Bounties, Dragons and Shanks

Maintaining my mayorhood of the local CineWorld (courtesy of FourSquare), I squeezed in three films before rush hour yesterday: Perrier’s Bounty, How To Train Your Dragon and Shank.

Perrier’s Bounty

“Dorty. Like a bag of carrots”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Young man owes money to dangerous Irish gangland boss. Of course things go from bad to worse…

This film is a prime example of why low-budget, independent cinema should be supported and celebrated.

Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy) is a young gambler who owes Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) a grand. He has till 10pm to pay up otherwise he’ll have two bones broken. His choice. And digits don’t count. A pair of rather scary gangland types are out to make sure he doesn’t have other ideas.

Of course, this being a mild Lock, Stock… clone things don’t go quite as planned. Violence definitely ensues, paths cross, a dying father (Jim Broadbent) makes an appearance and a woman gets involved (a rather hot one in the guise of Natalie Britton). And it’s funny.

There’s a mild bit of narration which is definitely worth paying attention to. It plays a part in a twist which takes place with the very last line of dialogue. This tiny attention to detail sums up the movie. It’s careful, well-paced, funny, clever and hugely entertaining.

It isn’t the best film ever, but it’s definitely a “must see”.

How To Train Your Dragon (3D)

“Trolls exist. They steal your socks. But only the left ones. What’s with that?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A young Viking discovers there there are things about the dragons his village has been fighting that nobody else knows…

Straight to the point with this one before I go any further: DO NOT MISS THIS FILM. It is simply superb. Clever, funny, well-animated, beautifully-presented and with very good use of 3D. Yes, it’s actually worth spending the extra to see the film with daft glasses on.

The opening sequence is a great introduction to the scenario and the characters – and the delightfully stupid-looking sheep. If I have one quibble it’s that I didn’t realise Vikings had faux-Scottish accent, but I’ll forgive the film-makers on the basis that otherwise this is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

This quality beginning is maintained for the entire running length of the film. There isn’t a low point in the entire movie. It’s perfect scene after perfect scene. The pacing is spot on, the heart-warning parts aren’t mawkish and the action is fast-paced and exciting.

I could throw hyperbole at you for another four paragraphs or just make it easy – GO SEE IT.

Yeah. That was better.

Shank

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Street urchin’s brother is killed so he goes out to get revenge on the lad who did it.

Starting off well, Shank goes into a quick decline with indecipherable dialogue, a linear script and annoying cut-scenes. Set in London (2015), where the economy has collapsed, crime run rife and gangs rule the streets we’re introduced to Junior (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and his band of homies who earn a crust by stealing “munchies” (food) and sell it on to a dealer.

It took me a good 10-15 minutes to get my head around the verbals, with the “yo, me homies, blud” dialogue being rather hard to decipher. Oh, except for Craze (Michael Socha) who’s from the north so just spends his time asking people to fight him. Of course.

The plot, what there is, is incredibly linear. More so than some of the RPGs I’ve played on handhelds. Meet one person, do something, get info, go see next person, do something, get info… Aptly, a few of the cut scenes are done in the form of computer games – some better than others.

Shank tries, but really not hard enough. It gets significantly worse when the gang of girls join in towards the end, sounding like a coked-up bunch of Grange Hill rejects, screaming at each other and ending every sentence with “yeah”. It’s like watching a bunch of chavs fighting only without the entertainment value of some of them hopefully being killed.

After the previous two films I saw today, this was a hell of a let-down. While Perrier’s Bounty is a prime reason to support independent films, Shank undermines this. A valiant attempt, I suppose, but it falls very far short of quality.

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