Five movies for May…
First up is Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: the ending for the Phase One of Marvel’s relaunched movies, bringing together the Iron Man series, Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor. Was it worth the wait and hype? In short, yes. It’s a hell of a pay-off we get from this Whedon directed entry in the series. It manages to balance character growth while servicing a massive cast, constantly pushing forward the world-threatening plot, getting a few decent laughs in, and, most importantly, a visual treat of an action film. If you’re pre-disposed to hate action films, then all I can say is that this is the blockbuster done right. Yes, it’s over-the-top action, but it doesn’t sacrifice everything else a film should be to service more explosions. An extremely strong final chapter in this series, that makes me look forward to phase two. (See my The Avengers Twitter review).
Meanwhile, American Pie: The Reunion does not fair so well. Revisiting a long gone franchise (well, long gone if we ignore the embarrassing straight-to-DVD sequels, and we do ignore those) is a difficult thing to do, but perhaps worthwhile if we can get a new perspective on the characters. The writers try to show us how these teenagers have grown into adults, a decade on, and the effect that’s had on the shenanigans in their lives. It doesn’t do so well. It spends a great deal of time retreading old ground, and trying to service every major character in the franchise and, frankly, it does a bad job of it. The handful of genuinely funny (new) bits were all in the trailer, leaving the film with a few chuckles. It’s not awful, but it is completely unnecessary. Only for die-hard Pie fans. (See my American Pie: Reunion Twitter review).
Jeff, Who Lives At Home sees two very different brothers (and their mother) spending a day learning to throw away their hang-ups, and live in the best way they can. It’s a little schmaltzy at times, and is certainly flimsy, but it’s a pleasant enough way to pass an hour or two. (See my Jeff, Who Lives At Home Twitter review).
Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator tries to take the styling of his earlier work (where he’d play a terrible character and let real people play against it) and apply it to a more traditional film. The results are extremely uneven. It works best, surprisingly, when it is going a little bit too far and is being mean-spirited, because it’s done with such childish malevolence. When it tries to settle down into plot and character building, it’s very badly done. Cohen can act, as evidenced in Hugo or even Sweeney Todd, so to see so many lines delivered limply here is disappointing. There are moments of comic genius here, but it’s largely disjointed and poorly made. (See my The Dictator Twitter review).
Finally, The Raid is an extremely stylised and thoroughly enjoyable Indonesian action film. It strips away the plot to the bare minimum, and focusses on it’s hellish premise: a SWAT team that has been decimated and caught in gang territory, trying desperately to escape the tenement slums. Some of the action sequences are absolutely stunning, and the fight choreography is worth the admission alone. I’d liked to have seen a few longer takes, to really show off, but that’s nitpicking. An extremely good take on the action movie. (See my The Raid Twitter review).
The winner, then, is Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. If you’d asked me a few months ago if I thought this would be good, my guess would have been ‘no’, but I’ve been gladly proven wrong.