Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 2012 DVD Round Up!

Seems to have been a while since I did a DVD round up, even though we are still watching through our lovefilm list with a good speed. A lot of these films have been 12 certificate too, which means we are OK with Ewan watching them (supervised) which makes for some nice family afternoons through the cold spells we've been having. Not going to go back too far, but some quick thoughts on the last couple of months movies follow after the cut...

Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
I had really low expectations of this film. I mean, the Tim Burton reboot was dreadful, the original franchise has two decent films out of five, and another attempt to resuscitate it wasn't something I was bothered with. Meh, I say to your Monkey films, Meh!. So I was pretty much blindsided by how good Rise of the Planet of the Apes was. I mean, it's subtle about its themes, it's subtext is actually subtext, there is proper acting of both the digital and non-digital sort (especially a heart-breaking performance from Jon Lithgow) and its one of those rare summer tentpole movies that doesn't seem intent on treating it's audience like they're sugar-fueled morons.

In many ways it feels like a proper throwback to its source material in the sense that back in the 60s and 70s SF movies tended to be about "stuff" underneath the SF gubbins that went on top of it, whereas these days SF movies tend to be about "bigger explosions".  Rise of the Planet of the Apes is not unique in this regard; there are other smart SF thrillers about, disguised as their stupider, heavier-browed brethren, just awaiting their evolutionary opportunity to breathe free. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. 
On the other hand, they made another Pirates of the Caribbean film! Actually I can't really remember much about it, there was some nonsense about mermaids and a lot of scenery chewing, and lots of nonsensical double-crossing. But the first Pirates was a joy, the second and third entertaining if indulgent and overblown, but this felt too much like a mechanical assembly piece, designed by committee and produced by rote, with the facade of it's predecessors but a blank space where it's soul used to be.

Attack the Block
Hoodies vs Aliens. Its exactly as good as it sounds, by which I mean "very". The UK film industry rightly gets a lot of flack for focusing on heritage films, or cocky geezer gangster flicks, and Attack the Block is a great riposte to that; a witty genre mash-up with good characters and solid action and drama. Its clear proof that you don't need several hundred million dollars to make a great movie, nor that you can only make such movies in the UK within certain sub genres. Oh and I'm pretty sure it wasn't that expensive to make and yet doesn't look particularly cheap.

Super 8.
About half way through Super 8 I turned to Z, looking past Ewan, who was rivetted to the sofa, and said, "You know, this isn't a modern overworking of ET, it's Aliens, for kids. We often dismiss films as "for kids", and look for the "for adults" bits in films we like with the lower certificate range, but Super 8 (12A) feels like a movie made for, and aimed at, kids in that 8-14 range that Ewan sits right in the middle of, and works really well because of it.

The main story involves a bunch of disparate kids out making a home-made zombie movie (which plays, in full, over the end credits and is hilarious) and witness a train wreck, and the following suspicious military activity, mixed in with some emotive parent-child angst plotlines for good measure. There is a sense that Super 8 is trying to have its cake and eat it, that it's drawing on too many influences at times, but critically, our 9-going-on-10 co-reviewer really, really liked it, both the scares and the emotion. And you know what? I did too.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil
Rednecks. They're the baddies, right? Tucker and Dale vs Evil is the story of a bunch of college kids who go into the woods camping and the horrible things that happen there, but of course our eponymous Rednecks are the heroes, caught up in a web of misunderstanding and prejudice. A genuinely funny, under the radar joy of a film, its the right mix of humour, gore, and good old fashioned running around screaming.