Monday, 25 July 2011

Triple Bill Mini (and Cine) Musings: The Inexplicable, the Okay, and the Horrible...

Resident Evil Afterlife:
N.B. Sarcastic spoiling of the entire movie follows...

The fourth instalment in the inexplicable videogame-to-movie adaptation franchise (again written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson) kicks off with a very stylish, but mostly unintelligible attack - by a bunch of cloned Alices - on yet another impossibly labrynthine underground Umbrella Corporation complex. Then Mrs W.S. Anderson is flying around in a plane that is seemingly fuelled by magic in search of the paradise promised in the third movie (which was decidedly indebted to George A. Romero's far superior Day of the Dead). It's nowhere to be found, so her and Ali Larter sod off in their magic plane and end up landing on the roof of what looks like a hotel casino, but which is apparently a high-rise prison (eh?!).

We're introduced to 1) Asshole Producer, 2) Tough & Buff Black Guy with Incredibly Precise Facial Hair, 3) Random Asian, 4) Deluded Brunette Who Happens to be Good at Swimming, 5) Some Guy Called Angel or Whatever ... oh, and Wentworth Miller ... who's imprisoned, but he knows a way out (good thing he had all that Prison Break training, isn't it?) Then some zombies with weird mouths turn up, as well as some giant sack-headed creature with a massive axe/hammer (who's presumably from one of the games, but who is totally unexplained in this movie), and so a bunch of action happens - in slow motion - as Anderson makes full use of the 3D cameras (although I was watching it in 2D on my telly).

Fast forward, a bunch of cannon fodder has been gotten out of the way, and now we're on a boat. Then a bunch of nonsensical "muahahaha, we're an evil corporation" gibberish happens - and looks all shiny and slow-motioned and 3D in the process - and then the fifth inexplicable movie is set-up and we all fall down. It's a pretty face, with a handful of cool zombie apocalypse shots, but the plot makes little-to-no-sense - so you don't give a bollocks about anything that's going on. It's a movie for 13 year old boys who spend all their time testing the theory of "if you don't stop, you'll go blind" while intermittently rage-quitting from Call of Duty death match marathons.

Adventureland was a coming-of-age drama set in the 1980s starring one of the girls from Twilight (Kristen Stewart). Skateland is a coming-of-age drama, with a rather similar title, set in the 1980s starring one of the girls from Twilight (Ashley Greene) ... and it was also made in 2009, the same year as the pitch-perfect, involving and justifiably nostalgic Adventureland.

Skateland, on the other hand, expects our sympathies immediately - launching straight into nostalgia without having earned the right. We don't know who these characters are, nor what their relationships really are for the most part, and we don't know what the timescale of the entire movie is. We're not brought along for the ride from the get-go, so we spend the rest of the movie playing catch-up ... it's like being on the outside of a really good joke being told by another group over there somewhere, or being told a nostalgic story of an event you missed - perhaps you had to be there, eh? Suffice to say, it's a bit confusing, and Shiloh Fernandez's confused slacker teen comes off more as a lazy jerk, who's occasionally a bit-of-a-dick, than the identifiable, self-concious, kid-in-the-background played by Jesse Eisenberg in Adventureland. Indeed, Fernandez (also seen in DeadGirl) - half of the time - has this odd smirk on his face that just makes him seem like, to quote Scott Pilgrim, a "cocky cock".

There's some lovely visual moments and a great soundtrack, but the heart of the movie is lost for the most part thanks to confused plotting which lacks focus. If you want a coming-of-age drama (with a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure) that's set in the 1980s, then go directly to Adventureland, which is a wonderful film. Skateland on the otherhand, is sadly just okay.

Horrible Bosses:
While Mark Kermode (my film critic of choice) went off on a tangent by having a whinge about Jennifer Aniston being too fit for her role as a female dentist/sexual predator (summed up as "phwoar, Jennifer Aniston, phwoar, hey?") - I'd only half agree. While yes, you could have played it more dangerously as the dentist being a bit of an old boiler, on the other hand part of the joke is that the other two males from the central trio of protagonists (Nick and Kurt) cannot understand why their friend (Dale) doesn't like being felt up by a hot dentist. Indeed - Jennifer Aniston ... phwoar, hey?! Speaking of which - it's good to see Aniston in a more daring role that's actually a bit different, and in a movie that isn't utter naffness like The Bounty Hunter.

Anyway - three guys (including the ever-reliable Jason Bateman) find themselves in the employ of three horrible bosses, and (as you'll have surmised from the trailer) they decide to kill off each other's bosses. Suffice to say, things don't go exactly according to plan, as they bumble their way through attempts to 'gather intel'. It's not a comedy classic, but it's a good time nonetheless (the audience in the cinema where we saw it would have to agree), helped along by a dirty mind, solid central casting, and a strong core idea - even if the middle portion somewhat loses the spark before rallying itself for a satisfying sign-off.

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