Saturday, 31 December 2011

Triple Bill Mini (and Cine) Musings: Last of 2011...

Similar to Despicable Me (which was quite enjoyable), Megamind centres around a villain who has to discover the good inside him to win the day. Featuring a great cast of voices (Will Ferrel, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill, J.K. Simmons etc) it's a good, fun time. Naturally it doesn't have quite the same 'pull you in' factor of a Pixar movie (although I've little interest in seeing this year's Cars 2, which seemed to receive luke-warm feedback), but Dreamworks did a ruddy good job nonetheless.

The 41 Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It:
Without a doubt, this 'spoof' of Judd Apatow comedies is the worst film I've seen all year. If you thought all those mind-bendingly awful 'Date Movie/Disaster Movie/Meet The Spartans' cinematic abortions were bad, then - amazingly - this load of old shite from 2010 is even worse. The sheer lack of any skill at comedy, as well as screenwriting, pacing, and narrative cohesion, is astonishing. Actual jokes are non-existent - in their place you instead get dreadful, shoe-horned-in moments of randomness that makes Disaster Movie look like a well-structured and thought-provoking drama, and such flatly redundant dialogue that you wonder how on earth anyone convinced the money men to pay for this utter drivel. It's incredible - nay, insulting (to all filmmakers and to all film lovers) - that this laugh-free, talentless, ham-fisted, completely misjudged rip-off, was ever produced in the first place. This shamefully inept and pathetic effort should hang like a skunk-sprayed albatross around the neck of anyone involved. Before you say it though, this is absolutely not a case of 'so bad it's good' - no, it genuinely is just trash with zero value whatsoever. It's an insult to mankind that this crap exists at all.

Mission: Impossible 4 - Ghost Protocol:
Brad Bird's live-action debut is a scorcher. This third sequel in the 15-year-running franchise is in no way at all the runt of the litter - it's a tip-top, nail-assaulting chair-grabber of a thrill ride.

No sooner has the Paramount logo been-and-gone than we're launched into the action at break-neck speed. From the very get-go the mission statement is clear: Ghost Protocol is here to kick arse - and kick it well. After a daring, action-crammed escape from a Russian prison, the IMF team find themselves on the receiving end of the titular protocol after the Kremlin is bombed and they're framed for it. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to catch the men responsible and clear their name in the process.

I'd have to watch the third film again to just be sure, but I think I can pretty safely say this is the best Mission Impossible since Brian DePalma's franchise-opening entry in 1996. Bird's direction is deft and works very well indeed with a script that perfectly balances nail-biting tension, adrenaline-drenched action, and sigh-of-relief-inducing smiles. Joining Cruise this time around are Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and Simon Pegg (returning as Benji from MI:III, who is now a field agent) - and they gel together perfectly. Everyone gets their chance to kick arse, induce a few chuckles, and even generate a moment of regretful pause and introspection.

The first half is perhaps better than the second, but not by much - indeed it's such a breathless, well-balanced, breezily-paced, entertaining thrill ride that there were audible sighs of relief whenever the tension was expertly popped during some of the most tense sequences - such as a vertigo-inducing climb for Cruise's Ethan Hunt up the tallest building in the world (all-the-more impressive because it wasn't done using green screen - no, Tom Cruise really was hanging from a wire 130 storeys up) ... that sequence alone made the palms of my tightly-clasped hands sweat.

Simply a brilliant action movie spectacle - the ideal mix of brains and brawn.

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