Soft Spot Cinema: Jumper

Yes that’s right, it’s time for another installment of Soft Spot Cinema, the feature where I attempt to defend the films everyone else loathes. Also, as an added incentive to readers, if you despise this film as much as I love it, send me a review (try not to make it too long) and I will post it on the site (unless it’s really good, in which case I will just pretend I never got it. Saves embarrassment).

This time I’ll be doing my best to defend the 2008 sci-fi adventure, Jumper.

Jumper follows the story of David Rice (played mostly by Hayden Christensen) a young lad who one day discovers that he has the ability to instantly transport himself anywhere in the world. Cue scenes of bank robberies and fantastic holidays. Lunch on The Sphynx and dinner in London. Of course, at some point the fun has to end, and that’s where we meet Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) a man dedicated to hunting down Rice and those like him. I could tell you more about the film, but I think to do so would spoil the fun (it could ruin the plot, but there isn’t much of that in the first place. Or is there too much?)

Jumper for me is an interesting film. Obviously for it to qualify for this segment I have to acknowledge that this film is bad. In this case, there is little getting around that fact. The scripting is relatively two dimensional, the plot line is somewhat confusing, with very little being explained. The film doesn’t really reveal where the conflict comes from, just that it is there, and the love interest seems to serve no purpose other than to be the love interest, a card board cut out is given more character depth.

So yes, on paper, this film is bad. But in reality, it’s exactly what I want from a mainstream sci-fi film. The first, and definitely most enticing factor is the concept. The ability to teleport to anywhere in the world, whenever you want? Yes please.

The film looks slick, with some fantastic scenery being used (Rice is seen surfing big waves in the morning, eating lunch atop the Sphynx and rounding out the day swinging from Big Ben in London), and despite majority opinion, I didn’t despise the acting at all. Christensen is generally considered to have a limited acting ability, however, I count myself in the minority that think he isn’t half bad, and I think he is actually quite well suited to this role. He is arrogant, yet still likeable, and also possesses the naivety of someone who has grown up without fully grasping the implications of his ability.

However, it is not Christensen, but Jackson that is the stand out for me in this film. I am unable to think of a film where I didn’t enjoy Jackson’s over the top acting. He is one actor that takes whatever character he is given and truly runs with it. Here we see Jackson as the self righteous Roland, who along with his cronies, has dedicated his life to hunting down “Jumpers”, a small group that Rice is now a part of.

At the end of the day, despite the mangled religious message (I’m still not entirely what the film was trying to get across in that regard), this is a film that is highly enjoyable as a non-thinking escape, something that many people seem to forget is a viable excuse for a film. It looks good, the acting is more than tolerable, the concept is enticing and there are some genuinely exciting moments in the film. This is not the sort of film you leave with thoughts about the directors interesting take on the modern social climate in regards to religious fascism, but rather, with the sole thought of “Man, what would you do if you had those powers?”

What did you think of Jumper? What films do you love that everyone else hates?

Marvel mini’s for the big screen?

It seems that busiest studio of them all of the past few months has definitely been Marvel.

The latest from Marvel is that some of their lesser known characters will now be given the chance to show their big screen worth.

Characters like Black Panther, Dr. Strange and Iron Fist may star in their own short films that will possibly be shown online or before some of the feature length films.

These short films will give the studio a chance to see what works and what doesn’t before investing the big dollars into a full length feature.

Pixar have been doing something very similar for a long time now, with great success, so there is a high chance that in the not too distant future we could be seeing some exciting new characters on the big screen.

Personally I would love to these Marvel shorts, there are some fantastic characters in the Marvel universe, many of which would make for a fantastic feature film fodder.

Would you like to see some of the lesser known characters in their own short films? Who would you like to see get the big screen treatment?

Graffiti or art?: Exit Through The Gift Shop review

It’s hard to know where to stand after watching street art legend Banksy’s new film, Exit Through The Gift shop. In the end we leave more questions than answers about what qualifies as art. Hell, at the end of the film, we don’t even know what Banksy’s opinion on the topic is. All I can say is that Banksy is one smart guy, and he has made one smart movie.

Exit Through The Gift Shop documents the rise of  Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman living in Los Angeles with a passion for filming everything that occurs in his life. Guetta soon develops an interest in the street art scene after he is introduced to it by his cousin Invader.

I’m still not sure what to make of what follows. Guetta goes about filming as many street artists as possible. All the while filming. Eventually, he sets his sights on Banksy. Somehow, the fates grant Guetta his meeting, and he and Banksy become friends (or do they, I’m still not sure what to believe), with Guetta accompanying Banksy on a couple of his art making escapades, including a hilarious statement at Disneyland.

Eventually Banksy convinces Guetta to make a film from all the footage he has taken. What he comes up with is not so much an intelligent insight into the street art world, as a nightmarish dream sequence. Banksy decides at this point, that he will take over the piece, and tells his adoring French friend to go and make his own art.

Again, at this point, I’m not sure what is real. There are plenty of those who believe this whole film is nothing but a great big hoax. Some say it’s all true. I get the feeling that the truth lies somewhere between the two. Guetta genuinely did host the exhibition seen in the film, and he did make a ton of money for his “art”, but still, somewhere along the line, I think Banksy is having a lend of his audience.

For all of the questions this film left me with, there is no denying it is still fantastically enjoyable film. It provides us with an informative, if slightly unconventional, insight into the rarely seen world of street art, and more importantly, those behind it. It’s funny, well paced and interesting, and leaves the audience wanting more.

So what did I think of it all? I think Banksy has done it again.

I’ll get back to you when I know what “it” is.

4/5

What did you think of Exit Through The Gift Shop?

I love it when a film comes together: A-Team review

From the moment I saw the first promotional poster for The A-Team, I was a little bit excited.

Liam Neeson looked fantastic as John “Hannibal” Smith, and after having seen him in Taken, I was more than convinced he could turn up the action when required. Bradley Cooper was perfect for the charismatic Templeton “Faceman” Peck (who for the record, was always my favourite A-Team member), his turn as Phil in the comedy hit The Hangover proved that he was more than able to crank the charm up to 11. Sharlto Copely and Quintin “Rampage” Jackson as “Howling Mad” Murdoch and Bosco “B.A” Baracus respectively were outsiders to me. I hadn’t seen much of Copely other than in District 9, and I’d seen nothing of Jackson’s acting, only his brawling (though a quick imdb search told me that he was in the 2008 Bradley Cooper film, The Midnight Meat Train, which I actually quite liked, though I can’t remember Jackson in it for the life of me). Still, I couldn’t deny that even these two looked the part.

Now don’t get me wrong, I was not expecting this to be a cinematic masterpiece pushing for an Oscar. This was clearly designed to be a fun, easy action film. And in that regards, it succeeds. The action is entertaining, the jokes are funny, and the story followable.

The opening scene sets up the relationship between the characters perfectly (and also explains why B.A is scared to fly, something I never understood from the show), and also seamlessly slots the characters in to more modern times (the original TV show was set during Vietnam).

From the opening scenes in Mexico (where, believe it or not, a plan comes together) we move 8 years in to the future and to Iraq, where the foursome are now the closest of friends, having completed over 80 successful missions together. The team is sent to reclaim stolen U.S treasury Plates that are being used to print counterfeit bills. Unfortunately, after what is seemings to have been success, the team is betrayed and framed, with the team being subsequently stripped of their ranks and imprisoned. The role of the framer is not entirely revealed until later in the film, but needless to say, it was a twist that I was not entirely expecting, but was not so far-fetched as to turn me off the film.

One of the bigger issues stemmed from two of the actors. I felt that Jackson seemed to struggle with the more emotional scenes in the film/ He is believable as the tough guy, and we laugh at his jokes, but when it comes to the serious moments, he just doesn’t quite have the acting chops of his comrades. I also couldn’t quite get a grasp on Jessica Biel’s character, who is in charge of reclaiming the stolen plates. She is also an ex flame of Coopers Faceman, though the full details of this are not revealed. I felt that for a hardened military woman, Biel just wasn’t that, well, hard. Don’t get me wrong, I could gladly watch Biel on screen all day, but I just wasn’t quite buying her character in this one.

The amount of pure action in the film keeps it ticking along nicely, with vital plot points and character development being scattered between explosions and scenes of flying tanks.

Ahh yes, the flying tank. This seems to have been one of the most prominent issue that people had with the film, and it’s true, it is ridiculous. But that’s the point of the movie. The A-Team (as Jessica Biel’s character so perfectly puts it) specialise in the ridiculous. We know that you can’t pilot a tank using one parachute and the main gun, but the logisitics of the scene aren’t the point.

And besides, if anyone can somehow fly a falling tank whilst simultaneously engaging two jet fighters, it’s The A-Team.

3.5/5

What did you think of the A-Team? Leave your thoughts on the film in the comments section.

To the airwaves and beyond

So as you can probably tell, I am more than a little excited to see the upcoming Toy Story 3.

To try and alleviate some of the tension the massive wait has caused, I have this for your listening pleasure.

It is a remix made entirely using Toy Story soundbites by Australian video remix artist, Pogo.

Last year Pogo released another Pixar inspired creation, Upular.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the musical mastery of Buzz, Woody and the gang.

For more work by Pogo, check out his site here.

What did you think of the Toy Story remix’s? Are you excited for Toy Story 3?

Soft spot cinema: 21

So in my time I have been known to like a fair few crap movies. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of good ones as well, but for some reason there seems to be a bank of crappy films that I can’t get enough.

So with that in mind, I introduce you to my newest segment, Soft spot cinema.

In this segment I will post reviews of some of these horrible films, and try to justify why they entertain me so.

In the inaugural segment I present to you: 21.

21 is the work of director Robert Luketic, a director with a less than stellar career to date (The Ugly Truth and Monster-In-Law were both helmed by Luketic), though I like to think that this film operates on a slightly higher level than his distinguished past pieces.

The film’s hero is young whiz kid Ben (Jim Sturgess), a senior at MIT who wants to go on to study at Harvard Med. The only problem? Ben ain’t too wealthy, and Harvard ain’t too cheap. There is a scholarship on offer, but even with his good grades, Ben hasn’t got anything that “dazzles”, he just doesn’t “jump off the page” as his interviewer puts it.

Then out of the blue (or not, I won’t deny the movie is a tad predictable) Ben is offered the chance of a life time, to join a professional card counting team helmed by one of Ben’s professors, the charming Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey). It takes some coercing from the girl of Ben’s dreams, Jill (Kate Bosworth), who just so happens to be on the team as well.

From there we watch the usual trials and tribulations as Ben begins to change, things start to spiral. This movie, for all its standard formula’s, had me for two reasons. One, I actually quite liked the acting in it. It’s hard not to be a fan of Kevin Spacey, who always puts on a good show, and he is simply perfect as the cunning and dangerous Micky Rosa. When he turns up the menace, we believe that he truly is capable of untold things. Sturgess is well fitted to play been, the naive geek who gets pulled into a world he isn’t quite ready for. Bosworth was actually one of my least favourite actors in the film, I felt that for a major character, we hardly know anything about her at the end of the film, other than the fact the she is beautiful, the object of Ben’s affection, and has two different coloured eyes (at no point does the film point this out, but look closely, one is blue and one is brown). The secondary characters are all solid, especially my favourite, Choi (Aaron Yoo from Disturbia), though Fisher’s (Jacob Pitts) schtick wears thin pretty quickly.

The second reason why I find this film so enjoyable? I’m from The OC generation. I have no qualms admitting it. 21, for lack of a better description, is an extended OC episode with slightly altered plot. There are beautiful people. There is a very trendy soundtrack, there is an outsider who gets in, there is glitz, there is glamour.

This is not a movie I watch to think. It’s mindless self indulgence.

And I love it.

What do you think of 21? What are some films you love that no-one else does?

Marvel-arama

After hearing more rumours concerning Marvel Studios this week than Lindsay Lohan could stir up in a month, I have decided to post something concrete concerning the comic book giant.

That’s right, its an X-Men/Futurama mash up.

I have always preferred Futurama to The Simpsons, I’m not too sure why, it may have something to do with the obsession I had for Married… With Children when I was a kid.

Anyway, enjoy the awesomeness (courtesy of That Girl’s Site).

Are you a fan of Futurama? What are you looking forward to from Marvel?