Friday, 9 August 2013

Incredible Hulk (Smaltz Review)

Dir: Louis Letterier
Starring: Ed Norton
Rating: Good
So The Incredible Hulk or Bourne on Radiation as I like to call it. We get through the origin story in the opening titles and straight into mild mannered Bruce Banner living in exile in Portugal. From here he’s on the run in a Bourne like style before finally being pushed too far and turning all green and angry. I wasn’t expecting much above average but I liked it. Ed Norton is very good, likeable and believable. Tim Roth snarls about and is a fun villain and the romance is sincere enough although not explored very far and cast aside a bit too quickly. As for Hulk himself, as with all CG humanoids they don’t look real but this one’s pretty good and him smashing stuff can be quite exciting although it has to be said the quality of the visual effects is a bit hit and miss. The first Hulk outbreak keeps him in the dark with fork lift trucks coming out of nowhere and is very exciting. A later one in bright day light is at times very good but when the digital Hulk (the correct way to do the character) is fighting a digital helicopter (wrong, we have helicopters!) it doesn’t look very good at all. It has to be said as well that like so many action films the ending is a bit of a damp squib.

All in all I liked it. It all felt a bit more real and down to earth than I thought and for a title character that says little more than ‘Hulk smash’ it kept me entertained for the duration of its only slightly overlong running time.

The Karate Kid (New one) (Smaltz review)

Dir: Harold's Wart
Starring: Jayden Smith
Rating: Top Wok
This is a really nice remake. It walks that fine line of telling the same story but in its own way whilst making it relevant to a new audience. Moving the story to China is a brilliant idea. It makes everything more intense as its a country much of the western world is afraid of and doesn’t really understand. It’s even more intimidating from the perspective of an 11 year old boy.

This is a very understated film, very quiet which is refreshing. The director shows real restraint especially when it comes to the amount violence in what should be a family film. The fight scenes have weight and are quite harsh but they’re never excessive. They only happen when the story requires it, Jackie Chan for example only has one fight scene which is brilliant as you’d expect. It has been criticised for being too long but I like a film that takes the time to visit a shadow theatre and watch a lady balancing on the edge of a mountain whilst a snake copies her movements.

In terms of characters Jaden Smith takes on the lead character well and Jackie Chan gets to do some real acting which is great to see whilst the Chinese scenery is a character in itself. The story is predictable yes but that’s okay, we want the underdog to win anyway. As for how it compares to the original, well I didn’t grow up with The Karate Kid but I have seen it and I did really like it, it’s a proper 1980’s family film. But if you were to show both to someone who hadn’t seen either I think the majority would prefer this new version. It’s subtler, has more of an edge and loses a lot of the 80’s snarling and melodrama.

I would probably give Karate Kid 3 ½ stars or 7/10 but as Narry doesn’t do half measures I’m going to stick my neck out that bit further, and for sheer effort and being brave enough to be a bit different I’m going to award this film…

Watchmen (Smaltz speaks...)

Dir: Zack Snyder
Starring: Malin Akerman
Rating: Average

This is the first in a triage of snappy ‘week off work’ reviews.

What to say about Watchmen…enigmatic, political. How about nasty, confusing and worst of all a bit boring. I’ve not read the graphic novel so I’m reviewing the film on its own and I’m afraid we didn’t click.

I like some of its ideas, namely a world where everyday people decided to become costume heroes to try and restore justice, and Dr Manhatten, a real 1950’s creation, being born from an atomic lab accident only here he’s taken further as he starts to become less and less human so no longer really cares about our world. Unfortunately it’s all very long and I must admit I got bored to the point I had a race on F1 2012, coming back for the last 25 minutes which I have to say I rather enjoyed. Things seemed to be moving finally and the morally questionable ending is definitely not the norm and it leaves the film in an interesting place.

The real problems seem to be that there is no emotional involvement at all and that there is no backbone to the violence and nastiness. Case in point The Comedian.

The film starts with his death and then goes back into his story for a while. Thing is after seeing a couple of the horrible things he’s done I didn’t care who’d killed him but was kind of pleased he was dead. Later when he breaks down and has a change of heart I still didn’t care. Even by the end and after the atrocity that happens I wasn’t really that involved. There’s nothing to draw you in, no character to care for just some interesting visuals and ideas stretched out over two hours and forty minutes.

What’s really worrying is that after the film I had to go to Wikipedia and read the plot which is not something I’ve had to do before. Now maybe that’s my fault for drifting away from the film but I’ve read other reviews where the reviewer had a similar problem.

I’m hoping I’ll come back to it in a few years’ time and realise I was completely wrong…we’ll see.