THIS IS THE END

Nothing Ruins A Party Like The End Of The World

Director
Evan Goldberg
Seth Rogen

Starring
Jay Baruchel
Seth Rogen
James Franco
Jonah Hill
Craig Robinson
Danny McBride



This Is The End’s story opens simply enough, with Jay Baruchel arriving in Los Angeles to see long-time friend, Seth Rogen. In an attempt to create a gelling between Seth’s different social circles, he brings Jay to a house-warming party at James Franco’s newly built mansion. At the party, Jay feels abandoned and left out, unable to really get along with people he barely knows or flat-out doesn’t like, to the backdrop of several celebrity cameos. Feeling ostracised, Jay heads to a local convenience store to buy cigarettes, with an intoxicated Seth in tow. At which point piercing blue lights rain down from the heavens, selecting specific members of the public and sucking them up into the sky. For those that remain, Los Angeles starts to literally tear itself apart. After the majority of the partygoers are killed, only six of the actors remain: Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride. As the days pass, petty frustration leads to bitter feuding and all out fighting. All the while, Jay starts to piece together what’s actually happening and a way for them to be saved.

Outside of the initial premise and rough storyline, the majority of the film is quite clearly wonderful, silly, immature ad-libbing. Many detractors will claim this is a negative aspect but when considering cluster fuck messes (like the recently released Movie 43) this really isn’t that awful. One of the reasons this film works is because it takes a simple concept and relatable social interactions then flings them at the outwardly-appearing perfection of the lives of the rich and famous. By emulating cowardice, petty squabbling and selfishness, none of the leads are particularly likeable but their crude and vehement bickering over trivialities, when basic necessities have been taken from them, is where the humour thrives. Admittedly, this is a vanity project; a group of guys sitting around saying “What if we were stuck together and the world was ending?” A self-indulgent, semi-biographical analysis of your feelings towards your friends, using an odd script to clear the air and voice some real-life issues. But like all vanity projects, the poor foundation shows through and affects the finished product as a whole; specifically the notion that calling yourself out on your poor casting choices, sell-out LA attitude and lack of project diversity, only to then perpetrate the exact same flaws. One could also complain that there’s next to no character arc, that none of the characters change from how they are introduced to the end of their plot thread. Narratively speaking, we believe this to be an example of bad, lazy and unappealing writing. In real-life, however, this is completely true, which makes it difficult to critique in a movie that openly admits it’s (on some level) trying to emulate real-life.

When it comes to comedies people immediately forget the technical aspects. I don’t know why, they’re just as important and hold the same worth as something dramatic but the writing/jokes seem to be the main focus of reviews; in the case of my recent review for The Internship, it was the only positive thing I had to say. The camera work is simple yet highly effective and the cinematography makes good use of amber-hued lights and several smoke machines to embody that eternal inferno atmosphere. The visual effects are sparsely used but surprisingly impressive when called for. Granted, crude and ridiculous in places but it feels fitting in this brand of film. Additionally, the soundtrack and score meld pretty impressively, jumping from contemporary party hits to Henry Jackman’s elaborate, hellish, choral thundering.

One thing the film lacks is a certain degree of charm. And this is probably the biggest fault I can lay on this release. To compare it to something like Shaun Of The Dead, the scope and scale are similar (in the apocalyptic sense) but while the emotional tonality is the same, This Is The End is so much more loud, crass and excessive [insert snide comparison between American and British sensibilities here]. What this boils down to are extremely vulgar setups for jokes that some will label as sophomoric or juvenile.. and they are.. but they’re delivered well, so they’re genuinely funny. But without the charm of personality, the lack of variety in locations, scenarios and joke fodder really starts to grate. I mean, I’m not prudish but promoting positive drug use in film is always weird. I’m neither pro or anti drugs, I just think films that try to show a positive side don’t really get their point across. It’s sort of like my opinion of sex scenes in movies: unable to show or convey actual sensations, audiences are just shown a lot of weird imagery, camera motion and quick cuts.

This film isn’t trying to appeal to a wide demographic or attain fans who would clearly disapprove of swearing, piss drinking and demonic rape. It’s a movie with a simple entertainment goal, a two dimensional plot and a rather well hidden story about friendship. Deeper than that, though is the very un-Hollywood statement about the moral core of the successful and while people may consider themselves inherently good, we’re all rather surprised when an external force reminds us that we’re all pretty shitty. If you think that sentence doesn’t apply to you, then it especially applies to you! Admitting they haven’t lived their lives well and coming to terms with the fact that they possibly deserve the torment is quite unique for cinema and for that reason, the wank jokes, cannibalism and dumb rivalries are all elevated somewhat, making This Is The End surprisingly rewarding.


Release Date:
28th June 2013

The Scene To Look Out For:
**spoilery goodness**
A day or so into the chaos, Emma Watson turns up, armed with an axe and seeks refuge with the main group. Tired and emotional, she goes off to sleep in Franco’s room. Outside the bedroom door, Jay explains they should make her feel better and be attentive not to give off any kind of vibes. After initial confusion as to what Jay is referring to, Danny bluntly explains, “He’s talking about giving off a rapey vibe.” This erupts into a massive confrontation about who does or doesn’t come off as a rapist, all within earshot of the young actress, who freaks out and threatens the six men with her axe. Either that or Jason Segel sounding rather frustrated with the monotony of his role on How I Met Your Mother.

Notable Characters:
**more spoiler stuff**
Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride really stand out as the polar opposites of the moral compass. Jay represents the majority of cinemagoers who believe they are good people and given the chance, can prove they have it in them to earn redemption. Danny, on the other hand, is a rather vile human being who spurns the idea of redemption and revels in the chaos and sin. Both of these roles are embodied so brilliantly and believably that one would be forgiven for punching Danny McBride in the face for being such a douche.

Highlighted Quote:
“Something totally not chill happened last night”

In A Few Words:
“Shock value vulgar hilarity with a surprisingly earnest analysis of friendship but fails to really soar due to a lack of visual diversity and one too many jokes that run on a little too long”

Total Score:

4/5

THE INTERNSHIP

Hiring Them Was A Brilliant Mistake

Director
Shawn Levy

Starring
Vince Vaughn
Owen Wilson
Max Minghella
Rose Byrne



I can’t remember the last time an inoffensive comedy angered me so much. Granted, I had low expectations going into the screening but throughout and after the film, I was seething with rage. And it had nothing to do with Google or product placement – despite the fact that Google, Googliness, Noogles, Googlers and several other Google variations are repeated an insane amount of times, until the word loses all meaning. And it’s nothing to do with my complete opposition to internships for the crappy slave labour that they are, favouring well-off students and being something that’s not really done anywhere outside of the US. No, this film made me furious because it cost $58 million dollars to make, despite being the same rundown tired shit we’ve all seen countless times before.

Billy McMahon [Vaughan] and Nick Campbell [Wilson] are two salesmen who discover that their watch selling company is defunct and obsolete with everything being computerised. With few translatable skills, various bills and trouble with women (probably, it’s not explored much), the pair resign themselves to their employment fate. Nick accepts a job at his sister’s boyfriend’s mattress store but Billy is a dreamer and can’t help but aim higher. Enrolling in an online university, Billy convinces Nick that they have a chance if they apply for an internship (that may lead to job) at the headquarters for Google. Knowing little to nothing about computers and less about the young folk, Billy and Nick immediately stand out amidst the 20-22 year old geniuses. With no one wanting to be associated with them, they are left with the other social rejects and form a group of potentials. Their biggest rival, however, is a group led by British elitist Graham Hawtrey [Minghella]. The group is irrelevant. Other than a blonde girl and a fat guy, they are almost never mentioned again. Various hijinks ensue and Nick decides to pursue a relationship with the COMPLETELY UNINTERESTED Dana [Byrne], one of the managers who despite rebuffing Nick may or may not make a complete 180 and sleep with him. Spoiler. She does. It’s fucking retarded.

The writing is absolutely atrocious and every development, scenario and plot point is horribly clichéd. Not only that, it follows a money making formula: take two goofy white male comedians, put them in a situation out of their depth, team them up with the underdogs, have a good time partying, throw in a half-arsed romance element and one comedian worrying that partying isn’t everything, then have them win/save the day in big showy last minute fashion. This film is literally flooded with shit that I find abhorrent and detrimental to the progression of cinema. On top of that, it’s padded out unnecessarily with scenes that go nowhere, hoping various cameos will bear ad-libbing fruit. Prime example of the painfully unfunny ad-libbing: Vaughan and Wilson play salesmen who just talk in the hope they accidentally say something funny. FUCKING SALESMEN! I hate salesmen! I can’t stand when some overly gobby fucker comes up to me believing he’s the cock of the walk and can make me buy something because of his gift of gab. The fact he’s so charming (or she, women do it too) I will simply have to make a purchase, just to earn their friendship.. or respect.. or just to bask in their adoration and social appreciation for but a moment. Fuck you! My will power is immense and I’m not easily swayed by jumped up twats who can’t do an actual job. What’s more insulting, is that the bullshit artists somehow manage to become geniuses overnight! They literally man the Google helpline for an hour using the power of bullshit! I mean, there’s suspension of disbelief (and no doubt I’ll be called out for hating this film but defending Man Of Steel) but enough is enough!

Ok.. sorry about that. I’ll try to show a little more professionalism.

Much like the premise, this story is clearly outdated. Had this movie come out six or seven years ago, it might be funny or at least relevant. But in 2013, with quirky Apple stores popping up everywhere, the greed behind Facebook ripped to shit by The Social Network, MySpace adrift and YouTube littered with annoying adverts, Google isn’t a mystery to us. It’s not some amazing haven of fun and technology and even if it is, it’s still a giant, billion dollar corporation.. according to the pulse of the contemporary populace, we hate those. You might as well have set this film in a high street bank and tried to convince audiences that banks are cool and down with the kids, rather than speculative, money losing morons. Sorry.. professionalism. Gotta stay focused on the film. Other than the start and the predictable finish, the only planned story threads are basic developments that provide a tedious framework for jokes but make no sense when considering an actual company. For example, find the bug in the system coding. Sure, that makes sense for a computer company. Program an algorithm or search the user log history, great. But cinematically boring. So what’s next? A match of Quidditch of course! That’s right, the fictional sport from Harry Potter. How can we follow that? Design a successful app? Tricky but can do. Aww.. but this is hard. Can’t we just go to a strip club and drink excessively? Why, with Vaughan and Wilson, of course you can! One of the very first exercises for these intellectual elites is to raise a red or green paddle in response to the following three questions: Is it acceptable to have a beer with your boss? Is it ok to date other interns? Can you bring food home from the office? Really? That’s important? That’s worth an entire seminar? Just so Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan can squeeze out a few terrible lines of dialogue and they can throw something in the trailer?

With appearances by Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, B.J. Novak, John Goodman, Rob Riggle and Will Ferrell, you’d think somewhere along the line, a half decent character would appear. Unfortunately not. The central cast, however, prove interesting. Looking past the mountain of ego that is the Vaughan/Wilson partnership, we have the other members of the team. Now, I appreciate they fill the tick-box checklist of ‘film groups’ i.e. the awkwardly nerdy one, the shy Asian intellect, the sexy Indian girl who’s actually a virgin (changing things up by ensuring she’s not a white brunette with glasses) and the cool dickhead who just needs to be shown that he can let his guard down and still have a good time. Ok, the characters are all dog shit but the cast have a potential chemistry that make it even more unbearable. Yes, they’re annoying and stupid and their eventual success makes you hate them a little bit more but underneath all that, it’s clear that these people can actually act; which is painful. Finally, there’s Max Minghella. Son of the late Anthony Minghella and a very talented actor. Unfortunately, the script simply calls for him to play a slightly heightened version of his character in The Social Network, so while there are a few smirks and he makes a good high school villain, it doesn’t even seem praiseworthy. Pity.

I don’t even think there’s much point in discussing the technical aspects. The camera work is standard fare, the editing and direction are acceptable and the score is unintrusive, relying on familiar songs that the audience can nod along to. I could blame Shawn Levy for this mess but directorially speaking, it’s not bad. I mean, it’s a bad film and any creative element is awful but the cinematography works, the lighting is grand, the locations, sets, costumes, editing, all work to a commendable and reasonable close that ensured the film made it to international release. I fully appreciate these are not easy things to accomplish and as such, cannot fault them. But anything that required creativity is beyond subpar.

One last rant, then I’ll shut up. I’ve mentioned in reviews before that the geeks, nerds and general outcasts of ten/twenty years ago are now strangely popular.. well, they’re not but the things they like are. But whereas shows like The Big Bang Theory purport to promote such individuals, they are in fact pointing a finger and laughing at them. Geek culture, intelligence and comedy are almost impossible to fake (especially if you have little to no idea what you’re talking about) and the only film that’s actually successfully addressed this little phenomenon was 21 Jump Street. What I didn’t realise until the credits started to roll, is that Vince Vaughan came up with the story, helped write the screenplay and produced the entire thing. The man still thinks he’s making Swingers. He’s still riding the high of the 90’s and is under some delusion that he will remain forever cool because of his infinite energy. Throw in a couple of Game Of Thrones references, talk about Flashdance like it was the greatest film ever made and say bangarang, that’ll hook the kids, right? No, Vince. Your time has passed. Please disappear for a couple of decades and finally reappear as an old, out-of-touch man in an underappreciated TV series… like Chevy Chase.


Release Date:
4th July 2013

The Scene To Look Out For:
For a brief moment, this movie actually has something poignant to say. The team have been asked to create an app and Vaughan’s suggestion is essentially Instagram. Feeling the despondency in the room, Wilson asks why these young early-twenty-somethings are so miserable and cynical? To which, one of them replies that statistically there are no jobs for college graduates, the American dream is literally just a dream, trying for something is no longer an adventure but a financially reckless risk and that this internship is their best hope for success. Vaughan and Wilson, unfamiliar with hard work and believing that being alive in the 70’s makes them tough as nails (clearly they don’t remember the recessions and hard times of the 80’s), suggest that they abandon their work and head to a strip club! Drinks all round! Whoo! A development which only serves to emphasise the point that Wilson and Vaughan are quite literally wasting everybody’s time, both on and off screen. So a chance to talk about taking chances and how the morose current state of affairs shouldn’t deter you from trying is underwritten by Vaughan continually saying “on the line” instead of “online” hoping it will get funnier if he keeps repeating it. And. It. Never. Does.

Notable Characters:
There’s no hope for Vaughan but considering all his work with Wes Anderson and then Midnight In Paris? Damn it Wilson, you can do better than this!

Highlighted Quote:
“What has this got to do with computers!?”

In A Few Words:
“This story’s been repackaged and rebranded so many times and I can’t believe millions of dollars have been spent making the same fucking shit again!”

Total Score:

1/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #99

[23 June 2013]


Winning Team:
Five Earsy Pieces

Genre – mock-umentary

Runners Up:
House Of Ear Wax: Starring Richard Ear, Robe Lobe, Earer Knightley and Heather Cochlea
Genre – A group of people enter a house and suffer from different auditorial problems
Only Gosling Forgives
Genre – Documentary
The Best Ears Of Our Lives
Genre – Harrowing drama
Ear-y Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Poon
Genre – Aural action adventure with sexy results
Ear Plane
Genre – South African remake of the classic 80’s spoof (starring Lobey Maguire)
Hard Of Hearing
Genre – Foolish man accidentally puts viagra in his ear instead of ear drops. Discovers he can hear people’s onciming arousal. Turns out it’s a fairly crap super power
Girl With The Bling Earring
Genre – Period teen drama
Starter For Two
Genre – Rom-Com
Van Gogh Bounty Hunter 6: Up In The Ear
Genre – What James Franco would class as drama but everyone knows is soft porn for teenagers


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Rasputin, Dark Servant Of Destiny (starring Alan Rickman) was a film about which Russian historical figure?
GRIGORI YEFIMOVICH RASPUTIN
2. Quantum Of Solace starred which Bond actor?
DANIEL CRAIG
3. How many First Blood/Rambo films have been made to date?
FOUR
4. Who played the title character in the 1994 adaptation Richie Rich?
MACAULAY CULKIN
5. The following songs are from which film: Dammit Janet, Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul and Sweet Transvestite?
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
6. Detective Inspecter Lee and Detective Carter, played by Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker respectively, are characters in which film series?
RUSH HOUR
7. What was the title of Bryan Singer’s Superman film released in 2006?
SUPERMAN RETURNS
8. He’s Dying To Become A Chef was the poster tagline for which Pixar film?
RATATOUILLE
9. What colour is Luke Skywalker’s new lightsaber in Return Of The Jedi?
GREEN
10. The US remake of Ringu was released in which year?
2002

ROUND II: Filming [Ears Special]
1. What was the nickname given to Australian criminal Mark Read, in Chopper? Slasher? Hacker? Chopper?
CHOPPER
2. Who directed Blue Velvet? Darren Aronofsky? David Lynch? Terrence Malick?
DAVID LYNCH
3. What colour designation is given to Tim Roth’s character in Reservoir Dogs? Orange? Blue? White?
ORANGE
4. Who played the title role in The Passion Of The Christ? Christian Bale? Willem Dafoe? Jim Caviezel?
JIM CAVIEZEL
5. How many Universal Soldier films have been released to date? Six? Seven? Eight?
SIX
6. Which of the following films does not feature things going into ears? Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan? Heartbreak Ridge? Scary Movie?
HEARTBREAK RIDGE (earring pulled off ear)
7. High Plains Drifter was released in which year? 1971? 1972? 1973?
1973
8. What is the name of George Kirk’s ship, that is featured during the opening of Star Trek? USS Kelvin? USS Carter? USS Farragut?
USS KELVIN
9. How many decoy Harry’s are made (using Polyjuice potion) in Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I? Five? Six? Seven?
SIX
10. Although set in Turkey, the prison interiors in Midnight Express were filmed in Malta. True or False?
TRUE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What was the subtitle to the sequel to Carrie?
THE RAGE
2. Raging Bull ends with a quote from which book?
THE BIBLE
3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark was distributed by which major studio?
PARAMOUNT
4. In a 2010 film, starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich, what does the title RED stand for?
RETIRED EXTREMELY DANGEROUS
5. Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Gerard Butler starred in which 2002 film?
REIGN OF FIRE
6. Which actor plays villain Neville Sinclair in 1991’s The Rocketeer?
TIMOTHY DALTON
7. Who composed the score for Requiem For A Dream?
CLINT MANSELL
8. Run Fatboy Run was the directorial debut for which actor?
DAVID SCHWIMMER
9. Rain Man made over 354 million dollars at the box office. What was its budget?
TWENTY FIVE MILLION
10. The following quote is from which film, “This is the life we chose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see Heaven”?
ROAD TO PERDITION

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following is not a Resident Evil sequel subtitle? Retribution? Afterlife? Extermination?
EXTERMINATION
2. Who played the lead in 1946’s The Razor’s Edge? Gregory Peck? Montgomery Clift? Tyrone Power?
TYRONE POWER
3. What did Alfred Hitchcock direct after Dial M For Murder? The Man Who Knew Too Much? Vertigo? Rear Window?
REAR WINDOW
4. What was the last line in the 1939 James Cagney film The Roaring Twenties? Things have been pretty tough, haven’t they? Here’s one rap you ain’t gonna beat? He used to be a big shot?
HE USED TO BE A BIG SHOT
5. The Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon details several characters telling alternative version of the same events. Following the events at the end of the film, which version is considered the truth? The bandit’s story? The wife’s story? The woodcutter’s story?
THE WOODCUTTER’S STORY
6. Who narrated 1968’s Romeo & Juliet? Richard Burton? Charlton Heston? Laurence Olivier?
LAURENCE OLIVIER
7. Which of the following is the first scene in Rebel Without A Cause? Jim sitting in a police station pretending to be a siren? Jim going to the planetarium on a school trip? Jim lying in the street playing with a monkey?
JIM LYING IN THE STREET PLAYING WITH A MONKEY
8. What is the name of NASA’s first human spaceflight in The Right Stuff? Project Jupiter? Project Mars? Project Mercury?
PROJECT MERCURY
9. The following is the poster tagline for which 1959 film “They fought back to back. No quarter given, no quarter asked. No way in, no way out”? The Alamo? The Green Berets? Rio Bravo?
RIO BRAVO
10. James Cagney was set to play the title role in The Adventures Of Robin Hood before he left Warner Bros. Three years later, the part went to Errol Flynn. True or False?
TRUE

BOUND IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Total Recall / Total Recall / Minority Report
Poster: A Scanner Darkly
Actor: Orson Welles

WORLD WAR Z

Witness The End

Director
Marc Forster

Starring
Brad Pitt
Mireille Enos
Fana Mokoena



The first thing to note is that this movie has been stuck in development hell from its inception in 2006 right up to its release. Whole scripts chucked out, the source material grossly ignored, endings rewritten, reshot and then scrapped anyway; this entire production has been a chaotic mess from the get-go. And the final product really reflects it.

As with the majority of zombie-related media, World War Z follows a single character’s survival as he journeys through a wasteland, ravaged by the zombie hoard. The survivor in question is former UN investigator Gerry Lane [Pitt], who is airlifted out of the epidemic riddled panic stricken streets by friend and UN Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni [Mokoena]. Given refuge on a large naval reserve fleet, Lane learns that in order to keep his family on the ship, he needs to be of use. Subsequently, he agrees to escort a group of Navy SEALs and an expert virologist to trace the source of the outbreak. Upon arrival in South Korea (the believed origin of the virus), Lane discovers another clue and proceeds to the next location. Rinse and repeat that about five or six times and then end the film and that’s the entirety of the plot.

I must confess, as brilliant as it supposedly is, I’ve never read the novel World War Z. I have had the overview explained to me and the general premise, structure and unique attributes ensure it is an interesting and novel addition to zombie mythology. This film, however, is merely World War Z in name only. No longer a series of flashback interviews explaining how the discoordination and horror of the events were battled, this movie elevates one man to be some sort of warrior saviour. The man who sees simple clues, has the ingenuity, tenacity and gosh darn American fortitude to get the job done. Which is unusual, primarily because there is a continual feeling of seriousness that tries to sell this movie as a genuine global epidemical threat, as opposed to WOAH! ZOMBIES! SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD! Etc. In doing this, World War Z acts like it’s Contagion but has neither the scientific credibility nor the harsh realities of that film. I understand that the director and writers want to show how vast the spread has been and how everyone is made equal by it but a global scale danger doesn’t work if you have one man hopping miraculously from country to country, narrowly avoiding death at the expense of others. In this way, I was instantly reminded of Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds, which started off so promisingly and sowed the seeds for a potentially upsetting, confrontational and emotional finale before simply sprinting to the finish line with an absurd close.

Technically speaking, the camera work, direction, special effects and score all work rather harmoniously to bring an unrelenting, fast-paced action drama that unfolds fairly well. But no matter how decent the visuals, the combination of sloppy writing, naff dialogue, implausible scenarios and shoddy pacing hammer the mediocrity of this movie. One of the biggest flaws is the video game editing: Pitt arrives (usually by plane) in a new location, investigates for about two minutes then has to run/shoot his way out before he dusts himself off and arrives in the next location. This smacks of linear level-based gameplay and it’s cheap, especially if you’re building to a massive boss fight that never comes. And no matter how well he acts in the role, Brad Pitt’s ability to survive almost anything kills all tension. By pushing the “just one man trying to keep his family safe” shtick, you know full well that nothing bad will happen to Pitt and anyone introduced around him is expendable, so don’t worry about them.

Excluding Romero’s stuff and Shaun Of The Dead, films are simply an ineffective medium for telling zombie stories; The Walking Dead proved that. At present, the comic is up to Issue 110 and the TV series has been renewed for a fourth season. Both are still insanely popular and have a surprisingly broad demographic. Other than the gripping storytelling, the key factors to The Walking Dead’s success is that the lead characters have a shelf-life, everyone is a potential victim and there is absolutely no end in sight. Films don’t have that luxury. After an hour and a half or two hours, you need to wind down and finish the story. Most of the time, this means a cure or resolution needs to be found. And trying to build up something so internationally widespread and then instantly wipe the slate clean is a near impossible task – Roland Emmerich has done this countless times in countless different ways and he still hasn’t got it right. The sooner people realise this and stop trying to force feed us zombies all the time, the better. There are whispers that a sequel has been optioned (hardly surprising) but I think the damage is already done. With a very strong opening two thirds, followed by a ropey third act and a terrible ending that utterly spoils everything that preceded it, World War Z would need a literary miracle to save it from its self-dug grave of monotony.


Release Date:
28th June 2013

The Scene To Look Out For:
**slight spoilers.. and a random rant about Man Of Steel**
There’s a point of contention regarding Man Of Steel that I appreciate but have come to disagree with, which is the supposed disregard for public safety and human life. While I can argue that although the real reason is just lazy writing, certain actions can be forgiven providing they are properly covered in a sequel, i.e. regret, loss, shame and guilt. However! World War Z cannot be afforded the same leniency. Having just escaped Random Location #4, Pitt starts to relax in the first class section of a plane. But don’t rest now! There are zombies on the plane….. somehow. Doing his best to fight the infection, Pitt realises that the only true way to save lives is to sacrifice everyone else.. and potentially himself. Fuck everyone, right? So, being sick of these motherfucking zombies on this motherfucking plane, Pitt takes a grenade and lobs it into the sprawling mass of teeth and clawing hands. The grenade detonates, the plane crashes and pretty much everybody dies. Oh, except Pitt, he manages to survive with a gnarly looking piece of shrapnel impaling his side but thankfully missing all vital organs. Nice one, dude! Bollocks to any potential survivors! It was too late for them!

Notable Characters:
As stated above, this really is the Brad Pitt show. And while he does a very good job, it could be said that no one else is afforded the opportunity to try. The majority of the human characters are bland, weak and transparent and the zombie beasts are typically over-the-top but not in a forgivable, terrifying 28 Days Later infected way. I think the only two individuals who stood out as remotely interesting, enigmatic or engaging were James Badge Dale as the US Army Ranger with a refreshing gallows humour and Ludi Boeken as the Mossad official who seems to have saved Jerusalem by erecting a giant wall. Unfortunately, being a zombie film of global proportions, there’s not a great deal of time to focus on these characters.

Highlighted Quote:
“Sometimes, the things you thought were the most brutal aspect of the virus, turns out to be the chink in its armour.. and she loves disguising her weaknesses as strengths”

In A Few Words:
“So many commendable elements are let down by tired, recycled plot elements, an indestructible hero and a complete disinterest for the originality of the novel”

Total Score:

3/5

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Shakespeare Knew How To Throw A Party

Director
Joss Whedon

Starring
Amy Acker
Alexis Denisof



Trying to give a brief synopsis of Shakespeare can be a little taxing; especially when considering the tangled web of affections and subterfuge in Much Ado About Nothing. I think the best way to describe it is to talk about the feel of the movie, rather than the plot threads. At the heart of Much Ado is an anti-marriage bachelor, Benedick [Denisof] and an equally cynical bachelorette, Beatrice [Acker]. They quite happily and loudly profess that love is a ridiculous concept, fit only for fools, while flirtatiously verbally sparring with each other. All the while, love blossoms naturally around them, in the form of young Claudio [Fran Kranz] and Hero [Jillian Morgese]. Amused by Benedick and Beatrice’s constant bickering and complete inability to stop talking about/to one another, Don Pedro [Reed Diamond] surreptitiously suggests that the two are in love with one another. The whole thing expectedly escalates, egos are both stroked and bruised, misconceptions are made and everyone ends up fighting.

I’ve always held Much Ado About Nothing in high regard for being not only a genuinely funny play but also a uniquely mature and cynical view of love without resorting to the sloshy platitudes akin to Romeo & Juliet. Having said that, while Shakespearean plays are brilliant, they are almost always completely and utterly butchered by tedious direction and monotonous performances. One of the key ways this film excels is the employment of so many cinematic and acting methods to keep the audience amused, entertained and (rather importantly) appraised of the story. Shakespeare should have a timelessness to it and thankfully, in Whedon’s hands, everything feels contemporarily relevant; the emotions, the comedy, the ridiculousness, the bitterness, it all gels and flows with complete harmony and resonance. Naturally, a lot of this has to do with chopping out various plot elements, abridging dialogue and axing, amalgamating and even changing the sex of certain characters but it’s an adaptation, these things are to be expected. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to remain loyal to the source material while presenting something to modern audiences and the pacing does suffer a little. For every positive element, there is an arguably equal negative when taking into consideration cinemagoers. The dialogue is authentic but people will be put off by it. The drama unfolds steadily but people will be bored. The containment of one location staples the mood but people will resent the lack of variety. I’m not suggesting a film be made to please audiences (’cause 80% of them are idiots) but doing everything without considering the viewability of the film is a detriment… viewability. I just made that up. Is that a word? It’s blatantly not a word.

Despite the very large cast (there are quite a few party scenes) the thirteen or so leading parts are spectacularly performed. I really believe it’s a testament to any acting talent to convey the meaning of what you’re saying, whether tone or emotion, no matter what language you’re speaking in. As stated previously, I’ve seen a lot of Shakespeare done so very, very badly but the entire ensemble is simply exquisite. Both Denisof and Acker helm the film with the presence and personality fitting the roles, really shining when utilising more slapstick physical elements to enhance (and translate) the dialogue. Kranz and Morgese’s respective sincerity is wholly believable without feeling like whiney melodramatic teenagers (as most Shakespearean lovers tend to), which, believe it or not, is one of the highest notes of praise I can offer. Equally, Sean Maher’s Don John steers clear of archetypal villainy that is oft found in pantomime and gives us a rather sinister, untrustworthy impression from the outset.

Shot over twelve days, in and around Whedon’s house, whilst in post-production for The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing really is a filmmaker’s film. From the simple lo-tech equipment, budget and schedule to the bold casting and untouchable plot – let’s face it, studios don’t want to produce quirky Shakespearean comedies that will probably make no money with two leads that most have never heard of. But Whedon demonstrates exactly why they should! A funny, relatable story brilliantly acted, conveying cryptic dialogue through very simple gestures and a nice message for all ages and walks of life. This is what cinema should be. Sure, explosions, spectacle, drama, tears, there’s room for all that but at the heart of any good movie should be a compelling story and a core set of characters that we can identify with. In addition to scripting and directing, Whedon has also produced the score himself. A very bold move and one that could have been catastrophic but utilising simple melodies and minimal instruments, the ambient harmonies fit marvellously.

I think there’s something delightful about a wonderfully independent release, executed in the height of one of the most successful blockbusters ever made. As if a reminder that whether you have a budget of hundreds of millions and a seemingly endless schedule, you can still produce a motion picture for next to no money, with no real time, in your own house. That, is the cinematic message powerful filmmakers should be implementing. If you have a story to tell, make it. Don’t worry about who will watch it, just make it and submit it to festivals.


Release Date:
14th June 2013

The Scene To Look Out For:
There are several amusing scenes and really well directed conversations but Beatrice and Benedick respectively clambering around trying to eavesdrop on their friends and kin was brilliant. With a relatively slow opening, these two scenes really push the story into high gear, combining clever camerawork, simple dialogue and extremely funny performances.

Notable Characters:
While Denisof and Acker really are the main attraction, both Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk will be remembered by everyone for their scene stealing hilarity. Fillion is an absolute master of both charm and comedy and paired with the hilarious yet unassuming Lenk, the two play off each other gloriously.

Highlighted Quote:
“When I said, I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married”

In A Few Words:
“Masterfully directed, superbly acted and well presented. A gem of independent cinema and truly a mesmerising adaptation – too bad so few will actually go see it”

Total Score:

4/5

MAN OF STEEL

The S Stands For Hope

Director
Zack Snyder

Starring
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Russell Crowe
Kevin Costner



I’ve mentioned before, the importance of a critic’s impartiality and the genuine difficulty of maintaining that impartiality when one has a severe opinion about the source material. In other words, I think I like this movie and I’m willing to overly defend certain issues because I want this movie to do well, equally, I am an avid comic reader and Superman fan, which means I have a unique set of complaints about issues that may seem irrelevant. So, if this review feels a little choppy, passionate and all over the place, at least I’ve given a brief disclaimer as to why.

I think it’s fair to say that everyone knows the origin of Superman (or details of it), so in an attempt offset this, the first twenty minutes are spent on Krypton, detailing Kal-El’s birth, the failed uprising of the twisted military leader, Zod [Shannon] and the planet’s final hours. Once on Earth, we follow an adult Clark Kent [Cavill] interleafed with flashbacks to key developments in Kent’s childhood, most notably, the death of his step-father, Jonathan Kent [Costner]. Feeling like a freak, Clark roams North America looking for clues of his existence and helping people along the way. Meanwhile, a top secret military operation is underway in Canada, unearthing what appears to be an ancient artefact. Clark finds his way inside the alien craft and converses with a digital copy of his father’s [Crowe] consciousness. Learning of his past comes at a price, as the ships’ activation sends out a beacon to Zod, who voyages to Earth, to exact vengeance on the heir of his rival and terraform our planet into a new Krypton.

The three top form elements are the performances, the score and the action. While some would argue that several key character traits were not present in this film, you cannot deny the fact that each performance was compellingly acted. Sure, Cavill’s Superman is very dark, broody and layered but he hasn’t had a victory yet. He’s been alone, hidden, isolated and unable to stand up to bullies without exposing his abilities; of course he wouldn’t be the most upbeat individual. Amy Adams is a very commendable Lois Lane and while her all-access appearances feel a little surreal, I didn’t doubt her credibility or believability as a charming if overly eager reporter. Shannon’s reimagining of Zod as a blindly determined general (echoing his performance in Boardwalk Empire) feels like a nice departure from Terence Stamp’s iconic portrayal in the 70’s/80’s. And the thing is, I could happily go on listing almost every single cast member. The only characters that really struck a strange cord were the extras. Stupid, gormless idiots staring in disbelief rather than evacuating, as if they’d been cast in a Michael Bay flick. Then there are the action sequences. For better or worse, Superman’s history (the comic, that is) has been rooted in action – his first appearance in Action Comics should be a clue there. Some will decry this film for being too punch heavy, draining the audience’s stamina. While I can appreciate this sentiment, I feel in order for Superman to be a success (and after the bitter taste of Green Lantern), DC/WB really needed to accentuate an action heavy film. Granted, the CGI is ropey every now-and-then and the coordination and camera work leave much to be desired but it feels absolutely bloody epic and really staples our race’s need for Superman. But the icing on the cake is Hans Zimmer’s wondrous score. Stepping away from John Williams’ memorable theme and creating an instantly fitting and soaring sound that captures the majesty, power and quiet sorrow of this character.

However much I enjoyed this movie, it is massively flawed and almost all issues stem from technical problems. First thing to address is the writing. While the performances, scientific injection and production design sell the characters, the dialogue, narrative and pacing are pretty atrocious. Most of the lines are rather corny, despite the global threat the drama seems very US localised and the story bumps and grinds along ham-fistedly, leaping from peak to trough with no steady flow or guidance. An error that is magnified by the sloppy editing, throwing audiences about rather than building continually from threat-to-threat and escalating the action to a really climactic conclusion. Finally, Zack Snyder’s direction just isn’t up to it. Coming from somebody who has enjoyed most of his back catalogue, I really don’t think that Snyder is suitable for Superman. Having said that, Christopher Nolan wasn’t really suited for Batman but we’ll get onto that in a minute. Despite all these gripes, minor complaints and disappointments, I still think this movie is better than most of the action shlock that gets pumped out. It may not feel one hundred per cent true to Superman lore but it is greatly superior to most other original superhero flicks that become huge box office successes. Hancock, I’m looking at you.

When adapting source material that has been reinterpreted and reinvented several times over several decades, it’s fair to say you’re not going to please everyone. The best you can hope to do is create a solid film and (in the case of Marvel and DC releases) establish a decent universe to populate your characters. But Superman films are almost always reactionary, trying to give audiences something new while showing them mind-blowing visual effects. In this way, Superman Returns and Man Of Steel are two sides of the same coin and as such, I’ve given them the same rating. For those that feel Superman should be a humorous, emotional, Clark Kent driven story (akin to Richard Donner’s Superman), Superman Returns is a great sequel; retreading familiar ground, going with something safe while pushing the technology of the age as far as it could go. But it didn’t do well. People complained about the plot, some of the performances and the lack of action throughout. So is anyone surprised that the next Supes film gives audiences the very thing they whined they didn’t have in the last adaptation? More action, more brooding, less Clark falling over stuff and a real separation from the 70’s films. Well, here it is. Happy now? No, of course you’re not. But when liberties with the very core of Batman’s character were taken by Nolan in his Dark Knight trilogy, no one batted an eyelid. Punching people in the face, screaming like an angry walrus and bellowing, “Where is it?” does not make you a good detective, Mr. Wayne. This is not going to be to everyone’s liking and if DC/WB are trying to establish a cinematic Justice League universe with this movie they’ve set the threat level a little high – what opposing/invading force can you produce that Superman couldn’t handle on his own and would need Batman’s help?

There’s a firmly held belief that sequels will always be inferior to the original, by definition alone. However, that rule does not apply to comic book films. Origin stories are clumsy, awkward, confused and usually extremely dated (Superman’s is 75 years old for crying out loud) but once they’ve been established, the next story is bigger, smarter, more heartfelt and better. I can only hope this is the case here.


Release Date:
14th June 2013

The Scene To Look Out For:
What could arguably be considered the start of the hour long action sequence, the Kent farm is ravaged by Kryptonians and Martha Kent [Diane Lane] is assaulted by Zod. To counter this, Superman crashes into Zod at great speed, tackling him through a corn field, laying in punch after punch, screaming, “You think you can threaten my mother!?” before pummelling through shops and eventually a petrol station. This is a point of contention for a lot of people but I’m totally cool with Clark being smashed through shops, diners, skyscrapers and petrol stations because in a real inexperienced fight, you don’t react sensibly or rationally, it’s only after you’ve done something terrible that you start to look out for others.

Notable Characters:
As stated above, I could happily praise almost every performance in this film but three in particular stand out. First of all, Russell Crowe’s badass, defiant Jor-El was a pleasant surprise, fleshing out his character to something impressive and greater than ‘the guy who put his son in a rocket’. Additionally, the choice to show his physical resolve is a nice inkling of Kal-El’s potential and hereditary abilities to confront evil and do the right thing. Secondly, Kal’s adoptive father, simple farmer Jonathan Kent is brilliantly portrayed by Kevin Costner. When Costner was first announced, no one thought he would be suitable or capable in this role but he brings the required amount of reserve, caution, concern and hope that makes up the heart of this character. Finally, maybe an odd choice, but I really liked Antje Traue as Zod’s steely second-in-command, Faora. It’s always nice to see the real muscle in a superhero book/film as a woman, rather than a bloke, especially if they don’t have to rely on swollen, spilling cleavage and overtly sexual dialogue. No, Faora was a woman of few words who proved herself an extreme adversary to both mankind and Superman, without resorting to Catwoman-like behaviour.

Highlighted Quote:
“I have been a warrior my whole life, all my senses have been trained and focused on the art of combat. Where did you train; on a farm!?”

In A Few Words:
“For those that want lighter fare, there’s Superman Returns, for those who crave action, there’s Man Of Steel. Hopefully the next instalment will be able to combine both to produce a truly wonderful Superman story”

Total Score:

3/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #98

[09 June 2013]


Winning Team:
Cillian Me Softly With His Schlong

Genre – Cillian Murphy slaughters willing women mid-shag with his BAFTA nominated whang. A musical

Runners Up:
Pink Eye
Genre – Wes Craven style body shock horror (with sexy results)
After Earth II: After Eight
Genre – Young Jaden Smith eats special chocolates before eight and Will Smith scolds him for a bit
Conception
Genre – A scarecrow comes to life and finds himself On The Edge Of Love with A Girl With A Pearl Earring but can he convince her to Retreat up a Cold Mountain, In Time to convince her in Sunshine with his Red Eye or will his heart be Broken, 28 Days Later?
The Symbol Stands For Hope
Genre – Fantasy adventure
Only Ryan Gosling Forgives
Genre – Drama


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. In the film of the same name, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mutate and evolve from which animals?
TURTLES
2. What is the name of the band in This Is Spinal Tap?
SPINAL TAP
3. Charlton Heston portrayed which biblical figure in 1956’s The Ten Commandments?
MOSES
4. Who played the lead role in 1985’s Teen Wolf?
MICHAEL J. FOX
5. What did the Farrelly brothers direct after Dumb And Dumber and Kingpin?
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY
6. The 1998 film Taxi was made in which country?
FRANCE
7. What is the name of the Anthony Mingella film, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, based on the novel of the same name?
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
8. In Taken, Liam Neeson’s character is a former operative of which US agency, i.e. FBI, CIA, NSA, etc?
CIA
9. Emilio Largo is the Bond villain in which Sean Connery film?
THUNDERBALL
10. Terminator 2 is set in which year?
1995

ROUND II: Filming [Cillian Murphy Special]
1. When Jim wakes up, in 28 Days Later, how long has the virus been spreading? Two weeks? 28 Days? One year?
TWENTY EIGHT DAYS
2. Intermission is set in which Irish city? Cork? Limerick? Dublin?
DUBLIN
3. What does Fischer find in the dream safe, in Inception? Paper windmill? A toy gun? A war medal?
PAPER WINDMILL
4. In Cold Mountain, Cillian Murphy plays Bardolph, a soldier fighting for which side in the US Civil War? Confederacy? Union? Neither?
UNION
5. Who directed 2005’s Red Eye? Wes Craven? John Carpenter? Sam Raimi?
WES CRAVEN
6. Before being adapted into a film, what was Breakfast On Pluto? A novel? A play? A musical?
A NOVEL
7. On the way to the sun, in Sunshine, the crew of the Icarus pass by and excitedly observe which planet? Mercury? Venus? Earth?
MERCURY
8. How many years has Raymond Leon (played by Murphy) been a timekeeper, in In Time? 30? 40? 50?
FIFTY
9. In Perrier’s Bounty, if Michael McCrea doesn’t pay the debt he owes by midnight what is his punishment? Burn his hair off? Break two bones of his choosing? Skin his foot?
BREAK TWO BONES OF HIS CHOOSING
10. Cillian Murphy not only appeared in the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy but also as a security guard in Batman & Robin. True or False?
FALSE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. How many films have been released with Tarzan in the title?
TWENTY (1918, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941-44, 1945 (2x), 1946-48, 1959, 1981, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005)
2. During hypnotherapy, in Donnie Darko, Donnie reveals that he didn’t get the present he wanted for Christmas. What did he want?
HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS
3. In They Live, after finding the box of sunglasses (revealing hidden messages of conformity) and putting a pair on, what does Roddy Piper’s character do with the rest?
THROWS THEM IN A BIN
4. In George Lucas’ film, what are the four numbers that follow THX?
1138
5. What is the name of Brad Pitt’s character in Thelma & Louise?
JD
6. The Thin Red Line was nominated for seven Oscars. How many did it win?
NONE
7. Who directed There Will Be Blood?
PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
8. What does Shaun throw into the sea at the end of This Is England?
FLAG
9. At the start of The Thing, what is the nationality of the scientists pursuing the dog?
NORWEGIAN
10. Which film, which starred George C. Scott and Tom Cruise, was Sean Penn’s feature debut?
TAPS

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following is not a real film? They Saved Hitler’s Brain? The Tree Of Wooden Clogs? Trilogy Of Disaster: Part 4?
TRILOGY OF DISASTER: PART 4
2. The following quote is from which Will Ferrell film, “I want that which all couples want, to retire to Stockholm and design a currency for dogs and cats to use”? Anchorman? Talladega Nights? Blades Of Glory?
TALLADEGA NIGHTS
3. Which Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton film had the poster tagline, The Motion Picture They Were Made For? The Taming Of The Shrew? Cleopatra? Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
4. What is the Japanese translation of Kurosawa’s Macbeth adaptation, Throne Of Blood? The Quiet Duel? The Bad Sleep Well? Spider Web Castle?
SPIDER WEB CASTLE
5. Who plays the reigning Pinball Wizard in Tommy? Elton John? Oliver Reed? Jack Nicholson?
ELTON JOHN
6. In addition to directing, what role did Sydney Pollack play in Tootsie? Michael’s agent? Michael’s roommate? A sexist director?
MICHAEL’S AGENT
7. The 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair was released how many years after the original? 23? 31? 42?
THIRTY ONE
8. What was the title of the Hitchcock film that starred Paul Newman and Julie Andrews? Rope? The Wrong Man? Torn Curtain?
TORN CURTAIN
9. Which of the dwarves in Time Bandits is the leader? Randall? Fidgit? Strutter?
RANDALL
10. Orson Welles shot the majority of Touch Of Evil at night, to discourage studio representatives hanging around, offering ‘advice’. True or False?
TRUE

BOUND IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Penelope / The Prestige / The Pagemaster
Poster: Police Academy 3: Back In Training
Actor: Ron Perlman

AFTER EARTH

Danger Is Real. Fear Is A Choice

Director
M. Night Syalmalan

Starring
Jaden Smith
Will Smith



It’s been a bad ten years for Shyamalan. After a lukewarm response to The Village, it’s just been downhill. Long gone are the interesting stories, endearing performances and innovative direction, now we’re being fed high-budget mulch. After Earth is simply another course and proves to be just as bland and unappealing as everything that came before it.

Having destroyed the environment, mankind abandoned Earth, in search of a new homeworld. Upon arrival on the new planet, dubbed Nova Prime, humanity discovered it’s not alone in the universe and an unseen, unnamed alien race unleashed beasts called Usra to hunt and eradicate our species. No real explanation for any of this exposition, it’s just clumsily narrated to the audience. After years of fighting these carnal monsters, our forces learn that they are deaf and blind but can smell our pheromones secreted when we feel fear. One particular warrior, Cypher Raige [Will Smith] has honed himself to be without fear and proceeds to execute vast numbers of Ursa, pushing the enemy back. Following this revelation, the military train their Rangers in the art of being fearless. In an attempt to bond with his son, Kitai Raige [Jaden Smith], Cypher allows the teenager to accompany him on his next mission. Mid-flight, the crew encounter an asteroid shower and are forced to emergency jump/warp/whatever and arrive at the long abandoned Earth. The ship crashes and only the two Raige family members survive. In order to be recovered, a distress beacon must be activated but it is located in the tail end of the ship, several days away. With Cypher’s legs broken, he must entrust his son with this mission. To get from A to B Kitai is pitted against some of Earth’s most treacherous entities: cold weather, water, trees, baboons, a parasite infection and a couple of big cats. For those unaware, that was sarcasm. The ‘trials’ are really small scale and pose no genuine threat to the young warrior. But the Ursa survived! Oh no! Will the young Kitai overcome his fear and defeat the beast? Will they be rescued? Will the experience bring the two individuals closer? Spoiler.. yes.

After The Pursuit Of Happyness and The Karate Kid, I was rather looking forward to this film. I didn’t expect a great deal but potentially it could be promising. What started out as a simple Will Smith pitched concept about a father and son on a camping trip suffering an accident and the son having to go through the woods to get help rapidly spiralled out of control. All of a sudden the simplistic setting mutated and was then set in the future, then five others writers got involved and the whole thing fell apart. Watching the film, I didn’t feel as outraged by the performances as other critics and detractors. I felt Will Smith’s stern tone and outlook was decent and while Jaden Smith was very paint-by-numbers and whiney, I felt that was more of a scripting issue than an acting flaw. Having said that, I don’t believe Jaden Smith is ready or proven for the screen, especially not alongside his insanely charismatic father. If anything, this film is a parallel analogy for the Smiths’ respective careers, with a largely different outcome. On top of that, there was a curious creative choice to employ a dialect coach to give the characters this somewhat neutral accent: a strange combination of South African, North American, Australian, British, etc. But the idea feels ill conceived and poorly executed, leaving everyone under the impression it’s simply a bad US southern accent from the late nineteenth century.

The real problem is the script. There’s absolutely no layering to the plot whatsoever, it’s just a case of Character 1 goes from location A to B. Like a poorly conceived video game, there’s nothing else to it. All the elements that are covered in flashback (the war with the alien races, the death of Kitai’s older sister, Cypher’s career as a warrior) would have been significantly superior plot fodder but instead we’re forced to watch a kid pretending to be a poor Bear Grylls. Earlier this year, audiences were subjected to Oblivion and while it was an overall let down, it still had its moments and looked visually stunning. After Earth can’t even claim this and suffers from the same visual problems that Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull had: everything looks like it’s supposed to be enormous in scope and scale, yet feels fake and unimpressive. But it’s not just the CGI, the sets also look feeble and flimsy. If this production was punched out for half of its budget, I’d be moderately impressed but for 130 million dollars, this is simply unacceptable. And to top everything off, the score is horribly forgettable. I’m desperately trying to think back on any melodies or ambient strings that were used and I’m coming up empty. But then, that’s the problem with James Newton Howard, some of his scores are iconic, unforgettable and elevate the story while others feel phoned-in and completely unnoticeable.

Leaving the screening, I wasn’t impressed but found myself defending the film. I have no idea why, maybe I felt bad for Will Smith. But like Avatar, there were simply too many nagging issues. Firstly, choosing not to feel fear is a fucking whacky concept. I’m a massive comic book fan and love DC’s Green Lantern (don’t mention the film) which has a core message about overcoming your fears. Nothing wrong there but the concept of having absolutely no fear, to the degree that the human body stops the accelerated heartbeat, sweating and laboured breathing is surely impossible. But having said that, these Rangers are equipped with suits that can adapt to approaching threats but they can’t seem to emit a gas or even cover up human stink? But then that leads us to the Ursa things. They’re blind and deaf killing machines but smell fear? Ok, I’ll go along with that but how can they also navigate terrain and set up traps to scare humans? They don’t seem to be a very logical creation. Which leads us to Earth. Man has been absent for only one thousand years and every trace of our presence has been reclaimed by nature. I appreciate the line “Everything on this planet has evolved to kill humans” is arguably designed to scare people away from Earth but I’m pretty sure it’s just for use in a trailer, namely because the notion of a beast evolved to killing humans, despite an absence of humans is baffling. Additionally, in one scene, Kitai is retracing his steps and figuring out the remainder of his journey and lists the encounters by animal. Meaning he’s etched out a timeline of the events by listing “Baboons, condor, hog hole, etc” How does he know about all these creatures if mankind has been absent from Earth for so long? And he never eats anything! We continually see him consuming that syrupy breathing fluid but outside of that, I don’t remember any rations. And why the fuck does the planet freeze nightly? It literally freezes over each night in a matter of seconds and thaws out the very next morning with no effect on the foliage. How has that happened exactly? We’ve only been off the planet for ten centuries. And most frustrating is the beacon itself. A high-tech ship that travels across the stars but has a hand-remote distress beacon? When we left Earth did we forget about tracking vehicles? ‘Cause this thing is damned powerful. It sends out a pulse transmission that literally fills the entire universe. It spans out and expands to every inhabitable area. Mental!

Lazy writing, sloppy directing, poor visuals and cryptic acting decisions ensure this movie will be hated. Not forgotten or ignored, hated. In my opinion, both Smiths will recover from this, they’re simply too valuable to studios. But Shyamalan? This was his last chance. I imagine he’ll be absent for some time, have his massive budgets taken away and be forced to write something decent and clever, rather than just filming something for the sake of it. And chances are, it will probably be pretty good.


Release Date:
7th June 2013

The Scene To Look Out For:
Cypher’s introduction to the audience is fairly memorable. A typically distant military father, he conducts social business at home like a drill sergeant, commanding his son to sit straight, answer clearly and look his father in the eye when he talks to him. Before leaving the table, Cypher calmly reminds his son to ask permission to leave the table, upon parroting his father’s exact words, Cypher bellows, “Permission denied, sit down!” While it could be a subject of ridicule on the internet (seriously, there will be memes soon enough), I felt this was a nice direction for Will Smith, an opportunity to do some actual acting. Shame about the remainder.

Notable Characters:
Other than what I’ve said above about Will Smith, there’s very little to add. Jaden was an annoying teenager whose coming-of-age story was tedious, rather than inspired. And the supports are so brief that they serve little to no purpose. I’ll go with the giant eagle/condor thing. Yeah, that was my favourite character.. even though it was fucking irritating and made no sense, its presence was about as plausible as every other element of the film.

Highlighted Quote:
“I’m not a coward! You’re a coward!”

In A Few Words:
“Needlessly dull, whiney, grating and visually tired, After Earth is just another disposable science-fiction action flick with little to say”

Total Score:

1/5