Loud, angry and oddly paced, The Expendables is billed as a 9-man movie, but turns out to be an okay 2-man bromance between Stallone and Statham with added guns.
Better than I had been led to believe with some excellent performances and engaging action sequences, Robin Hood goes a long way to erasing the memory of previous efforts while providing a visually pleasing experience.
I didn’t see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in the cinema, because at the time there were some other movies that I felt would be better on the big screen. Scott Pilgrim looked, from the trailers, like it would do okay on the smaller screen. I was wrong. This is why.
Scott Pilgrim is visually the most memorable and exciting movie I’ve seen since The Matrix. Sure, Avatar was pretty to look at and the CGI was a step beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Yes, 300 was a revelation in terms of colour and style. I agree that Sin City brought us comic book visualisations like we’d never really seen. But Scott Pilgrim vs. The World presented a mixture of real life, comic book and computer games in a single visual package that blew me away.
The clear craftsmanship that went into every single shot, the attention to detail, the mixture of sound effects, on-screen visuals and cinematography working together in a way I’ve just not seen before. If Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was an ice-cream flavour, it would be Strawberry Mint Choc-chip with Raspberry Ripple and Cookies. And it would work.
Stunning visuals alone don’t make a good movie, and therefore it’s with some relief that we discover Scott Pilgrim has a heart, a plot, an excellent sound track and some very funny and touching moments.
Based on a graphic novel, the reasonably simple story plays out thus. Scott (Michael Cera) plays in a band, hangs out in the arcade, and finally meets the girl of his dreams. But early in their relationship he discovers he must battle and defeat her seven evil exes in order to date her. The brilliance comes from the mixture of the real and the unreal. The fights are done very much in the style of computer games, the movie is strewn with on-screen flashes of comic book style text and computer game style popups. They never get in the way – they simply enhance the sense of involvement.
The girl of Scott’s dreams is the enigmatic Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The character is both engaging and interesting. The supporting cast around them is also excellent, the rest of the band in which Scott plays, and a small circle of friends and past-partners. Alison Pill (as Kim Pine) steals every scene she’s in though, she is superb and delivers some of the funniest moments in the whole movie.
As we and Scott work our way through the various evil exes we learn more about all the characters, and in parallel we watch the band (Sex Bob-omb) rise in status. The interplay between the characters is really the soul of the story and I’ve intentionally not mentioned a lot of that. While the battle against the evil exes is the part the trailers focus on, the real story is the continuing personal development of everyone involved. That’s where the heart of this story lies. Although not constantly laugh out loud the movie has some excellent comic moments. But again, it is the quality of the shots, the care with which each frame has been prepared and the beautiful cinematography that give that soul and comedy something to stand on.
The finale is both brilliant and satisfying and the final outcome was just what I hoped for.
Not everyone will like this movie. It speaks in a language that may put some people off (some gaming culture and comic book references), although it’s more accessible I think than Watchmen. I get that, it’s fine. But a world with only one flavour of jam would be a terrible place (even if it was Strawberry). And likewise, a world in which we only see huge action movies do well in the box office, or even get funding, would be a sad place. I should have gone and supported Scott Pilgrim at the cinema. Not just because it would have been an incredible movie going experience, not just because it’s probably the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen for a very long time, but because it deserved to get better box office numbers to show that people do want this kind of stuff.
And we do. The DVD / Blu-ray sales will be excellent I’m sure. But it should have gotten better box office takings. I already apologised to Edgar Wright for my part in that. You can do your bit. Buy this movie, watch it, love it, and next time, go and support movies like it in the cinema.
Neil Marshall’s output has been a little bit hit and miss for us. I’m not a big fan of the overt horror in Descent, although I loved the blackly comic Dog Soldiers, and I enjoyed Doomsday despite the flaws.
So I wasn’t sure what Centurion would deliver. Set at the time Hadrian started building his wall, the movie kind of tells the story of the Roman 9th legion. Kind of, because it’s actually about a Roman soldier who’s not in the 9th legion, but joins it temporarily.
The legion comes up against the native British Picts, and the movie really covers the results of that encounter.
Centurion contains Neil Marshall’s trademark gore. The hand-to-hand fighting is brutal and blood soaked, there are exploding heads and departing limbs a-plenty. There is significantly less comedy in Centurion than Dog Soldiers, but it’s not lacking entirely. The commander of the 9th is particularly colourful and his introduction gives us a little glimpse of the magic scenes from Dog Soldiers. The story in Centurion is pretty simple, a straight forward tale of betrayal with a hint of love. The depth in the film comes from the incredible breathtaking scenery juxtaposed with the brutal combat and the rigid sense of honour in the lead from Michael Fassbender.
Fassbender is compelling, and his counterpart in the story (the mute hunter played by Olga Kurylenko) provides a worthy adversary. There’s a reasonable amount of tension, and it’s never really clear who’s going to make it through to the end. Treachery comes from all angles, while Quintus Dias (Fassbender) struggles to keep his men alive.
I enjoyed watching Centurion, and while it had some excellent moments, it didn’t deliver the constant high quality of Dog Soldiers. Worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of Roman historical fantasy, probably higher quality than Doomsday but not Neil’s best.