DVDs: Telling You What I’ve Seen Recently

As I continue to catch up, I turn my attention to some recent DVD viewing. I used to review DVDs more often but have got out of the habit of late, so think of this as a warm up to more (depending on how this turns out).

Twilight

I am now up to date on what the kids are all crazy for now; I mostly saw this because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, but also because I enjoy genre films and was genuinely interested to see the film. Leaving aside the accusation of setting back feminism many years, the film itself is poorly put together. It feels like a very amateur production, bad music, feeble dialogue, wooden acting, bad make up for the vampires – I was surprised by how weak the movie is. The story itself is slow and uninteresting, with very little going on, and the central characters are so insipid you don’t care; Kristen Stewart as Bella is a strong character (intelligent, independent, doesn’t care about the high school cliques) but then acts limp and pathetic when in the presence of the dull heartthrob Robert Pattinson. The sad thing is that there is an interesting idea hidden deep, deep in there somewhere, but this film isn’t it.

Rating: DA

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People

Funny story: a friend of mine gave me the book as a birthday present, saying that it reminded her of me; the book is about a pompous and annoying English man who loves celebrity and goes to America, makes an arse of himself and returns after getting the boot. Thank you, friend … I liked the book, despite the author and my friend’s unintentional snub, but the film is only loosely based on the book because it has evolved into a romcom about the ridiculous English person making a tit of himself in New York. I watched it because of Simon Pegg, who is good in it, but it’s nothing more than a by-the-numbers romantic comedy with added cringe. I only laughed at two incidental things (Pegg singing ‘Eng-er-lund!’ at a Fourth Of July party, and the fake trailer for the biopic of Mother Theresa, called Mother Theresa: The Making of a Saint), which isn’t a good hit rate. It’s fairly harmless, but it’s a bit of a failure if the romance and the comedy aren’t doing their jobs.

Rating: VID

The Day The Earth Stood Still

This might be against popular opinion but I thought that Keanu was good as the alien pretending to be human in this updating of the well-known (I’m not sure I’d use the word ‘classic’) 1950s sci fi – you can tell that he’s acting in a different manner to normal, and he gives the distinct impression of something non-human inhabiting the skin of a human. The build-up of the story and the special effects are very good (the spaceship, Gort and the swarm in particular), examining the story from the angle that we humans are destroying the Earth so don’t deserve it, but the film falls down in the emotional turning point, as Klaatu (Keanu) comes to the realisation that humans are worth saving – the film doesn’t sell this moment, so we don’t feel anything or connect to Klaatu’s change. The most annoying thing is the young kid, played by Will Smith’s son Jaden, who really gets on your nerves and wish that his character wasn’t in the film.

Rating: VID

Get Smart

Despite its status in the US, this didn’t really catch on in the UK (as far as I’m aware). I only remember it from the early days of Channel 4 (I think), when I was a teenager and would watch any old rubbish, and Channel 4 used to fill up their daytime schedule with old shows from the 1960s (such as Bewitched, another show that is remembered with sufficient affection that it also got a big-screen remake, although the less said about that piece of dreck the better – Nicole Kidman shows she can’t do comedy, bringing down Will Ferrell with her). This film works around Steve Carrell’s personality rather than a straight updating, with Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin and Dwayne ‘I must be the villain because I’m not the main character’ Johnson mixing action and laughs to minimal effect. You won’t poke your eyes out for watching it but you’ll never feel the urge to see it again.

Rating: DA

Quantum of Solace

I really enjoyed Casino Royale [LINK] and thought that Daniel Craig made a good Bond, although the film felt like such a reboot, getting away from the traditional elements of the franchise (gadgets, innuendo, villain bases), it doesn’t feel like a ‘proper’ Bond but a new idea in old clothing. Even though I can never get the Joe Cornish (of Adam & Joe fame, now on 6 Music) Song Wars version of Quantum of Solace [LINK] out of my head whenever I hear the title, I was still looking forward to it. The film continues on from Casino Royale, which is a different direction again for the Bond franchise, but it seems to lose a lot of what worked in the first film. Craig is still good in the role, mixing the good looks with the acting chops to take the character into darker territory, and there are well-filmed set pieces – the chase in the early part of the film, ending in dangling from ropes in the old building (How did they film that? It must have been storyboarded to within an inch of its life), is very good – but the moment the film is over, it evaporates from memory, a pretty-looking but inconsequential piece of entertainment that doesn’t hold together as an engaging narrative.

Rating: DA

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Or, How to waste having Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh in your cast. The Mummy films were never great by any stretch of the imagination, but they were enjoyable enough hokum (if you can ignore the horrible CGI in the second). This third film loses all of the appeal in what looks like an attempt to pass on the franchise to the younger generation. However, the son is a charisma-free zone, so there’s no hope of that, and this entry is rather bland, despite having CGI yeti (about the only thing of note in the film). Poor Maria Bello has to step in Rachel ‘I’ve got an Oscar so I don’t do these sort of films any more’ Weisz’s shoes and her accent is strangulated to say the least. Dull and forgettable.

Rating: DA

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