Wednesday 22 January 2014

60 Second Film Reviews #10

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 Red 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Mud

Red 2 (2013)

RED: Retired, Extremely, Dull.

Riding high on my list of 'sequels that no-one wanted' was Red 2; the original was an enjoyable romp, with escapism being the aim of the game. It was fun, while it lasted. But a sequel? The only reaction I could illicit upon its release was a half-hearted shrug.

The thing about Red 2 is the sheer derivativeness of it all. The dialogue, the characters, the plot in general, simply scream "uninspired". Colour-by-numbers and predictable, Red 2 isn't particularly funny or action-packed either.

In addition to all this, the cast are running on autopilot from the get-go. Bruce Willis looks bored, Mary Louise Parker's character is insufferable and John Malkovich's barmy ex-solider lacks the same spark second-time around. Anthony Hopkins is a welcome addition, so plus points for that.

If you enjoyed the first Red film, then chances are you've already seen Red 2 and regret it. For everyone else out there, do yourself a favour and spend these two hours a lot wiser.

I give Red 2: 2.5/10

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)

The second film in the young teen series, Sea of Monsters is a strong improvement upon the slightly lacklustre first chapter The Lightning Thief.

Starring Logan Lerman (Perks of Being A Wallflower) as the teenage Greek demigod Percy Jackson, this second instalment opens with Hogwarts-esque Camp Half-Blood under threat. Jackson and his friends lead a quest into the uncharted Sea of Monsters to recover a mythical fleece with powerful healing abilities, and the power to protect their home.

Logan does his best with a less than impressive script, but at the end of the day, Sea of Monsters is all about the cool special effects. Kids will revel in the dazzling CG monsters and mythical creatures; much like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is an all-round family fantasy adventure that is just plain fun.

Adults may shrug their shoulders and say they've seen it all before, but this is a film aimed squarely at the tween market that read the books. For them, it's an entirely passable fantasy adventure to share with their friends. It isn't in the same class as Harry Potter, but as Mortal Instruments and The Golden Compass have proven, few are.

On the other hand, Harry Potter never had Nathan Fillon cameo as a Greek God. Plus points to Percy Jackson right there.

I give Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters: 6/10

Mud (2013)

Mud is the tale of love won, lost and regained. It's a simple story of childhood exploration told wonderfully, with relatable characters and a captivating plot that keeps you hooked from start to finish.

In terms of storyline, I don't want to give too much away as I think the film should be viewed with a clear mind. That way, you can let the film reel you in and keep you hooked for the entire time without knowing what is going to happen next. Don't worry, it will. All you need to know is this; McConaughey plays a mysterious man called Mud who is discovered living in a beached boat on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River by two young kids, Ellis and Neckbone. What is doing by himself? What is he running from? What's his story? And most importantly, why are the police looking for him...

Matthew McConaughey is fantastic as the titular character, Mud. McConaughey is undergoing a career renaissance right now and Mud is proof that the guy has really grown and improved as an actor in the last few years. His character has real depth, and McConaughey's acting explores that depth really well.

I also enjoyed how the films other protagonist Ellis, played by young talent Tye Sheridan, spends the entirety of the films learning about love and what it means to love someone. It's profound, meaningful and relatable stuff. Everyone can relate on some level to his 'coming-of-age' arc. His acting, for someone so young and fresh, is amazing. Along with Jacob Lofland who plays Neckbone, Sheridan is a revelation as a young kid growing up on the banks of the Mississippi.

In terms of pacing, Mud is hard to fault. The film keeps driving forward and keeps the audience invested in the genuinely interesting characters and gorgeous cinematography and direction the whole way through.

Mud is one of the best films of 2013 and had I seen it prior to writing my Top 10 Films of 2013, it would've been very close to the top. It's brilliantly-acted, gorgeously-directed and really well written and paced. There is very little I can identify as negatives with this film. Definitely check it out as soon as you can.

I give Mud: 9/10

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