scripting by Andrew Knauer (that was rewritten by Jeffrey Nachmanoff and George Nolfi) it’s mostly just a cat and mouse chase peppered with bland action sequences. Director Jee-woon Kim offers nothing more than flipped vehicles, henchmen who become Swiss cheese and gun-play that would make zombie Charlton Heston drool.
Goofball comedic relief by a local gun nut played by Johnny Knoxville is embarrassing and is the kind of nonsensical character that revels in America’s obsession with armoury. It’s sad that for a country that has so many gun-related deaths a character like Knoxville’s would be even considered funny. He’s the kind of guy that would either shoot himself by accident or kill lots of innocent people in the process. The other police officer characters vary from the corporate detective type played to Forrest Whitaker and a small town cop played by *gulp* Luiz Guzman. Despite their differences in rank, they share a common trait of being completely incompetent. With all the technology at their disposal the police can’t even track a car travelling on an open road. Furthermore, it takes them forever to figure out the plan despite the fact that by simply looking at a map it’s clear the car is driving towards Mexico. The film is full of people who shouldn’t be working law enforcement or allowed near any kind of automatic weapon or sharp objects; the town of Sommerton Junction could do with serious idiot proofing.
The gimmick of Schwarzenegger’s return to cinema wears off quickly and while his back catalogue doesn’t contribute much to high art, ‘The Last Stand’ is a bland bullet riddled excuse for an action flick.
The Popcorn Junkie