Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Double Bill Mini-Cine Musings: Gross Gags and Military Might...

Hall Pass:
In recent years I've not been keen on the Farrelley Brothers' gross out brand of humour, not since Me, Myself & Irene anyway, so it was nice to see them get a bit of their mojo back and not just focus purely on a daft central premise (Shallow Hal, Stuck On You). Two randy married men are given a 'hall pass' by their wives (a 'week off' from marriage to get their rose-tinted pining for their so-called glory days out of their system), and it plays out pretty much as you'd expect ... so it's not the brother's best flick by far, but it's certainly not their worst. The chuckles come a little bit thin & slow at times, but then they'll suddenly they'll come thick & fast - and even, explosively, at times ... it's just a shame that Stephen Merchant is so underused, because indeed, a sequence during the closing credits in which he imagines what it'd be like if he got a 'hall pass' steals the entire movie. Worth a punt for a fun time, but it's certainly not a Dumb & Dumber, or There's Something About Mary.

Battle: Los Angeles
It's Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day in this militarised alien invasion flick where the eponymous city gets royally blown-the-hell-up by a bunch of half-robot-half-squishy-thing E.T. bastards. Who's going to save the day? Aaron Eckhart and his squad of marines, that's who.

After the first 15 minutes, which sets up - in appropriately broad strokes - the central characters, it's pretty much a relentlessly action packed extravaganza until the somewhat-forumulaic finishing line. Indeed, a collection of civilians don't do much more than keep the plot moving by providing an initial objective, and some character stuff later on, for the gun-toting guys.

However, a balls-out, shell-shocking, all-guns-blaring, action fest such as this was never going to be an appropriate realm for considered character study. That said, a moment of downtime near the end of the second act was surprisingly effective - and allowed Eckhart to really bring some much-needed emotional core to this adrenaline-fuelled festival of gunfire. Perhaps this is where some of Shane Black's influence (who did an uncredited pass of the final draft of the script) is felt.

I have to say I really rather enjoyed it, and - pleasingly - the combat sequences were expertly handled and kept the audience (myself most definitely included) on the edge of their seats. There is rarely a chance to catch your breath, so you'd better keep up once the trigger fingers get twitchy. Think of it as watching Black Hawk Down, but not feeling guilty about enjoying it afterwards - after all, in the immortal words of Duke Nukem, "damn those alien bastards!"

No comments: