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Shutter Island Review

Shutter Island has been given some lousy reviews by people who are clearly idiots. It’s a superb movie and only a misguided sense of self-importance will interfere with your enjoyment.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island’s premise sees US Marshall Leonardo DiCaprio investigating the mysterious disappearance of a dangerous patient from the eponymous prison for psychos. We soon discover DiCaprio is a man struggling with his own demons and that there’s far more to the island than the question of a missing woman…

Most people agree the film seeps style like sweat from my over-toasty testicles. Some of the shots are absurdly stunning and a damning reminder that your own hideously composed and unspectacularly lit life is attractive to nobody. The cast are excellent, albeit in that “acting like I’m acting in a movie” way. This is carried off well, however, and I thought it provided a sense of timelessness. I think the popularity of this film will only increase over the years.

The main beef people seem to have with the movie is the so-called “twist” ending. This is bullshit. It’s all M. Night Shyamalanayan’s fucking fault. He popularised the idea that a “twist” means plopping in some nonsense ending which has barely any impact on the rest of the movie (Sixth Sense being the one exception, but for other reasons I’ll explain in a bit). Let’s have a look…

Unbreakable. Samuel L. Jackson is the bad guy and has the exact opposite powers of Bruce Willis. That’s stupid. Since when do super-villains mirror the abilities of their heroic counterparts? How unthreatening is a baddie that is chronically weak? Jackson’s frailty is a result of a medical condition. Unbreakable Man is given no such explanation for his abilities. The two could be completely unrelated. Twist? Fuck off.

The Village. Stuff happens. It turns out they’re in the present day. The film ends. Did the fact that they were living in the now affect anything that happened before we found out? I can’t remember, so I’d guess probably not. Still, you didn’t see it coming, did you? Does that make it good? No.

The thing with the end of the world, or something. Bees? I dunno, haven’t seen it. I’ve only heard it’s shit.

Signs. Fuck me. Worst film ever. The aliens couldn’t hack water? What a twist! Literally had no idea you’d pull that out your ass, Mr. Shyamalanananynan.

Lady in the Water. Can’t even remember what happened. The twist was that everyone in the apartment block could be crowbarred into being characters in a story, right? Ah, who cares.

These are “twists”. They are also all cheats. The idea is that if you sit through an hour or so of unbearably lame film-making you’ll be rewarded with something that makes you go, “oh”. It’s cheating because the “twist” could be anything. There were no clues; the reveal doesn’t force you to reassess what you’ve already seen; it doesn’t challenge any preconceptions you may have had.

Take Sixth Sense. An excellent example of a game-changing reveal. OMG, Bruce Willis is a ghost! Brilliant. Didn’t see that coming. Though, on a second viewing, you realise that it’s obvious, particularly astute people could have figured it out and, in fact, what you’re watching only really makes sense knowing this. You never see Bruce interact with anybody other than the kid! That’s genius. You would’ve thought you’d notice that and, watch it again, it’s almost painfully obvious. That’s why it’s such a kicker.

It doesn’t so much as “twist” the plot as to explain it.

Yeah, I guess that’s the distinction. A twist screws with your mind, while an effective reveal unscrews it.

This is why Shutter Island should not be dismissed for having a “twist” that didn’t make you shit your pants. Most people I know who’ve watched it say they were disappointed because the reveal was obvious. I suspect they did not guess quite as much as they think, but I’m sure they had an inkling. I also say I kind of had it guessed (though, as I’m sure most people do, I use the scattergun approach to solving the riddles in this type of film – when watching whodunnits I annoy the hell out of my girlfriend by claiming most characters as the murderer and then saying “told you so” at the end). This isn’t a bad thing though. You can figure it out because the makers of the film are not trying to trick you or cheat you.

Here’s why Shutter Island had a more satisfying reveal than Sixth Sense: logical consistency. Because Shutter Island isn’t deliberately setting out to confuse you, the clues to what’s going on are barely clues at all. All the lines of dialogue, the way every character behaves, everything you see is in keeping with the rigid structure of the premise. Admittedly, it’s an elaborate premise, which makes the consistency of the logic and the characters all the more important. Shutter Island pulls this off brilliantly, never once lying to you in an attempt to make a punchier ending.

Sixth Sense on the other hand, and despite my previous praise, is a wee bit tricksy in this respect. It’s all forgivable of course, but marks Shutter Island as a more intelligent piece of work. The most notable example of Sixth Sense’s failing is Bruce Willis’ relationship with his wife. We see him go home, try to get into his study, turn up late to a meal… but we never see what he does when he’s not on camera. Does he not exist when he isn’t on camera? If so, why does he exist during these scenes if not solely for the benefit of the audience and the big reveal at the end? If he does carry on his life as normal when the camera’s not following him, then he surely would’ve tried talking to somebody while walking the streets and been confused while they ignored him. Does he drive from A to B? Is he in a ghost car that people don’t try and drive through? And why is he even helping the kid? Was he sent by God? If so, why didn’t God tell him he was a ghost and explain to him exactly how to help the kid before he sent him?

Lots of questions. Shutter Island is not as crass as that. It doesn’t chuck you any red herrings or cheeky “look how clever we are” scenes. If you think through everything that happens in Shutter Island logically, the only plausible conclusion is the one we’re given. I don’t really see how people could be disappointed by this. Unless they’re stupid.

My biggest gripe with Shutter Island would probably be the way it was marketed. I don’t think I’m the only one who started watching it after being led to believe it was a horror. I’m sure that’s how it was advertised on TV. It’s not a horror. Not even close. It’s an intelligent pulp thriller with a nostalgic vibe and, at times, a chilling atmosphere. It’s a gripping whodunnit (or whodunwhat) packed full of emotion and character.

I’m too fussy to give anything a proper rating, but on my CrunkScale I give it a 1st: “there’s nothing I would want to change about this movie”.

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Piranha 3D: the closest you’ll get to sticking your face between Kelly Brook’s boobs in real life [movie review]

****This review contains spoilers****

Piranha 3D is a rare movie experience. It’s a stupid movie made for stupid people, but at only 1hr 30mins long I was surprised to find it end long before I expected or really wanted it to. Its main redeeming feature is that stuff happens at such a relentless pace you aren’t given time to get bored or question things too much. Strangely, the only scene that seemed to drag is a 4-5 minute butt-naked swimming scene with Kelly Brook and pornstar Riley Steele.

It’s formulaic, but you’re constantly kept guessing as to which particular formula it’s playing around with at the time. The problem with formulaic movies is that they’re predictable. Whether by design or accident, Piranha 3D sidesteps this pitfall by energetically jumping from cliche to cliche. It picks something up and then seems to drop it later down the line, then leads you somewhere else only to return later to that thing you’ve already half-forgotten.

It’s like some hot girl seducing you into walking down a back alley where she mugs you, only to return half your money later that evening and flash her tits at you. On the whole, you wouldn’t say it was the greatest experience, but it was certainly interesting and you’re not too worse off at the end of it.

This doesn’t sound great but it seems to work for Piranha 3D, mainly because of the refreshingly short runtime. Though the shocking ending does help almost magically alleviate many of the faults in the plot by simply not attempting to resolve anything.

The Harry Potter movies could learn a lot from Piranha 3D. If you’re watching the Potter movies for the story, you should really learn how to read. Targeted at kids, the makers of the Harry Potter movies would probably be better off if they forgot most of the plot and simply tried to cram only the most entertaining bits from each book into one and a half hour instalments. I don’t think many kids would mind if they skipped the tedious exploration of Professor Lupin’s angsty existence and just had a fucking scary werewolf kicking ass. They could also end at the most exciting part of the beginning of the next book, thus avoiding the lame endings; wrapping everything up is pointless when you know the same shit will just kick off next time around.

What’s good about it:

The very best thing about Piranha 3D is that you go to the cinema thinking it’s a cheesy horror about killer prehistoric fish with a cameo from Kelly Brook’s chest, only to discover it’s actually just a movie about boobs.

I love Jerry O’Connell and his disastrous career choices. While the transition to three dimensions was restricted to the fish and not the characters (hohoho), O’Connell’s performance as a sleazy porn director was, at least, energetic. His character seemed to be the only one who actually enjoyed life.

The gore is pretty ace.

The cheeky opener starring Richard Dreyfuss mumbling along to “show me the way to go home”.

Riley Steele motorboats Kelly Brook. Brbrbrbrbrbr.

What’s bad about it:

Absolutely pointless 3D effects. Possibly the stupidest thing about this movie occurred within the first 30 seconds and summed up all that’s wrong with most 3D movies. The FX guys clearly forgot how perspective works and attempted to apply a ropey 3D style to the distant mountains. The cardboard backdrops in Wizard of Oz were more convincing. As my eyes struggled to adapt to this abnormal way of viewing a landscape any hope for an immersive experience was instantly shattered.

I was having a piss when they explained the origin of the killer piranhas. But, from the movie poster, I gather 200 million years of evolution created the perfect killing machine? I’m no expert in evolution, but wouldn’t the result of spending 200 million years in the chilly depths of a sealed cave with no source of food be more likely to produce virtually blind, slow-moving, physically retarded, albino fish with an aversion to light? I suppose this is nitpicking, but I honestly believe the film wouldn’t have suffered if Christopher Lloyd had said “I have no fucking idea how these things exist! It doesn’t make sense!”. I don’t understand why screenwriters think these dubious, pseudo-scientific justifications for fantastic creatures need to be included. At best these explanations are merely confusing and at worst they are so clearly ridiculous they shatter any suspension of disbelief you were desperately clinging to.

Most of what happens is stupid and doesn’t make much sense. Like I said, this isn’t a huge problem because some nice boobs are never too far away to distract you. But if you don’t like boobs or get hung up on this type of thing you will find a lot of the plot and character work intolerable. Here’s a few examples:

The main protagonist fits the mold of a typically down-on-his-luck everyman, guiding us through extraordinary circumstances until he saves the day and gets the girl. However, he spends most of the time outside the main scope of events being really boring.

Two kids (two of only a handful of characters whom I genuinely cared about whether they lived or died) are stranded on a small island surrounded by water filled with flesh-eating super-piranha. We are teased with their peril when the girl cuts her foot in the water and, unwittingly, narrowly avoids being nipped by one of the fishes. We kind of forget about them, however, until later when our protagonist spots them on the island and has the boat move closer for a potentially dramatic rescue. Worryingly, it’s a big boat in shallow water and the kids must go waist-deep into the water to reach it. The audience grows tense as the adorable innocents enter the water… and then casually board the boat without anything happening. They spend the rest of the movie comfortably avoiding any real danger.

The main guy’s love interest starts the movie with an arsehole for a boyfriend. This always annoys me as it instantly establishes her as a dickhead and makes you assume the main guy must also be dickhead for loving her. She further cements this opinion when she ditches the arsehole boyfriend because he lied about having backstage passes (note: she was happy to stay with the arsehole boyfriend when he and his best mate were acting like cunts towards our protagonist). There is not a single scene in this movie in which she isn’t being a dick.

Love interest is trapped in the cabin of the rapidly sinking yacht fending off piranha with a frying pan while the protagonist desperately tries to rescue her through a skylight which is, despairingly, too narrow and out of her reach. Our hero does the only thing he can do: call his mum. The movie then completely changes pace, another couple of challenges are thrown in to distract us from the main event and, minutes later, the mum arrives to rescue our hero. After a few more minutes of pointless dialogue, you find yourself wondering if the love interest has already been eaten in a deleted scene. Eventually, our hero finds the right time to mention her plight.

Ving Rhames, phoning in a “too old for this shit” cop, sacrifices himself for no good reason using an outboard motor to ineffectually chop up seemingly suicidal fishes. As he gets torn apart by a swarm of ravenous piranha the film cuts to a shot of another cop looking absolutely distraught. Who is this distraught cop? Have we seen him previously in the movie? Were they lovers? You know a director’s struggling when they need to use another actor to show the audience what emotion they should be experiencing.

The cops, led by the sheriff, hero’s mum (Elisabeth Shue), and her deputy (Ving Rhames) are utterly useless when the piranha attack. Scores of college kids on spring break are gruesomely killed because of their incompetence. Their advance knowledge of the threat saves no-one. They may as well have not even been there.

The yacht carrying our hero, the love interest, Jerry O’Connell, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele and the kids has its propellor caught in some sea weed (or something). A coked-up O’Connell freaks out, aggressively gunning the engine in an attempt to free them. This would be the perfect moment for our hero to develop as a character and assert himself by challenging the bullying O’Connell over control of the ship. Instead, he hovers around the periphery, whining that carrying on like that will break the engine. O’Connell carries on like that and the engine doesn’t break.

The hero saves the girl using the dead body of O’Connell to distract the piranha and swim into the sunken cabin. We know this wouldn’t work. During the attack on the college kids, the piranha were munching on anything and everything in the water. There was never any suggestion that the pack concentrates on one feast at a time. Even if there was, the hero would not have witnessed it. Nor does he know how many piranha are under the boat. The plan is the equivalent of pouring a bucket of chum into a mass of sharks during a feeding frenzy, moments before jumping in for a swim.

Kelly Brook’s character has a weird Gandalf-ish quality. I didn’t get it.

What I would do differently:

Here’s the thing: there’s very little I would change about this movie. Even fixing some of the issues I’ve described above would add too much complexity and detract from the film’s entertainment value. However, as I’ve already said, I wouldn’t give an explanation for the piranha’s existence. I would definitely recast the love interest and give her more of a personality (as unfashionable as that may in Hollywood). I’d also want to see more of Carlos from Desperate Housewives and Dizzy from Starship Troopers. Despite only a fleeting appearance, they had good chemistry together and brought the total number of characters who I gave even the slightest hint of a shit about up to a grand total of 5.

Recommendation:

If you ever watched MTV’s spring break show and found yourself hoping the sexy college girl with nice rack would get her face torn off by a motorboat propellor, this movie is for you. For everyone else, I recommend Mr Holland’s Opus, possibly the best Richard Dreyfuss film ever (better than Jaws? Perhaps…). It’s great.

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Jennifer’s Body review – Amanda Seyfried rules, Megan Fox drools (blood, that is)

Dead Fox by JT-Pixel

Image credit: Dead Fox by JT-Pixel

Before we begin, let me get this out of the way:

Megan Fox is hot. Truly hot. Astoundingly hot. If you thought she looked good in Transformers and, um, Transformers 2, you haven’t seen anything yet. I was genuinely agog during some of her best moments. And there isn’t much time wasted between those moments. This film is stuffed full of scenes designed solely to show some oogleable aspect of – well, the title kinda gives it away. Let me not stress this enough: Megan Fox is fit.

Good. I’ve said it. Now, I can get on with the movie review.

Continue reading

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Jumper – Reviewed like a bitch

Jumper

Jumper appears to be a story about a secret war between a group of people who have the ability to teleport and a sect of religious fanatics who hunt them. In fact, this movie is just the five-minute introductory narrative of the sequel, stretched over a mind-numbingly uneventful two hours. Put your mind to the opening of Star Wars, where the back story of the movie rolls away dramatically into the distance. Now, imagine fleshing out the back story of Star Wars into a fully-fledged movie (or three) and deciding to stick Hayden Christensen in the lead role – yep. It’s that bad.

That’s not to say that Jumper is worse than The Phantom Menace – it’s just as soulless and devoid of charm as Christensen himself. This coupled with the fact that the movie was clearly never intended to be anything more than the first part of a trilogy, makes this about as memorable as the second girl you fingered at a party. To be honest, I saw the movie almost a week ago and can only remember the parts that featured in the trailer in any detail. To save the effort of going to the cinema, you may as well watch the trailer and then try wanking off a paraplegic for the next hour and fifty-five minutes to experience both the mildly entertaining bits and the sensation of utter pointlessness you get from sitting through it.

The moment with the bus was easily the high point…of the trailer. In the actual film, that set piece was glossed over with the kind of misplaced confidence displayed by Lindsey Lohan getting her tits out and dressing up like Marilyn Monroe. Speaking of dumb bitches, Summer from the O.C. won the Crunkfish award for least-productive on-screen cum-receptacle of the year, which is either because she’s a terrible actress or the director must have lost his notes that alluded to her character’s personality.

Other reviewers might say something about Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Bell working hard to bring life to the stale cast – but fuck them. Those two were paid to be in that pile of crap while I was stiffed six quid to watch it. They should either pay me my money back or promise never to appear in a shit movie again – and that goes doubly for you, Jackson.

In conclusion, watching Jumper is preferable to giving a rimjob to an incontinent baboon while riding an aids-sufferer across the Sahara desert in your mum’s wedding dress. But so is watching Terminator 2 for the millionth time – so do that instead.

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