Episode 60 : Rambo, What Are You Doing?

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Added on Sat, 17 Apr 2010 06:47:56 -0700.
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Some jaunts away from homebase, by which I mean my flat, not the chain of home improvement stores, resulted in a slight delay for this podcast. Terribly sorry, but as a result we've got a good ol' whack of films to riff on. This time round the crew deal with The Blind Side, The Bounty Hunter, Kick-Ass, Clash of the Titans and How To Train Your Dragon. Boffo!

The Blind Side sees rich white woman Sandra Bullock helping out poor black kid Quinton Aaron, although it's thankfully nothing like as condescending as that reductionist treatment would imply. Most of the film deals with Aaron's road to American football glory and mixes the generic sporting underdog story with a metric tonne of saccharine to produce something that's certainly not the best drama we've seen, but is quite heartwarming and solidly entertaining. A good, if perhaps bafflingly Oscar winning turn from Bullock and the rest of the cast make this a perfectly acceptable film, although not one you should consider selling your granny to see.

Andy Tennant returns to hurt us all with The Bounty Hunter, a dreadful nominal rom-com that rivals his prior "opus" Sweet Home Alabama as the worst thing done to innocent celluloid to ever have happened. Duelling divorcees Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler find themselves thrown back together during a poorly tacked on journalistic investigation when Aniston jumps bail, resulting in Butler being employed to track her down. With an absence of chemistry between the leads, Butler's pony American accent attempt and no laughs to be had at all, there's really no reason to have this atrocity infringe on your eyeballs.

Managing the delicate trick of balancing respect for the comic book superhero genre at the same time as poking fun at it, Kick-Ass proves to be a tremendously enjoyable riot of a film. Aaron Johnson dons a green jumpsuit and decides to go crime-fighting, quickly getting in way over his head against Mark Strong's crime boss. Some aid comes in the psychotic father-daughter team of Nick Cage's Big Daddy and Chloe Moretz's Hit-Girl. Kick-Ass is on occasion gruesomely violent and how on earth it wound up 15 rated by the BBFC is beyond me, but it manages to balance the action with a tremendously funny script. Sure, the moral compasses of the characters are pretty skewed, but then, this isn't supposed to be taken as a documentary. Excellent stuff.

Joining the ever-increasing ranks of dreadful 3D movies is the entirely unnecessary remake of Clash of the Titans. Charisma kryptonite Sam Worthington takes the lead as Perseus, railing against the denizens of Mount Olympus including Liam Neeson's Zeus and Ralph Fiennes' Hades. The film itself is pretty poor quality to begin with, with forgettable acting and a plot that only very barely acts as a linking device for some disappointing action scenes that at least have the good grace to be frenetically edited enough to allow a decent flow to the piece. However, the decision to hastily and amateurishly retrofit this into 3D, as it was not initially filmed for such a thing, results in some laughable poor visuals that underscore how cynical studios are being with their new toy. Definitely avoidable, and especially avoidable in it's pony 3D incarnation.

Dreamwork's How To Train Your Dragon proves to be, perhaps surprisingly, an absolutely fantastic film that exceeds many of Pixar's offerings by being consistently entertaining with a likeable lead, a sharp script and fabulous character design. A village of Vikings seems intent on treating the local dragon population with their unique kill-or-be-killed attitude until Jay Baruchel's Hiccup finds out that the creatures are not as well understood as the rest of the village thinks. Great supporting vocals from Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler and the restrained, subtle moral messages make this a cut above the rest of the pack, and give me some hope that these studios might reach the dizzying highs of Studio Ghibli's heart and soul.

That is all for now. We'll be back sometime soon, so until then keep your nose clean and if you can't be good, be lucky.