The Bunker (2001)
Now this had potential – a small group of German soldiers in the Ardennes in 1944 holed up in a pill box above a series of dark and foreboding tunnels, which proves to be a portent to terror. It could have been The Keep; it turned out more Deathwatch. A shame, because there were interesting themes and a pretty good cast (Andrew Tiernan, Chris Fairbank, Simon Kunz, Andrew Lee Potts, and, erm, Jack Davenport, Jason Flemyng and Charley Boorman; I guess Eddie Marsan could have swung either way). Tighter directorial attention to the acting than to the shadows would have done this film the world of good, I suspect. Too much of it involves conscious acting rather than natural reacting. The flashback sequences are very efficient.
Bloody awful and uninvolving war movie featuring two of my favourite screen actors, Robert Mitchum and Peter Falk, about 1944’s lesser known amphibious invasion of Europe. Not seen this since I was a nipper, and in my memory I always associated the Operation Shingle landings at Anzio with the Ardennes offensive of the Battle of the Bulge, possibly because they each spawned bloated, boring films. Horrible 60s score too!
Charlie Wilson’s War
Tom Hanks as a US Congressman who funds the mujahideen fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Interesting, but possibly not one that is going to be remembered as a classic. Philip Seymour Hoffman continues in his life mission to PSHify every supporting role in Hollywood to jittery mumblers who talk over other actors’ lines as a maverick CIA agent who breaks the rules and does things his way, etc.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Never seen it before, and I don’t think I will again, willingly. A clumsy mess of dull exposition, extended toy adverts and shonky CGI. Though the scenes with Palpatine and Anakin did have promise. As I said to the LLF, they took a wrong turning tracing back the Skywalker story, when Han Solo was what people liked the most about the original films.
Colin Farrell is a rear echelon Ivy Leaguer who accidentally ends up captured during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944; Bruce Willis is the Westpoint career soldier running the POW camp he ends up in. All about moral codes and sense of duty, with Tuskegee airmen the real life point of interest. Sort of a grittier, less pleasant modern retelling of Stalag 17, with a strong theme of racism supplanting class antagonism. Not great, but certainly impressive. But then at a cost of $70million, would anything less be acceptable?
Honestly, this is not a good film. For once the IMDb comments seem mostly on the nail. Pacino is a raspy, rascally, randy professor of forensic psychiatry who moonlights as a profiler for the FBI. A man he helped convict for multiple murders and rapes is about to die in the execution chamber… But wait! A bunch of fresh victims have all just been found killed in circumstances similar to his modus operandi! Maybe he’s not really the killer! And to top it all off, our horny prof has received a phonecall telling him he has eighty-eight minutes left to live! Etc, etc, etc… The poster for this film unforgivably harks back to those for Scarface and Carlito’s Way, which both – for each their flaws – are far superior to this lifeless pile of cinematic afterbirth.
Michael Sheen (the slow dude from Gallowglass and latterly your go-to guy anytime you want a Tony Blair) is playboy talk show host David Frost, Frank ‘Skeletor’ Langella is disgraced warmongering Quaker president Tricky Dicky Nixon. Ron Howard directs, and for the first half it’s good, gripping stuff, but the contrived structure of the third act – trying to create a false ‘victory’ – lets it down.
Actually rather a good, fun, exciting John Grisham legal twist thriller – John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman all ham things up nicely in this New Orleans courtroomer about a lawsuit filed against a gun company and the latter’s recourse to an amoral jury consultant to win them the case. The Jeremy Piven character seems somewhat pointless though.
Star Wars (or Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope if you really must)
Special Edition CGI sucks.
The Empire Strikes Back (or Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back if you insist)
Icy Hoth, sleeping in a dead tauntaun, wampa attack, AT-ATs, Boba Fett (ship looks like a prawn), Lando, betrayal, Yoda on Dagobah, hand losing, “I am your father”, carbonite sleep, etc.
Return Of The Jedi (or Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi, though I can’t say I approve)
Bounty hunters, metal bikini, Jabba the Hutt, skiff, Sarlacc, Yoda dying, new Death Star, teddy bears Ewoks, speeder bikes, etc.
Yet another Will Ferrell jockcom, this time round about a crappy basketball team trying to secure a place in the NBA. Woody Harrelson, André ‘3000’ Benjamin and Maura Tierney (Abby the ER nurse/doctor who looks like a stroke-ridden cousin of Friends‘ Rachel) add a little class, Will Arnett and Andrew Daly are in the Waldorf/Statler chairs.
Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber as battling Bielski brothers, running a band of Jewish partisans in the forests of Eastern Poland in WW2. An interesting story but a plodding film. Interesting to see director Edward Zwick borrowing/homaging visual and sound motifs from Elem Klimov’s Idi I Smotri.
Alien Versus Predator: Requiem
Honestly, avoid. The first AvsP flick was bad enough. Yautja hunts xenomorphs in contemporary America; lots of dull septics die.