Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idras Elba - Dir: Guillermo del Toro
Yes I know it's one of several blockbusters that critics generally mauled and audiences avoided. But, dammit, it's got giant robots fighting giant monsters! Why so serious?
Actually, after a rather bad start in the US and western territories this proved so popular in the East that there's now talk of a sequel (Bring It On!). After all it is called Pacific Rim – this is a story for our part of the world!
Actually I have my own theory for why it kinda tanked box-officewise and that comes down to the trailer. The trailer was all giant robots fighting giant monsters. And, cool though that is, even I baulked at two hours of huge things punching each other. And - good news – this ain't that.
In fact the entire trailer takes place before the movie title appears – this is actually a “build the team” flick where the various members bicker and eventually bond to bring the fight to the big nasties. And, aside from a couple of the worst Australian accents you'll ever hear, it's all good clean fun, clichéd undoubtedly but with enough wrinkles on usual formulas to make it fresh.
It helps that Del Toro is such a fan, and his combined love of Japanese “mecha” tropes as well as Godzilla-like monster movies makes for pure fanboy joy. Is it a great movie? No way. Is it a lot of fun? Hell yes!
A Field in England is the latest film from English rising star director Ben Wheatley and probably his trickiest one yet in that it is an hallucinogenic, single set (a field), black and white period drama in which four men stumble around while fleeing a civil war battle, searching for treasure which may or may not exist. It's pretty weird stuff, engrossing and hypnotic but somewhat failing to live up to its billing as a horror film. Probably best for those who like “weird olde England” flicks like The Wicker Man and Witchfinder General. Others might start with Weatley's last film, the brilliant Sightseers.
The current wave of grindhouse reinvention continues with Bounty Killer. Set in the future, twenty years after the “Corporate Wars” have destroyed society, re-emerging mankind is led by the Council of Nine which sends the titular hunters to kill all white collar criminals. The cover suggests “The Road Warrior meets Kill Bill.” Yeah, right. Only if story, dialogue, acting, direction and budget count for nothing. On the bright side it has a sense of fun, is homage rather than parody, and – all too briefly – features Gary Busey. Disclaimer: I watched this completely straight and sober so probably failed to appreciate it fully.
Now that Disney rule the Pixar roost, the rule is that every animated money maker shall have a sequel. (See last week's Despicable Me 2) This week it's Monster University because someone obviously said “You know what market research tells us? After Monsters Inc what kids really want to find out how Mike (the round one – Billy Crystal) and Sully (the big one – John Goodman) became scarers in the first place.” So we have the whole thing done again as an American college fraternity comedy. Of course the animation's good. Of course there are funny bits. Of course it all ends happily.
Killing Season is a revenge thriller, one that aspires to be greater and more serious than it is, without much success. Check some reviews on imdb.com and you'll find many slating the film for being historically inaccurate, being anti-Serbian and having bad Serbian accents. These reviews are unfailingly written by Serbians and neglect to mention the ethnic cleansing. Here old war grievances cause a peculiarly-bearded Serbian John Travolta to hunt down (both literally and figuratively) Robert De Niro's UN Colonel. Essentially it's a wilderness battle of wits and bows ‘n' arrows, waiting for an explanation that takes too long coming. The acting battle is more interesting (Spoiler: De Niro wins).