Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review – Clue (1985)

"I am a singing telegram."

Jonathan Lynn
Starring: Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull
Screenplay: John Landis, Jonathan Lynn

While I was watching Clue (yes based off the board game) I realized how much I miss the big movies with numerous stars. Cannonball Run, Rat Race, Oceans 11 (both of them), all just have an enjoyable atmosphere of seeing all these big names or awesome comedians come together to make an enjoyable film. Watching Clue I even thought to myself how great it would be if they remade this with a new slew of actors. Maybe keep Tim Curry as the butler. But you don’t see this type of movie much anymore and done well. But I can feel myself heading towards a rant so I shall stop myself and get on with the more important things of reviewing this movie.

So the plot actually has a lot of background to it, which is kind of weird for an ensemble comedy, but then again it’s needed for the murder mystery elements. Basically though six guests are invited to have dinner with a gentleman by the name of Mr Body, however all is not as it seems and when someone is murdered the culprit must be discovered before the police arrive.

The sheer panic that his story creates, allows the characters themselves to become unhinged and almost united in a glorious comedic mob mentality. Some of the joy of this movie is when characters answer I unison, or repeat lines that others have said previously. It allows for some great chemistry and because of this I have trouble really picking out actors and actresses to highlight as they are working as a whole. If I had to pick one character that just charmed the pants off me (p.s I want my pants back), it would have to be Tim Curry as the Butler. Super insane yet he is running the show to speak it’s a great role to really chow down on. His parlor scene at the end of the movie is just the best and reminds me a little of Nathan Lane having to run through everything at the end of The Producers.

Look wise the movie is simple; you just know that this is the house we are supposed to imagine when we play Clue. Keeping it confined also means the audience will not concentrate on the world and more on the characters which is essential to get the full enjoyment out of this movie. Jonathan Lynn in that respect keeps thing pretty standard and allowing for the actors to do the brunt of the work. Sure it sounds cruel but you should always go with your strengths. Speaking of strengths, the dialogue of this movie is sharp, fast and makes me laugh, chuckle and guffaw. I was delighted with the type of back and forth between the characters.

Negative wise the only thing that comes to mind is that this movie may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Unless you like fast paced dialogue then you may find yourself bored. There is slapstick but not wall to wall, and the ending while I loved it might piss some people off. Plus the humor seems to come from both the low and high end of the spectrum so people might have a hard time settling into one frame of mind. Also I hate to say this but the cast might not be big enough for some people. Sure the point of an ensemble movie like this is to be able to see big names come together. To me it’s not really a problem at all but in an effort to try and cover all problems people might have I thought I should just point this out.

If you are after a funny movie you could do a hell of a lot worse than clue. If you are after a movie with actors gelling and creating just funny chemistry you should take a look. Finally if you love rapid back and forth dialogue, then you need to watch Clue. Oh and if you don’t Tim Curry will dress up as Pennywise and terrorize you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review - Faster (2010)

“God can't save you from me!”

Director: George Tillman Jr
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Screenplay: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton

Well as it happens I watched both this and Black Swan in the span of two days. Now Black Swan was truly awesome and deserving the praise that it’s getting, but it’s also a film that got a massive amount of attention and has many reviews. After watching Faster I think that this movie deserves a little bit of attention. It’s not the best movie ever but there is an atmosphere, themes and some decent acting that should be given a little bit of praise. Also I’m a Dwayne Johnson fan and so I want him to make more movies like this.

So it’s a simple tale of revenge. We have Driver (Johnson) hunting down the men who killed his brother, Cop (Thornton) who is a um, cop on Drivers case, and Killer (Jackson-Cohen) who is a well, a hired killer payed to kill Driver. Sure there is a little bit more to the plot but in a stroke of sheer brilliance, a movie decides to keep a revenge story simple. THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT PUNISHER MOVIES!

Anyway the acting in this is pretty decent. Thornton manages to bring a very interesting character to the screen. A lot of visual tics and clues to how the man operates which is good considering how difficult a character like Cop is to play. Also on form is Dwayne Johnson. Now let’s get this out of the way, Mr Johnson will never win an oscar but he’s a very capable actor. The reason why it was such a joy to see him head back to the action, is that he is one of the better action stars out there at the moment. To me the holy trinity is Dwayne, Statham and Diesel with Dwayne being the best out of the three in my opinion. In this movie he isn’t called to do much but you can just sense the rage, and thirst for vengeance this character has, and this is a great thing as it creates such a tense atmosphere. Also in the quiet, sadder scenes you can see Mr Johnson actually put on a really good show. Some may say he didn’t seem that sad, but to me it was more restrained sadness, something the character doesn’t want to be, as rage is his fuel. The reason why I’m going on about this particular performance is to me this is proof of Dwayne’s importance to the action genre.

Now moving on. The look of the movie is very gritty and sweaty. You feel unclean from just being in this world. And this is a good thing as the look of the movie really hammers home the main theme. Hell is something that we create for ourselves. Our demons are our own making. Each of the three main characters is living in torment thanks to deeds of the past and is trying hard to overcome them. Honestly watching this movie I felt like I should watch High Plains Drifter afterwards as I was getting that same vibe. The action is also well shot but most importantly doesn’t glorify it. It’s quick and dirty just like any revenge film should be. Driver is on a mission to kill people and he’s not messing about with grand schemes.

Now onto the main weakness of this movie and unfortunately it’s a biggy in my opinion. Everything to do with the third main character Killer just sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not fair to lump it all on the actor as in this case the idea for the character is just not well formed and see’s out of place in this movie. Sure the same damaged, personal hell themes exist but I keep thinking a character like Killer would be better in Smokin Aces. Maybe it would have been better to cut out the Killer character all together as I don’t think the movie would of lost much except some action beats that could have been quickly covered up. Also it must be stressed I used the term action a few times but honestly it’s not balls to the wall, and as such some people might be turned off. There is an actual story taking place and it’s doesn’t always involve action, more the tension being built to the next hit.

As you can tell I really enjoyed this movie. It was a pleasant surprise and it was great to see Dwayne Johnson doing his thing. If only there wasn’t that Killer character this would have been great. But still two thirds good is better than all crap. If you’re after a decent revenge flick I say pay Faster a visit. You may be pleasantly surprised like me.