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Review: Iron Maiden: Flight 666, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a few more ...

By June 6, 2009January 26th, 2013No Comments

Iron Maiden: Flight 666 posterOne of the first films I reviewed when I star­ted here was an charm­ing doc­u­ment­ary called Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey in which Canadian fans Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen trav­elled the world talk­ing to oth­er fans (and the stars they wor­ship) about what it is that makes met­al great. In that film they inter­viewed Iron Maiden’s vocal­ist Bruce Dickinson and they must have made a decent impres­sion as Maiden (and EMI) have giv­en them a decent budget and loads of access for them to doc­u­ment their Somewhere Back in Time tour (around the world last year).

And what a wheeze the tour turned out to be. Chartering a 757 from Dickinson’s oth­er employ­er, tak­ing half the seats out so the gear and set could fit, fly­ing the whole show between gigs with Dickinson pilot­ing the whole time – a bunch of pasty middle-aged English lads hav­ing the time of their lives across half the world. The only real drama comes when drum­mer Nicko McBrain gets hit on the wrist by a golf ball, but it doesn’t mat­ter because the joy of see­ing a band really mov­ing audi­ences (in places like Mumbai and Costa Rica) is the reas­on for this film to exist. And this film rises above above oth­er recent great rock movies like U2-3D and Shine a Light – because it’s about the fans as well as the band and it recog­nises the com­plex inter­de­pend­ence of the relationship.

Flight 666 restores my faith in show­busi­ness as a respect­able (nay hon­our­able) pro­fes­sion and I’m glad and proud that I’m a part of it. The fact that Iron Maiden are Hammers fans has in no way influ­enced this review.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine posterSummarising the rest of the latest releases: in X‑Men Origins: Wolverine a nar­ciss­ist­ic Broadway song and dance man and a Shakespearean act­or play at being com­ic book her­oes. Thankfully for Liev Schrieber (the bad broth­er) there’s a little act­ing required but Hugh Jackman (as the hero) betrays too much time spent at the gym and not enough time at act­ing class. Director Gavin Hood is no mug (an Academy Award win­ner for Tsotsi in 2005) and at least he can dir­ect fights so you can tell who is doing what to whom, but the film itself is stu­pid and illogical.

Defiance posterSchrieber plays anoth­er sib­ling afflic­ted by rivalry in Defiance (Ed Zwick’s hon­our­ing of a pock­et of Jewish res­ist­ance to the Nazis in Byelorussia) and his char­ac­ter fol­lows an almost identic­al arc too. Luckily he’s a good enough act­or (and Daniel Craig a more cap­able foil) for occa­sion­al emo­tion­al sparks to fly. Zwick’s recent sub­jects (Blood Diamond for example) have been inter­est­ing but seem to me would bene­fit from a less over­whelm­ingly “Hollywood” treat­ment. Less could well mean more but I can’t see him ever giv­ing in to it.

Lemon Tree posterIt is said that good fences make good neigh­bours but the lie is giv­en to that old saw by clev­er par­able Lemon Tree from Israel (via France and Germany). The Israeli Defence Minister moves house and the Secret Service demands that his neigh­bour (Hiam Abbas from The Visitor) cut down her pre­cious lem­on grove. She refuses and the tussle over a few lem­ons escal­ates to the Supreme Court. Recommended.

Last Chance Harvey posterTotally light­weight but made watch­able by two lead act­ors with old fash­ioned movie star appeal, Last Chance Harvey is a romance you can take your Gran to. Dustin Hoffman is a New York jingle writer vis­it­ing London for his daughter’s wed­ding. He’s about to lose his job and he’s being replaced as fath­er too – by step­fath­er James Brolin. Into his gloom steps lonely spin­ster Emma Thompson. The whole thing is under­writ­ten (not least Thompson who does a bit with not much) and the South Bank of the Thames once again plays host to a cine­mat­ic courting.

Men's Group imageMen’s Group deserves extra cred­it for bravery. A semi-improvised ensemble exer­cise for half a dozen Melbourne act­ors, it peaks inside a group ther­apy ses­sion and attempts to shine a light on the afflic­tions of the mod­ern male and I can cer­tainly see this film inspir­ing groups of men to dis­cuss their feel­ings and their insec­ur­it­ies – you know, once they’ve woken up.

The International posterTom Tykwer made the essen­tial Run Lola Run in 1998 so you would expect him to do chases and move­ment well and so it proves in the new cor­por­ate thrill­er The International, star­ring a hag­gard look­ing Clive Owen. But two people sit­ting in a room talk­ing? Not his strong point. The plot is full of holes, holes that become more ragged as you get closer to the end, and Naomi Watts is too good an act­ress to be play­ing second banana in stuff like this. I sus­pect that a lot of this film is on a cut­ting room floor somewhere.

Wilby Winderful posterThe entire cast of Wilby Wonderful seem to have been inhal­ing pure twee, straight from the can. Wilby is a Canadian island full of people who are either escap­ing the main­land or believe them­selves to be super­i­or to it. The ensemble includes an uptight real estate agent (Sandra Oh), a single Mom with a past (Rebecca Jenkins) and her daugh­ter (Juno’s Ellen Page), a mys­ter­i­ous handy­man (Callum Keith Rennie) and a cor­rupt may­or (Maury Chaykin). Not ter­ribly prom­ising at first but I made it to the end which must mean some­thing. The fact that the heart­broken, sui­cid­al, loser, film buff (and cata­lyst) char­ac­ter is named Dan has in no way influ­enced this review.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 6 May, 2009. Conflict: Wilby Wonderful is dis­trib­uted in New Zealand by Arkles Entertainment who I do a little work for now and then.