What movies did you watch last month? Including Twilight, The Watch, The Vow, Moonrise Kingdom, Mirror, Mirror, We Bought A Zoo and The Bourne Legacy

As a special one-off, I’m putting all the movies into a separate section this week, seeing as I’ve seen so many. They’ll be reunified next week, don’t worry, unless anyone petitions me otherwise. Or if I decide to go monthly with movie reviews.

The Twilight Saga
Don’t ask. So, I’ve watched all four now. The first is largely dreadful and deserves all the mockery it gets. Bella is bland and the whole thing – although not quite as much as the books, I understand – is basically an excuse for abusive boyfriends. But the next three movies aren’t actually that bad and indeed get progressively better, to the point where the fourth one is actually quite watchable and I’m looking forward to the last part. They’re all massively overlong and incredibly ridiculous, but the mythology has some interesting qualities, RPazz is perfect and it’s good to see something with a female lead in which she’s the most important character.

Shame though that Rachelle Lefevre (terrible as Annie in the original US Life on Mars pilot, but progressively better in things like The Deep End) got dumped by the film makers for the third film in favour of that woman from The Village, Bryce Dallas Howard.

Moonrise Kingdom
Well, if you like Wes Anderson, here’s purest essence of Wes Anderson, distilled into a single movie for you. The story of two twelve year olds who fall in love and decide to elope together on a small island, just as a huge storm is about to it, it’s almost a self-parody in terms of all the Wes Anderson qualities it embodies: knowing whimsy, precise picture framing, children mouthing adult lines, sexless love, a fetishistic nostalgia for past times and more. It’s got a great cast, including Ed Norton, Bruce Willi, Harvey Keitel and Bill Murray (of course), and young lover Kara Hayward is likely to be the next Emma Watson, judging by her performance. Very slightly paedo, though.

The Dark Knight Rises
The least impressive of the three Christopher Nolan Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises is still a very good movie, hampered mainly by too little Batman, too much Joseph Gordon-Levitt and too much obvious metaphor attempting and failing to disguise itself as plot. Problematically, if you’ve read the comics, you’ll know precisely what’s going to happen to at least two of the characters by the end of the movie (spoiler alert: of course, Marion Cotillard was going to turn out to be Talia, given all that talk about greenness and the planet; of course, JGL was going to be Robin, after all that talk about being an orphan) – I actually assumed the build-up was going to be a double bluff to fool comics fans. Anne Hathaway is better as Catwoman than anyone expected, but not as good as she needed to be and Tom Hardy is 50% incomprehensible as Bane. Overlong and the ending is Inception again, but full of narrative daring and it does what no other cinema or TV Batman series has ever done before – end the Bruce Wayne story – and it does it well.

We Bought A Zoo
Based on a true (British) story, this Cameron Crowe affair sees widowed Matt Damon relocating his two children to a house that turns out to have a zoo attached. With the help of chief zookeeper Scarlett Johansson, he then has to get the zoo up and running in time for the summer season. It’s nice enough, but if you’re expecting a romance in the vein of Jerry Maguire, think again, since this is mainly about how a family adapts to the death of a parent and spouse, all with a few animals for comedy value. Sweet, both Scarlett and Matt are great, as are the rest of the cast, but the story isn’t dramatic enough to support the weight of the movie.

Mirror Mirror
A Snow White remake with Julia Roberts as the Wicked Witch, it’s visually arresting – it’s directed by Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Cell) – but badly written, so don’t bother.

The Vow
We decided to watch this after seeing its very tearjerking trailer, which turned out to be more tearjerking than the actual movie. Again based on a true story, this sees Channing Tatum and Rachel MacAdams happily married until their car gets hit and MacAdams gets a traumatic head wound that wipes her memories of the previous few years. She can’t remember Tatum, thinks she’s still engaged to someone else, can’t remember why she dropped out of law school to become an artist and is reconciled with her estranged parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange). The question is can she recover her memories or fall in love with Tatum all over again?

I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say there is at least a happy ending. But the journey is pretty bleak and not as interesting as you thought it might be and Tatum is a Grade A mumbler of dialogue. Plus MacAdams becomes very unlikable post head wound. Worth a try if you’re stuck for things to watch or want to see Tatum topless.

The Watch
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and, erm, Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd form a neighbourhood watch group after one of Stiller’s employees is killed in mysterious circumstances. Turns out it’s aliens and the aliens can look like us…

Not as funny as it should be, no one’s exactly stretching themselves in terms of acting, the plot’s pretty predictable and there’s a lot of low-level misogyny to wade through that’s eventually alleviated when Rosemarie DeWitt (Standoff, Mad Men) gets involved. But still more than a few laughs and a few surprises to be had.

The Bourne Legacy
When is a Bourne movie not a Bourne movie? When it’s not got Matt Damon in it, for one thing. But arguably this isn’t a Bourne movie in any sense, despite Bourne writer Tony Gilroy both writing and directing it this time round, since it’s basically Gilroy’s Michael Clayton bolted onto the Bourne Identity framework in the hope of kindling a new franchise.

Starring Jeremy Renner as another government experiment, the movie sees almost nothing happen for a good hour. Instead, it’s an examination of the pharmaceuticals industry and its relationship with government, during which Renner hikes around snowy Alaska. There’s occasional action, but we’re more in Bourne Identity than Bourne Ultimatum territory here, but with no big iconic set pieces and without characters to really care for, although attempts to give Renner some pathos later in the movie when we learn what he was like before the programme are partially successful. There’s no big showdown with the bad guys, either, with Ed Norton and Stacy Keach remote and uninvolved in events and the Bourne+ baddie they send after Renner and scientist Rachel Weisz largely unthreatening.

A few cameos from the previous movies are only there essentially to undo the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum in an act of realpolitik that’s setting the framework for the next two movies, should they ever come. A few hand-to-hand fight scenes redeem the movie from total narcolepsy, and had this been a standalone movie, rather than a Bourne, it might have been able to stand on its own two feet. Instead it feels like a cash grab that only faintly echoes the originals and that wants to do Bourne on the cheap.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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