My parents were on holiday for the last week. The most important thing about this is that it gave me complete control of the television; something I don’t normally get. When I say “normally”, I mean “ever”. The last time we watched a film I wanted to see…
Unfortunately, the television this week was utter balls.
But I’m a man of action. I developed a counter-measure… A week of unparalleled cinematic action. Or trashy action films; take your pick. The schedule included The Expendables, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Centurion and Outlander. Plot spoilers have been successfully avoided!
Monday: The Expendables
You’re right, this wasn’t a DVD I snuggled up on the couch with, it was an actual outing to the cinema.
The tagline for this film should be:
“Yo dawg, we heard you like explosions, so we put some explosions on your explosions so you can explode while you explode.”
— Xzibit, Pimp My Action Film
It was the epitome of a brainless action film (and the mushy romance sub-plot was a bit half-hearted). It had its fair share of enjoyable ridiculous, though, like when Jason Statham starts dog-fighting a pier full of men from a seaplane — has to be seen to be believed. Then there’s the machine shotgun that sometimes fires explosions… Imagine Borderlands, actually, to get a picture of the weapons’ effects (if not their appearances).
I can see the film not being to everyone’s taste, but if you’re into all that stuff (like me), then you’ll probably have fun. Unless you’re the three damn bampots high on Sunny D that couldn’t sit still and shouted and played with their phones all through it. Raaaaaage.
The scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis is also amusing.
Tuesday: The Deep
Yeah, yeah, this isn’t a film, it’s the latest BBC near-future sci-fi drama with a simultaneously low and high budget. This is probably actually more brainless than The Expendables and they hardly make up for it with explosions, so I don’t know why I’m still watching it.
Basically, scientists go under the ice and shit gets real. If I was planning a deep ocean expedition where I had to keep seven people in a very small space for a several week period, I’d pick all these mal-adjusted borderline psychopaths too.
The budget dilemma comes from the BBC’s CGI department (which has somehow gone down a lot in quality since the original Walking With Dinosaurs) and the props department. Trying to talk about the giant <censored> without giving too much away, there is a doorway and one corridor festooned with pipework that gets used for almost every scene no matter where the people are on it. It’s quite a nice industrial setting, but really.
Then we get into the whole high-tech/low-tech slur that I’m not even going to start ranting about.
Minnie Driver: “Can you actually speak Russian?” The Russian chick: “No, I just put on this accent to sound cooky.”
— The Deep
Minnie Driver is also the worst captain ever. Remind me not to hire her for my film… Not that I would have anyway. I’m saving my pennies for Sam Worthington.
Wednesday: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
I remember being interested in this film when I was a young boy, back in the heady days of the new millenium. I also felt that, since I’ve never played any Final Fantasy games, and since I really wanted to see the recent film Final Fantasy XIII, it would be appropriate for me to get the actual film. So I bought it, for £3. Zing!
When Kilbirnie described the film as “a cgi romp about [utter] balls”, I knew I would enjoy it. Okay, it’s not got a story worthy of someting like Deus Ex, but it’s got all that Hollywood-military-squad-banter I love so much, and the story all worked in the context. It was actually quite a nice twist on the whole alien invasion trope.
I also noticed that Mass Effect whored it something terrible (why do I keep coming across things that influenced Mass Effect? First, Planescape: Torment; now this…). Lead character Aki has an omnitool (which actually makes sense, this time; it’s a holographic computer interface projected by a bracelet type thing, not a magical grenade- and gel-factory that appears out of nowhere when the plot demands it), and some of the aircraft jet engine designs looked a little bit in that direction (I notice these things). Okay, you’re allowed to have a wide range of “influences”, most of D&D is shamelessly whored too… That’s just how the world goes round, right?
It actually had two mushy romance sub-plots (somewhat making up for The Expendables), but…
Basically, despite everyone telling me it was no good, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
This has McNulty from The Wire in it, which gives it enough instant appeal to pick it up off the shelf (and I’ve only seen every second episode 0f The Wire). It also turned out to be a British film; another thing that should have made it good.
Unfortunately it suffered from an extremely predictable plot, which Jack managed to successfully map out half from historical knowledge and half from his apparently superior knowledge of mushy romance sub-plots. Basically, Romans try to invade Scotland (SCOTLAAAAAAAAND) but the Picts administer a thorough beating (not to mention the Romans falling for their obvious ruse) and then shit gets real.
It had a lot of unnecessary gore, too, such as Roman short swords cutting clean through skulls and legs. Basically, blood everywhere. We laughed when a man was ridden into a tree and his face burst open; we surmised that his skull had been weakened by fractures in previous fights.
It also had a tendancy to put its text in a strange font that was a bit small and white on light backgrounds (or mottled on mottled backgrounds), making it rather difficult to read anything on screen (we may not have a 60″, but our television is by no means a tiddler at 34″-odd).
As the most expensive of the week’s purchases, this one was a little bit disappointing.
Space Vikings? Yes please. Well, he’s not quite a space viking, but he is a space man who earns the respect of the vikings by tearing shit up with his space short hair and his space skillz.
This film’s main character is played by Jim Caviezel, who was more recently in the disastrous remake (not that the original series wasn’t a disaster, though) of The Prisoner. He’s pretty much the same guy, except there’s more space violence and vikings.
The good thing about this film is that the romance sub-plot kicks in nice and early. One of the quotes on the DVD box claims the film is “Predator meets Braveheart“, and the Predator influence is obvious (most notably in the neon green blood, and the creature’s spurious not-quite-invisibility). The Braveheart influence is less obvious; but hey, the reviewer probably didn’t know Age of Empires II very well.
The alien is a strange mix of the Hollywood Godzilla and Warcraft III‘s Felhound (dem shoulder spikes), plus a Mass Effect Rachni tentacle tail (though the Rachni definitely aren’t the start of that trend, I can’t call to mind where it actually came from… anime, no doubt). Most of the time it’s hidden by moody lighting, of course (aliens never attack during the day).
“That was too awesome to have killed it.”
The Best The Best The Best The Best
Yeah, yeah, you buy a group of things and you inevitably have to pick which one you enjoyed the most.
And, no doubt losing any respect I might have clawed off you in the past few years, I have to say it was Final Fantasy (despite its bittersweet ending). I enjoyed it; it did exactly what I wanted from my few nights’ entertainment. Nothing heavy, nothing brain-crunching — just a good, solid, action-adventure romp.
And no concerns about historical accuracy, either.