A Brit Late Roundup: March

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This month, we in Britain time travelled one hour into the future. It was heavy.

Alice In Wonderland (2010)
Because I was a strange child, I didn’t watch any Disney films that weren’t made by Pixar in the past, so I haven’t seen their famous Alice In Wonderland adaptation. The impression I got from the plot of Tim Burton’s film is that it follows Alice’s return to Wonderland, although she has forgottten ever visiting there in the first place.

I was surprised really, I was expecting it to be worse than what it turned out to be. I’m not the only one who’s tired of Burton’s repetitiveness in his films, but I really liked the look of Wonderland. It doesn’t have a mark on the likes of the suburbia of Edward Scissorhands but I thought it was imaginative enough and fun to watch. The characters themselves are ok I guess. I was expecting a lot more of the Mad Hatter given the character was played by Burton’s mascot Johnny Depp, but I’m glad it actually focused more on Alice. I also liked the fact that most of the characters other than Alice were batshit insane in their own way, ad Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat was just brilliant. Still, there’s nothing that really sticks out as memorable in the film and I’m not in any rush to watch it again.

Ronin
Robert De Niro leads a team of mercenaries to steal a briefcase (that no one knows the contents of), but the job isn’t as simple as it seems. I feel bad about Ronin. It’s pre-Bourne but since Bourne has come out, there’s so many films in that style that I’m becoming a bit tired of it. For example, how many goddamn times do we have to have the chase scene that goes past that certain bridge in Paris?

That being said though, I can appreciate the fact it was doing all these cliches before they were cliches. The film had plenty of great chase moments, plenty of good action scenes and Robert De Niro being awesome, which is not something he is prone to doing more recently. I also enjoyed the choice of actors, in that De Niro is the only American character. It makes for a little divesity, and De Niro and Jean Reno play off each other very well throughout the film. It’s just a shame that Sean Bean wasn’t in the film longer.

Knowing
I wasn’t going in with high expectations but I love Nicholas Cage so I thought I’d give it a chance. He’s not a terrible actor, he’s just in a lot in a bad films. Comparable to Christopher Walken if you will. To be honest, it was average all the way throughout, but it wasn’t really that bad. It’s your typical conspiracy thriller type film, with Cage’s character finding a connection between all these world disasters and the numbers written on a piece of paper that came from a time capsule.

It’s forgettable but I was able to watch it all the way through because it wasn’t that bad, just not that good. However, the ending is fucking stupid. I won’t spoil it for its sheer stupidity, but it practically ruins the whole film. I just sat there wondering what was happening and how this ending was even thought of. It certainly made me think a lot less of the film after watching it.

Taken
While it does have some of the Bourne cliches, I will give Taken the fact it’s a little different (aside from, you know, being set in PARIS). Liam Neeson isn’t your typical action star and it’s slow to start with, as the main plot point doesn’t really kick in until about half an hour in. However, once it does, it’s an very enjoyable hour of Neeson kicking asses and taking names.

I think this slow start actually benefited the film though. It gave Neeson’s character a personality that isn’t just that of a well trained killer, and added an emotional impact as he tries to find his daughter. The only problem is that he’s a little too invincible. Apart from one scene, there’s no one in the film who makes it truly difficult for him to rescue his daughter. Still, an enjoyable action film with an enjoyable actor.

Kick-Ass
Have you ever wondered why there are no superheroes in real life? Kick-Ass attempts to explain why. On the one hand I got the impression it was overrated, given the praise I’d heard for the film. To its credit though, it’s quite a funny film and is definitely different to most superhero films. Personally I preferred the relationship between Big Daddy (the beetastic Nicholas Cage popping up again) and Hit Girl and the humour that came from the fact that they had a few screws loose than Kick Ass’s character himself. Sure he had his moments, but he was a bit too much of a stereotypical modern nerd for me.

I guess it may have been different if it wasn’t a comedy film, but I thought the film would have been better if they’d built more on the events surrounding the relationship between father and daughter. Sure it’s cool I guess to see a little girl kicking ass and swearing, but there’s only a brief scene between Big Daddy and his former Cop partner that attempts to justify what is essentially indoctrination from Big Daddy. Kick-Ass is a fun film though, simply because it easily exploits the flaws of comic book logic.

Harry Brown
What might be seen as the British answer to Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, a widowed pensioner who decides to take action against the violent youths in his neighbourhood after his only friend is killed by them. Now I liked Gran Tarino, but with that film, the factor of Eastwood’s age is ignored a bit, which is perfectly fine for that film. However, age is very much the theme in Harry Brown.

Caine is no Eastwood here, and while his Marine skills show throughout as he coldly and efficiently kills the youths, he his hampered by the fact that he just can’t hack it at his age. Rather than focusing on the violence, it focuses on his character, as we come to understand his plight and his reasons for doing what the police can’t. The only problem I had was that the film demonises youths a little too much. That probably bothers me more because it’s my age group, and while there are plenty of shits on the streets, we never see the perfectly normal, law abiding youths to contrast with.

And that’s it for what I watched in March, aside from Dr.Strangelove, which I already covered in a full review. In the first three days of April I’ve seen Green Zone and The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch. I also turn 18 this month, which means I can see 18 rated films in the cinema! You know, if they weren’t all shit horror films.

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