Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Worlds End

A man, sentimental about his teenage years, gathers his old friends for another go at a pub-crawl they failed to complete as kids. Robotic aliens complicate the mission.

If Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are as goofy and outlandish as I remember them to be, then The Worlds End is weak by comparison. Because it’s part of Edgar Wright’s  “Cornetto Trilogy” The Worlds End sometimes feels shackled by its genre. Then again in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead the makers were working with genres that were already well defined. In The Worlds End they work with Sci Fi, which is a much wider field. The ideas were all there, but they were executed in a way that seemed clumsy and badly thought through.

Not only is it self indulgent, it’s also curiously self conscious, it tries so hard not to be like its predecessors and for the most part it succeeds…but it’s not really for the better. At times they just needed to go back to basics and not worry about being original.
The characters were also something of an issue.
Pegg plays the bum who’s stuck in the past and in that role he’s reliably funny, but the rest of the core characters are by design dull and empty. There was a real lack of zany characters to support the mostly boring leads.

And then there was the narrative: a story that never settled and didn’t know what to do with its premise. It was a narrative that was always fidgeting and provoked the thought: where’s a good plot twist when you need one? But with all this critical thinking it’s easy to lose sight of what was good about this film. It’s full of Edgar Wright’s trademark stylistic qualities and can boast a number of well-timed soundtracks. Yes it was a bitter disappointment, yes it never reached the heights of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but it can pass an afternoon, and rest assured it could have been much worse.            

Monday, 25 November 2013




A deep in debt car salesman asks a pair of criminals to kidnap his wife in exchange for a car, what’s in it for him? The kidnappers will receive a large amount of ransom money from the woman’s wealthy father; then the crooks will keep a share and give the rest of the money to the car salesman so he can pay off his debt…simple, if everything goes to plan!

In many ways Fargo is a film that defines the Coen brothers work from the point of view of both the style, and the narrative. The plot develops in ways that are always surprising. Playfully it disorientates its viewer with unexpected, unpredictable and often shocking twists in its sinister story. As soon as you think you’ve got your bearings a character will suddenly be killed off, and you’ll be clueless as to how the story will continue to unfold. These sudden events are highly effective and work to the films advantage.

Despite the Coen’s nature to be dark and sinister there’s a lot of warmth and morality to Fargo. Whilst the two crooks are killing senselessly to solve their problems, perhaps the Coen brothers most delightful and down to earth character ever (Police Chief Marge Gunderson) is tracking them down and being pleasant and polite whilst she does it. The character Marge is brilliant and is an antidote to all the evil in this film, Frances McDormand was practically made for the part and it’s no wonder she won an Oscar for her performance, she definitely deserved it.

Fargo is one occasion where all the quirks and qualities of a Coen Brothers film, work together in perfect harmony. It’s witty, it’s gritty and it doesn’t come across as superior or pretentious in its intellect.                  

Friday, 15 November 2013

28 Weeks Later...


After the undead are apparently wiped out, the American military begin the repopulation of England. But when a survivor carrying the infection is found, London finds itself in the grip of the rage virus once again. 

The quiet eerie atmosphere of 28 Days Later has been more or less dropped for a noisy in your face feel. It’s still loyal in a lot of ways to its predecessor but this time it’s blood, guts and all out zombie carnage. Here the action sequences are noisy and disorientating much like the first, but on occasion they reach a stage where you’re effectively watching pure violence and the details of a zombie attack get lost.

As far as the narrative is concerned it felt clumsy and often like they were making it up as they went along. The story reached a stage where the actors who had not yet been killed off seemed to be being thrown into encounter after encounter, giving them little time to act. There was also a lack of exploration of characters and their emotions. Many characters weren’t around long enough to make an impression, so when they were inevitably killed off I felt little in the way of sorrow.

Despite all this criticism I have to admit 28 Weeks later looks great and is very stylish, and a lot of its concepts and ideas, such as the danger coming not just from zombies but from the panicking military, are still original and have a tremendous cinematic impact. I’m pleased to say that whilst this is one sequel that could have been better, by no means did they screw it up.        

28 Days Later...


So, a man (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in an abandoned hospital and, after walking round London for a while trying to work out where everyone went, he realises it’s a Zombie apocalypse.
 This is the first zombie movie I’ve seen that isn’t trying to parody itself (Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies) and I was genuinely impressed. There was an underlying narrative in this film that was as much about morals as it was about staying alive, there was also a strong exploration of character here too. And, when scheming army major (Christopher Eccelston) turns up you realise not everyone is a good guy. The idea that just because someone isn’t a zombie doesn’t mean they’re going to be on your side was an exciting thought, and gave you something to think about whilst the woozy action sequences of the final act took place.

Throughout the film there were a number of highly affective deaths and plot twists that created shock and surprise, and whilst there was the occasional poorly judged soundtrack, and a few small missteps in the third act there were too many qualities in other areas of the film for these issues to be problematic. Overall 28 Days Later is a bold and thrilling film that makes for very enjoyable viewing.