Tag Archives: lor blimey accents

The Great Wall (2017)

And yet he got in...
And yet he got in…

“1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?”

Directed by Zhang Yimou
Starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau

In the 11th century, a band of mercenaries including the English (Irish? I’m not sure what he’s going for) William (Damon) and the Spanish (they keep referring to Spain, despite being some centuries before the formation of said Kingdom) Tovar (Pascal), is whittled down by bandits and finally all but the last two are killed by a beast which William kills, cutting off its clawed and scaled arm. Fleeing bandit reinforcements, the pair are suddenly faced with the Great Wall and its defenders, the Nameless Order, who ponder the possibility of killing them until they learn that he slew a ‘Tao Tei’ single handed.

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Outcast (2014)

"Crusades!"
“Crusades!”

“Legends are Born in Battle”

Directed by Nick Powell
Starring Hayden Christensen, Nicolas Cage, Liu Yifei, Ji Ke Jun Yi, Andy On

During the Crusades – doesn’t really matter which ones – Jacob (Christensen) and his mentor/retainer Gallian (Cage) kill some Saracens; probably, in the final analysis, way too many. Gallian is already thinking of getting out, and three years after a particularly bloody siege we find Jacob following Gallian’s dream to head east, because there’s something that you probably didn’t pick up on from that poster.

Continue reading Outcast (2014)

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Tarzan

“Human. Nature.”

Directed by David Yates
Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou and Christoph Waltz

In order to gain access to the diamond mines of Opar and save his King from bankruptcy, ruthless Belgian civil servant Leon Rom (Waltz) promises to deliver the title card to Mbonga (Hounsou), chief of the Leopard Men. Rom arranges for the Earl of Greystoke and former Tarzan (Skarsgard) to be invited to visit the Congo. Greystoke is all ‘whatevs’, but US attache George Washington Williams (Jackson) persuades him to go in order to root out Belgium’s double-secret slave trade, and his wife Jane (Robbie) insists on coming along to visit old friends.

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Gods of Egypt (2016)

What's a Stargate?
What’s a Stargate?

“The Battle for Eternity Begins”

Directed by Alex Proyas
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Walder, Gerard Butler, Brendon Thwaites, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Rush

In Ancient Egypt, the gods live alongside humanity, but a little above, being as they are about twelve feet tall. When beloved commie monarch Osiris (Bryan Brown) retires and passes the crown to his son Horus (Coster-Walder,) the ceremony is interrupted by the desert god Set (Butler), who wrecks Horus in a fight and rips out his eyes. Set declares himself king and announces that he will be monetising the afterlife and throwing out Osiris’ ‘give what you can afford’ policy on offerings, enslaving the human population, including petty larcenist Bek (Thwaites) and his beloved Zaya (Eaton).

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Spy (2015)

spy-600x450

“One of the guys. One of the spies.”

Directed by Paul Feig
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Miranda Hart and Allison Janney

Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is a brilliant CIA analyst acting as handler and dogsbody for suave agent Bradley Fine (Law), until a mission goes wrong and he is shot dead by Rayna Boyanov (Byrne), a criminal in possession of a compact, virtually undetectable nuke. With the Agency’s top operatives – including angry British ex-patriot Rick Ford (Statham) – apparently exposed, Cooper is sent into the field by Deputy Director Crocker (Janney) to track Rayna’s middleman de Luca (Bobby Cannavale) and locate both Rayna and the bomb.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Possibly the first time anyone has ridden a Dinobot outside X-rated fanfiction.
Possibly the first time anyone has ridden a Dinobot outside X-rated fanfiction.

“It’s not war, it’s extinction”

Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Li Bingbing and the voices of Peter Cullen, John Goodman, John DiMaggio and Frank Welker

After the ‘Battle of Chicago’ the US Government has broken off ties with the Autobots and formed a CIA taskforce called Cemetery Wind to track down Transformers. When the leader of the taskforce, Attinger (Grammer) joins forces with Transformer bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) to go after Autobots as well as Decepticons, Optimus Prime is forced into hiding, where he is found by mechanic and inventor Cade Yeager (Wahlberg). Just as you think you’re getting a handle on the plot, up pop Joshua Joyce (Tucci), a billionaire inventor who is mining ‘Transformium’ to create his own Transformers.

Continue reading Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

John Carter (2012)

Not 'John Carter of Mars'.  Who cares about Mars? People are going to come to this film for John Carter.
Not ‘John Carter of Mars’. Who cares about Mars? People are going to come to this film for John Carter.

“Lost in this world, found in another”

Directed by Andrew Stanton
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy and Willem Dafoe

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Confederate Captain John Carter (Kitsch) has devoted his life to misanthropy and the quest for mythical treasure. A pushy cavalry recruiter and a chance encounter lead him to Barsoom, the dying planet Mars, where he discovers strange powers and perhaps a new direction in life.

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The Wolfman (2010)

Now I understand... and it's time to leave the woods.
Now I understand… and it’s time to leave the woods.

“The Legend is Alive”

Directed by Joe Johnston
Starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving

Actor Lawrence Talbot (del Toro) is summoned to his family home by his brother Ben’s fiancee, Gwen (Blunt) with news of Ben’s death. Ben was killed by some beast in the woods near Talbot House, and Lawrence determines to track and destroy it. His father (Hopkins) seems oddly sanguine about the whole business, while Inspector Aberline (Weaving) of Scotland Yard has his eye on Lawrence.

Continue reading The Wolfman (2010)

In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011)

In-The-Name-of-the-King-2
Man, this poster makes the film look so much more badass than it is.

“Fight to the End”

Directed by Uwe Boll Starring Dolph Lundgren

Ex-Special Forces nice guy Granger (Lundgren) is rescued from ninjas by a sorceress, who dies, but not before taking him into a mediaeval fantasy world where he is prophesied to battle an evil witch.

Or IS HE!

What’s wrong with it?

Losing the Dungeon Siege license, Uwe Boll creates an alleged sequel to In the Name of the King which is no such beast, but actually a shaky crossworlds fantasy jaunt, with Dolph Lundgren in the role usually given to a plucky schoolboy or hopelessly romantic librarian.

Lundgren was a powerful man in his day, but years of action have taken their toll and here he is just ponderous, his body apparently so battered that he can barely move. I’m sure he was better in The Expendables, so it may be a matter of having enough time in the shoot for him to limber up. The fact that his only expression remains the ever-popular dull surprise is no help, especially given that he’s given the role of narrator.

The twist in the tale is poorly concealed, yet makes little sense. The film as a whole is also much longer than I expected, denying it even the virtue of brevity.

What’s right with it?

The Seer – a crazy woman living in a tree – is pretty creepy, and the stab-happy king, who seems to have some sort of compulsion to shiv up his own people, is awesome in a crazy kind of way.

How bad is it really?

The film reeks of complete pointlessness. The plot is hackneyed, twists and all, and for much of the duration the internal motivations of the characters seem to be ‘hey, stuff needs to happen so let’s chase Dolph until it does’.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Manly McRoyalguard tries to get Granger to let him buy time to escape, and when Granger won’t run just up and kicks him off a cliff.

What’s up with…?

  • Granger’s bland acceptance of everything that happens to him?
  • All these women throwing themselves at Granger? It’s not as if there are any actual sex scenes.
  • The entirely random role of women in this pseudo-mediaeval society? ‘Bed-warmer’ sits oddly alongside ‘trained physician’.
  • The bizarre quasi-ye olde dialogue? It mostly seems to be there so that people can misunderstand Granger’s modern idiom, but it’s horribly forced.
  • Dr Manhattan? It’s a strange name for a pseudo-mediaeval physic.

Ratings

Production values – The film lacks any of the redeeming qualities of the original, like good lighting and clear audio. Conversations are as often as not talking heads to keep the reshoots down and the choreography is second string at its best. 14
Dialogue and performances –  Lundgren is the heart of the film, and he misses most of his beats. It’s not easy to blame him, however, given the godawful material he is given to work with. 16
Plot and execution – The plot is dull, the characters unconvincing, and the film shambles ploddingly on without pace or vavavoom. 15
Randomness – The bad Shakespearean dialogue, the terrible and pointless narration; the lack of any real direction in the film actually makes chunks of the main plot into randomness. 13
Waste of potential – After what was Uwe Boll’s finest, this is a let down even from him. 12

Overall 70%

From the Archive – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Raider

 

“Who is Lara Croft?” (And yes, this is the best of the film’s dire taglines)

Directed by Simon West
Starring Angelina Jolie

Lady Lara Croft (Jolie) is an orphaned, aristocratic shut-in with a tough ‘tude and serious daddy issues, who lives in a near-deserted mansion with faithful family servant Hilary (Christopher Barrie) and techie hanger-on Bryce (Noah Taylor). Not having to work for a living, she whiles away the days as a tomb raider; a mercenary specialising in the plundering of ancient artefacts from sites of archaeological significance; like Indiana Jones without the reverence.

Then one night, she finds a clock concealed by her late father (John Voight, Jolie’s real life dad), which itself hides an ancient device, which is used to unlock the resting places of the two halves of the Triangle of Light, an artefact of vast cosmic power forged by an ancient race from metal taken form a fallen meteor, broken in two after the abuse of its power almost destroyed the world, and now sought by The Illuminati, the secret society’s secret society, although in this film played by the Freemasons. The Triangle allows its possessor to travel through time, and thus to – dare I say it – rule the world, but it can only be restored if the Key is used to unlock two separate vaults at two precisely defined points in an astrological conjunction of all nine planets which occurs every five millennia.

The Key is promptly stolen by a goon-squad sent by Illuminati chief bruiser Max Powell (an evilly oily Iain Glen). A message left by her father guides Lara to intercept Powell, and rival tomb raider Alex (an American played by Brit actor Daniel Craig), as they try to claim the first piece of the Triangle from a Cambodian temple. She proves her superiority by solving a part of the puzzle Alex missed, then snags the Triangle half, although the Illuminati retain the Key.

Making a deal with Powell to join forces in exchange for the restoration of her long-lost father, Lara heads off to the Siberian meteor crater where it all began, with Bryce in tow for no reason whatsoever. She retrieves the second piece from a giant solar system model with optional deadly crushing features, which seems to have been borrowed from The Dark Crystal. Powell betrays his Illuminati masters – no enlightened tyranny for our Maxie – but finds he can’t join the two pieces.

To force Lara to reveal the Triangle’s secret, Powell kills Alex. She retrieves a third piece form inside the Key, but beats Powell to the prize. Visiting her father before his death, she is told that she can’t save him, because it would be wrong to meddle with the passage of history. She thus returns to her own time, meddles with time anyway to save Alex, smashes the Triangle to smithereens and has a fight with Powell who – quelle surprise – is the one who killed her father, a traitor to the Illuminati. Then she skates out of the collapsing ice cave, being pulled by sled dogs like some refugee from a tampon commercial, comes to terms with her father’s death and goes back to her life of wacky adventure and franchises.

What’s wrong with it?

Tomb Raider is a collection of insipid action set pieces, bound together by a weak plot, linked by fairly unenlightening exposition and populated by dull characters. Lara has no real interaction with anyone that goes deeper than casual badinage, and shows almost no humanity, even in confronting her dead father. The claim that to have allowed her to show emotion and have feelings would have weakened a strong female character is undercut by the fact that throughout the film she is purely her father’s instrument. She solves – and decides – nothing for herself, simply following her father’s guidance and instructions.

Alex, the rival-cum-love interest, is portrayed as being nowhere near Lara’s equal, making their three minutes of verbal ‘sparring’ even more tedious than it would be otherwise. She is also – in keeping with the general refusal to allow Lara to display human weakness – completely immune to his charms, making her willingness to reveal the secret of the Pyramid to save him – yet not her father – utterly unfathomable.

The set-pieces are clunky and over-orchestrated, almost leisurely affairs lacking the flow which audience have come to expect in the post-Matrix era. Moreover, they do no fit smoothly into the film’s narrative flow, but rather are included purely for their own sake. This goes double for the wire-work scene, where Lara exercises suspended from bungie ropes, purely so that when the goon-squad bust in – naturally making no attempt at stealth – she can battle them wuxia style, because that’s cool, right?

The accents are crazed, with Jolie’s plummy tones fair but inconsistent, and her father’s deeply dodgy. The casting of the Brit as Alex adds a kind of perverse symmetry to the proceedings. The villain of the piece meanwhile trades slimy Englishness for true menace, apparently too bored to make much effort in establishing his scumbag credentials.

Also, the ‘visit interesting places and smash them to smithereens’ motif is deeply offensive to the archaeologist in me.

What’s right with it?

Well, no evening with the Freemasons and quinmillennial, wacky world-ending fun is ever completely wasted, although for the same money you could instead see The Mummy Returns, which at least has some likeable characters.

Some of the supporting players are actually pretty decent, although given little to do. Chris Barrie, of Red Dwarf fame, is especially good as the long-suffering butler, striving to turn the plummy-voiced hellion into a lady, although one can’t help feeling that the character should have been a little older, specifically have been old enough to realistically have been Lord Croft’s butler before his demise.

How bad is it really?

Tomb Raider is pretty  much hokum; an undemanding adventure yarn which asks little of its audience, but delivers not much in return. The greatest failing of most movies based on computer games is that they end up feeling like a game where you have no control than like a proper movie – or at least of the ones that aren’t simply so terrible that nothing about them could ever be considered as good, Super Mario Bros, I’m looking in your direction – and this is one trap the Tomb Raider fails to evade.

It’s not truly dire, in the manner of some would-be Indiana Joneses, but it’s really not very good at all.

Best bit?

When the goon-squad bursts into the mansion, Hilary rushes to defend it with a shotgun and a bullet-proof vest strapped on over his Noel Coward dressing gown. It’s kind of charming.

What’s up with…?

  • Lara taking her techie sidekick into the ‘dead zone’ around the meteor crater, an area in which no machines work?
  • The hiding of the final Triangle piece being in the clock, which she has to break open by throwing it into one of the time storms around the final chamber. While I’ve complained that Lara never works anything else out for herself, it might have been nice to see at least some sign of the clue that lets her get this one.
  • The race up the pyramid to get the finished Triangle? Is this it? The fate of the world, the final battle of good and evil, comes down to American Gladiators? No trials? No tests of wisdom? Don’t they even have to work out what Uncle might like for his birthday? She doesn’t even have to fight the bad guy for this one; just beat him in a straight sprint.
    Mind you, the fact she won is a testament to her sports bra.

Ratings

Production values – So-so. Decent SFX is squandered on fairly mediocre direction, static choreography and over-excited editing. Plus anyone who feels Angelina Jolie’s breasts need to be enlarged plainly has their priorities wonky. 12

Dialogue and performances – Weak, at best. Limp badinage, convoluted exposition and lame faux attitude, all delivered in a collection of dodgy accents by performers who all seem to be phoning this one in. Jolie has at times shown signs of some serious acting chops, but her portrait of Croft consists solely of pouting, speaking with an accent and assaying the occasional feral snarl to show she’s tough and dangerous. 17

Plot and execution – The plot could cheerfully form the basis of a forty-five minute Outer Limits episode, but barely makes the stretch to movie length. The film is essentially a series of action scenes, with little overall flow, and the direction is somewhat lacklustre. 16

Randomness – Aside from Lord Croft’s rather bizarre series of cryptic messages from beyond the grave, and the random Cambodian/Inuit girl who pops up every now and then with flowers and wisdom, the film basically sticks to it’s fairly pedestrian mystery-cult guns. Oh, and the big-ass training robot. And the dog-skating; what was up with that? And the wire-work scene. 15

Waste of potential – Two words for you: Indiana Jones. Tomb Raider could have been a much better film if it had simply taken the plunge and divorced itself a little further from its computer game origins to have an actual narrative and a little humanity. It probably wouldn’t have been great, but it probably could have been good. 12

Overall 72%