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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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