Thursday, 22 September 2016

Me Before You

There is nothing wrong in movies acting out as vehicles for their actors. Clearly, the main point of Me Before You was to ride on the success of its star, Emilia Clarke (aka Game of Thrones' Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen) by providing her with a vehicle with which to display her romantic comedy talents. I, for one, will argue this particular escapade fails and that the otherwise lovely and talented Clarke should probably seek to make use of her talents elsewhere (as in, definitely on our screens, but perhaps not in romantic comedies).
Set in the Welsh town of Pembroke (I know because I have been there), yet offering no hint that our affairs take place in Wales - not even the slightest of accents or Welsh signs - our story follows Lou (Clarke). Lou is the 26 year old daughter still living at home of a loving but poor family, and when she loses her coffee shop job (no wonder, given what passes for coffee in the UK) her family is desperate. So she takes on the job of looking after the now paralysed following a traffic accident son of the town's stupidly rich family, the family that owns the town's castle.
That son (Sam Claflin) no longer wants to live, having been thrown from the heights of hedonism into the depths of disability. Thus starts a Pretty Woman / Pride & Prejudice romantic tale that is full of schmaltz, is awfully predictable, and we've all seen tons of times before. Sure, you can argue the theme is good enough for us to enjoy again, and you will probably be right; I, however, will argue that Clarke's exaggerated facial expressions with which she expresses her emotions were way too much for me. By this movie's third act I was simply too annoyed.
Overall: Welsh scenery aside, this is a failed ride telling a [too] familiar story. 2.5 out of 5 crabs.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

The direct sequel of 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter's War comes back to tell us yet another fairytale based on the same setting. By cleverly jumping between events taking place before and after that first movie, it adds to that movie while standing pretty well on its own rights.
It turns out that the first movie's evil queen (Charlize Theron) has a sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), who through personal loss became evil as well. From the orphan victims her armies leave behind, Freya raises a new superior army of Huntsmen (thus explaining the origins of the first movie's Huntsman). And being the cold bitch that she is, she forbids love in her kingdom. Only that two of her best huntsmen, Eric (the returning Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) fall in love.
Our queen comes between them and sends Eric on a journey of exile that sees him through the first movie. But with the aid of Nick Frost as a lovely dwarf and some fairytale stuff miracles, lovers shall be reunited, famous actors whose characters we deemed dead and gone shall make a comeback, and - eventually, after pleasuring our eyes with many a glamorous costume and lots of nifty special effects - good shall prevail.
It's all quite predictable and easy on the brain, but yes, it is also beautiful. It's a fairytale lacking any pretensions to be anything other than a fairytale. As such, it worked for me!
Overall: Winter's War is good, easy to digest, easy on the eyes entertainment. Nothing wrong with that! 3.5 out of 5 crabs.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Creative Control

Is there anything real left in our world anymore? No, argues Creative Control.
In the world of the film Creative Control, nothing is real. The whole world is black and white, for a start. Affairs revolve around an ad agency, an company belonging to an industry that is all about selling folks false dreams. People take drugs to escape reality. People are insincere in business. People cheat on their best friends.
And into this reality comes a new invention of a virtual reality visor, through which our antihero for the duration of the film can fulfill his sexual fantasies with the woman he cannot otherwise engage (because she's the girl of his so called "best friend"). And in this world where nothing in real, that virtual world is the only thing that is real. We know that for sure because it's the only thing in color.
Creative Control goes to extremes, and overdoes it in the process, in order to tell us something about the world full of fictions, myths and lies that we live in. The result is contrived and too "in your face" to properly engage.
2.5 out of 5 crabs.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Lowdown: The Marvel superheroes get to fight one another.
Review:
The second Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, proved to be more than your average superhero movie by virtue of its very Edward Snowden like message. The third movie in the franchise, Civil War, which is actually a direct sequel to the second Avengers movie, aspired to do the same - justify its existence through deep messages - while providing entertaining action, mostly by doing a Superman vs. Batman and pitting the Marvel superheroes against one another.
It fails.
Through bringing Captain America's long lost friend Bucky as some sort of a retired Hydra agent that seem to have committed a serious crime, tension is created. Our Captain wants to make sure his friend gets his right for justice before getting lynched; the UN, annoyed with Bucky's latest adventures as well as the Marvel heroes part in destroying a country at the previous episode, wants to put a leash on our heroes; and certain members of Shield, notably Iron Man, would rather see the latter take over the former. Enter the division and let the fighting begin!
A couple of interesting thoughts are thus generated. Our Marvel superheroes, wrecking the world while saving it, offer an analogy to our real world's USA: the country that wages war on anything it feels like, claiming to save the world while doing so, but charging the rest of the world quite a collateral in the process. And then wondering why the rest of the world doesn't like it much.
Or the same USA using weapons it has a monopoly on - atomic weapons, once upon a time, and now drones and hacking abilities - to do the killing, all the while pretending the rest of the world would never catch up and cancel out its monopoly. Think about it: the USA is running a very "productive" drone program in the Middle East, Asia and Africa; how would it react if another country, say, Turkey, decided to run a drone attack in the USA in order to kill a person it considers its deadly enemy (for allegedly organising the recent failed coup)? Similarly, in our movie, we find Shield has no monopoly on superheroes; Africa can have its own.
The problem with Captain America: Civil War is that it just feels too contrived. You know everything is just an excuse to get our heroes to fight one another. And in order to get there, common sense was left out, the messages take second saddle and get smeared in the process. As for the action, there is nothing we haven't seen before; two and a half hours of the same CGI concepts are definitely an overdose.
As ridiculous as it may sound, Civil War misses out on its biggest ticket on the grounds of being pipped to the post by the very meh movie that was Batman vs. Superman.
Overall: I found Captain America: Civil War to be quite a mundane and uninvolving movie, a pale shadow of its prequel namesake. 2 to 2.5 crabs out of 5 from me.