Four films in the Film Fight for July.
First up, The East is something of a missed opportunity. Having thoroughly enjoyed Brit Marling’s performance in the mesmerising Another Earth, I had high hopes for her in this. I was not disappointed. Marling shows the right mix of vulnerability, naivety and determination for her character (a corporate spy) to make sense. The rest of the cast, however, are a little wasted. We know both Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard are capable actors, but here they don’t have much to work with. The film ticks over nicely, until a muddled last act undoes a lot of the ground work, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Worth seeing. (See my The East Twitter review).
Man of Steel, however, is not worth seeing. It spends twenty or so minutes building up a fascinating mythos and origin at Superman’s home planet which makes you yearn for a better movie called Krypton: Civil War. Sadly, we quickly move to Earth and see an incoherent mess of characters play out pointless CGI battle after CGI battle; motivations and actions being principally determined by the needs of the plot. There’s very little to redeem the film outside of the first stretch; even Michael Shannon can only do so much with his take on General Zod. I’d avoid this, and would have concerns about the rest of the DC universe they’re trying to build out. (See my Man of Steel Twitter review).
If you like big monster films and don’t feel they’ve been done well in a long time, Pacific Rim is for you. The plot is dumped through exposition at an alarming rate, a lot of it is clunky, and you’ll see every twist coming a mile away (the pilot that hates the protagonist will eventually grow to respect him? Shock!). That all said, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Unlike many CG films, it manages to deliver action sequences which are exciting but clearly shown (take that, Transformers), and which you can’t help but get involved in despite the fake nature of it. The comic relief between Charlie Day and Ron Perlman is pitched just right to not be annoying, and the stakes rise at just the right pace throughout the film. One of the better action films of the year. (See my Pacific Rim Twitter review).
Finally, The World’s End sees Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite for a comedy simultaneously smaller and much larger than their previous efforts. It follows the reunion of a group of old friends determined to finished a pub crawl in their old home town, when something apocalyptic begins to happen. The details of that, I’ll leave to the film, but the first moment you really see something is wrong is excellent. The remainder of the film is fun but not particularly funny. If you see it as a silly adventure, rather than a pure comedy, then you’ll be okay. Decent. (See my The World’s End Twitter review).
Tough to call the winner here, but I think I’ll go with Pacific Rim. While The East is a very good film, Pacific Rim edges it as the film I’d most like to see again right now.