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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Darkest Hour (3D)

No really, just how mediocre can one film be?


Also at Channel24 in edited form


 What it's about

A group of young tourists find themselves on the run for their lives after Moscow is invaded by deadly, invisible aliens.

What we thought

The Darkest Hour: generic title, generic film. For a relatively major motion picture that has gotten some seriously bad reviews (16/100 on Metacritic, 12% on Rotten Tomatoes), I can almost guarantee that come December, absolutely no one is going to include the film in their “Worst of 2012” list. December is a long way away and there is simply no way in hell that any body is going to remember what genre of film The Darkest Hour belongs to, let alone what it was actually about. And this, oddly enough, is the very thing that saves it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Muppets

It's a really varied week of new cinema releases - both in quality and type - but this must surely be the one that most of have been looking forward to.


Also at Channel24 (though in slightly edited form)



What it's about

The Muppets reunite to stage a benefit concert to save their theatre from an evil oil tycoon.

What we thought

As is perhaps typical of relaunches of classic franchises, the amount of joy that you get out of The Muppets will largely depend on your own previous attachment to these classic characters. Whether you grew up with the Muppets Show from the 1970s (was that even shown in South Africa at the time? Had the country even discovered TV by then, for that matter?) or are a complete neophyte to Jim Henson's creations, however, one thing is certain: you won't leave The Muppets without at least a small spring in your step; a cheerier attitude towards the world. And if you're a young kid, you might just have found your new favourite film.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Underworld Awakening

There is at least one worthwhile film coming out this week but I can promise you this, it ain't the fourth Underworld flick, that's for damn sure.


Also at Channel24


What it's about

Skipping right past the third film (a prequel), this fourth entry into the Underworld series sees Kate Beckinsale back as Selene, the leather clad vampire outlaw, who finds herself caught up in a world where humanity has discovered the existence of vampires and werewolves. 

What we thought

The Underworld series has always been one of the most mind-bogglingly unbelievable franchises ever committed to celluloid. Not in a hyperbolic, that's-so-good-it's-unreal kind of way, you understand, but in the sense that it boggles the mind how a series based on the seemingly foolproof premise of Kate Beckinsale, dressed from neck to toe in skin-tight leather, kicking all kinds of ass in a centuries old war between vampires and werewolves, could be so relentlessly and unrepentantly dull. And yet, here we are: the first Underworld film was incredibly boring, the second even worse and the recent prequel, Rise of the Lycans, seems to have been ignored by just about everyone. All too predictably, Underworld: Awakening does little to right the ship.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Roundup of Films Released Over the 2011/2012 Holiday Season

So, it's been a while since I have updated the blog (apparently it's really easy to get lazy when on holiday by the sea - who knew?) so here are some quick, no frills reviews of a bunch of films that came out over the past few weeks. 






Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows If you enjoyed Guy Ritchie's first crack at Sherlock Holmes then you'll probably like this. It sags significantly in the middle as the old Ritchie self-indulgence takes centre-stage with just one too many explosive set pieces but the witty character interplay between Holmes and Watson is as fun as ever and Jared Hess' Moriarty makes for a perfect villainous counterpoint to Holmes' genius detective. And having a bit of Stephen Fry comic relief never hurts either. (7/10)  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Movies in 2011: An Overview (Part 2)

I promised there would be more and this time I take a look at some of the bigger films that came out this year.

 Animation and kids films

Sadly, 2011 wasn't a great year for animation. There weren't more than a couple of truly bad animated films this year (the befuddling Gnomeo and Juliet, the rather rubbish Mars Needs Moms, local dud Jock of the Bushveld) but what's really worrying is how few truly good ones there were. When the best that even the dependable geniuses at Pixar have on offer is Cars 2, you know you're in trouble. Honestly, come mid-2012, will anyone still remember the likes of Animals United or Hoodwinked Too? The best animated film of the year is probably a toss up between Aardman's Arthur Christmas or - yeah, it's probably Arthur Christmas, a funny and likeable film that probably won't go down in history as a classic of the genre. Honestly, what's its competition? The creepy motion-capture of Tintin? The who-the-hell-is-this-for wonkiness of Rango? Sammy's Adventures? Nope, if anything, the bets animated films of the year probably went straight to DVD here, be it the more adult but quite enchanting Chico and Rita, any one of the number of the anime titles that I never saw or one of DC Comics' flawed but enjoyable direct-to-DVD offerings.

In terms of non-animated kids films, I'm tempted to recommend the final Harry Potter film or Super 8 (more about these in a bit) but they're clearly for older audiences. Real Steel probably works a bit better but that's still more of a family film. And, no, I'm not even going to touch The Smurfs or the latest Chipmunks film - I don't care how successful they were. My pick for the best, pure kids film of the year is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. Considering the title, I never expected much but it quickly won me - and my inner 10 year old - over with its good-natured silliness and surprisingly funny juvenile jokes.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Midnight in Paris

I'll have the rest of my review of the films of the year up within the next few days but, in the meantime, a word or two about the latest Woody Allen film. 

Midnight in Paris



Ever since Match Point, it seems like every other film released by Woody Allen is hailed as a comeback or "his best film since...", to the point that it has become hard to take any of these claims all together seriously. Nonetheless, that doesn't change the fact that Midnight in Paris simply is Woody's best film since at least Everybody Says I Love You back in the mid 90s. If nothing else, it's unquestionably one of the most gentle, most nostalgic and most romantic films in his long and storied career.