No cinema for about two weeks then three in a day. Well, I caught three. Because Cineworld buggered up a change in direct debit details, Gillian had to go home and ring them to re-enable her card which meant that she missed the first of our trilogy. Thanks a bunch, Cineworld.
Johnny English Reborn
“Dear God, don’t let me get killed by the Swiss.”
Plot-in-a-nutshell: inept Bond-esque character makes a return only this time he’s not as goofy
See it if you like: Amusing comedy romps with a dash of slapstick which somehow still manage to shoehorn in a decent plot
We (re-)watched the original film the other week as Gillian hadn’t seen it before and, in honesty, it wasn’t as enjoyable as I remember. Still, I was looking forward to seeing Rowan Atkinson back on screen as the clumsy secret agent originally created for a series of Barclaycard commercials. It’s certainly better than another Mr Bean outing (shudder).
The film begins with English back in the bad books after something goes wrong in a job in Mozambique (more of which becomes clear as the story progresses). Stripped of his knighthood and his position with MI7 he is enrolled in a Tibetan monastery. Cue a rather amusing slapstick sequence where Atkinson gets to show off his legendary facial expressions, rubber limbs and comic timing.
The new head of MI7, Pegasus (Gillian Anderson with a posh accent) is forced to draft English back in when an informant insists on speaking only to him. English is partnered with junior agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya) who fills in the “sensible” role of Bough from the original without being the same character. Far less experienced and less prepared to pick up English’s mess. In fact, the opening (low speed and comically brilliant) chase sequence shows that the roles have very much been reversed. English with the smarts and Tucker obviously an inexperienced though keen agent.
There’s still a fair amount in the film that’s predictable – it’s that kind of humour – but there are plenty of good laughs that haven’t been spoiled in the trailer. The story isn’t bad, either, with a good handful of twists and turns. The action sequences are appropriately funny/ridiculous and also quite cool in places.
This is far from remake or rehash of the original. Atkinson has taken the English character in a new direction rather than just playing him out in another outing. This film is far better as a result.
Good laughs, great cast, family friendly and definitely recommended.
“You know you’re bringing him home in pieces, right?”
Plot-in-a-nutshell: down-and-out robot boxer discovers he has a son. Robots get smushed. Bonds form.
See it if you like: the idea of unusual combinations of father/son dramas and boxing/sports films.
ThisÂ was a great film. Exciting, innovative, funny, emotional, visually impressive, imaginative… We loved it and the kids a couple of rows in front were completely enraptured with the fight sequences.
Ex-boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) has fallen into debt with far too many people as he travels the country trying to win cash back as a robot boxer. People no longer box. The viewing public has moved on, wanting to see gigantic metal titans beat each other to scrap.
To add to his problems, Kenton’s old girlfriend dies and he finds himself lumbered with an 11-year-old son, Max (Dakota Goyo), for the summer.
The story then mixes Rocky (if you want to know how much, see the IMDB trivia page for the plot similarities) with a heart-warming drama where Charlie gets to know his son. Stars of the show are the robots, of course. Every single one was built both physically and digitally – and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between them.
When I look back, the story – certainly as far as the fights – was pretty much by-the-numbers. There are very few original stories left in Hollywood, the trick these days being in how well you tell them. This one is told particularly well. The stunning visuals really help, but the characters and plot are what’s important.
A sequel is mooted for 2014 and part of me is dreading it as this is a nicely-encapsulated story. It doesn’t need a sequel. This is a great movie in its own right.
“It’s a bad day to be a rhesus monkey.”
Plot-in–a-nutshell: A virulent virus breaks out and the CDC/WHO are tasked with stopping it as it sweeps across the world
See it if you like: dark dramas with a realistic edge
Imagine that the last Swine Flu or Bird Flu panic wasn’t as blown out of proportion as it seemed. Imagine that the virus really was novel and changing to the point where it spread remarkably quickly, killed in days and was ridiculously hard to cultivate in a lab. This is the premise for Contagion, a dark present-day thriller from Steven Soderbergh.
This film divided Gillian and I. She found it too slow and with not enough accurate information. I found it dark and gripping with just the right balance. It isn’t a fast film, she’s right, but the pace seems to increase as the virus spreads and as the public get more and more out of control.
Focus is very much on the medical staff involved in the case (played by the likes of Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet), though there are side-steps into the lives of victims (Matt Damon) and the anti-capitalist brigade (led by an appropriately annoying Jude Law) who believe that the drug companies are withholding cures so as to make more money for themselves.
Nothing like this has happened to us as yet, but it could. Plagues in history have been limited by geography. The way we hop across the globe nowadays means this isn’t going to happen any more. The figures thrown around in the film – tens of millions dead – are scarily possible.
It’s not surprising the performances are good when you look at the number of award winners and nominees up there. Soderbergh has quite the track record as well, though this is the first of his films I’ve seen that I’ve really enjoyed. A shame Gillian didn’t think as much of it as I did.