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Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Arranged, Bride Flight and W.

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen posterAfter hits like Bad Boys and The Rock, as well as fail­ures like The Island and Pearl Harbor, we all know that Michael Bay is bet­ter than any dir­ect­or alive at blow­ing things up and in the motion pic­ture busi­ness this not an ignoble pur­suit. What he can’t pull off are oth­er import­ant things like sus­pense, com­edy or drama. There’s no doubt that it takes a spe­cial tal­ent to sit in a room with the effects bods and say “sink that air­craft car­ri­er – I’ll be back after lunch to see how you are get­ting on” but it isn’t really film­mak­ing in it’s purest sense.

Which bring us to his latest, monu­ment­al, effort, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, in which a tiny sliv­er of the shiny magic cube from the first film is dis­covered by Shia LaBoeuf while he’s on his way to col­lege. Somehow its magicky good­ness rubs off on him, fills his mind with sym­bols, gives him spe­cial men­tal powers and alerts the remain­ing Decepticons up in space to its exist­ence. Perhaps they could use it to restart their war with the Autobots, erase the human race and steal the power of the sun for themselves?

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Review: Terminator Salvation, Love the Beast, Fugitive Pieces, JCVD and In Search of a Midnight Kiss

By Cinema and Reviews

Terminator Salvation poster’Tis the sea­son to reboot tired fran­chises and this week we get an explos­ive new look at James Cameron’s beloved Terminator. Set only nine years in the future (when open-air bat­tle­field heart trans­plants will be de rigeur dur­ing la guerre), the Judgement Day of T2 has des­troyed most of the West Coast of the USA and only a hardy band of ill-equipped rebels are keep­ing the mon­strous Skynet at bay.

John Connor, proph­esied future saviour of the human race, is a only a sol­dier in the rebel army but his reg­u­lar radio broad­casts bring hope to the scattered, ragtag freedom-fighters. In a battle to res­cue some human pris­on­ers his entire squad is killed – but he does man­age to release the mys­ter­i­ous Marcus Wright (Aussie boof­head Sam Worthington) who may hold the key to the defeat of the machines.

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Review: Star Trek, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Rachel Getting Married and Religulous

By Cinema and Reviews

Star Trek posterJ.J. Abrams rein­ven­tion of Star Trek is as thrill­ing a ride as we have seen any­where this year. The fran­chise has been re-booted (as the say­ing goes) and re-started from before the begin­ning of The Original Series as Kirk, Spock, Bones, etc go on their first voy­age togeth­er and take on their first universe-threatening mad alien.

A very grumpy Romulan miner (Eric Bana) dis­cov­ers the secret of cre­at­ing worm­holes and uses it travel back in time to wreak revenge on Spock – the age­ing Ambassador (a frail look­ing Leonard Nimoy) who failed to pre­vent the destruc­tion of his home plan­et. His revenge will take the form of des­troy­ing Spock’s home plan­ets of Vulcan and Earth while the trapped old man is forced to watch. Luckily for the uni­verse (but too late for the people of Vulcan) the hot headed cadet Kirk (Chris Pine) and the young Spock (Zachary Quinto, known in some circles as Hot Spock) are able to save the day and forge a legendary friend­ship at the same time.

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Review: 17 Again, Fast & Furious, Ong-bak and Sniper

By Cinema and Reviews

I’ve been grumpy all week for all sorts of reas­ons and the last thing I needed was a week­end of crappy films but that’s what I got. I mean, I’m spend­ing longer writ­ing this review than the writers of Fast & Furious or 17 Again spent on their scripts – put togeth­er, probably.

17 Again posterThe improb­ably named Burr Steers is the dir­ect­or of 17 Again but that’s where the fun stops. Matthew Perry plays a 37-year-old former high school bas­ket­ball star who chose the love of his preg­nant girl­friend instead of a col­lege schol­ar­ship and dug him­self deep into a dowdy life of fail­ure and regret. A mys­ter­i­ous bearded jan­it­or, a bridge (a frankly insult­ing homage to It’s a Wonderful Life) and an unspe­cified magic­al event put him back in his buff 17-year-old body which he uses to re-engage with his chil­dren and get to know his wife again.

I’ve got some time for the tele­vi­sion ver­sion of Matthew Perry (did you see “Studio 60”?), and des­pite his tra­gic cinema career choices he remains a com­ic act­or who is unafraid of (or unable to sup­press) the sad­ness behind his eyes. Unfortunately, he dis­ap­pears after 15 minutes to be replaced by High School Musical ’s Zac Efron, a smug pretty-boy with some dance moves and no cha­risma and it is he who car­ries the film to its des­ol­ate conclusion.

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Review: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, Monsters vs. Aliens, The Uninvited, 12 Rounds, Pink Panther 2 and Ip Man

By Cinema and Reviews

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls movie posterI’m not nor­mally one to make box office pre­dic­tions but I have a gut feel­ing that The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is going to be massive. It’s an inspir­ing New Zealand story, well told with plenty of humour and music, and the lit­er­ally irre­press­ible Topps’ lust for life shines like a beacon through­out. Using plenty of archiv­al foot­age and pho­tos, Leanne Pooley’s doc­u­ment­ary fol­lows the Twins from idyll­ic rur­al Calf Club Days, through the rough and tumble protests of the 80s, to their cur­rent status as liv­ing legends.

I recom­mend you take your kids so they can see how much of what’s good about New Zealand (that we take for gran­ted) was fought for by these strong and prin­cipled women, who also just hap­pen to be beloved fam­ily entertainers.

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Review: Slumdog Millionaire, Role Models and The Map Reader

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

I don’t have much room this week and I want to spend most of it gush­ing over Slumdog Millionaire so let’s get started.

Role Models posterBack in 2003, when the Incredibly Strange Film Festival was still its own bump­tious stand-alone anarch­ic self, we opened the Festival with the sum­mer camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer and good­ness me, wasn’t that a time? Written and dir­ec­ted by David Wain, WHAS was a pitch-perfect trib­ute to teen com­ed­ies of the 80s and his new film Role Models attempts to ride the cur­rent wave of sexu­ally frank grown-up com­ed­ies but he doesn’t seem to really have the heart for it. The gross-out bits are uncom­fort­ably gross, the boobies seem like after­thoughts and the film really doesn’t hit its straps until it starts cheer­ing for the under­dog late in the day.

Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott play sales­man ped­dling energy drink to high school kids. After an unfor­tu­nate (sta­tion­ary) road rage incid­ent their jail time is con­ver­ted to com­munity ser­vice at Sturdy Wings – a ‘big broth­er’ out­fit match­ing mis­fit kids up with respons­ible male adults. This kind of mater­i­al has proved out­stand­ingly pop­u­lar recently when pro­duced by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and I can’t help think­ing that if he had got­ten his hands on Role Models it would have about 20% more jokes in 16% short­er run­ning time – he really is that much of a machine.

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