Friday, June 02, 2006

X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND

Why we fight?

Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Hugh Jackman,
Halle Berry, Sir Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen

Tagline: Take a Stand

Much flack has been launched at large target Vinnie Jones, for his turn in X3 as the Professor’s rough and tumble brother Juggernaut. He may be hammily reprising the same character from Swordfish, Eurotrip and She’s The Man, a version of the role that made him famous in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, only watered down into Wolf from Gladiators, but think about it: precisely who is equipped for a part requiring a giant metal helmet, a computer-imposed muscle body and dialogue ranging from ‘I need a pee’ to ‘I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!’? Yet more grievances have been saved for infamous director Brett ‘Man, he ain’t gonna be in X-Men 4’ Ratner, but again, look at what he’s up against. To his credit, he manages to steer the franchise to a conclusion reminiscent of Revenge of the Sith, in that while thrilling on at least the first viewing, there isn’t much to really praise.

In the correct hands (i.e. the Marvel equivalent to those who penned Justice League Unlimited) Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Phoenix, Rogue, Beast, Mystique, Iceman, Pyro, Juggernaut, Angel, Callisto, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Multiple Man, Jubilee, Flea, Siryn, Leech, Kid Omega, Arclight, Psylocke, Lizard Man, Spike, Toad, Glob Herman and many more wouldn’t live up to the oft-repeated ‘too many mutants’ claim, but instead almost half of the dialogue is wasted in an unambitious attempt to signpost who each character is (powers not personalities). If only the writers had realised that nearly every mutant’s power can be explained visually, they could have saved twenty minutes, enough to write a developed love triangle story for Rogue, Kitty and Bobby (if you like, I’m not that fussed). Those given more attention, likely the stroppiest actors, end up feeling unsettling and in the way of the plot. Take Wolverine, as he’s getting his own pic soon; the comics and cartoons about him involve him getting into scraps, settling old rivalries, enduring brutal psychological torture and generally misbehaving like James Dean. Then and only then is he in a position to do something out of character like feeling sorry for a cute girl, being licked by a kitty (kitty, not Kitty) or saying something to remind you he’s the funniest mutant in the room. Hugh Jackman is out of character all the time here, enfeebled on his knees four times and emasculated so much that you actually start to ask yourself if he had more hair in the previous film. The only exception is Beast, brilliantly cast and splendidly played.

A flaw of the whole trilogy and of nearly all other Marvel blockbusters (and many other blockbusters like The Fifth Element, Mystery Men and a couple of Superman’s) is the dependence on a certain type of cinematic ending, sometimes called the ‘A Giant Alien Force More Violent and Sick Than Anything You Can Imagine Ending’, whereby in an orgy of sexual grunts and state of the art light effects, sodding huge waves of molten, burning, Dolby 5.1 whooshing, clothes-vaporising, Ark-of-the-Covenant-y energy come soaring out of something, endangering everyone’s well-being. The only way to stop this apocalyptic firework show is to become (or die like) a man, a timid cop-out, both because we know it’ll go away and because character development crammed into one of these endings is lazy, lazy stuff. It can work in a comic, but it’s very, very rare to get it right onscreen.

Oh, and the Stan Lee cameo is far too early on.

PS- For those of you who haven’t seen it, stay for the end to hear more from your favourite character in the trilogy in a scene guaranteed to elicit thunderous cusses from everyone in the cinema.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3

Jumps everything but the couch

Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michele Monaghan, Ving Rhames

Tagline: The
Mission Begins 05/05/06

How many times has a girl connected with Tom Cruise been asked for a rather large favour? More to the point, has it ever been put as eloquently as this:

‘I need to ask you for something… incredible’

A few crafty meetings between this film and the bizarre life of its star have made it a lot more of a curiosity than its predecessors. As Ethan Hunt struggles with people who believe his marriage is a poor idea, a girlfriend/fiancée/wife who needs to accept that she will never truly understand his life and the increasingly plausible rumour that he has gone insane, he has to genuinely appear to be contemplating his escape route at all times. It works: Cruise may be the centre of this title, but he doesn’t look like a colon. His action sequences are brilliantly simple, even if seven or eight voices are going back and forth over the top of most of them and a lot of fat has been trimmed from the plot too. The majority of the excitement surrounding this film comes from the presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is great, able both to sell his supervillainous dialogue (“Who are you? What's you're name? Do you have a wife? A girlfriend? Whoever she is, I'm gonna find her. I'm gonna hurt her. I'm gonna make her bleed. And then I'm gonna find you, and kill you right in front of her.”) and to make the scenes between him and Cruise feel like a dialogue, something almost no-one else can manage (the disconnect between Tom and other actors is exploited to great advantage throughout, most notably with the appearance of Simon Pegg, in a part written for Ricky Gervais, creating the illusion that he was edited into the film for laughs), but it turns out that Ethan Hunt is the only one given much attention, a successful gamble. Elsewhere certain attempts at jokes fall flat and, women pretty much exist to suffer and there is the odd unbelievable switcharoo, but fun will be had. He might even be in on it.

THE DA VINCI CODE

A Barn Endows Lip Pin 

Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian McKellen, Jean Reno

Tagline: Seek the Truth

(Didn’t read it, unless you count a smidge of the audiobook)

It’s common enough to compare a summer blockbuster to a videogame, even moreso when it has a videogame adaptation released simultaneously. Lengthy CGI battle scenes you wish you could participate in, predictable endings, overly simplistic dialogue, legions of disposable henchmen, that sort of thing. Rarely however does the term merit use when discussing a novel adaptation, psychological thriller or anything that inspires cheap companion pieces into existence on the History Channel. Flashbacks to holy warfare might look like cutscenes, Hans Zimmer’s score may be almost identical to Jeremy Soule’s score for RPG Elder Scrolls IV and Paul Bettany’s Silas, the becowled albino flagellator might look like a Speaker for the Dark Brotherhood, but the sense of weightless linearity extends to the entire ethos of the movie: travel, exposition, mild peril/fleeing, repeat ten times, credits. Somehow the game is also shoddy:

http://ps2media.ign.com/ps2/image/article/709/709677/the-da-vinci-code-20060523003557091-000.jpg

Halfway through this film, I received a text message instructing me to imagine Sir Ian McKellen shitting into the mouth of his co-star Tom Hanks, the cruel revenge of the girl I didn’t get drunk with in favour of watching this horrible film. And it made me think. How do I get that into a review?

The issue is digestion. It took years for people to figure out that film could be anything other than low art, thanks to the studio’s reliance on a system of imagination-free adaptation between media. Don’t change a thing, save for what interferes with time and money and you will retain maximum fidelity to a source, maximum truthfulness. This hokum prevails no longer, most people know you’ll just get dung out of food. The current problem is how unimaginative the adaptors are. The makers of The Da Vinci Code videogame for instance, have pieced together the fighting using the tacky minigame mechanics from God of War (this time applied to multiple-monk punchups), the cryptology and symbology is reduced to the object-based jigsaw puzzling of the old point and clicks (only with none of the wit) and predictably, the whole sloppy game has been stuck in the lifeless third-person dynamic of most shit Playstation games. Such vomit is created by the ingestion of droppings from a stooly film made under the advice of people who still don’t get that ‘change nothing’ isn’t a viable option, combined with the pressure to appeal to as much of the book and Ron Howard’s audience base (Americans, then everyone else) as possible. This onscreen fecal matter in turn begins by lapping up a book which chews at the already soggy whip of Indiana Jones, the spoor-bucket of the History Channel (again) and of course, Holy Blood, Holy Grail a history book so grounded in factual truth that its writers sued Dan Brown for ripping off their intellectual property. In short, too many shitty cooks have made poo out of excrement out of bum solids and it has ended up boke at every turn. Now try having a debate about its factuality.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

MUNICH

Chutzpah served cold

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hans Zischler

Tagline: The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next

One of Munich’s greatest flaws is in the treatment of its star. The setups used to convey the theme of Bana's ongoing catharsis and guilt are handled with the sort of unbelievably inept and childish occidental bollocks found only in Spielberg’s worst moments; nightmares and vomitous screams, culminating in the most unbearable sex-scene, like the one in A History of Violence, but an utter failure on every level. All of these are drenched in sweat and the even moister and clingier Eastern wails of its banal Williams score.

It is pleasing then that much of the rest of the film is as ambitious and adult as it should be. Most of the cast seem to understand the sour humour and dramatic gravitas required of the bleak, witty script, and the content of their experiences together, including the assassinations themselves, is selected quite masterfully. It is still however, an unredeemably cold and unfulfilling experience. After the portrayal of the tragedy itself, there is little which merits the participation of the onlooker to will on or try to ward off inevitable events on a first, let alone second viewing. Instead, the nasty violence and Kushner’s nastier one-liners make up the majority of the film’s genuinely exciting highlights. Much of the controversy surrounding the film is to do with either its inability to, to a better extent anyway, take a side in the Israeli-Palestine conflict or its inability to have balls between its legs. It undoubtedly has the latter and it doesn’t need the former. All it requires is enough consistency in its daring to give itself the coherence of an artistic statement worthy of its creators.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

2005: High Notes

Better luck next year.

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2. The 40 Year Old Virgin
3. A History Of Violence
4. Sin City
5. Batman Begins
6. DiG!
7. The Aviator
8. Overnight
9. Wallace and Gromit
10. Nightwatch

Sunday, December 18, 2005

THE ARISTOCRATS

Director: Paul Provenza
Cast: George Carlin, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman, Billy the Mime

Tagline: No Nudity. No Violence. Unspeakable Obscenity.

As most of BBC, Channel 4 and especially VH1’s talking head shows so frequently reveal, comedians tend to make the least competent experts in every subject, making such brilliant observations as “When Michael Jackson held his baby child out of that window, I was like ‘Oh my God! You can’t do that! Nice parenting skills buddy!’” or “and he goes ‘Is that your final answer? Is that your absolute final answer? Is that your completely, absolutely…’ Yes, it’s me bleedin’ final answer!” or “Monica Lewinsky? Now dat’s a real weapon of mass destruction, bitch!”. As this documentary shows, they’re even more inept when required to explain humour.
The Aristocrats is a badly edited sequence of people badly explaining a single bad joke, but it’s tremendous, both as a unique exposé of the comic circle’s pretentious, unimaginative, often delusional approach to analysing its own excrement, and a celebration of the comedy of variation, or lack thereof. The tales of bestiality, violent incest and attempts to swim in puddles of bodily fluids make things tedious and occasionally harrowing enough to induce walkouts. Three self-congratulatory luvvies reference John Coltrane (the joke is improvised, and hence, considered jazz), another three do digs at Gallagher, a one-joke-wonder from the eighties whose gimmick was hitting fruit with a hammer and at least five don’t get the joke. There are some unique tellings though, such as Steven Wright’s version, which is more disturbing than anything he talks over in Reservoir Dogs and is also bereft of anything remotely humorous, Sarah Silverman’s ‘It really happened, I was there’ tale, or Billy the Mime’s hysterical silent account of the baby buggery. The climax, Gilbert Gottfried’s rendition is one of the best, and it works so well because it is a statement of how safe non-consensual sexual perversions are in comparison with speaking against your nation in a time of uncertainty (and because it makes literal the expression ‘enough to make Hugh Hefner blush’). We still have a long way to go in taboo distortion; comediennes are still segregated, Islam is still unmentionable and 9/11 and race only come up once each in the finished joke. The spirit of change may be muted by stupidity, but hopefully the next time a family walks into a talent agency, the outcome will be altogether more dangerous.

Monday, December 12, 2005

2005: Bum Notes

I don't think I'm going to see another film this year that will make it into the sordid half of my end of year review. I don't think I'm going to see another movie whose plot doesn't revolve around computer generated mythical animals either. Narnia (hmm) and Kong may affect the top ten, but the bar has been set jolly low for good films this year. Thankfully the criteria is very very high at the other extreme. Alarmingly, films like Comic Strippy shambles The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, Scientology/Intelligent Design allegory Doom, the inconsistently corporate The Fantastic Four, the Knightmare-borrowing Mirrormask and waste of talent The Wedding Crashers just don't cut it in this, my bottom ten of 2005:

10. White Noise- Keaton goes bananas without Herbie. Bad effects, worse science, worst plea for a sequel of '05.

9. Saw II- Unravels everything its flawed predecessor achieved with bad storytelling and some Hannibal/Highlander II style 'filling in of the gaps in the mythology' scenes. Still considered brilliantly clever by thousands.

8. Save The Green Planet- A Korean light comedy which, ho ho, spends more time on graphic torture scenes than Ichi the Killer. An hour too long and the second worst movie this year to contain a slow escape from crucifixion.

7. Land of the Dead- Long awaited racially patronising apocalyptic piss.

6. The Island- Easily ignored Red State sci-fi. Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johannson have big heads and tiny bodies.

5. Red Eye- Jackson T Ripner is his name and avian sexual harassment his game.

4. National Treasure- Nicolas Cage tries to justify the Iraq war, ape The DaVinci Code and be Indiana Jones in this theoretically ambitious, but really just goofy Hallmark-esque thriller. Better (and similar) MacGuyver movies exist, I've seen them.

3. Dukes of Hazzard- A civil war re-enactment so the south get it. Acting and direction are Ed Wood bad, comedy is unbearable.

2. The Man- Two greats meet in the absolute worst film of their already quite upsy downsy careers. Heavy on fart jokes, racial fish-out-of-water humour and things even Steve Martin wouldn't do to get a crowd to laugh. A real curiosity, such a contradictory mix of adult and family-orientated content hasn't existed since the days of Kindergarten Cop.

1. Wolf Creek- Unlike a couple of bits of Australia, this film is completely pointless, inhabited only by grizzly sexist racist bastards and witless, shallow, overgrown surfer children that no-one would want to sympathise with in any situation and the prolonged periods/areas of bugger-all that separate them.

Monday, September 26, 2005

LAND OF THE DEAD

The sky-flowers aren’t working anymore

Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Dennis Hopper

Tagline: The Legendary Filmmaker Brings You His Ultimate Zombie Masterpiece

“George A. Romero”, boasts the trailer, “returns to the genre he created”. What genre would that be? If you didn’t know you’d probably have to be told. “The post-apocalyptic action movie?” you’d say. For every cliché is present in this land of the heavily customised armoured vehicles, gladiator arenas, leather-lovin’ bikers, crazed Irish preachers, gentle, slow, deformed sidekicks, crudely drawn class systems and Dennis Hopper. But it’s worse than Waterworld. It’s actually worse than Super Mario Brothers.
It’s all very untidy really. Skilled actors are made fools of by shitty, graphic novel dialogue. Tension is built and released only by a Fox News-standard thriller score and brief but tedious quick-fright setups. Evil Dead blood and guts and Gremlins silliness seem out of place in such a slickly-filmed, humourless environment. It is an obnoxious, overly referential, condescending, misguided, preachy statement against ‘whitey’, a socio-racial group Romero seems unaware he is a member of. It is completely out of its time, lacks even the most basic pacing or character development and the Living Dead are practically an afterthought. How must Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright feel cameoing in one of their biggest film hero’s own Phantom Menace? As the film’s angry black voice puts it so frequently: “RRRAAAAAARRRRRGH!!!!”

WOLF CREEK

Based on actual non-events

Director: Greg McLean
Cast: John Jarratt, Cassandra McGrath, Andy McPhee, Kestie Morassi

Tagline: How can you be found when no-one knows you’re missing?

The group of three are pretty, goof around in the inane style of a Doritos advert and have no memorable features between them. They have a little party and drive into the outback. This takes fourty minutes, by which time it has been emphasized that no transsexual Inuit, crunk-loving Martian bacteria or bisexual coelacanth lacrosse enthusiast crack addict has ever felt so isolated. This is rendered pointless when they stop off at a bar and talk to people. A further twenty minutes and they encounter the suspicious bushman they encounter. Plotholes, relentless dashing of hopes and unimaginative yet harrowing torture take hold for the remainder.

If you like agony and banality in disproportionate measure, watch Discovery Home and Health instead.

RED EYE

Nightmare on plane, street

Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox

Tagline: Fear Takes Flight

Wes Craven’s latest horror sees a woman secretly held hostage on a crowded plane by a man armed only with a phone. The idea is brilliantly bare; it’s Poe, it’s Hitchcock and if properly maintained, terrifying. There are a few typical Craveny problems; the heroine’s average-life problems are a tad clinical and supporting characters weakly drawn, but suspense is maintained elegantly, the action is unpredictable, Cillian Murphy is suitably madcap (in spite of being named ‘Jackson [T?] Rippner’) and the psycho’s motives seep out quite artfully.
Sadly, all of this is an elaborate setup for the one of the most disastrous third acts ever committed to film. As the trailer suggests, the plane lands, removing all claustrophobic tension. The depressingly self-parodic game of cat and mouse in a house which follows would bore even fans of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. But the real sour aftertaste comes from writer Carl Ellsworth(briefly of both Buffy and Xena)’s primitive attitude towards women. This film actually thinks it’s feminist. It’s as misogynistic as a big bus of rapes driven by a man who doesn’t believe in rape, but it thinks it’s feminist. Monumental voyeuristic suffering is traded for the cheapest, quickest, puniest forms of female empowerment in the most ridiculous of manners. Little Lisa learns how to pose like a fighter, Kill Bill style. Little Lisa gains the confidence of her worried father. Little Lisa’s assertiveness in the workplace increases. Good for her! Let’s all give her an affectionate pat on the buttocks and tell her how well she’s done, considering! Now if only every woman could just survive having her ass and mind worked over by Patrick Bateman’s sicker step-brother every now and then, they could all be this productive. Wes Craven got married during the production of this film. Hmm.

THE DUKES OF HAZZARD

I think a better film could bounce out of my undercarriage

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds

Tagline: Cousins. Outlaws. Thrillbillies.

Well boys, looks like you messed it up. Written by Jonathan L. Davis and John O’Brien, the latter of 2004’s Starsky and Hutch, it seems that research consisted of barely perusing the blurb on the DVD boxset. In a movie where the borderline-retarded singer Jessica Simpson provides a ‘comparatively strong’ performance, acting is bound to be an issue too. Besides failing to achieve any kind of southern accents, Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott not only behave exactly as themselves, they don’t even appear to have changed out of their own clothes. Burt Reynolds’ Boss Hogg appears to have had multiple strokes, three grams of vicodin and a quart of bourbon. The Broken Lizard team (director Jay Chandrasekhar’s comedy troupe buddies) all have their smug cameos, mostly in the guise of their characters in Super Troopers, quoting unmemorable swathes of its dialogue as though it were comedy gospel.
It is this misplaced reverence which destroys the film. Sure the series had car chases, skimpy chicks, sunshine and punchups, but there was more to it than that. Each show was every bit as innocent, relaxing and wholesome as an episode of Kung Fu. There is no sense of space or nature anymore. Every shot is ugly or urban, the soundtrack is crowded and direction is crappy, with no attention paid to very basic details such as not obscuring the face of the person speaking. Whether it concerns weed, incest, George Bush, sex with cars, viagra, hiphop gangstas amorous gayboys, bestiality, The Confederacy or panty sniffing, every single joke comes from a snide, witless, collegehumor.com perspective, making the film look like a bastard offshoot of Eurotrip.
With Bruce Feirstein, writer on most recent James Bond films currently clutching an A-Team script, it is recommended that you begin learning how to build your own illegal distillery to ease the pain.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Impure imagination

Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Freddy Highmore, Johnny Depp, Deep Roy, David Kelly

Tagline: The Factory Opens July 2005

While Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a syrupy Technicolor masterpiece, joyous, camp, witty and dark as a Bourneville singularity if you want it to be, many of Roald Dahl’s objections to it were reasonable. Charlie was a loud, ungrateful Aryan posterchild incapable of expressing true relish while eating chocolate. The rounded-out ending in the glass elevator is too clean. Trained squirrels are infinitely more exciting than giant geese. Still. A remake? Fuck off. Why, the performances would have to be entirely brilliant! The design would have to capture the spirit of the original while being choc-full of further unpredictable candy contraptions! It would have to be grisly and funny, with all-new gags and updated politics! Who have you got to do all that? The guy who remade Planet of the Apes? Shit.

Why then is this a delight?

Well, the acting sells it. Violet, played by Anna-Sophia Robb, is dangerously perfect, as this excerpt of her web biography shows:

Of course, Anna-Sophia was ready for her busy life before the camera. She has competed in gymnastics since she was five, has won awards in Irish dance as early as seven, landed a national recurring radio voice-over at eight, and got her first TV and print commercial in Denver six months later (the ad is still in use). You might say that Anna-Sophia has danced her way to the movies, since she started by excelling equally well in jazz, hip-hop, break-dancing, and the Irish jig. But, she's also pretty terrific at swimming, skiing, running, and modeling. And when she's not working with animals, she's telling jokes and doing a bit of singing.

Jordan Fry’s Mike Teevee is pure Columbine terror and Julia Winter’s Veruca Salt a calculated it-girl to be. But the film has updated the political correctness and it is the parents who have become the real sinners gallery. The Gloops undergo the least change, the message more relevant than ever. Mrs Beauregarde is the dream-displacer, Mr Salt the panderer and Mr Teevee the denier. All the kids need is a little trauma to find their way, and Johnny Depp provides just the man-child to dish it out.
When the children finally meet Crazy Willy, the suspense is terrible. His first impression is even more theatrical than before, a marvelously awkward comedic car crash of sugar, music and violence. His simpering laugh is infectious, equal parts Michael Jackson and a nervous Muppet, much like the rest of him. His moodswings are wilder than Wilder’s, if not as loud, and his all-new backstory a fun-enough diversion for the younger viewers. Four foot four stuntman Deep Roy is also excellent as the entire Oompa Loompa race and pointless but amusing cameos from Mark Heap and Kevin Eldon raise a giggle.
Some of the touches are admittedly too Burtonesque; Charlie’s house is more warped-gothic than Jack Skellington’s, themes of father-son relations are a bit overegged and the Oompa-Loompa tunes continue Tim’s baffling love of funk in ways which might aggravate those who aren’t as into Thomas Dolby or Prince. A few set pieces could have been more interesting-looking (though others are as iconic as ever), but these are all minor quibbles. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great golden beanfeast, cementing Burton’s reputation after a mildly shaky period as an altogether worthy dreamer of dreams.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

THE ISLAND

McGregor’s Syndrome

Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlet Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi

Tagline: They don’t want you to know what you are

What if you were not you, but a clone of you, used for organs, but you didn’t know? Would you still be you? What would you do if you found out? What if Michael Bay made a dazzling and intelligent comment on society? Ok, fuck that last one. With The Island, Bay has crafted a dystopia as expensive-looking as it is patronizing in its right-wing agenda. In this vision of America’s nearing future, Europeans are evil, black people are very slow indeed and stem cell research is not only wrong, but a charade for a cult of anti-creationist murderers operating against the wishes of the American government. Loss of personal freedom is made as alien a concept as possible; those enslaved are godless, wear white and are surrounded by unfamiliar objects.
Coincidentally, acting talent rarely surpasses that of the average iRobot. Ewan McGregor is especially inept as Lincoln Six-Echo (he frees the slaves, don’t you know), and his real-life counterpart Tom Lincoln (his Scottish accent allows McGregor to display the two sides of his talent, ach!). With Scarlet Johansson as a comparably childish escape partner, the two are free to engage in distressingly poor attempts at fish-out-of-water humour and tediously impossible peril, such as falling about a kilometer, chased by hundreds of tonnes of steel and landing safely in some netting before being told that Jesus must really love them by a bystander.
Were this film marketed at fans of The Passion Of The Christ, Bay might have had the hit of the year on his hands. Instead, it has become a commercial failure at the hands of a film about (non-CGI) penguins, and thus become this year’s Paycheck. In America’s nearing future, using pretty cinematography, big names and saturation marketing to dress up boring Republican allegories with gargantuan plotholes might just become an increasingly difficult practice.

STEALTH

It’ll be 9/11 times 2356

Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard

Tagline: Fear The Sky

Like many critics, I am unsure if Rob Cohen is aware that Team America: World Police is a comedy. When Jessica Biel goes to North Korea by accident, she almost immediately starts into a mission to invade the nation herself, pointing assault rifles at peasant children as her boss simply states “We have no diplomatic relations with that country”. As a black man, Jamie Foxx’s character development is rushed a tad as we see him sing, listen to hiphop, play basketball skillfully and read a mission brief at the same time. Elsewhere in racism, the sight of a pair of bulls lugging a nuclear warhead up a hill in a medieval wooden cart to the towering sandcastles of Tajikistan is as remarkable as the decision to fire missiles at said warheads. The incidental music is often similar to Team America’s and Josh Lucas even resembles Trey Parker.
The message that America is better than geography, physics or human life is amusing in itself, but coming from a film script containing the phrase ‘I have to go pee-pee’ no less than thrice it’s very funny indeed. Better still is the love plot. The U.S. Defence Department threatened to withhold money if Josh Lucas fraternised with Jessica Biel, and it is as amusingly bizarre to watch them avoid kissing for the duration (Rob Cohen would later claim that this made the relationship ‘more interesting’) as it is to count the number of really politically hairy scenes deemed acceptable by the execs.
“War is about tools”, declares Josh Lucas, preparing to fly with the Extreme Deep Invader to ‘penetrate’ the terrorist leaders of Rangoon, oversexed Jamie Foxx jiving mad rhymes like “prepare for penetration-detonation”. Even the film’s poster image makes with the towering phallus. Sadly the only reward Josh gets for his repeated daring escapes from slow-motion fireclouds is the flaccid music of Incubus and the assurance by his love interest that he is a ‘pussy’. Rad.