Thursday, 4 April 2013

60 Second Film Reviews #3

Quick movie reviews, without the waffle. 60 Second Film Reviews is a regular feature where I compile together brief reviews of recent films I've watched at home or at the movies - and generally couldn't be arsed didn't find time to write a proper review for. 

This month, we have Lawless, Crazy Stupid Love, This Means War and Cowboys and Aliens

Lawless (2012)

When I previewed Lawless in September last year, I was pretty keen on seeing this Prohibition-era America drama because of its raft of acting talent; whilst I wasn't too sold on Shia LaBeouf taking the lead, I am big fans of Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. Other talents such as Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Dane DeHaan and Mia Wasikowska were a pretty big added bonus as well.

However, despite all this, Lawless failed to win me over wholeheartedly. I felt that the central focus of the film (the three brother's bootlegging operation) was too often pushed aside for Jack's (LaBeouf) doomed romance with Bertha (Wasikowska).

It robs the film of any momentum and ultimately draws focus from it's more captivating story; that of the rivalry between the calm and collected Forrest (Hardy) and Special Agent Rakes (Pearce), both of whom were acted fantastically. At times, Lawless also could have done with an serious injection of levity; make no mistake, this is a grim and bloody film.

On the whole, Lawless isn't a total waste of your time but it also doesn't meet the expectations I had going in. In my opinion, I preferred Gangster Squad.

I give Lawless: 6/10

Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Crazy Stupid Love is one of those films that comes from out of nowhere to be really great; it surprised me just how refreshing and unique this take on the traditional romantic-comedy was. First of all, the whole cast is likeable and funny. 

Steve Carrell ditches his usual slapstick style in favour of a more grounded and down-to-earth character that is easy to relate to and side with. Likewise, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are a great on-screen pair that visibly sizzle with chemistry. 

The way the numerous plot strands interweave together and reach a hilarious crescendo isn't something you won't see coming, but it also isn't something completely formulaic. 

Crazy Stupid Love is a whole lot of fun and contains some real belly laughs for guys and girls alike, so be sure to check it out!

I give Crazy Stupid Love: 8/10

This Means War (2012)

From McG, the director of Charlie's Angels and Terminator: Salvation comes This Means War, a fast-paced and hilarious mash-up of the romantic-comedy and spy thriller genres. Or at least that is the premise. In reality, This Means War is a little one-dimensional that certainly does well as delivering a chuckle or two but little else. 

Tom Hardy is probably the best thing about this film; his 'good-guy' Tuck is the most likeable character and I found myself rooting for him. On the flipside, Chris Pine's ridiculously named FDR is something of a douche and isn't as likeable. Reese Witherspoon is in familiar rom-com territory here and sticks to the script.

In the end, I felt a little let-down by This Means War. It's a fun premise and the middle-third plays that aspect up, but the ending was a little contrived.

I give This Means War: 5/10

Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

Remember Cowboys and Aliens? Yeah, vaguely. That's because it has faded very quickly into the back of your memory in the two years since its release. A highly anticipated genre mash-up that arrived at the tail-end of the 2011 summer blockbuster season, Cowboys and Aliens sees Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford's western gun-slingers go up against hordes of extra-terrestrials alongside Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano.  

Directed by Jon Faverau (of Iron Man fame), Cowboys and Aliens fails to get the balance of action, grit and laughs spot on and failed to grab me in the way that I thought it would. 

The problem here is that Faverau plays it too straight. The film takes the idea of cowboys and aliens crossing over way too seriosuly and straight-faced; in my mind, this should have been something like The Three Amigos or Blazing Saddles with added E.T.
Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, who both have some serious comedic chops on them if Casino Royale and the original Star Wars trilogy are anything to go by, aren't allowed to have any fun with the premise. If only the film had gleefully embraced its kooky and quirky concept and chucked in some laughs then maybe it would have been a more memorable experience. 

I give Cowboys and Aliens: 4/10

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