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Gulliver's Travels

With film budgets, bigger isn't always better...

Continuing the predictably turgid glut of holiday fare is the Jack Black-starring Gulliver’s Travels, a reimagining of Jonathan Swift’s famed novel that frankly, nobody asked for nor particularly seemed to want, but hey, they made it anyway. Even with the luxury of a solid cast of comics running the transatlantic gamut, this glorified star vehicle is a garish, desperate film that fails to justify its own existence in any convincing way beyond lowly money-spinning.

Lemuel Gulliver (Black) is a buffoonish slacker (surprise!) working as the mail boy at a snazzy newspaper. However, after blagging a travel assignment from senior journalist Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet), who just happens to also be the object of his affection, he ventures out into the Bermuda Triangle, where he is pulled into the miniature world of Lilliput. A giant amongst the town’s tiny denizens, he is revered by most – King Benjamin (Billy Connolly), Queen Isabelle (Catherine Tate) and their daughter, Princess Mary (Emily Blunt) – as a God-like entity, while one dissenter in particular, Edward (Chris O’Dowd), dismisses him as an abberation to be done away with. (Continued…)


Little Fockers

Hideous sweaters: a universal sign you're getting old

This article is syndicated at Obsessed with Film. View it here.

In news that will surprise roughly nobody, the third film in the Fockers trilogy, Little Fockers, isn’t that great; not only is it incredibly lazy, but it squanders a sizeable cast of A-listers for what can be deemed nothing more than shameless money-snatching ahead of Christmas. Aside from a few amusing moments, this is proof that the series best be put out to pasture now.



As dull as an annual NUT meeting

Amid the slew of saccharine family flicks and rehashed sequels this holiday season, Chatroom is assuredly Christmas fare of another sort; it is a unique, unsentimental idea with a promising visual style, and that certainly counts for something. This is also where the praise for the latest film from Hideo Nakata, the director of the much-lauded Ring films, ends, because he bungles his subject in ways I previously believed unimaginable.

Chatroom revolves around a group of teens who meet in an online chat room and quickly become closely acquainted, sharing their problems and in essence becoming “friends”. However, the loudest and most charming member of the group, William (Aaron Johnson) has other designs; he aims to convince the fragile, suicidal member of the group, Jim (Matthew Beard) to kill himself, apparently just for his own demented amusement. The others, upon discovering this, must try to stop him. (Continued…)


Tron Legacy

How long before CGI puts actors out of work?

Much like its ground-breaking 1982 predecessor, Tron Legacy is a visually extravagant, sonically stunning feast for the eyes and ears, and while these strengths are self-evident near enough from minute one, this entertaining sequel is marred by the very same flaws as the original; an undercooked plot which presents compelling ideas though never follows through adequately, resulting in an exhilarating if emotionally hollow experience which, given the chasm of expectation that a 28-year wait musters, is disappointing. Nevertheless, Legacy is ultimately winning popcorn entertainment, and one of the best 3D rides yet.

In 1989, renowned software engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) goes missing, leaving behind his young son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who then becomes the controlling shareholder of his company, ENCOM. However, he has little interest in running the company, and it is only when he learns from his father’s most trusted colleague, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), that a strange pager message has emanated from Kevin’s old arcade, that he displays anything other than pronounced apathy. At the arcade, however, he finds himself transported into The Grid, the very artificial computer world his father built, and with the help of computer program Quorra (Olivia Wilde), must locate his father who is incarcerated by a malevolent program called Clu (resembling Kevin’s younger self), and escape The Grid once and for all. (Continued…)



Production design and sex appeal prevails. Story doesn't.

There is definitely something to admire about a film that wears its badge of camp so proudly as the cast and crew of flamboyant musical Burlesque does. Cheesy and often very cliched it certainly is, but there are also some glamourous musical delights, and the raunchy tone – not to mention Christina Aguilera’s self-evident sex appeal – will keep musical-shy males from shuffling about in their seats too much.

Ali Rose (Aguilera) is a downtrodden waitress living in a small-town, with big dreams of escaping to Los Angeles where she can pursue her dream of becoming a singer. After half-inching the wages she is owed by her slave-driver boss, she packs up and heads to L.A., where she falls headlong into the world of burlesque, as she winds up at The Burlesque Lounge, a flailing joint owned by Tess (Cher). Hugely behind on her lease payments, Tess hears Ali’s voice and sees her as a ticket to freedom, while Ali has to deal with the backstage drama of her colleagues, chiefly Nikki (Kristen Bell, here as a brunette), while juggling a tentative relationship and rent arrangement with barman Jack (Cam Gigandet). (Continued…)


The Tourist

How does this pairing fail!?

This article is syndicated at Obsessed with Film. View it here.

Quite how a film starring arguably the two sexist, most desirable people on the planet can be such a turgid, dryly-delivered failure is one of the year’s most baffling cinematic “feats”. Under the direction of talented Oscar winner Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Tourist should have been smart, sassy and thrilling; it is none of these things, and a major lapse of judgement on the part of its two leads, whose charisma fizzles out all too quickly.