The Eagle, Faster, Sucker Punch and Mars Needs Moms

Four films in a contracted form due to me being knackered after a long week!

The Eagle

“I hate everything you stand for.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Roman goes in search of something belonging to his dad that some Scots pinched.

Originally titled The Eagle of the Ninth and based on a 1954 novel by Rosemary Sutcliffe, this is the story of a young Roman, Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) who heads to Britain in charge of a small fort. There, he begins a promising career despite the black mark on his family’s history caused by his father losing a whole bunch of soldiers and a gold eagle standard.

Events give him the chance to team up with a slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), and head north of Hadrian’s Wall into a land of savages and cut-throats. So kind of like a stag night in Glasgow, then.

Visually lovely, with the majority of the filming being done in Scotland itself. The remainder, just out of interest, taking place in Hungary. The sets, costumes and scenery are wonderful. The dialogue isn’t bad, and I enjoyed the way the non-Roman speech was done in what I assume is an old form of Scots Gaelic and subtitled.

It’s not the most complex of storylines, but the source material is aimed at young adults. Don’t think this is a kids’ film, however. Though definitely tamer than the likes of TV’s recent Spartacus – Blood and Sand, the combat is still moderately bloody.

I did miss the first five minutes, but this didn’t cause me any problems. In fact, if anything I enjoyed the trip just that bit more as it meant I didn’t have to sit through that bloody Orange advert for the millionth time.

Good stuff and worth seeking out for an entertaining bit of viewing.

Faster

“God can’t save you from me!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: There’s a plot? Oh, yeah. Something about people getting shot.

This film is a deliberate homage to 1970’s action films and it shows, with the rumbling engines of stupidly big cars, cringe-making dialogue and utterly mental storyline. It’s cheesier than a cheese factory made of cheese.

If you can handle the smell of stale socks, though, it’s not a bad bit of film in a dopey way.

The main characters are known simply by their titles. Driver (Dwayne Johnson) is seeking revenge for his brother’s murder as the upshot of a robbery which also landed him in prison. He’s being hunted by Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a hired Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who happens to be banging a bloody hot chick played by Maggie Grace. She’s only a side character, but by Jimminy. WOW.

If ever there was a film where you could switch your brain into “drool”, this is it. The relentless Driver is simply there to bulldoze through any attempt at plot and kill people. The Killer adds the cool and the Cop adds the “troubled soul heading for retirement”. Hell, one of his first lines is the fact that he’s only a few days from retirement.

A guilty pleasure, but pleasing all the same.

Sucker Punch

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: I’ll get back to you once I figure out what the hell it was about.

I believe this is Zack Snyder‘s fourth film and I’ll give him this – he’s consistent. I’ve consistently found his films just not quite getting there in terms of enjoyment. Visual spectacle, perhaps. But otherwise somewhat empty. Sucker Punch leaves you winded.

The opening ten minutes or so are completely dialogue-free as we’re rushed through the back story. The character we come to know as Baby Doll (Emily Browning) loses her mother, falls under the wing of an evil uncle who needs her out of the way to claim the inheritance, accidentally shoots her sister while trying to defend herself from aforementioned bad man and ends up being committed.

Here, she it put into some kind of programme whereby she dances for rich people as some kind of therapy. When she does this, she regresses into some inner fantasy as a kind of escapism. Or something. I think. Anyway, what happens in there (during some incredible CGI scenes) marginally mirrors the “real” world.

I think.

Basically, ignore the plot – what there is of one. Enjoy the visuals, which are staggering. Leave the cinema and wish they’d put as much effort into a decent story as they did into the graphic design.

Pretty but ultimately unsatisfying. Like any girl band you care to mention.

Mars Needs Moms

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Young boy has a fight with mother who is then kidnapped by Martians. He sets about rescuing her.

I saw this with Mister 3-Year-Old only as Miss 10-Year-Old had been sulky and her punishment was to go shopping instead. I think she might have got a bit more out of the film, especially as it’s about learning to realise how important your mother is to you when you’re a child.

The thing is, for a kid that age the film may come across as mawkish or at least trying to force a point. To the younger audience it’s simply not colourful enough. The majority of it is deliberately grey and drab to emphasise the Martian world since The Supervisor (Mindy Sterling) took over and separated male and female babies for life.

That is until she kidnaps Milo’s mom (Joan Cusack) and finds Milo himself (Seth Green / Seth Dusky) running rampant around Mars when he inadvertently hitches an interstellar lift.

There are a handful of action scenes, but until late in the film these are still all in shadow and greyness. Not much for a 3-year-old to fixate on.

While I thought it was kind of alright, the little mister did very well to sit still for the whole of it. If you want to see Seth Green doing good animation, watch Robot Chicken. It’s somewhat adult, but small children will find more enjoyment watching toys being dismembered.

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Eagle Eye

Cover of "Eagle Eye"
Eagle Eye

Rip the basic premise from Enemy of the State, shove in some lower-rate actors (and a couple of decent names that people have heard of), ramp up the action so nobody notices the gaping plot-holes and completely ludicrous excuse for a plot and you have Eagle Eye.

But, like most eye-candy no-brainers it does have its place. Sometimes you just want to switch off – and you have to if you want to overlook the multitude of problems that Eagle Eye has. As most of the film consists of things blowing up or being destroyed in some other manner, this isn’t a difficult task.

Plot in a nutshell: lead male’s twin brother (air force hot-shot) dies. Surviving twin gets home to find out he’s suddenly very rich, his apartment is full of stuff that points towards him being Bin Laden‘s best friend and the FBI want to have a very frank discussion with him. Obviously this confuses him. On the other side of town, female lead receives a phone call telling her that her son will die in a train crash if she doesn’t do as she’s told and pick up lead male after he’s made an insane escape from custody.

And so it goes on. The best lines in the film come courtesy of Billy Bob Thornton‘s sourpuss FBI agent and Michael Chiklis puts in a decent turn as the Secretary of State. Everyone else just plays it by the numbers which is fair enough – this isn’t exactly Schindler’s List.

Just make sure you don’t at any point sit back and go “but why didn’t…” a then the whole thing will unravel faster than that sweater you got for Christmas off your granny once the cat got hold of it. I would, though, like to know how whenever someone gets shot a dozen times in a film and survives, they always end up with their arm in a sling.

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