Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2014

How do we tell the good guys from the bad guys?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
(SPOILERS) For a film as hyped as this one in terms of influences (the ‘70s conspiracy/ paranoia thriller), there was probably bound to be a degree of disappointment with the reality. Captain America: The Winter Soldier's ability to follow through is consistently beholden to hitting the prescribed Marvel marks. Perhaps I set the bar unfeasibly high following Iron Man Three's resounding success at being completely what it wanted to be and hugely entertaining with it. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is sporadically first class, and has certainly grabbed hold of the most topical of themes to kick-start its plot, but it also bears the tell-tale signs of formula engineering seen in Thor: The Dark World. And then there’s the small detail that it can’t quite get shake off the millstone of a really rather bland titular superhero. Nevertheless, Winter Soldier is night-and-day superior to its predecessor, the most lumpen and inert of the Marve…

No way. He's too old to be time travelling.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
There’s something studiously quirky about the feature debut of Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly. Perhaps that’s because it’s based on a studiously quirky premise; an actual advert placed as a joke for a time travel companion, one that attracted bored column inches by many and varied media outlets. The movie’s only noteworthy feature is how consistently slight it is, and it’s mystifying how Safety Not Guaranteed got the duo the gig for the kick-starting of one of cinema’s biggest franchises.

The premise has Seattle Magazine interns Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni) sent with fully-fledged writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) to investigate a classified ad for a candidate to take part in a trip back through time; payment upon return, and weapons necessary (hence the title). Darius is the kind of self-involved-but-sharp-witted female protagonist beloved by Bryan Fuller (pre-Hannibal, at any rate). There’s something of the relentlessly perky, likeably o…

You’ve got a knife. I’ve got a spoon.

Hummingbird aka Redemption (2013)
The Stat’s back and this time he’s baring his soulful, sensitive side amidst the usual skull-cracking. Steven Knight, a talented writer whose early credits on The Detectives shouldn’t necessarily be held against him, makes his directorial debut (as many dissatisfied writers are wont to do eventually) on Hummingbird, and it’s a mixed bag. Knight seems to be fully engaging with his archetypes, but does so to the point that his tale is doused in clichés. Material so self-consciously heightened requires a director and stars who can make a virtue out of the excesses; that everyone here is merely competent lays bare the overwrought corniness at its core.

Alternatively, perhaps Knight has just been lucky that the likes of David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises) and Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things) have shepherded his previous London-set thrillers to the screen. Promises has a number of things in common with Hummingbird, not least the strong silent man of idiosyn…