Thursday, 28 April 2011

Hextuple Bill Mini (and Cine) Musings: Speed, Money, Sand, Aliens, Action, and Gore...

Fast Five:
The original movie was a pretty decent flick. I never bothered with the second or third movies, the fourth movie left me cold when the action wasn't punching, and the fifth ... well, it's actually bloody good fun. Realism is out the window in favour of big cars, big guys, and bigger action. Set in Rio, this fifth instalment brings practically every familiar face from the franchise into one huge spectacular - so characterisation, which was never a big issue in the franchise, is naturally surface-deep pretty much all the way through.

What does keep the movie bashing along at a bloody good whack though, is the action. Justin Lin clearly knows how to deliver plenty of bang for your buck, and in a movie where everything is ridiculously massive (including franchise newbie Dwayne Johnson who resembles a gun-toting mountain driving around in a glacier-sized uber 4x4) things get crazy in a big bad way. Seemingly inspired in-part by the Rio-set levels in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (a ballsy action extravaganza of a videogame), it's insanity from beginning to end with genuinely spiffing action which makes up for any drawbacks. Big, dumb fun defined.

The remake is upon us, weirdly at a time of financial restraint in the era of Deficit Reduction, so naturally the original with Dudley Moore was going to be trotted out. If it wasn't for Moore, who is a charmingly useless multi-multi-multi-millionaire-to-be old soak, it wouldn't be particularly interesting.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time:
In need of another Pirates of the Carribean (even though a fourth is on its way, no doubt ready to inspire two more sequels in-turn), Bruckheimer & Co make a big budget videogame adaptation starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian Prince from the streets who gets mixed up with Gemma Arterton and a special dagger from the Gods which can turn back time. Clash of the Titans (2010) was complete and utter bollocks, a dreary old mess, but fortunately Sands of Time has decent action and a fairly decent script - notably in some nice banter between the two leads in the first half. It's no Pirates in terms of rogue charm and romp-factor, but it's not a total slouch either.

I do enjoy a Stephen King adaptation, even if the quality varies wildly, however this tale of four telepathic buddies getting mixed up in some alien invasion - that involves butt-born worms that inspire plenty of gas in their hosts - quickly rolls downhill from intriguing, to poorly realised. It feels off-kilter with a decidedly uneven tone and some underwhelming performances. I recall hearing pretty mixed reviews of it back when it originally came out, and now I know why. The Mist was far, far, far better.

Tango & Cash:
I'd never seen this slab of late-80s action until just the other day, and I don't know what's taken me so long. Aside from a couple of moments that are either too-comical or too-cheesy (cross-dressing, and a hokey bullet-proof van), it's a bloody good laugh - the humour and acerbic banter between Stallone and Russell being the key to the flick's charm. The style, fun, and good helping of explosive action help the movie sidestep any flaws along the way.

Saw VI:
The increasingly convoluted, nonsensical, and grusomely violent 'torture porn' (how I dislike that term) franchise hasn't been any good since part 3, but part 6 - which I've only just gotten around to - is easily the best out of parts 4, 5 and 6. There's a solid premise at the heart of the plot - revolving around the company that provided (and redacted) Jigsaw's health insurance. The opening is, however, weak - and a handful of side characters are annoyingly underwritten/just plain stupid - but it moves with a swift old pace and is, mercifully, not as pointless and incomprehensible as the previous two entries ... but it's still far removed from the low budget shocker that established an increasingly cliched and repetitive franchise. The first movie was actually bloody good, so it's a shame that this factory-line approach to the sequels has sullied the quality and importance of the original.

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