While there are two very good obscure horror films which will be reviewed leading up to Halloween, there have been a lot of nerd relate flicks released lately. So to make up for the lengthy inactivity here’s short reviews on several of them:
Johnny English Reborn – Don’t waste your money on this one. The original film was reasonable if forgettable and just managed to be somewhat passable but this is a serious flop. Rowan Atkinson is trying his hardest with what he’s working with but the script is appalling.
It’s now directly trying to parody the modern Bond films, rather than its predecessor’s generalised jokes on the whole spy genre, resulting in some very predictable gags. Anyone who has seen the trailers will know that the film lowered itself to directly plagiarising from Austin Powers in at least one scene, and they’ll also have seen just about all of the good jokes. There’s an admittedly entertaining chase scene at one point but there’s not enough good here to outweigh the bad dragging down Reborn.
The Three Musketeers – This was nothing but dumb fun and little else. The very idea of putting the Three Musketeers in a steampunk world of espionage, flying ships and gatling guns is utterly ludicrous and not once does the film try to take itself seriously. It’s definitely one of the better Paul W. S. Anderson films and has a very entertaining first act but its not without its flaws.
One core problem is the number of characters you have to keep track of, all of who are trying to get screentime. In Anderson’s other the target casts are trimmed down until the third act, slowly being killed off in one manner or another. In this film though very few of them die before the end and it’s an irritating aspect which detracts from the film’s enjoyment. The other problem was that it does borrow a lot of elements from the more famous film like d'Artagnan wanting to become a musketeer like his dead father but getting into petty duels with the titular trio.
That being said the 3D is exceptionally well used, the battles are well choreographed and enjoyable to watch, and Christophe Waltz makes a very good Cardinal Richelieu. Watch this one for the entertainment value but don’t expect anything substantial.
The Thing – Whoever was making this clearly watched the film but did not have any idea what made it work so well. This prequel to John Carpenter’s classic pales visibly in comparison to the film it is supposed to build upon. Rather than feeling like a very tense, claustrophobic, increasingly paranoid survival situation it feels much more like a “monster of the week” production. Some part of a mini-series, a TV movie or a direct to DVD cash in than a big budget production.
Rather than acting like a very patient, calm and smart hunter the Thing repeatedly blows its cover at every turn and rampages across the base like it has no care for its own existence. Much of the CGI used for the gore effects is, bar a couple of good bits, visibly inferior to the physical animatronics of the film it is supposed to be preceding.
Oh, also, everyone has a flamethrower.It’s better than Johnny English but this is one which isn’t worth either your time nor your money.
Real Steel – This is probably the best one out of all the films listed here. Despite the ridiculous premise and some rather predictable twists which frequently turn up to move the plot along, the script is surprisingly solid and fluidly moves from one fight to the next.
The robots themselves look pretty great and there’s some fairly brutal moments as they pound the scrap out of one another, easily rivalling the CGI brawls from Michael Bay’s Transformers films.
It probably helped that I went into seeing this one expecting a disaster of a film on par with Manos The Hands of Fate, but even without that it’s a surprisingly well told story. There’s no doubt that 2010’s The Fighter is still the best boxing film of the last few years, but I’d recommend this one if you’re a fan of giant robots or the Rocky films.
Johnny English Reborn and all related characters and media belong to Universal Pictures.
The Three Musketeers (2011) and all related characters and media belong to Entertainment One.
The Thing (2011) and all related characters and media belong to Universal Pictures.
Real Steel and all related characters and media belong to Dreamworks Pictures,