Sunday, 5 October 2014

Film Round-Up #5

Snitch (2013)

Congratulations Rock, you've now reached the stage where I'll watch a film just because you're in it! This example though, unlike most of the films he's cast in, takes little advantage of his rather impressive physique, casting him instead as John Matthews, the owner of a construction company whose son is facing ten years in the slammer for dealing drugs (he was actually set up by a 'friend' in a ridiculous sting operation). Instead of letting him become someone's bitch, John petitions an attorney (Susan Sarandon) to let him bring down a bigger fish in exchange for a reduced sentence for his son. The only catch is, she won't give him any help and poor old John doesn't really know where to start. Happily, Dwayne Johnson does a great job throughout, with the concerned father's painful false start soon giving rise to a more organised and confident runner getting in too deep, and it's probably his best acting performance yet. It's certainly not a special film in any way and the message isn't made as well as the producers apparently think, but it's definitely worth watching for Johnson fans... 7/10

The Truth About Jane (2000)

I decided to give this direct-to-TV film a try pretty much only due to it starring Ellen Muth of Dead Like Me (a short-lived show I used to like). She plays Jane, a somewhat withdrawn but fairly typical high school girl who begins the film by narrating her life up to that point, particularly pointing out how close she's always been to her mother (Stockard Channing). This is put to the test, however, with the arrival of a new girl at her school called Taylor (Alicia Lagano). They quickly become friends when Jane helps Taylor catch up on her school work and become even closer when Jane learns of Taylor's abusive home life and offers a shoulder to cry on. Despite Jane's mother taking a disliking to Taylor, they're soon spending all their time together with Jane now ignoring her old group of friends, and before long things take a more... intimate turn. Her parents find out eventually, of course, and are now dead-set against the 'friendship' and indeed Jane's apparent sexual orientation as well, which causes a rift at home as her parents try to 'fix' their wayward daughter. Although full of as much drama as you might expect, this isn't an especially original story, but it was well worth watching for Muth and Channing's superb performances if nothing else... 7/10

The Last Legion (2007)

Even though it received tonnes of mediocre reviews at the time, this adventure, based (rather loosely) on the novel of the same name, is a film I've long intended to try. It's set in 470 A.D. and is basically an alternative take on the Authurian legend and Excalibur, in this case Julius Caesar's sword. The back-story is narrated by Ambrosinus (Ben Kingsley), one of a group of rebels led by Aurelius (a somewhat miscast Colin Firth) who has sworn to protect Roman child, Romulus, the heir to the throne of the Western Empire, who has seemingly found the enchanted blade in question. Betrayed and under threat of attack by barbarian hordes, they head for Britannia in the hope of finding the Ninth Legion and making a final stand against the invaders. It sure sounds like rousing stuff and I tend to like historical adventures, hence my desire to see it, but now that I finally have I found it to be reasonably diverting, but it's all rather silly too, and a bit of a jumble. Not a terrible way to pass a couple of hours but it's very obviously pure fantasy as well and could've been much better... 6/10

Stuck In Love (2012)

I was very apprehensive when my lovely wife chose this film, mainly because of its clichéd name. I was expecting one of those boring, horribly generic rom-coms featuring nothing memorable or interesting, but it's actually not too bad! Three years after his divorce, novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is still hung up on his ex-wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), while their teenage kids, the promiscuous Samantha and romantic Rusty, are dealing with their first (and no less complicated) relationships themselves. It probably sounds as bad as I initially feared it would be but the story is enjoyable, and occasionally quirky (in a good way), and the characters are likeable and relatable as well, with the good cast putting in some very appealing performances, particularly the ever-reliable Kinnear who spends much of his time moping around awaiting for what he believes to be the inevitable return of Erica who's still with the guy she left him for. The mix of comedy and drama here is just right too, and some sensitive subjects are handled well. Ignore the crap name and give this one a try... 8/10

Remember Sunday (2013)

Another TV movie, this one (and a Hallmark movie no less - I think it's my first one!), which was selected by my other half purely on account of Alexis Bledel's presence. Here she plays Molly, a lonely waitress who happens upon Gus (Zachary Levi), a 'quirky' jewellery store clerk. After spending a bit of time together she's hopeful she may have actually found Mr. Right, but she soon starts suspecting he may be hiding something when he acts strangely at a later meeting. It turns out she's right too - he suffers from short term memory loss due to a brain aneurysm meaning he doesn't even know who she is, but, of course, she doesn't let something like that stop her. So yes, basically it's 50 First Dates with the roles reversed and with most of the humour taken out. That probably makes it sound awful, especially if you're one of the many who doesn't think much of the Sandler/Barrymore film, but it's really not that bad. Obviously it's aimed at the girlies, and indeed, my wife enjoyed it more than I did, but the acting and script are more than passable and the characters are reasonably appealing too... 7/10

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