Daily Archives: 13/05/2014

Elf

ElfElf (2003) – Originally written November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS (but then, it was always going to be predictable!)

So it’s Christmas time again, and as per usual, in amongst the “Lord Of The Rings” and the other big blockbusters, there’s the occasional Christmas fairytale. This year’s offering is “Elf” staring Will Ferrell, a film which is really exactly what should be expected.

In “Elf” Ferrell plays Buddy, a baby who one Christmas crawls into Santa’s sleigh, and is then raised by Elves as their own. Thirty years later and Buddy finally realises that he’s different to everyone else (despite being double their size of course). So with this in mind, Buddy heads off towards New York looking for his biological father (James Caan). Whilst there, Buddy influences everyone around him, and eventually revives the Christmas spirit.

So what can actually be said about “Elf”? Well, first and foremost, someone on here wrote that this film will be shown every Christmas for years to come. That person is spot on. “Elf” is forever going to be shown along with a selection of films (“Jingle All The Way”, etc) over Christmas at times when adults will want to sleep and children will want to be distracted. Secondly, it’s worth stating that this film isn’t as bad as some people might expect. If you expect cheese and you expect that weak plotted family film, your probably spot on. The special effects are simplistic when used, and the plot might be as weak as previously mentioned, but all in all, what would you expect from a film about an oversized elf?

I guess it’s hard to say too much about Farrell as I must admit to being a newcomer to his humour. He does what seems an acceptable job, and he cracks the occasional hilarious line. What seems ironic though is that some of the funniest lines are actually designed for adults and spoken by James Caan. Right now I can imagine people reading this review thinking “what the hell is he on about?”, well all I can suggest is to listen more carefully. There is, I admit they’re rare, the occasional really funny comment made in this film which, as a result of it being a childs film, probably won’t be noticed in a cinema full of children. These comments aren’t particularly hidden, but they are throw away comments which aren’t fussed over.

To summarise, “Elf” was never going to be anything special. It was always going to be a typical Christmas story, designed primarily for children, but with the occasional throw away adult line. With this definition in line, “Elf” fulfills it’s pledge. It doesn’t look though like the type of film which would really make too much money (In England anyway, it’s run has coincided not only with the final “Lord Of The Rings” film, but also with the far more appealing live action version of “Peter Pan”). This film is in the end of the day, definately one for television.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

LOTR-return of the kingThe Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

Well here we are, the final chapter in what is being referred to in some circles as the greatest trilogy of all time. Ultimately though, does “The Return Of The King” hold it’s ground against the other two? Truthfully, I’d say it’s ten times better.

I must confess before really considering this film, that when I think of the first two chapters, I find myself gritting my teeth together and wishing they’d go away. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good films which for the first time or two keep the audience gripped. The problem though with the first two is that they were so over publicised and so overly pushed that I’m just incredibly sick of them. Now, I know your probably sitting there and thinking “but surely the same can be said of chapter three?”, well at this moment in time, you’d be wrong. I remember going to see the second film at one of it’s first showings and coming out of it happy. I really enjoyed it. The problem was that whilst I did find it a breathtaking experience I found myself frustrated by talks of Oscars (neither of the first two films deserved anything other than technical awards) and of constant pushing to see it. In “The Return Of The King” however, whilst again leaving with a feeling of awe and satisfaction, I do confess I can hear Oscars for Best Film and Best Director in the background.

In this film, everything built up in the first and second films are concluded, often in the heat of battle and also often with a tear in the eye. The paths of all the characters are woven together in a Spiders Web which even Shelob the Spider would be proud of.

Moving away from plot (as I don’t want to ruin anything for people), what can be said about this film?

The special effects are absolutely beautiful, the makeup superb, the acting good (but possibly not quite Oscar winning), and everything else which is part of this film is by and large superb. I won’t deny that the beginning and ending do take what seems like forever, however both are necessary. It’s hard really to describe the good points of this film, but as far as I’m concerned, if something can’t be heavily analyzed, that’s a sign that there’s nothing wrong with it.

Having said all of the above, is there anything I really dislike about this film? Only two things really stand out to me in all honesty. Firstly, I can’t help but feel that by enlarging it by 20minutes and including Christopher Lee’s scenes, then it would add a bit more of a dimension to the conclusion regarding the ending of “The Two Towers”. His absence is noticeable and rather than just cutting it, the film feels as if he has died and they’ve looked for loop-holes to avoid featuring him. The second thing I hate about this film? Truthfully, it’s not as much this film as the Trilogy. Basically, I HATE Cate Blanchett’s character. Galadriel the Elven Queen is an incredibly irritating and infuriating woman. It feels at times in this film like herself & Liv Tyler’s Arwen have simply turned up and attempted to share the glory without actually doing anything. Add this to the fact that Blanchett’s voice seems almost satirical in how bad it is, and you’re left with a spine scrappingly frustrating character.

Ultimately though, I mustn’t complain. Some die hard fans have already began to complain about a few changes from the book plot, but I’m left with the naivety of life as I’ve not read them. This, sided with the fact that as with most males, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the whole knights and swords scenario, leaves me feeling a glow after watching this film. If someone complains about this movie, let them go ahead, but don’t listen to hard. If someone (including myself) complains about how over publicized these films have been, again let them moan, but ignore them. Finally, if someone would state in no uncertain terms that the third film in the trilogy isn’t the best, then leave them to it as simply put, they probably are lying and haven’t seen this film yet.

To conclude, I’m just going to say three words, See this movie!

Road Trip

RoadTripRoad Trip (2000) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

It’s hard to know what to say about “Road Trip” really. Done in 2000, right in the middle between “American Pie” and “American Pie 2”, this film carries on the traditions that the original Pie film introduces, and whilst it lacks the coming of age meaning, it is still worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as the Pie Trilogy.

In “Road Trip”, Josh (Breckin Meyer.. soon to be seen as Jon Arbuckle in “Garfield”), E.L. (Seann William Scott in Stifler mode), Rubin (Paulo Costanzo) and Kyle (DJ Qualls) embark on a road trip from Ithika University all the way to Austin University a total of 1,800 miles away. On the way the guys have many crazy experiences happen to them, and things then round themselves off nicely. Truth be told, that’s about the whole plot. As was shown in “Master & Commander” three years later however, a simplistic plot is not necessarily a bad thing.

Ok, I admit it’s not going to take much time to analyse this film, but that is a good thing. “Road Trip” contains typical gross-out humour, standard acting by a young cast, the inevitable scenes of brief nudity and ultimately everything to keep a teenage boy happy.

Truthfully, I can’t really think of anything bad to say about this movie. I could insult Tom Green, but for once the guy makes me laugh a lot and I’m grateful for his participation. The soundtrack is excellent, scripting as you’d generally expect, and even the limited special effects (for example, a car blowing up) are done to acceptable levels.

Whilst it may not have the originality of the very first “American Pie” film, “Road Trip” is still something which people can watch over and over again. It doesn’t stretch the brain at all, and it wouldn’t win any awards. However, if you love the “American Pie” films, then I can’t think of any reason for you to hate this. Sit back, relax, shut your brain off, and enjoy.

Bruce Almighty

BruceAlmightyBruce Almighty (2003) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS (Although lets be honest, it’s not like you didn’t expect these before the film even started)

“Bruce Almighty” is Jim Carrey’s attempt to return to his face twisting, funny guy ways, and by his standards, I quite like it. In this film, Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a News Reporter who dreams of that elusive Anchor slot. After an awful day, Bruce curses and swears at God, until eventually God answers. God (played without any real effort by Morgan Freeman) blesses/curses Bruce with his powers and sends him out into the real world to experience the ultimate job. Bruce sets off straight away to fix his life and only ends up making parts of it worse. By the end, most of what you’d expect to happen, happens, and you finish watching the film feeling like you’ve just watched any regular none descript comedy, which ironically, is what you have done.

Let’s get this straight right away, “Bruce Almighty” would never win any awards, it was never meant to. This film is there for you to relax to one night and be able to shut your mind off whilst watching. Carrey performs in his old style, and whilst he infuriates me in so many of his films, in this I found myself actually warming to his character. Carrey is a good actor, we saw that in “The Truman Show”, and in this he shows in a few scenes how emotional he can be.

Other than Carrey, what else can be said about this film? Not much really. The script is at times hilarious, at times sickeningly sweet, but ultimately satisfying, the other actors acceptable, and the message simply that if you want something, you’ve got to work for it.

Some people really hate this film, and whilst I can appreciate that Carrey might infuriate them, I just don’t get why someone would detest this so much? It’s nothing special for sure, but it’s by no means awful either.

I suppose the one thing which, looking back on it, really makes me laugh about this film is how so many people on this website have made comments about religion. I mean, yeah this film is about a guy who becomes God for a few days, but ultimately, it never had to be God. God is a recognisable, easy to explain figure, but really Bruce could have got his powers from anybody. All this film ever needed to do was allow us to sit back, relax, and show us that (to quote Spiderman) with great power comes great responsibility. That’s all.

If you choose to watch this film, and I recommend you should, leave your brain outside as it isn’t needed. “Bruce Almighty” is simply another chilled out film for a family to watch on a night in together. It’s by no means the best film of 2003 (not even close), but at the same time, it’s by no means the worst. You get what you pay for and that’s really the best way to summarise. Enjoy!

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

JimmyNeutronJimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) – Originally written December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

There’s not too much that can really be said about “Jimmy Neutron” as far as films go. A previous reviewer described it as something to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon and that sounds like an adequate description. There are a few reviews on this website of the film though which feel a bit harsh. Ultimately, theres no denying that “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” is a kids film, that’s what it was meant to be, that’s what it is. That’s not a bad thing though. Whilst it may not have the adult humour of other animations (mainly the greatest animation of them all, “Shrek”), it does still have the occasional funny joke that will make people of all ages laugh. Whilst the plot is a bit wafer thin and the animation a bit simplistic at times, I’d like to see most of the reviewers on this website try and do better. Ultimately, I can understand that to some people, this film may not be their cup of tea, and for a long time I avoided trying to watch it. Once you sit down and give it the time of day though, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Not the best animation of the last few years, but definately worth a viewing.

Here’s Looking At You Kid

“Goodbye”

She whispered in his ear & looked at him. A tear softly emerged from her eye and dripped onto her cheek.

He looked at her & held her tight.

He had no idea how it’d come to this. He thought about the days & nights together. The variety of meals, the long moonlight strolls along the dimly lit streets of the London river bank. The nights where they’d lay on the bed, intertwined as one, relaxing as the television pictures had flickered in front of their eyes. That amazing day in the French Capital, drinking coffee, walking until their feet didn’t function at all.

It all felt like a dream looking back. A time long gone. He didn’t know what he’d felt then, he didn’t know how he felt now. He just knew he had been happy.

Now, all that time later, he was losing her.

Their time together had been at the avoidance of one truth. Something they’d struggled to forget. One fact that there was no work around from. She was married.

He’d freaked out about it at the time, but when they were together, it faded into memory. He thought to himself on reflection that it would probably be insurmountable, but it was something to forget & savour their time together.

He saw himself as a Humphrey Bogart. A man who cared, but that would always lose her. She would go back to the husband & who knows what would’ve happened next.

His trademark curled smile appeared gradually on his lips & a faint chuckle. He’d been stupid. They both had really. To think that the other man, her husband of many years, to think he wouldn’t find out about their time together. About their bond. About this happiness. He was bound to.

Their escape from reality had been discovered. Their moments of joy unearthed. They’d looked into the abyss & the darkness of life had engulfed them whole.

It would go without saying that her husband would end their communion. That he would threaten her with the worst if she had anything further communication.

The husband wasn’t stupid. He, like the pair of them, was aware of the truth. The simple fact that history never really accepts. The fact that despite our better judgement, it IS possible to love two people at the same time.

She’d been put on the spot & she was only ever going to be able to go one way. Her husband, a decent man really, had been honest. He was hurting, but he loved her. He’d promised to be a better man, to talk more, to put more time into their relationship. To right his wrongs.

By contrast, our hero, our Bogart. He didn’t even know his own emotions. He knew she meant the world to him, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He certainly wasn’t willing to put that “L” word out there. It meant too much to him. It had been thrown around by everyone far too many times. When he wanted to use that word, he wanted to be 100% sure. For her, that could never be enough. There was too much to lose from her old life, too much to risk. The husband was always destined to win.

So here they were. Parting. Was it for the last time? He didn’t believe so. He just suspected it would be a while.

She’d heard him chuckle & looked into his eyes.

“What?”

He looked back at her & then softly, barely touching the skin, kissed her forehead.

“I don’t believe in goodbye.”

She frowned, looking at him like he was living in a dreamworld. Maybe he still was. For now, he wasn’t ready to lose her forever.

“I know you’ve got to go.” He softly spoke, stroking her hair as the words left his lips.

“This isn’t the end though. We’ll see each other again. One day. You’ll see.”

Her frown softly faded away & a her lips faintly curled, a sad smile gradually began to form.

“Yes, perhaps.”

The smile formed.

“And if not… We’ll always have Paris.”

She kissed him softly & then broke their connection. She’d stolen his line. He’d wanted to say that himself. In that moment though, it didn’t matter.

They sadly looked at each other, then, with a sad forelorn look, she turned around & walked away. He watched her as she went. Then, for the first & last time, a word left his lips.

“Goodbye.”

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