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Review: Man of Steel, Everybody Has a Plan and White Lies

By Cinema, Reviews

Viggo Mortensen in Everybody Has a Plan

Man of Steel is a self-consciously epic re-imagining of the Superman story, first told in print in the 1930s and most recently rebooted on screen by Bryan Singer as Superman Returns just pri­or to the com­mence­ment of my review­ing career in 2006. It’s remark­able both for the scale of the pro­duc­tion, the stakes for pro­du­cers DC and Warner Bros, and for the degree to which I dis­liked it. Usually, I don’t get too riled up about block­buster com­ic book fantasy pic­tures – they are either more enter­tain­ing or less – but this one got under my skin so much I was actu­ally quite angry by the time the clos­ing cred­its finally rolled.

Man of Steel posterI don’t have room here (because there are actu­al good films I’d rather talk about) to tear the Man of Steel apart but I will float a few thoughts that have been both­er­ing me recently about block­buster movies gen­er­ally: It seems to me that the huge amounts of com­put­ing horsepower that dir­ect­ors have at their fin­ger­tips nowadays is being used, for the most part, to des­troy.

[pullquote]Man of Steel delights in destruc­tion, reel­ing off 9/11 trauma-triggering moments with reck­less abandon.[/pullquote]I’m get­ting very tired of watch­ing build­ings, streets and even entire cit­ies razed digit­ally to the ground without a second thought for the (admit­tedly still digit­al) people inhab­it­ing them. This is an arms race and some­how dir­ect­ors (like MoS’s Zack Snyder) have decided that every new tent­pole needs to use even more ima­gin­a­tion to des­troy even more stuff and kill even more people who will go unmourned by the her­oes sup­posedly there to pro­tect them.

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Review: Water for Elephants, From Time to Time, Burke & Hare, Catfish, Reflections of the Past, Hoodwinked Too and 3D Sex and Zen

By Cinema, Reviews

Someone described melo­drama to me the oth­er day as “unearned emo­tion” and that’s a help­ful way to look at a few of this week’s offer­ings. Firstly the glossy adapt­a­tion of Sara Gruen’s best­selling nov­el of romance and tragedy at the cir­cus, Water for Elephants. Twilight’s Robert Pattinson plays veter­in­ary stu­dent Jacob who, after the death of his par­ents, runs away to join Christoph Waltz’s strug­gling Depression-era cir­cus. There he falls in love with Waltz’s down­trod­den but beau­ti­ful wife Reese Witherspoon (and also Rosie the down­trod­den but beau­ti­ful new elephant).

Director Francis Lawrence makes a token attempt to show us the gritty and des­per­ate side of Depression life but in the end the high fructose corn syr­up of tra­di­tion­al Hollywood romance smoth­ers everything. Pattinson remains dead behind the eyes as always, Witherspoon fails to con­vince as an acrobat and Waltz repeats his Oscar-winning psy­cho­path­ic Nazi from Inglourious Basterds only without the great Tarantino dialogue.

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Review: Boy, The Boys Are Back, How to Train Your Dragon & The Men Who Stare at Goats

By Cinema, Reviews

Taika Waititi’s Boy may well be the sad­dest com­edy I’ve ever seen. Hmn, maybe I should put that anoth­er way: For a com­edy, Boy might be the sad­dest film I’ve ever seen.

Consistently hil­ari­ous through­out, Boy steers a very care­ful course once it becomes clear that there is a very real heartache behind the laughter. A less con­fid­ent film­maker wouldn’t have even tried to per­form that con­jur­ing trick but Waititi turns out to have the tal­ent to pull it off.

It’s 1984 and in the tiny East Cape vil­lage of Waihau Bay 11-year-old Boy (born as Alamein, after his fath­er) has been left in charge of the whanau while his Nana goes to Wellington for a tangi. His little broth­er Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and his young cous­ins are look­ing to him for some par­ent­ing but the unex­pec­ted arrival of Alamein (Taika Waititi) sends all those plans packing.

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Review: TRON- Legacy and The Kids Are All Right

By Cinema, Reviews

TRON: Legacy posterIndulge me for a minute – it’s Christmas. Back when I was a little nip­per, me and some mates took a rare trip into the City (“Up London” we called it) to see what we thought was going to be the biggest movie event of our lives so far. At the Odeon Marble Arch (sup­posedly the biggest screen in Europe!) we sat ourselves in the middle of the front row and pre­pared to be blown away. By TRON.

It was the first film to con­tain com­puter gen­er­ated effects and graph­ics and the first to make a dir­ect appeal to the nas­cent home com­puter gen­er­a­tion who would go on to define our future. The idea of being sucked inside a com­puter to play the games for real didn’t do much for me but the meta­phor­ic idea of los­ing one­self in the Grid (or the Net as we came to call it)? That had a lot more appeal.

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Review: Summer Holiday 09-10 Summary

By Cinema, Reviews

While hunt­ing the site for some links to add to the just pos­ted Winter’s Bone etc. review, I dis­covered that my Summer Holiday spe­cial had­n’t made it here. So, for com­plete­ness’ sake, here it is. Pretty sure, this is an early draft too but there’s no sign of an email sub­mit­ting it.

What a lovely Summer we’ve been hav­ing – for watch­ing movies. While the Avatar jug­ger­naut rolls inex­or­ably on there has plenty of oth­er options for a ded­ic­ated seeker of shel­ter from the storm.

Released at any oth­er time of year, Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones would be get­ting a decent length eval­u­ation (and the head­line) here but with fif­teen films dis­cuss we’ll have to live with the bul­let point eval­u­ation: not un-moving. My com­pan­ion and I spent a about an hour after watch­ing TLB dis­cuss­ing it’s flaws and yet both ended up agree­ing that we’d actu­ally enjoyed the film a lot, des­pite the problems.

Personally, I think Jackson’s tend­ency towards occa­sion­al whim­sic­al in-jokery typ­i­fied the uncer­tainty of tone (I’m think­ing of his unne­ces­sary cam­era shop cameo as an example) but the fun­da­ment­al mes­sage – that the people left behind after a tragedy are more import­ant than the vic­tims – was clearly and quite bravely artic­u­lated. And when I saw the film at a crowded Embassy ses­sion, dur­ing the pivotal scene where the sis­ter dis­cov­ers the evid­ence to catch the killer, I could only hear one per­son breath­ing around me – and it wasn’t me.

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Tone’s “50 blu-rays you must own” - UPDATED

By Cinema, Home Theatre

Tone Magazine - September coverOf Tone Magazine’s 50 “must own” blu-rays 13 are not actu­ally avail­able in New Zealand leg­ally, or won’t play on NZ pur­chased play­ers due to region cod­ing. Which is a bit of a waste of time, don’t you think? They also man­age to spell Criterion incor­rectly right the way through art­icle which adds insult to injury.

After the jump, the list (the art­icle itself is not online):

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