Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekly Film Review Round Up 16th March 2014


Two films this week that should have been great, but were a major letdown. How can you take a great true story and turn it into the dull by-the-numbers film that The Monuments Men turned out to be? Answer: Let George Clooney at the script. You’re good at coffee ads, George, and that’s it!  And Need for Speed is so clich├ęd, I wondered if they had some poor schmuck scriptwriter sitting isolated in a room for the last thirty years who doesn’t realize films have moved on since the eighties. Disney has made much of the fact that there is no CGI used in the car stunts. They should also advertise that there is no NICS used either (No innovation or common sense).  Don’t bother with either of these. There is much better on the horizon.

(My movie Pick of the week)
 (only because its better than Need For Speed and that's not saying much)
The Monuments Men ✪✪✪

Opens in Australia: 13th March 2014
USA: 7th February 2014    UK: 14th February 2014 
Other Countries:          Release Information

OUR THOUGHTS
This should have been a good film. My poor husband, who is dragged along to more films than he really cares to see, was hanging out to see this. In fact, he kept asking me when it was on. I’d heard rumblings that it wasn’t up to scratch, but I thought how could it not be good with that cast and that story?

Sadly, the rumblings were right. It’s not terrible, but its very pedestrian. It suffers from a really average script that somehow manages to minimize our connection with characters that are noble, brave and charismatic. This is a great feat, and it should possibly win an award for ineptness.
I know you will go along because you won’t believe that with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin (Oscar winner from The Artist), Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey, and Cate Blanchett, it couldn’t be anything but humorous and overflowing with wit. Believe me, it’s dull, even though the story is amazing. I know they are saving art but somebody needs to save The Monuments Men. I see George Clooney had a hand in the script, and perhaps he should stick to selling coffee and smirking nicely in films.

STUDIO BLURB
Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys - seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 - possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind's greatest achievements. From director George Clooney, the film stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The screenplay is by George Clooney & Grant Heslov, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter. Produced by Grant Heslov and George Clooney. (c) Sony

The Need For Speed

Opens in Australia: 12th March 2014
USA: 14th March 2014    UK: 14th March 2014 
Other Countries:          Release Information

Have you heard of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level? It’s a grading level for text readability which calculates the age at which a reader could comprehend a particular text by using the number of sentences, words, and characters. Reader's Digest magazine has a readability index of about 65, an average 6th grade student's written assignment has a readability level of 60, Time magazine scores about 52, the Harvard Law Review in the low 30s is readable by University students.

We need something like that for movies. Ratings are not cutting it for me lately. If you go along to a film rated for adults which cautions that the film contains adult themes, violence, language, drug references and sensuality I kind of expect, well, a film I would enjoy as an adult.

But lately, I’m “sitting through” films rated this way but that I suspect would only hold the interest of middle-schoolers. Need for Speed, based on the video game, is one such film, and though it’s not marketed that way, it has the stamp of its studio Disney DreamWorks all over it.

Toby Marshall (Paul Aaron, fresh from Breaking Bad) is the underdog incredibly talented street-racing driver who is pitted against his nemesis Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) the rich, spoilt, guy who got his girl and also betrays him early in the film.

Each year a crazy (think real crazy) mega-wealthy benefactor, Monarch (Michael Keaton), stages an illegal road race where winner takes all of the competing cars, amounting to millions. Drivers must be invited to enter and meet at the secret location of the race. Toby sets out across the country, with his team and Julia (Imogen Poots), the token love interest, to win an invite by driving seemingly in the most dangerous way possible. The film recklessly glamorizes breaking road laws and the tally of damaged cars and deaths quickly totes ups, while the “hapless” police are unable to catch any of the drivers.

My thirteen-year-old again loved this film. To me it’s a formulaic, non-entertaining car fest attempting to be a Fast and Furious, without the fun of the “furious.” But I think it comes down to the filmability score. It’s not aimed at me. I like a little more originality in my action films, and in the case of this slow pedestrian number, a little more speed.

STUDIO BLURB
Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, DreamWorks Pictures' "Need for Speed" captures the thrills of the game in a real-world setting. An exciting return to the great car-culture films of the 1960s and '70s, when authenticity brought a new level of intensity to the action, "Need for Speed" taps into what makes the American myth of the open road so enticing. The story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country race against time-one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. In a last attempt to save his struggling garage, blue-collar mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul)-who with his team skillfully builds and races muscle cars on the side-reluctantly partners with wealthy, arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Just as a major sale to car broker Julia Bonet (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save the business, a disastrous, unsanctioned race results in Dino framing Tobey for manslaughter.(c) Disney



What have you seen this week? Did you find our comments helpful or do you disagree? Share your thoughts with us.