#900 – Gutshot

Drama

George Eads is the lead in Gutshot, which is a little odd. Also his jaw seems to have shrunk, I don’t like this fact at all. The film is released on the 18th October and is a strange mix of noir and pulp, though never really being fully committed to either, or indeed the combination. It isn’t an unpleasant watch though the stakes, ironically in a film predominantly about gambling, are never established. What’s the risk and why should we care?

Aside from that it feels very much like Two Days In The Valley, remember that? It’s actually a lot like any other Altman or Tarantino derivative. It’s in that sub-genre, but doesn’t have the bite, or the (good) weird of most of its peers.

Gutshot Straight AnnaLynne McCord

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#899 – Transcendence

Sci-Fi

The problem with Transcendence is… Actually there’s a lot wrong with it. Its main problem is it’s about artificial intelligence and yet has a stupid plot. There are big, interesting ideas, but the whole thing has all the corners and edges dulled into oblivion due to the terrible story.

Director Pfister was director of photography for Nolan on the similar themed and far more compelling Inception. What’s happened is that he’s made a Nolan film, but really badly. The cast is crazy strong, to the point of not actually having enough lines (just ‘lines’ there are no ‘good lines’ for anyone) and/or screen time for them. Cole Hauser is barely more than an extra.

Money was clearly thrown at this film, but that hasn’t helped either. The expensive special effects make no sense, what they’re there to show is just so dubious as to be thoroughly unbelievable. Considering the subject matter there is an irony that illogicalness pervades everything. And the conclusion? We’ll just say Robinson Crusoe On Mars made more sense.

This could’ve worked, but a much firmer and more experienced hand was required in both the direction and script. Finally, a noteworthy mention to critic Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune who referred to the movie as “The Computer Wore Johnny Depp’s Tennis Shoes”… That’s about right.

Transcendence Johnny Depp Rebecca Hall

#898 – The Machine

Sci-Fi

There is no doubt that The Machine owes a lot to films like The Terminator and Blade Runner. The music in fact takes its synth-lead straight from Vangelis. This though is not a problem and while the concepts challenged are far from original, the presentation of them is.

The story is that of MOD funded research into repairing damaged soldiers using AI and fancy prosthetics. The conflict comes from the lead scientist (Stephens) who believes the technology has far reaching positive possibilities vs. the system, who just want better soldiers, yadda, yadda.

It’s budget sci-fi, but really good sci-fi. The aesthetic of the film is dark, with interesting lighting set ups and lens flare Abrams would commend, I wonder though whether this dim setting was a necessary constraint, hiding the actual locales. If it was or it wasn’t it creates some memorable sequences, most notable the glinting eyes of rebuilt war veterans peering from the darkness.

Lo-fi it maybe, but the special effects are amazing, especially the scene where The Machine’s body is flooded with synthetic fluids to bring it to life. And while nothing new is added to the debate about what constitutes being alive, when explored well, as it is here, it’s always an interesting watch.

The Machine

#897 – Night Of The Creeps

Horror

The acting is bad, so is the script and the special effects don’t really stack up that well either, but Night Of The Creeps is a romp of an 80s horror. It has enough moments of ridiculousness to secure a place in the heart of most movie fans; prom dress wearing date with a flame thrower, aliens, an axe murderer, zombies and a little awkward and needless nudity. Also listen to the characters names, this flick was definitely created by horror genre fan.

Night Of The Creeps

#896 – Felony

Drama

Felony is the first screenplay from actor Joel Edgerton, who also stars in this tale of an Australian cop. Edgerton is also credited with the ‘story’ for the upcoming Rover, so this is likely a good indication of what to expect.

What is delivered in this film is everyday tragedy, thanks mostly to low key wretchedness and corruption. The progression of Edgerton’s lead, Malcolm Toohey, from hero cop to villain is an insidious one. Poor choices motivate everything that plays out and before too long the pit dug by Toohey and his cronies is too deep for him to escape, psychologically and physically.

There is a tone of grim reality to this fiction, it’s a sombre and sour tale executed with steady aplomb.

Felony Joel Edgerton

#895 – Rob The Mob

Drama

There are in form a lot of similarities between Rob The Mob and Pain & Gain. Both attempt to offer a sympathetic view of real life criminals with more balls than brains, and do, but fail to nail the point (if any) they’re trying to make.

Pitt and Arianda are the Bonnie and Clyde couple in this flick that knockoff mafia joints throughout New York. Their escapades end as you expect, but along the way inadvertently make a case for the FBI. It’s an interesting story and Garcia does his best gangster don, with large beard in tow. At the other end of the spectrum Griffin Dunne is excellent as the hapless, heart in the right place, inspirational management type. He’s the boss to Arianda and Pitt in their day job and it’s the scenes with these three that lift the film.

Aside from that it’s as I said, adept but lacking focus. What’s really going on in this film and where should a viewers loyalties lie? Gangsters, crooks, story hungry journalists or exploitative FBI goons? I’m not sure any can offer a compelling case for my empathy.

Rob The Mob Michael Pitt Nina Arianda

#894 – The Need For Speed

Action

The males in The Need For Speed are conspicuously short. Honestly, it’s weird. Aaron Paul is almost there as this wiry, angry petrol head, yet he is undermined by his jovial crew of five and a half footers. That and the ‘shiny’ nature of all that happens.

Add in a plot so predictable as to be entirely irrelevant and things are looking shaky. Thankfully the car sequences are good and solid, avoiding for the most part the ridiculousness of CGI antics for such things. The car stunt is a sacred set piece in the world of movies, that’s a given. However, there has in recent years been a move to CGI these moments, a choice that smashes the suspension of disbelief into tiny pieces, like headlight casings in a multi-car pileup. This offends me greatly.

Unfortunately the chases aren’t enough to save this film, which ends up feeling like the wimp brother to the stronger titles in the The Fast And The Furious franchise.

NEED FOR SPEED

#893 – The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Drama

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty isn’t relevant to real people, i.e. everyone on the planet. It’s heart is in the right place and there are great moments, Kristen Wiig singing Bowie for example, but there’s a flimsy ‘just do it’ logic to it all. If fantasy escapism devoid of cynicism is your thing this is the movie. Also Adam Scott’s charter seems to have been drafted in from another script…

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty Ben Stiller