Film reviews

Review: The Prestige

The Prestige

So in a fit of Daniel Craig-inspired self-loathing, I spent a few hours down the gym on Saturday. Now my normal Daniel Craig-esque physique is restored. Phew. But since my wife wanted me out the house for a while more – she works hard, she does, and I’m somewhat distracting, thanks to my aforementioned Daniel Craig-esque physique – I went to see The Prestige, a tale of two Victorian conjurors trying to kill each other.

The trouble with The Prestige is that it revolves around a single magic trick, done in three different ways. If you can guess two of them, it’s not a great movie but it’s still very interesting and fun; if you can’t, you’ll feel cheated when you hear how they’re done, but it’ll have been worth watching.

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Film reviews

Review: Superman Returns (IMAX 3D version)

Superman Returns

I don’t review movies much these days. That’s mainly because it normally takes me a couple of weeks to see anything that’s in the cinema (it’s not like I get to go to the premiere parties or anything), by which point the review’s kind of pointless. Plus I don’t see as many films as I used to, either.

But, I did see Superman Returns on Monday, down at the London IMAX, so I thought I’d let you know my thoughts, both about the movie and the IMAX 3D aspects of it.

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Film reviews

Fearless: fun but I’ve seen it somewhere before

Last night, it being Orange Wednesday and all, I went to see what is promised to be Jet Li’s last martial arts movie: Fearless. How could I resist?

Fearless is set in Shanghai at the turn of the 20th Century. Li plays Huo Yuan Jia (the film’s Chinese title), founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. A martial arts master, Huo Yuan Jia ends up fighting Westerners and Japanese in a demonstration contest to prove that the Chinese are not “the weak men of the East”, as the Westerners suggested. But most of the movie is a flashback to his life, showing how he became a famous fighter, how his life fell apart through poor choices and mistakes, and how he was able to pull himself back together again.

There are essentially three intents of Fearless:

  1. To prove Jet Li can act and therefore should be considered for future dramatic roles that don’t involve wu shu
  2. To prove that China was a mess in the early 20th century and that the People’s Republic of China was therefore a very good idea indeed
  3. To recapture some of the things that made Jet Li’s earlier Hong Kong films so good in order to give him a good send-off.

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Film reviews

Review: X-Men 3

X-Men 3
In my hurry to slag off the Odeon on Monday, I forgot to review the film I went to see: X-Men 3.

Let’s keep this one short. It’s directed by Brett Ratner, director of Rush Hour, Red Dragon and Rush Hour 2. If you’re aware of his work, that’s all you need to know.

If you’re not, imagine an “averaging device”. What’s an averaging device? It’s a thing that takes the absolute worst movies ever made and the absolute best movies ever made and then turns whatever it’s shone on into the complete average of the two groups.

Brett Ratner is an averaging device.

X-Men 3 isn’t awful. It isn’t good. It just chugs along, doing the same sort of things that the previous X-Men movies did, except you don’t feel a single thing. The effects look good, but you won’t really be wowed. The acting varies from bad to good, but you won’t care either way. Most of the major characters don’t actually get to say anything since Halle Berry stole all their lines. Some of the cinematography is interesting, but even in the most potentially shocking moments, when favourite characters get killed off willy nilly, you just won’t care. The camera angles, pacing and everything else about the movie are designed simply to get the plot from the beginning of the film to the end – nothing else.

Only the dialogue manages to escape being average and that’s by descending into complete banality. The plot, which is vaguely about a potential cure for mutants and the argument about whether they should take it or not – are they a disease or are they a normal part of evolution – could have been good. But while Bryan Singer, who directed the previous two movies, made sure his plots were reasonably smart, Ratner makes his averagely stupid. Magneto wants to take his army across to Alcatraz. Does he hire a fleet of helicopters or speed boats? Maybe use a submarine? No, he moves the Golden Gate Bridge. Looks good – well, average actually – but makes no sense whatsoever.

So save your money, particularly if you were thinking of watching it in The Gallery.