Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Movie Mini-Reviews 30-11-11


In this crime drama, Ryan Gosling portrays a nameless Hollywood Stuntman who moonlights as a Driver for the criminal underworld. It is similar in many respects to the 1978 Walter Hill movie The Driver but is a very different beast. Some may even call Drive a modern Western in it's execution.

Drive is directed by the little-known Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and  features excellent performances from Brian Cranston and Carey Public Enemies Mulligan with cameos from Ron [I'm in a dozen movies this year] Perlman and Christina Mad Men Hendricks. Cliff Martinez takes us back to the '80s with his vibe for the score.

I don't normally appreciate crime movies where somehow lawless nefarious actions are glorified on screen but I was intrigued by this movie as grotesque violence was promised after I heard that several reviewers had walked out of a press screening in disgust. This "extreme gore" was certainly delivered and it features some truly shocking moments not seen since Scorcese's The Departed. Sadly however these moments of violence are too few and far between to recommend the movie outside of its niche audience. Exciting at times but the time waiting between its violent and exciting moments can drag a bit.

Colonel Creedon Rating: **1/2

Johnny English Reborn

Johnny English, British comedy’s answer to James Bond was expertly brought to life by Rowan Mr. Bean Atkinson in a 2004 movie with Natalie Imbruglia and John Malkovich. It apparently made a mint but it still took 6 years for a sequel to emerge, an eternity in movie making terms for an industry which seems intent on turning out sequels in the fastest humanly possible time. Johnny English’s producers however bided their time with Johnny English Reborn and despite bringing nothing relatively new to the formula it was good enough to equal it’s progenitor.

Rubber-faced Atkinson naturally returns as the elite secret agent, elite that is on being almost oblivious to what’s going on around him. The movie explains in-universe why it’s been so long since the sequel – a protection detail in Mozambique [cue nervous twitch] some years ago wiped the shine off Johnny’s star and he fell out of favour with MI7. Since then he’s been holed up in a Tibetan monastery learning how to use his wits to solve problems and to ignore pain by dragging boulders with his genitals. Needless to say a situation arises that needs his “unique” talents and he returns to civilisation and the agency where he puts his training to work. He still remains oblivious to the larger picture and retainis his sense of superior arrogance which almost constantly backfires with much hilarity.

There are some great action scenes and almost Bond-class set pieces. While far from the class of Edgar Wright or Will Ferrel, William Davies has woven an expectantly implausible plot that a blind man could see the climax of before the end of the first act, this of course is to cement the idea that everyone watching is more observant that Johnny himself. Atkinson is supported on screen by Gillian X-Files Anderson as Pegasus the head of MI7, Dominic Centurion West as Agent Ambrose, Rosamund Die Another Day Pike as Kate and Daniel Kaluuya as Tucker. A worthy sequel in the same vein as the original. Fans will be satisfied.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****


We all know our disaster movies, earthquakes, volcanoes, meteor strikes, modern ice-ages, the sun being blocked out and even some Zombie movies can be shoe-horned into that category. But perhaps the most chilling, because it’s more believable, is the global pandemic. SARS, H1N1, Bird-Flu have been recent buzz words to signal the end or humanity but were dealt with before annihilating all life on the planet. When it was announced that “realistic” director Steven Soderbergh would be bringing us Contagion, one knew that while you'd be fed a jarringly grim tale, humanity would win out in the end.

Despite it's well researched viral science - praised by science writers and vaccination experts [as well as an "official" nod of approval from the CDC], this is still high drama as opposed to a documentary and thusly entertaining.  The movie has some outstanding performances from a plethora of famous faces; Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Collitard and Kate Winslet lend their acting chops to this well directed and hauntingly scored [by Cliff Martinez] movie. They are supported by Brian Cranston who made an excellent Admiral with the Public Health Commissioned Corps and Elliot Gould who had been long absent from the silver screen.

I know there was plenty of laughing and sneezing after watching Outbreak in 1995, but this was so evocative of reality that there was no such nonsense here. Gripping stuff.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

Machine Gun Preacher

Machine Gun Preacher is unusually entertaining for a true story that wouldn’t be really out of place in the realm of Kris Kristofferson/Sally Field Lifetime movies – albeit late at night when intense violence could be permitted. Gerard 300 Butler plays Sam Childers an ex-con who swiftly returns to his biker-gang drug-using ways upon his release from prison. In his absence his stripper trailer-trash wife Lynn [2-time Whopper Award Winner Michelle Monaghan] finds Jesus and helps Sam on his road to redemption. Not only does Sam himself find Jesus, work, start his own construction company, build a non-denominational church in which he becomes a preacher but he also travels to The Sudan during the height of civil war to build an orphanage and rescue young South-Sudanese children from the hands of those of the North who kidnap them to be child-soldiers and sex-slaves.

It’s this “rescuing” that provides the true meat of the movie. Sam is not military trained – he just “likes his guns” and he seems to relish being in an environment where he can shoot people and not be frowned upon by either the law or The Lord. His journey is even more fascinating when you know it’s true although Christian groups have slammed the movie for it’s unnecessary focus on Childers’ most violent actions as opposed to his deeply spiritual journey – a fact that I insist on rewarding with stars!

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****


vaughan said...

drive only two and a half stars???? that's not the rating I was expecting Colonel from someone who literally squealed with joy as he watched a mans head being literally kicked in on screen...or that one from Madmen getting cut in half by a shotgun blast are you becoming a bit more mature....say it ain't so colonel , say it ain't so!

Lieutenant General Creedon said...

It isn't so.

This was a very bland movie. For something called "Drive", there wasn't a lot of driving at all. In fact other than his trip around the racetrack there was only two 5 min car chases.

There were only two "heavy" moments of extreme violence, while the head cave-in scen was delicious, I felt that poor Christina [who for obvious reasons appears on "Whoppers Hotlist"] should never die like that on screen. I was upset as it was such a waste - much like half of the movie...