Film reviews

The Island: Why it flopped

The Island poster

There’s an interesting article on Slate about why Scarlet and Ewan’s The Island flopped last summer. It has some interesting points to make, but there are a couple of things I take issue with.

Firstly, the author, Edward Jay Epstein, describes The Island as original. As good old Mark Kermode pointed out at length, it wasn’t; at the very least, it was very, very close to The Clonus Horror, but it certainly had echoes of Logan’s Run and several other movies in there as well.

Secondly, he also says “What really failed here was not the directing, acting, or story (which were all acceptable for a summer movie)”. While Ewan and Scarlet could certainly have phoned in worse performances and the directing was actually reasonably good at times, the second half of the story was astonishingly bad. The heroes fall off the side of a skyscraper, stuck to a giant logo, and all that happens is they get a couple of scratches!? How does that work?

While the first half was reasonably clever and interesting, the second half was just a neverending series of setpiece stunts. If that’s what’s now acceptable then it’s easy to see why 2005 lacked any rmust-see blockbusters. Blockbusters aren’t ever going to smash records with a Hamlet-like script, but audiences have to feel they’re not having their intelligences utterly insulted. If Hollywood wants to know where it’s going wrong, it should take a firm look at their writing processes to see how to get better quality into the scripts.

The IT Crowd: funny or not funny?

My vote was for funny, although it dragged slightly in the middle of the second episode. Still, enough laughs in there to make me eager for the next episode. Courtesy of today’s Broadcast Now email, we can see that critics were divided about how funny it was:

The IT Crowd (C4)

“The fact that the laugh track didn’t grate was evidence of how successfully Graham Linehan had pulled off the self-consciously retro style of The IT Crowd.”

Thomas Sutcliffe, The Independent



The IT Crowd (C4)


“It couldn’t be sillier and, as a consequence, couldn’t be funnier.”

Caitlin Moran, The Times



The IT Crowd (C4)


“The whole thing is utterly and completely bereft of any smidgen of wit, humour or comic insight, and is possibly the least comedic comedy of the century.”

AA Gill, The Sunday Times



The IT Crowd (C4)


“At a time when most of the best comedy is pretty dark, [The IT Crowd is] so good-hearted and celebratory that it does feel distinctly refreshing.”

James Walton, The Daily Telegraph



The IT Crowd (C4)


“The IT isn’t funny Crowd.”

Ian Hyland, News of the World

Despite the hopes placed on The IT Crowd by Channel 4, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the next mass-market hit: ratings for the first two episodes were only two million or so.

PS My mate Martin hates Richard Ayoade. Why? Apparently, Ayoade was a bit of a nobber back in his Cambridge days and rejected Martin’s scripts all the time when they were working together in Footlights. Seems a reasonable enough reason for hate to me.

Werner Herzog: action man

If you haven’t been listening to Mark Kermode’s film reviews on Five Live

  1. why not?
  2. you’ll have missed Mark’s tale on Friday about when he interviewed Werner Herzog (last week, I think)

Apparently, he went to Herzog’s LA home to film the interview. When he got there, he asked Herzog if they could go outside to shoot an establishing shot. Herzog agrees, they go outside then suddenly Kermode hears something like a firecracker. He looks down and Herzog has been shot in the stomach.

“Don’t worry. It is a small bullet. Nothing to worry about. I have had worse,” says Herzog.

Despite Kermode’s concerns, they go inside and continue the interview, during which Herzog continues to bleed from his wound.

The next day, Kermode gets a call from Herzog. “It was a slightly bigger bullet than I thought.” But he’s still all right.

Amazing.