Million Dollar Baby, (2004) - 6/10.
Maggie (Hilary Swank) is a female boxer looking to get trained by
Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). Dunn doesn't train girls though, but
Maggie keeps plugging away. Will Frankie give in and train the promising
For the most part Million Dollar Baby is an excellent sports drama.
Although it has to be said that unless this film had these star names
and Clint behind the camera (not to mention Tom Stern's gorgeous
cinematography) it would languish on the straight to video shelf
alongside Rocky VII: Adrienne's Revenge.
The proliferation of sports movie clichés is high in this film. You have
the spunky, raw, but talented underdog from the wrong side of the
tracks. You get the wizened old trainer with a granite face, but with a
heart of gold. There's the wise old janitor who nearly made the big
time. Don't forget the young protégé who turns his back on his trainer
for bigger money. Heck, why not throw in a mentally challenged kid and
go for the high score.......
I'm willing to forgive this reliance on clichés as I said the cast,
direction and cinematography are all top notch, they drag what could
have been trash to a higher level. What I cannot forgive is what happens
at about the 2 hour mark in the film.
I'm not going to spoil what happens, but suddenly and unexpectedly the
film veers off in an entirely new direction. And, it has to be said, not
a good direction. The film morphs from a damn good sports drama into
something that wouldn't be out of place on a weekday afternoon on
Channel 5. The kind of film that gets housewives all weepy when they are
doing the ironing. A TV Movie of the week......
The transition is jarring, it didn't work for me and I have no idea why
this film picked up so many awards. Swank I can buy, Freeman at a
stretch, but for this to beat out The Aviator (and Marty) is nonsense.
Do yourself a favour when you watch this. When the film hits 2 hours and
something different happens, stop watching and reflect back on the
pretty good sports drama you just watched. To go any further is to spoil
Layer Cake, (2004) - 8/10.
Daniel Craig stars as the mid level drug dealer who is setting up to
walk away into retirement. His boss has other plans though, sending him
out on a job outside his usual talents, finding a missing girl. Oh, and
there is the small matter of a million ecstasy tablets to shift and the
Serbian mafia that is looking for them.......
I had held out on watching this for so long for only one reason really.
Guy Ritchie. I was no fan of either Lock, Stock or Snatch. I found his
stylised MTV style direction irritating and his Mockney sensibilities
even harder to swallow. He went to Public School for Christ sakes!!!!!
So, when I hear about a new British Gangster film directed by the
producer of those 2 films (Mathew Vaughn) it's safe to say it's not at
the top of my must see list.
Then, two weeks ago Mathew Vaughn was announce as the man taking over
from Bryan Singer on the X-Men franchise.... Hmm, Layer Cake you say?
Turns out the film is as far removed from Ritchie's films as they are
from good British Gangster films. Vaughn cleverly sidesteps the comedy
gangster routine and flashy camerawork and instead crafts a slick,
realistic and gorgeous looking crime thriller.
Honestly, London has never looked this good. Often in British films we
get the usual rain soaked, grey slab London, but Vaughn captures the
hustle, the bustle, the big, the stylish, this how London should look on
film. I think part of the reason for the film looking so good is the
decision to go with anamorphic 2.35:1 for the ratio, it just looks more
cinematic than I've seen before.
Daniel Craig shines as the man just trying to get through the day, it's
little wonder that his name has been linked with Bond. He could bring a
steely realism that has been lacking in Brosnan. Craig is ably supported
by Colm 'Chief O'Brien' Meaney and Michael Gambon amongst others.
Put all thoughts of 'caw bllimey' mockney crap behind you and embrace
the finest British film since Trainspotting.
The Ring tw0, (2005) - 4/10.
The tape of doom is back (no, not the Paris Hilton tape) and Rachel
(Naomi Watts) and her son Aiden (David Dorfman) have to fight the evil
Samara after it appears she quite fancies taking over Aiden and living
again in the real world.
This film actually starts off quite promising with a opening that
follows straight on from the Rings short that is currently doing the
round son the Special Edition of the original The Ring (which is a
remake of the Japanese Ringu, which has a sequel Ringu 2 and a prequel
Ringu 0. This film is not based on Ringu 2, but is directed by the
director of Ringu and Ringu 2 Hideo Nakata after The Ring director Gore
Verbinski made some film about pirates. Phew....). In that a small club
has formed which dare each other to watch the video.
The short is a lot better than this movie. For a kick off it makes
Maybe I need to watch the first film again, but for large chunks of the
sequel I was wondering what the hell was going on. Samara seems to alter
her abilities at will, showing talents previously unheard off. Before
she was restricted to the video itself, not so now, she can pop up in
the men's room!
She also has the power to control deer for no apparent reason and to no
apparent end. This sequence is laughable as several poorly rendered CGI
deer attack Rachel's car. Not all the effects are bad though, there are
some nice water effects in a couple of sequences, but again I have no
idea what was going on in these sequences.....
The thing that worked about the first film for me was the whole mythos
surrounding the video tape and it's curse, take that away and what do
you have left? A lot of confusion it would seem. This is for die hard
fans of the fist film only I'm afraid.
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off
the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the
Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in
rain. Time to die. "
Rutger Hauer as Batty in Blade Runner, (1982).