Cinema reviews: Black leather, silver axes, dark glasses and a red apple

It’s been a week to catch up with some films at the cinema and as a result I have reviews of the following four: Rock of Ages, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Men in Black 3 and Snow White and the Huntsman.


Rock of Ages

The infamous rock venue The Bourbon Room is having financial troubles and the only thing that can save them is a final gig by rock legends Arsenal figure-headed by the iconic Stacee Jaxx. Around this central premise two young musicians who are working in the bar waiting for their big breaks fall in love.

Rock of Ages is a musical adapted from the Broadway show of the same name that draws from rock ‘n’ roll music from the 80s for its tunes. However, it is definitely more soft rock that hard rock. For all the presentation that rock is from the devil, the music they are actually seen to play is pretty tame!

But as with any musical it is about the performers and the performances. Let’s start with the bad: Baldwin and Brand are awful both form a singing and acting perspective and Catherine Zeta Jones looked really uncomfortable when she was asked to perform. The two young leads are clearly talented but totally forgettable and lack any actual screen presence. The big show come from Mary J Blige who shows the rest of the cast what a real singer sounds like.

And then there is Tom Cruise. His casting smacked of the big name to help get this film made but he yet again is amazing. He plays the burnt out crazy rocker brilliantly and he can actually sing. Is there nothing he can’t do?

Verdict

Average and nothing more. A very forgettable musical. Some good performances and some bad but really this is the Tom Cruise show again and he does not disappoint.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Timur Bekmambetov is a very visual director and this is shown no more than in his outrageous debut American film Wanted. So why on Earth does he choose to shroud his latest film in so much dust and darkness that you can’t tell what is going on half the time?

Adapted from the novel of the same name this is a revised history of the most famous of American presidents. In this universe he was a vampire hunter long before he led a country.

What this film tries to do is draw parallels between slavery, the Confederate and vampirism. On some levels it works but mostly it doesn’t.

But this isn’t meant to be an intellectual film, it is clearly meant to be a popcorn action film. However, the set-pieces are lame, the action un-inspiring and visually unimpressive. The only real positives I could draw from it were I wasn’t totally bored and it was cheesy enough to raise the odd smile.

Verdict

Disappointing, un-inspiring and totally, totally mediocre.

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Men in Black 3

Let’s just get things straight. The original MiB was fun but nothing special and the sequel was one of the worst films ever made. So it was without much enthusiasm that I finally went to see the third (and hopefully final) instalment in this franchise.

A mad alien criminal escapes from a prison on the moon and travels back in time to kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) before he has a chance to arrest him. Agent J (Will Smith) has to travel back in time to 1969 to save him with the help of a younger Agent K (Josh Brolin).

With me so far? What sounds like a recipe for disaster is actually a well played story with fun characters and witty dialogue. This actually ranks as my favourite of the three films which came as a total surprise.

Smith was funny, Jones seemed to almost enjoy himself and Brolin was inspirational casting. Supporting turns from Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement and Michael Stuhlbarg are all excellent.

Verdict

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this anywhere near as much as I did. A great way to end the series after a mind-bogglingly awful second instalment.

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Snow White and the Huntsman

In a gruff Scottish voice, Chris Hemsworth narrates the opening tale of a kingdom torn apart by an evil queen. A once lush and plentiful land now lies ruined. Trapped in a tower of the queen’s castle, Snow White, the daughter of the slain king is kept. It comes to the attention of the queen that the only way she can live forever is to kill Snow White but the princess is also the only way that the queen can lose her powers. What a predicament!

I’m going to admit it straight away, I really enjoyed this film. All the characters worked, the way they re-engineered the classic fairy-tale plot worked for me and it is a fun, family-friendly, swords and sorcery film that reminds me of Willow.

Hemsworth as the Huntsman showed that he is a star in the making, Stewart performed the strong female lead well enough and Theron totally tore up the screen with her SHOUTING ANGRILY ABOUT EVERYTHING!

There has been some controversy around not casting real dwarves in the role of the famous 7 (or in this tale 8) but I think casting great British actors like Winstone, McShane and Hoskins was brilliant and turned what could have been cheesy and cringeworthy into an entertaining band of men.

Verdict

So much better than I had even hoped. A film that reminds me of Willow and all the better for it. One to adorn my DVD shelf in the years to come.

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