Friday, August 12, 2005

THE ISLAND is really not a bad movie!

There I've said it, and completely killed my credibility as a cineaste. I think THE ISLAND is just fine. It may not be a work of art and I probably don't need to see it again, but as a high-octane, ideas-packed popcorn movie, it is entertaining enough. I know I am in a minority here. Even the movie's stars and production team are distancing themselves from it. But there is a lot to like about THE ISLAND. First of all it has an interesting plot. The idea is that the Evil Doctor Merrick (Sean Bean, the British Hollywood baddie du jour) runs a cloning service for rich hypochondriacs. For a phat fee, he will provide them with nice healthy cloned organs to be used if ever the clients get seriously ill. What the clients don't know, is that rather than growing organs, Merrick is growing actual full-size clones - perfect replicas of the original humans. Then, when an organ is needed, he tells said clone that they have one an all-expenses luxury holiday, before harvesting the requisite part. In our film, two of the clones, played with a sense of humour by Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, start getting suspicious and to cut a long story short, escape. In one of the most delicious scenes, Ewan-Clone confronts Real-Ewan. Real-Ewan is a smarmy bastard and the actor has a lot of fun playing such a self-absorbed schmoozer. It made me think that McGregor would make a cool Bond villian. Like I said, I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I think that's because the actors play it for the cheese that it is. In addition, the movie is directed by Michael Bay, who also directed the BAD BOYS movies, which I like, and PEARL HARBOUR which was a mess. But what his films have in common, whether good or bad, is that they have great action sequences. Michael Bay knows how to put together a good chase sequence or someone blowing some shit up. And this movie has plenty of that, especially in the second half when our two heroes get out into the free world and try to look up their human counterparts. So, ignore the bad press, and check this movie. It's perfect Friday night, after-work, cheesy blockbuster entertainment.

THE ISLAND is on global release.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

HERBIE: FULLY LOADED - harmless fun

Whatever the tabloid image, I believe that Lindsay Lohan is an entertainer of great merit. I find that the common thread to all of her movies is that she is charming and engaging: you genuinely want to spend time with her. I am happy to report that her latest offering, HERBIE: FULLY LOADED, is another light, heart-warming, mildly amusing family movie, fully in the tradition of those cheesy old Herbie movies that I used to love as a kid. This is not great cinema by any means but it ticks all the genre-specific boxes. The plot is simple enough. Lohan plays a young girl called Maggie Peyton who desperately wants to be a racing driver, much to the gentle disapproval of her father (Michael Keaton) and her less talented brother. However, her father does buy her a beat up old VW Beetle, a.k.a Herbie. Maggie restores Herbie with the help of the obligatory love-interest Kevin (Justin Long, who also played the “hero” in the awful gross-out comedy WAITING…). Herbie is soon running around town causing a commotion. In particular, thanks to Herbie, Lohan finds herself competing against the obnoxious racing champ, Trip Murphy, played by a beautifully cast Matt Dillon in full-on sleaze-mode. The plot then unfolds in a completely predictable manner and without the post-modern ironic overtones that many parents have come to expect when they take their kids to a flick. Nonetheless, as basic old-skool family movies go, I can’t fault this production: you could definitely do worse.

HERBIE: FULLY LOADED is on global release.

Friday, August 05, 2005

STEALTH - will Josh Lucas ever make a good film?

I have nothing against Josh Lucas. I am sure he is a perfectly fine actor. But dear lord, he has a penchant for picking hackneyed, derivative, vapid scripts. STEALTH is, sad to say, no exception. It exploits every cliche seen in every buddy-army film and adds in a dollop of sci-fi plotting that fans of 2001: A Space Odyssey will be familiar. The idea is that Josh Lucas, Jamie Foxx and, I kid you not, Jessica Biel are super-elite Navy pilots testing an ultra-cool new artificial intelligence fighter plane. Now, I have nothing against Jessica Biel, and I am sure that there are very good looking women who are elite pilots in the world, but she seriously does NOT have the gravitas to pull this role. Neither does Josh Lucas for that matter. He comes across as a sort of Tom-Cruise-lite. And as for Jamie Foxx, after RAY and COLLATERAL, this movie is a definite step back. Well, this being an attempt at a Hollywood blockbuster, Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas get it together and the AI plane develops a rogue personality. The movie then cleans up this plot mess in all too predictable fashion. To summarise, I have no elitist objections to popcorn entertainment of a sci-fi bent, but I do ask for a little more credibility and quality than is on offer here. More to the point, from the man who directed one of the most simultaneously ridiculous and brilliant action movies of recent years - XXX - I expected more.

STEALTH is on release in the US and UK. It opens in France on August 24th 2005, Germany on September 15th and Austria on September 16th.