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A reduced crew this week as Craig is on manoeuvres in Europe, so being a man down we've responded in the most sensible way - by covering even more films than usual. Now please brace for the impact of our incoming opinion bombs on A Few Best Men, The Expendables 2, Total Recall, The Possession, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, The Bourne Legacy, A Simple Life, The Watch and The Flowers of War.
Four friends travel together to the wedding of one of the group, which is almost jeopardised by their drunken antics, inadvertently-crossed criminals and memory gaps. Sound familiar? On the surface, A Few Best Men may seem similar to The Hangover, but in the end bears far more relation to farcical shit-fest Death at a Funeral. You have been warned.
While The Expendables failed to deliver on its promise, The Expendables 2, despite a lower age rating, is more like the over-the-top action spectacular the first film should have been. A love letter of sorts to the '80s and '90s action movies in which (most of) the stars made their names, the silly action dials have been cranked to 11 and the claret flies with abandon. Daft, fun, recommended.
Despite the stars and director making several claims about 2012's Total Recall remake being a bold new vision and closer to the source material, this is so inaccurate that we're now seriously questioning whether we actually imagined these statements. No-one was looking forward to this film, and it turns out that this skepticism was fully-justified. With the bizarre exception of Mars being substituted with Australia, this is so close to being the same film as Paul Verhoeven's 1990 classic as makes no odds, just much worse in every conceivable way. Unnecessary, unenjoyable, unrecommendable.
The Possession tells the tale of a young girl possessed by the evil spirit inside a jewellery box she has bought at a yard sale, and her father's attempts to rescue her as she becomes subsumed by the maleficent trinket receptacle. Effectively mixing some creepy and unsettling imagery with a family drama, this a rare beast indeed: a well-done, enjoyable horror film (though since it's still not scary at least one of us wonders what the point is).
A feature based on the Adult Swim sketch show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie follows the titular duo as they try to earn a billion dollars to repay the sum they squandered on makeovers, shopping and diamond suits when attempting to produce a film, an endeavour which resulted in only 3 minutes of usable footage. Weird and scatological as it may be, these are not necessarily impediments to enjoyment. Being painfully unfunny and quite staggeringly self-indulgent most certainly are, however. Very much one to avoid.
In The Bourne Legacy we discover that several similar, but competing, super-soldier programmes like the Treadstone initiative that created Jason Bourne are being run by the CIA. It is determined that these programmes should be shut down and the assets terminated, but one agent, Aaron Cross, escapes the cull and he sets about hunting down those responsible for his attempted execution. Lacking the narrative drive of Matt Damon's trilogy, The Bourne Legacy is reduced to a 90-minute chase sequence. Technically competent, and not a bad film, there's just no particular reason to care about this.
Social and relationship drama A Simple Life comes to us from Hong Kong already festooned with awards for acting, directing and writing, all handsomely deserved. The story of the long-serving maid to several generations of a Hong Kong family and the changes in her life as a result of a stroke and the subsequent move into a nursing home, the film looks at class boundaries in Chinese society and how the modern, capitalist China treats its elderly. Beautifully acted, this lovely, sedately-paced tale is a gem, and we would urge you to seek it out.
Directed by The Lonely Island's Akiva Schaffer, and starring more-hit-than-miss Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan, as well as The IT Crowd's excellent Richard Ayoade, there would certainly seem to be enough of interest in The Watch to make this story of a neighbourhood watch group tackling an alien invasion a candidate for viewing. Lacking in sufficient laughs, even the elevation of the material by its cast isn't enough to stop it being, at best, not a complete waste of your time. Damned by faint praise.
Set during the infamous Rape of Nanjing in December 1937, The Flowers of War follows westerner Christian Bale, trapped as the Japanese army sack the city, who must overcome his selfishness and other less edifying character traits in order to protect the Chinese children he has inadvertently become guardian of. While clearly a propaganda piece, cliché-ridden, over-simplistic and unnecessarily stylistic in places, this is still worth viewing, even if just for interest in a period of history not served by western cinema.
And finally we're at the end of this episode. We'd apologise for the crashingly-awful segues contained herein if we weren't secretly amused by them. As always you can email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow us on Twitter @theoneliner. We'll be back in a little over a week with more filmic veracity for your entertainment and instruction.