In which I review a butt load of movies, to spare you the effort of seeing them only to realise you had wasted your time.

A Guiding Hand in Hollywood

2423 words about review — 16:30 · 24th Nov 2012

Unsure which movies to watch? Fear not for you are in — moderately — safe hands. Lean back, relax and make yourself uncomfortable as I venture out into the wild to find you the movies worth your time. And the ones you should avoid like the plague. You know how to avoid something like the plague, don’t you? No? Jeez, do I have to do everything in this relationship? Oh well, after this… you will know.

Wait, that last bit sounded a bit more ominous than I had intended. Oh well. Also, before you continue after the jump, I suggest you go make yourself a sandwich and maybe empty your bowel. You’re going to be here a while.

Autumn is still very much here. Or at least I think so, to be honest it’s a bit difficult to tell since the grass is still very green, the leaves have fallen but it’s like +10 °C which is… well… kind of warm in my mind. It rains occasionally, but not enough to warrant the “it’s always rainy and smoggy” reputation that England has.

So, films… movies… “that newfangled invention called mo-tion pictures. Bah humbug, it will never last. Why I can still remember the good old days when you had to imagine something moving.” Call it what you will, I haven’t really decided if I’m a “films” kind of guy or a “movie” kind of guy. Though I suppose I could argue that I’m both. Not in the interchanging them sort of way, but more because to me “films” represent motion pictures that are more thought-provocative whereas “movies” are purely for entertainment purpose. At least that’s what I go with most of them. Feel free to disagree and cease following me on twitter

Please don’t stop following me on twitter. I’m so lonely there. (Is that still funny even though it’s kind of true?)

Now, all of these movies are movies I have seen — obvious I know, but worth pointing out anyway — recently. When I say recently I mean in the past month, give or take a few days but I am unlikely to remember the plot in great detail. Mostly because, well… I may or may not have been paying close attention. There might be spoilers, so consider yourself warned… now. But at the same time, let’s face it. We can all figure out how Men in Black III ends.

Note: All the plot outlines written here are based on — badly remembered — memory and shouldn’t be taken super-seriously.

Bradley Pierce as Peter and Robin Williams as Alan sharing a tender moment as Peter has been transformed into a monkey and his new-found tail is itching.
Lice you say?


First up, Jumanji. Yeah, that Jumanji. The one from 1995 starring Robin Williams and some children we never see again, expect for Kirsten Dunst who goes on to have a wonderful acting career and then later stars in Melancholia which I’ve heard — my wife told me — is poop. Jumanji on the other hand is quite delightful, even by today’s fast-paced standard (Yeah, I’m still angry that they felt the need to make the new trailer for Jurassic Park more “wub wub”).

The story is basically this; Alan finds ancient board game. Plays it with ugly girl, doesn’t get to second base but is instead sucked into said board game. Bummer, I know. Spends x amount of year in game until other kids find it, play it and get him — accidentally — out of it. Wild animals wreak havoc in small town. Alan, ugly girl who is now old (but surprisingly more attractive) and the two new kids have to play the game until the very end to make all the crazy stuff/animals go back into the board game. Once Alan reaches the end he gets to scream “Jumanji”! Hence the title of the movie. And well… there you have it. I’m sure there’s some sort of lesson to be learned here but I can’t figure out what it is. “Don’t play strange board games” maybe? We watched this because the missus had never seen it before and I remembered it fondly from when I was younger.

Yes, you should watch this. Again, if you have to. The special effects are “Hahaha, are you kidding me?!” compared to movies such as Avatar. But unlike Avatar, the story isn’t complete crap.

Marty the zebra, voiced by Chris Rock, singing afro circus afro circus whilst in full clown costume.
Afro, Circus, Afro

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Next, we have Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. When we last saw Marty — that’s him in the picture there —and those other animals they were stuck in… Africa I think, after having escaped life at the Zoo. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much after the second movie which was a heart-warming story about the relationship between a boy lion and his father lion or some crap like that. But to my surprise I actually liked M3EMW — aren’t abbreviations fun? — a lot more than I thought I would. Sure the story…

Marty and the gang are out on a crazy adventure again. Whilst trying to get home they become, you guessed it “Europe’s Most Wanted”, so to evade the “authorities” they join a circus. Said circus is but a faded memory of its former self but after some deux ex machina moment with the annoying lion and a seal, Marty and the gang try to restore the circus by making it an all animal circus. Like there was any people there anyway. Hilarity ensues and hi-jinx of various kinds occurs. Also there’s a crazy French woman who looks like she been modelled after Helena Bonham-Carter but probably isn’t, chasing Marty et Co across Europe. In the end they learn that the like their freedom more than the thing they thought they liked. Or something like that. Also there this scene, which is hilarious and if you think otherwise you’re dead to me.

If you liked the earlier scene, watch the whole movie. Sacha Baron Cohen reprises his voice acting role as King Julien XIII, which also stands out as pretty awesome.

The discheveled dining room, covered in cob webs and dust.
Creepy right?

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens wrote a lot of stuff whilst he was alive. Less, once he was dead I presume but I suppose I could be wrong. Great Expectations is one of those things he wrote — I’m assuming again — whilst he was alive.

Lately, the missus has been very intrigued by Charles Dickens and his works, so this was her choice more than mine — made even more obvious by the fact that I’ve only ever heard “A Christmas Carol” — but nonetheless I must confess that… considering I didn’t have great expectations for this three-part BBC television drama from 2011, Great Expectations was well worth my time. See what I did there? Yeah, that’s how clever I am.

Poor boy gets money from stranger to become a well educated young man. He thinks the money comes from crazy lady living in mansion, in this adaptation played by Gillian Anderson who — you know? That chick from “The X-Files” and “Crimson Petal and The White” — plays her role incredible so. Ho-lee shit she does an amazing role. Also there’s some girl there who gets brainwashed by crazy lady into resenting men. Boy finds out money has actually been coming from convict he had shown kindness towards in the beginning. Convict wants revenge on ex-partner, stuff happens, some people are in boat and one guy gets stabbed. Gillian Anderson is being super-creepy — but in a totally awesome way — again and boy finds out some stuff. Boy gets the brainwashed girl, who is now a little less brainwashed (I hope) and then live happily ever after (I think). Moral of the story? I have no idea. “Take money from strangers but pretend you don’t like it”?

Good? Yes, if perhaps a bit dragged out at times but then again I suppose I’m one of those dreaded modern day audiences’ with a shorter attention span.

Robert Pattinson as Eric, sitting in his state-of-the-art luxury stretch limousine office.
Too dreary


Oh, David Cronenberg you rascal. I actually quite like Mr. Cronenberg and most of his movies that I’ve seen such as Scanners, The Fly, eXistenZ and more recently A Dangerous Method. But this one is… well… kaka?

Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson — Mr. Sparkly McBroody from the Twilight -movies — who here talks like a smarty pants and then maybe gets shot. My deepest admirations towards Shiny McGlitterboy though as it’s pretty obvious that he’s trying to do a Robbie Williams — the singer, not the actor — by breaking away from the type-cast he easily could have stayed in, post-Twilight. For those of you who don’t know what Take That was — yes, Robbie Williams again — then I can tell you that Justin Timberlake did it too, when he broke away from ‘N Sync. Now, whilst both Robbie and Justin has proven sufficiently that they can stand on their own, I suspect that some might not feel the same way about Bobby… Paté -erson… Yeah, I don’t know where I went with that last one.

Point is, Mr. Pattinson I see what you’re doing, keep at it, you’re actually doing a pretty kickass job so far and showing us that you have more depth than what you portrayed in the awful Twiligh -movies. Colour me impressed so far.

Unlike you co-star Stewart (in Twilight, not Cosmopolis) who apparently has the emotional range of Keanu Reeves and couldn’t act even if everyone’s life depended on it.

Having watched Kristen Stewart doing interviews and other films since I originally wrote this I have come to realise that, actually, I was wrong. Completely ignorant and unequivocally misogynistic in my assumptions about Kristen Stewart. I’m sorry. Kristen Stewart is also a phenomenal actor.

The plot of Cosmopolis is loosly this; Guy drives around in limo and talks like a douche bag. Meets other people who also talk like douche bags. He maybe — it fades to black — gets shot. The end. I get it, but still. It’s “Meh!” at best. Don’t watch this movie. Stab yourself in the eyes and ears if you have to.

Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, pulling back her bow and arrow to fire an arrow.
Kudos to Pixar


After that awful experience I — the collective We — need a little something to make the pain go away… so Pixar to the rescue. No, wait… I mean Disney & Pixar to the rescue.

What can I say. Aside for “Holy crap this post is getting long”. I have a soft and cuddle spot reserved not just for Pixar but for animated movies in general. It’s probably the child/man-boy in me because I really, really like animated movies. Now, Pixar has never especially let me down, heck I even liked Cars 2 despite still thinking that Owen Wilson wasn’t the best casting choice for McQueen. Disney on the other hand has let me down plenty of times, an era I like to call 1995-ish to 2009. Mind you, there has been some gems in there, like The Emperor’s New Groove but most things were sub-par.

Pixar’s latest, called simply Brave teaches a young girl that you shouldn’t turn your mother into a bear. And a mother that your daughters freedom to choose her suitor is more important than years of tradition. And I liked it very much. I felt the world it built was stronger and more interesting than the story it was trying to tell within that world but for being their first movie with a rewritten animation system, I am curios to see what they will come up with in about three years when they have gotten more used to their system. Watch it, but it’s not their best work. Their best work so far — at least in my opinion — is WALL-E.

Josh Brolin as young Agent K, Tommy Lee Jones as present day Agent K and Will Smith as Agent J.
It’s poop, okay?

Men In Black III

Finally. We have reached the end of this incredible long journey. Now, some people like to end things on a high note. I do too, but decided against it anyway.

Men In Black III why do you exist? You’re exactly the same movie as the first one, only with Josh Brolin being frumpy instead of Tommy Lee Jones and quite frankly, I preferred Tommy being frumpy. He’s old enough for it to make sense, you’re… how do I put this? Not as old.

Will Smith has to travel back in time to save Joshtommy (pronouced “Joshtomy” with a short “i” at the end, like “colonoscopy”) from evil — are they ever not evil? — dude who shoots some sort of spike insects out of his hands. Played by one half of comedy duo Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement. This movie… it’s poop, okay? Everything relevant to the plot seems made up for that moment and then conveniently ignored like it never existed in the first place. Much like Joshtommy if Big Willie can’t save him. Bazinga!

Save yourself the time and effort. Go rent the first Men In Black movie and watch that instead, it’s exactly the same but slightly better because in that one Big Willie gets to be a clueless rookie for good reasons, unlike the Turd (3rd) where it no longer makes any sense. Surely he should be a senior secret agent by now?

Oh right. One last thing. I promised you would know how to avoid bad movies like the plague. Please find, included in this post a link to a “How To” -guide for avoiding the literal plague. I hope you’ll find the advise in that guide useful when applying the logic to avoiding bad movies. With advise such as “Do not under any circumstances board a ship” I’m sure you’ll do fine.

You’ve just read A Guiding Hand in Hollywood.

In which, 11 years ago, I wrote 2423 words about review and I covered topics, such as: brave , cosmopolis , jumanji , madagascar 3: europe's most wanted , men in black iii , great expectations , and movies .