Alex Cross (2012) Film Review

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Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a psychologist who currently works for the police as a detective. Picasso (Matthew Fox) is a serial killer who enjoys torturing his victims to death. Cross investigates Picasso with his partner, Thomas (Edward Burns) despite a lack of support from his boss, Captain Brookwell (John C. McGinley in a ridiculously not funny role). And things get nasty.

The Alex Cross series of books were written by James Patterson, and while the character is clearly based on that of the book, this doean’t seem to be Patterson’s work.Essemially, this is the Alex Cross origin story. And it is pretty darn awful. The script is a bit cheesy and has some good shoot up bits, but the directing, the acting, even the make-up and special effects are all awful. I’ve not seen either of the films based on this series and can only suggest that if you want to see Alex Cross brought to life, go for one of those. Avoid this one like the plague!

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The Wedding Singer (1998) Film Review

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Robbie (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer, very popular on the circuit because he and his band do all the latest hits – of the 80s, when the film is set – and also because he is a true romantic. Then his fiancé, Holly (Christine Taylor) dumps him and he becomes depressed. Then there is Julia (Drew Barrymore), a waitress engaged to Glenn (Matthew Glave), a sleazy, cheaty, Wall St guy who ropes Robbie and all his mates into helping her plan her wedding.

A lot of people love this film for its kitschy eighties-ness and stuff, and there is some good stuff in it. Unfortunately, it is ruined by being that kind of Adam Sandler film – you know, the kind of film when the character George (Alexis Arquette), an alternative band member who dresses like Boy George, takes the stage, everyone is mostly repulsed by the cross dressing, apart from one character, the loser character (played by Steve Buscemi) who is even more of a loser because he finds George attractive – and the joke is on him, because he is such a loser that he doesn’t even realise that George is a guy! (Oh, so offensive!) The type of Adam Sandler film that, when Robbie hilariously sets up the fat loser kid to dance with gorgeous Julia at the Bar Mitzvah, when the kid grabs and holds her bottom for a long time, it is a laugh, and there is no mention that that is actually assault, it’s not funny and not make funny when Robbie then makes a young girl grab his arse. Clearly, I have no sense of humour about this. But it’s nasty comedy, and there could have been reactions to George that were funny and not mean, and the right of a woman to dance with a man without being groped didn’t have to be turned into a joke.

I used to really like Adam Sandler, but then I started to really notice how horrible and mean his films in general are, and how much they just laugh at those in lower status positions, and I’ve gone right off them. Is there a chance for him to come back – he is going to have to do something pretty darned amazing to get me – and I don’t think that he has any interest in winning me over.

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L.A. Confidential (1997) Film Review

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The LA Police Department is crooked – beating confessions from the criminals, setting them up, being on the take – and they’ve been getting away with it for a long time. Then along comes clean-cut, glasses wearing Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), a man who is going to do things by the book. Then there is Bud White (Russell Crowe), a thug of a cop who does what he is told, but has a depth that he only exposes to his girlfriend, high-class prostitute Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger). Several conspiracies start to come to light, exposed by or involving celebrity cop Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), tabloid reporter Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) and the big police boss Dudley Smith (James Cromwell).

Watching this twenty years ago, I didn’t get why it was so loved and so respected. It’s got a lot going on, but I just couldn’t engage. I felt that way about it this time until about half an hour from the end – and then everything seemed to click. Now, a day later, parts are still popping into my mind. I can’t say that I loved the film, but I get it. And there is a lot to like and respect about it – very clever and interesting. Definitely worth it.

L.A. Confidential won Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Basinger) and Best Writing, Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Curtis Hanson), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Music – Original Dramatic Score.

 

 

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Central Intelligence (2016) Film Review

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Robbie Wierdicht (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – and I will forever write and say it in full because I love it) is an overweight, shy kid at school, and at the final assembly, bully Trevor Olson (Jason Bateman) and his mates throw him, naked, in front of the whole school. The only one who doesn’t laugh is sports star, class captain and all round winner Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), who gives him his jacket to cover himself. Skip to twenty years later, Joyner is an accountant bored with his life, far from his glory days, in a marriage with his teenage sweetheart that is leaning towards going sour, when a guy called Bob Stone contacts him. When they meet up, it turns out it is Wierdicht – only no longer a shy fat kid, he is a musclebound hunk – and still massively geeky. And in the CIA. Or is he?

There are funny moments, for sure. But essentially, this is a pretty crap film. There just wasn’t enough to really make it good – essentially, it’s just a mismatched buddy film without enough jokes to make it worth watching.

 

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Why Him? (2016) Film Review

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You know this story. It’s been done a million times. Girl meets boy, father doesn’t like boy, boy tries to impress father, even they win each other over and everyone is happy (Spoiler alert? Is it? It’s just so formulaic, I don’t think it can count as a spoiler). In this case, the girl is Stephanie (Zoey) a beautiful college student who is extremely close to her father. The boy is Laird (James Franco), the rough-as-guts-but-very-hot founder of a tech company – complete with heaps of swearing, tattoos and wearing very few clothes. The father is Ned (Bryan Cranston) who comes from his conservative home with his wife Barb (Megan Mullally) and teenager son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) to meet this new man in his daughter’s life. Of course, Ted can’t accept Laird for his little girl and hilarity ensues.

The big question – is it funny. Yes. Yes, I really liked this film. It didn’t matter that the story is as old as the hills, somehow, this really worked. One part that worked well was the fact that the key aspect is not played up too much – yes, if Laird was a poor guy living in squalor, he wouldn’t stand a chance. But he didn’t need to be that wealthy – that was kind of just a bonus. I felt that I could easily see a fairly conservative father meeting a tattooed, swearing man and reacting in similar ways. Then, there is the quality of the cast – Bryan Cranston is great at physical comedy (go watch Malcolm in the Middle if you don’t get it), but he is also great at being understated. James Franco was great as this innocent dumbarse who is actually not dumb, but actually quite naïve and sweet, but it’s hard to see that past all the swearing and inappropriate sexy-talk. Megan Mullally is wonderful at whatever she does, I really have never been let down by that woman. And add to that the hilarious Keegan-Michael Key for bonus comic effect.

Bryan Cranston was the one thing that I thought could be the saving grace of this film, and I was pleased to be surprised overall by a fun and silly film.

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Room (2015) Film Review

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Ma (Brie Larson) has been held in a room by a horrible man, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), kept as a sex slave, for years. She has a son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who was born in Room – it is his whole world. All Ma wants to do is protect her son and leave. Jack doesn’t know that anything is wrong with the way they live. And then, finally, they get free… and they need to deal with the outside world, with reuniting with family, with the press and just everything.

The book was hard but wonderful, and this is an excellent interpretation. I think the performance of the young boy was particularly wonderful – not only in his little world, but coming into the real world. Heartbreaking.

Brie Larson won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and Room was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Lenny Abrahamson) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Emma Donoghue)

 

 

 

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Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) Film Review

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After her time in hiding in the convent in Sister Act, Deloris (Whoopi Goldberg) has hit the stage as a headlining act in Vegas when the sisters come to ask for her help. They have been assigned to teach at a rough school in San Francisco and need her to come, teach music and get the kids in line. Of course, she goes, and before you know it, she’s whipped the music class into a choir and they’re out to prove themselves to the world.

This is a really good, fun film. Sure, there are some parts of the plot that are a touch weak, and I love films that are set in rough schools yet all the teacher needs to do is raise their voice slightly and they have them all in their seats and listening (rough? Hmm… in my experience, that’s quite polite), but ignore that. What you want to watch are the characters. Of course, we have Delores and the wonderful nuns from the first film (including the wonderful Maggie Smith and fabulous Kathy Najimy) but then there are the kids; Lauren Hill obviously stands out, but whether we know their names, they are a great little ensemble. Sister Act 2 is a classic film of the early nineties and it rates as one of the top comedy sequels – I found I liked it a lot more than the first one.

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