Vampire Academy (2014) My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on
the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct
Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire
Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if
you added vampires to Heathers, you
would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately
inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from
Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish
leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to
I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young
Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel
storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation
crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like,
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) (SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The Matrix – The Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…
Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied
plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable
folly of the panned Pan, I was struck
by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters,
makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed
illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such
investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston
Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely
puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II
tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.
Seinfeld 2.10: The Statue The Premise Jerry employs a cleaner, the boyfriend of an author whose book Elaine is editing. He leaves the apartment spotless, but Jerry is convinced he has made off with a statue.
Ghostbusters (2016) (SPOILERS) Paul
Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough
to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped
make his Ghostbusters remake (or
reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not
even being that great a movie in the first place.
lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem,
but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s
ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the
asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the
subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no
great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure
that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant
nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters,
but aside from …
Hereditary (2018) (SPOILERS) Well, the Hereditary trailer's a very fine trailer, there's no doubt about that. The movie as a whole? Ari Aster's debut follows in the line of a number of recent lauded-to-the-heavens (or hells) horror movies that haven't quite lived up to their hype (The Babadook, for example). In Hereditary's case, there’s no doubting Ari Aster's talent as a director. Instead, I'd question his aptitude for horror.
Robert Holmes’ first of four scripts for the series, and like last season’s Mission to Destiny there are some fairly atypical elements and attitudes to the main crew (although the A/B storylines present a familiar approach and each is fairly equal in importance for a change). It was filmed second, which makes it the most out of place episode in the run (and explains why the crew are wearing outfits – they must have put them in the wash – from a good few episodes past and why Blake’s hair has grown since last week). The most obvious thing to note from Holmes’ approach is that he makes Blake a Doctor-substitute. Suddenly he’s full of smart suggestions and shrewd guesses about the threat that’s wiping out the base, basically leaving a top-level virologist looking clueless and indebted to his genius insights. If you can get past this (and it did have me groaning) there’s much enjoyment to be had from the episode, not least from the two main guest actors.
Hudson Hawk (1991) A movie star vanity project going down in
flames is usually met with open delight from press and critics alike. Even fans
of the star can nurse secret disappointment that they were failed on this
occasion. But, never mind, soon they will return to something safe and certain.
Sometimes the vehicle is the result of a major star attaching themselves to a
project where they are handed too much creative control, where costs spiral and
everyone ends up wet (Waterworld, The Postman, Ishtar). In other cases, they bring to screen a passion project
that is met with derision (Battlefield
Earth). Hudson Hawk was a
character created by Bruce Willis, about whom Willis suddenly had the post-Die Hard clout to make a feature.
Despicable Me 3 (2017) (SPOILERS) The Illumination formula is at least reliable, consistently and comfortably crowd-pleasing where DreamWorks often seems faintly desperate (because they are – who's their distributor this week?) Despicable Me 3 ploughs the same cosy, affirmative furrow as its wholly safe predecessor. When I saw Despicable Me 2, I mentioned that it reminded me of Shrek 2 in its attempt to continue a story that was complete in itself. Despicable Me 3 is similarly redundant, suggesting the most airless of brainstorming sessions – Gru has the kids, the wife, the job, how about now he gets a sibling? – although this time I was put in mind of the Lethal Weapon sequels and their ability to continue churning out/expanding on the family vibe long after Riggs had become a (relatively) well-adjusted member of society.
Jeeves and Wooster 3.3: Cyril and the Broadway Musical (aka Introduction on Broadway) Well, that’s a relief. After a couple of middling episodes, the third season bounces right back, and that's despite Bertie continuing his transatlantic trip. Clive Exton once again plunders Carry On, Jeeves but this time blends it with a tale from The Inimitable Jeeves for the brightest spots, as Cyril Basington-Basington (a sublimely drippy Nicholas Hewetson) pursues his stage career against Aunt Agatha's wishes.