It’s October, so clearly this Film Fight for June is very, very late. It is, however, quite full, with 6 films reviewed.
First up, A Million Ways To Die In The West is an absolutely terrible comedy. While it certainly does have some funny moments, most of which don’t rise above toilet humour, the film as a whole is almost as bad as Seth Macfarlane’s performance. He comes across as wooden when delivering anything that isn’t a gag. His knowing insights into the genre he’s pastiching get old quickly, and there’s little else going on. Boring, poorly paced, and badly acted. (See my A Million Ways To Die In The West Twitter review).
Edge of Tomorrow (or Live Die Repeat, or All You Need is Kill, depending on your context) is an excellent take on the time loop genre. An unwilling PR mans gets pressed into combat against an unstoppable alien force, being forced to live through his bad day thousands of time, as he slowly becomes a weapon. It does a remarkable job of compressing the wealth of information it has to convey into a clear shorthand; you’re rarely at a loss as to where he is in the cycle, even in the midst of the fast-paced action. Exciting and well made, an excellent watch. (See my Edge of Tomorrow Twitter review).
Fruitvale Station is the 2013 Sundance Grand Jury prize winning film, based on the true story of a man who was shot by police at the titular station. It is shot in a straightforward manner, following him around for the day leading up to the events; giving us a chance to see the struggles of the man before seeing his last struggle. The performances, like the camera work, are grounded leading to a horrible unease as the ending gets closer. Great film, well worth seeing. (See my Fruitvale Station Twitter review).
There have been many hours of media activity around the West Memphis 3, so it’s not surprising to see a dramatised version in the form of Devil’s Knot. It is, however, surprising to see an otherwise decent pair of leads (Reece Witherspoon and Colin Firth) turn in such poor performances. With the exception of Kevin Durand’s small role, where he absolutely nails it as John Mark Byers, there’s nothing worth seeing here. It’s poorly paced, with overwrought music, and a lack of care. If you want to know about this case, watch the Paradise Lost documentaries. Avoid this. (See my Devil’s Knot Twitter review).
When 21 Jump Street was announced, it seemed like a bizarre, completely unnecessary and likely very bad movie reboot of a once popular TV show, in the vein of Bewitched. It turned out to be one of the funniest dumb comedies out of the US in a good while. 22 Jump Street then is that most unnecessary of things: a sequel to an unnecessary success. Thankfully, it turns out to also be pretty good. While it never hits the highs of its predecessor, it does turn in some great scenes. It is highly derivative but knowingly so, without being a simple cash-grab. Worth seeing. (See my 22 Jump Street Twitter review).
Finally, Cold in July is… well, barely memorable. I am writing this significantly further on from seeing the film that I would like, but nothing much really stands out. The film is something of a throwback to the 80s revenge thrillers that have seen a small resurgence of late. It’s quite bloody in places and with relatively good performances, but the over-the-top lighting and bad pacing put this into B-movie territory. Decent. (See my Cold in July Twitter review)
The winner this month is a tough choice. As an example of the action genre, Edge of Tomorrow is very strong, but I think it’s edged out by the slightly more worthy Fruitvale Station. (As an aside, Fruitvale Station is currently on Netflix if you happen to be in Canada).