At best this is an average assassin action movie, at worst it’s derivative tripe, but it manages to hold its head above water just enough to entertain for 90 minutes.

Superbad – what did I miss?

We recorded Superbad over Christmas and watched (the start of) it this evening.  Maybe myself and Grete weren’t in the right mood but it really didn’t strike a chord.  I chuckled a couple of times, but I hated Seth and the other two kids were equally annoying.  We made it to the part where the liquor store gets robbed but then just gave up.  Perhaps it turns a corner at that stage and gets super funny, perhaps not.

Won’t be rushing to try and catch it again any time soon – deleted it from Sky+, dissapointed and left wondering what we missed.

I won’t call this a full review since we didn’t finish watching it – and that’s something that hasn’t happened in a while.

Midnight Run

In a continuing theme of finding random films on Sky Movies that I’ve not seen yet, we watched Midnight Run last night.  It’s a reasonably typical buddy-cop action comedy style movie from the late 80’s staring Robert De Niro.  The story centres around De Niro’s character, an ex-Chicago cop turned bounty hunter, his history with the mob, and a bail bond collection he has to bring back before midnight in five days from the start of the flick.

The otherwise simple collection is complication by the involvement of several other factions.  The FBI has an interest, the mob has an interest, De Niro’s ex-wife and family show up briefly, another bounty hunter is involved and the bail runner himself (an ex-mob accountant) clearly has some involvement.  The single-threaded plot moves forward at a good pace to bring all these factions together at various moments and then again for the finale.

There’s no overt slapstick here, the comic moments come from the story, characters and the dialog.  De Niro brings his usual weight to what could have been a pretty light role, adding depth and emotion to the main character.  The supporting cast is pretty good, and I enjoyed Yaphet Kotto as the main FBI agent.  The dialog between De Niro and Charles Grodin’s character (the ex-accountant) drives the story forward and makes up a good 50% of the on-screen action, so luckily it’s interesting and worth listening to.

Midnight Run is a better than average implementation of a common 80’s theme, standing above the others due in no small part to De Niro and the well written dialog.

Pan’s Labyrinth

This is an adult fairytale told against the backdrop of 1944’s Fascist Spain.  A young girl (Ofelia) and her pregnant mother travel to live with a sadistic Spanish Captain.  Ofelia’s mother has recently remarried the Captain and her unborn child is his.  The Captain is fighting a personal war against rebels in the surrounding hills.  Ofelia begins to interact with a fantasy world of faeries and fauns, discovering she is herself a faerie princess.

Pan’s Labyrinth is very clearly two intertwined stories.  A compelling drama of rebellion, betrayal and loss in a bloody war and an equally compelling tale of a young girl seeking to escape the harsh reality of her new life.

The viewer is challenged to decide if Ofelia’s story is real or imagined, in some ways to make the same choice those around her are forced to make when she reveals the truth.

The film is in Spanish with English subtitles, is shot with del Toro’s now trademark brilliance and vision, and as mentioned, is compelling viewing.  The contrast between the real world and it’s rebellion and the faerie world somehow makes both seem even more solid.  The characters are believable and engaging, and in a very short space of time empathy is built for Ofelia and the adults around her.

Ivana Baquero plays Ofelia and brings life to the role, her performance is truly memorable.  The cast around her is superb as well.

Pan’s Labyrinth is not an easy listening fantasy tale, or something you can just put on in the background, it’s a challenging and interesting story which encourages you to think and believe.  Well worth the effort.

Deja Vu

Time paradoxes make inherently confusing stories, so it’s critical that you connect with the characters and feel the plot has some value otherwise you’ll be left drifting.  Deja Vu manages enough to keep you interested, keep you wanting to see more, and keeps you caring about the two main characters.

The screenplay is clever but doesn’t try to overstretch and there are no attempts to explain the paradoxes, and plenty of in-story explanations of why time travel is a really bad thing[tm].

The performances are solid, Denzel is interesting and believable, Paula plays the small amount of time she has on screen pretty well.  I’m not entirely convinced their actions in the latter half of the movie make much sense, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief to let the story play out.  There’s some action, some cute effects, some nice ideas and a certain level of suspense especially towards the finale.

The ending was kept hidden pretty well, and although I finally realised how it would play out just before it actually did it was worth the wait.  No shocking last moment twists, no huge discovery, just a decent ending for a decent movie.