July 03, 2006 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight 2006: June

Some gems this month, some crud.

First off is X-Men 3. If you’ve seen the first two, you know exactly what to expect: brainless over the top action, terrible dialogue, and a plot which is poor enough before the fan boys scream at it for being entirely off-canon. The show can be pretty and there are some good moments (exemplified by the under utilised Kitty Pryde) but it is, for the most part, forgettable.

Remakes are hard to do, and classic disaster movies like the Poseidon Adventure are no different. Renamed to simply Poseidon, we get the same premise: a luxury cruise liner is sinking and a small band of survivors want to escape. Despite the plot, this is a film that manages to create some genuine drama and suspense with masterful shifts of water and fate. If you can place the character development as secondary to the spectacle of the journey through an upturned ship, then there is plenty here to enjoy.

From Hong Kong comes a Triad flick, Election. Following the fate of two potential leaders of the triad at the upcoming traditional elections, we see a power struggle fought out politically at first, but quickly turning to violence. An interesting take against the good and bad dichotomy (even the “good” side are bad), the film still does not surpass the sum of its admittedly competent parts.

Thank You For Smoking is a fine comedy about a smooth-talking, tobacco industry lobbyist who tries to balance his job with raising his son well. It’s a surprisingly well cast film, even Rob Lowe comes off well, full of the sort of lines that you will be quoting for months to come if you are the sort of person who does such things. Definitely one to see.

Spanish film El Lobo is based on the story of the mole sent to infiltrate ETA in order to collapse the Basque leadership and stop violent action against the Spanish state. We follow the main character from his family life through to militant spy. While some of the progression is patchy at best, the story is decent enough. If you view it more as a dramatised and possibly skewed documentary, then you won’t go far wrong.

On the other hand, if you watch Ultraviolet you will go far wrong. Let me start by saying it’s a candidate for worst film of the year, it’s that bad. The ineptitude of this film permeates through every fibre of its being: the lousy acting, the drunken plot (the term is used loosely), the abysmal lighting, CGI, physical world; everything is wrong. And not just wrong: inconsistent. The only way a film could be this poorly conceived is out of sheer malice.

Finally, Fearless is the final martial arts film starring Jet Li, before he takes more serious roles (how long will it last? Not long). The plot is pretty standard (brash young kung fu kid makes horrible mistake, takes up a simpler life, then returns as a wisened master) but, as always, it’s the choreography that makes the film. The fights are the nuanced masterworks of motion that we’ve come to expect, and with minimal wirework encroaching into the sense of solidity. Though it won’t change the world, Fearless is a solid kung-fu film.

The winner for June is: Thank You For Smoking.