Friday, 14 August 2015

60 Second Film Reviews #22

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.

On the slate this month, we have a some recent DVD releases; Get Hard, Project Almanac and Run All Night. 

Get Hard (2015)

Get Hard sees Will Ferrell play James King, a billionaire tycoon who is sentenced to 10 years in a maximum security prison. With 30 days to get his affairs in order, James turns to Darnell (Kevin Hart), a guy who works at a car wash, to get help with prepping himself for life behind bars.

Now, a film with these two guys in it should be a riot, right? Both are super popular comedians in their own right, with the ability to sell a film with just their names attached. And Get Hard isn't without laughs; I'm not going to lie, the film does have its moments. The thing is, 99% of those moments come from Hart.

Now, I'm not a fan of Will Ferrell; far from it in fact. Other than The Other Guys, Elf and The LEGO Movie, his films very rarely do anything for me. Get Hard is now different; his character is dumb, irritating and an all-round unlikeable person, and his humour stretches about as far as shouting obscenities and crying. That's about it.

Hart on the other hand, is a riot. The scenes he shares with his wife, and watching him fake his thug persona, make this film sporadically funny. The only thing is, he gets shortchanged by a script that seems hellbent on injecting racist stereotypes and prison rape jokes every 10 seconds. It's crude, insensitive and just plain gross to think about. Why should we support a film that pokes fun at sexual assault at every chance it can get? The issue of male rape in prison gets little attention as it is, so an entire film that relies on poking fun at how 'funny' it is just isn't the kind of film we, as a society, need. Hart deserves better - one scene where he plays three separate characters in a simulation exercise yard is proof of this. Hell, Alison Brie deserves better; essentially, she just plays Ferrell's trophy wife, complete with fake giggle and excessive cleavage, a role that is just offensive to such a naturally funny and charismatic actress. On the whole, Get Hard is an unfunny film that recycles the same jokes throughout.

I give Get Hard: 4/10

Run All Night (2015)

Run All Night is an action/thriller starring everyone's favourite grumpy grandpa, Liam Neeson. Also starring Joel Kinnaman, Common, Vincent D'Onofrio and Ed Harris, this slick, punchy film set across one night has its merits, but it isn't one of Neeson's most memorable outings.

Neeson plays Jimmy 'The Gravedigger' Conlon, a former mob enforcer who is haunted by the ghosts of his past deeds. When his son (Joel Kinnaman) gets into trouble with mobster Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), Jimmy must put aside his past and redeem himself across one action-packed, blood-soaked night. 

Director Jaume Collet-Serra (who previously worked with Neeson on Unknown and Non-Stop) uses these really long, swooping eagle-eye shots to race from one characters's storyline to the next, sort of like switching characters in Grand Theft Auto V. It's pretty cool, and does a good job of illustrating that everything is taking place concurrently.

Not only that, but the action is handled pretty well; there's none of that shitty Taken style shaky cam here, and an opening salvo where Joel Kinnaman's character is chased through some backyards was really tense and exciting. That being said, it doesn't have the legs to keep running at full throttle throughout - there's a very noticeable lull near the end that felt sluggish. The film could've done with a much tighter edit so that it was 100 minutes rather 120.

The main problem with Run All Night is how closely it follows other Liam Neeson films; in the last two years alone we've seen Taken 3, A Walk Among the Tombstones and Non-Stop. Before that, it was Taken 2, The Grey and Unknown. Run All Night is up there with the best, but it's got a bad reputation to shake off before it even gets through the opening credits. There've been some real stinkers bearing Neeson's name of late, so this latest film has got something of an uphill struggle to overcome.

All things considered, Run All Night is one of the better Neeson thrillers we've seen. It's dark, grounded and contains a surprising amount of emotion. Plus, any film that involves Liam Neeson playing drunk Santa Claus, growling at frightened children and falling in a fireplace is worth your money.

I give Run All Night: 6/10

Project Almanac (2015)

Like a cross between The Blair Witch Project and The Butterfly Effect, Project Almanac is a time-travel thriller that is made to look like found footage.

I'm a real sucker for time-travel films and was really bummed that I missed this film in theatres; it's a brilliant concept that has played over in my mind a million times. What would be the first thing I'd do if I had a time machine? Aside from winning the lottery and the superficial stuff like that, it's a rich vein of storytelling waiting to be explored.

Unfortunately, in the case of Project Almanac, the film never gets beyond the realm of said superficial stuff. The five teens are too preoccupied with buying cars, wrecking havoc at school and attending music festivals to care about the true potential of their temporal relocation device.

That's not to say this is a bad film; after all, teens will be teens. What did we expect? Of course they're horny and high on power. My only issue is that the film sets up this cool subplot involving David's (Jonny Weston) absent father, only to sweep it under the rug when he gets a whiff of getting laid with Jessie (Sofia Black-D'Elia).

Plus, the found-footage angle doesn't lend itself to this film at all. It feels forced and unnecessary as director Dean Israelite manoeuvres the plot to find excuses for the handheld camera to be there. That being said, this film isn't without merit; like I said, the concept is cool and the film understands its characters and audience, but I felt like it could've been executed better.

I give Project Almanac: 5/10


  1. Not sure I'll see any of these, even though I'm generally a fan of both Will and Kevin.

    1. Fair enough! It's safe to say they've both been in better stuff in the past - maybe just give those a rewatch ;)

  2. I've only seen Get Hard and, yeah, what you said.

    1. Glad someone agrees with me! Thanks for commenting Wendell :)



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