A kind and bold example of how no career is sacred, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is both an exploration of how dull Jake Gyllenhaal is as a lead and how unintrusive the work of director Mike Newell is. The pair have had success separately, but it appears that, like most hoping to take on video game projects, they were doomed to failure. Rightly so. Who cares for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? It’s like holding out hopes on an emotional connection with an egg timer. The House of Mouse tanks another adventure-themed feature and shamefully so. The scope and finesse of the larger scenes and the genuine awe Newell can create here is a sad and irredeemable waste.
The adaptive process Sacha Baron Cohen makes for many of his characters is to plant a cultural or caricature-like approach to bigger ideals and chip away at the message buried deep below. For Borat, it was the perception of America from the outside. For Ali G, it was the publicity stunt and wild variety of the chav lifestyle and soon-to-be white gang-loving idiot stereotype that flooded the modern pop scene. For The Dictator though, Cohen leaves behind his biting cultural analysis in favour of something more streamlined and solely reliant on the comedic aspect of a dictator without cause or country. That change of pace is damaging, as it was a few years later with Grimsby, but not quite for the same reasons.
It’s certainly no Ran. While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may look to boast effective, huge spectacles, some of the magic is taken out of the stature. It is not there. While the iconography is, the heart is not. But that is what audiences should expect of Marvel. It brags about its special effects and its action scenes yet is just another Marvel feature that allows the secret society trope to reign supreme. Are there not enough of those already? Evidently not. For such a vast and expansive universe on offer, it is disappointing to see how most of it hits the same riffs and notes as all the others.
Even in his debut feature, it was clear as to which direction director Jonathan Glazer would take. Sexy Beast is, at its core, an overwhelmingly brilliant piece of film, one that engages with its leading characters and those around him with such distanced affection that you’d be forgiven for thinking we were already associated with these characters beforehand. Partly due to the amazing work ethic of Ray Winstone and Ben Kinglsey, and partly due to how well the writing formulates that crucial opening, and the meeting between the two further down the line, Sexy Beast is a near-masterpiece that showcases shady characters who are morally grey at the best of times, living their lives in relative seclusion until it, of course, all veers off course.
Shutter Island? More like, Nutter Island. That’s about as feasible a joke I can make after sitting through Shutter Island for the first time, a Martin Scorsese film I’ve been evading for the better part of a decade. A film that has a surprising amount of attachment in larger groups of audiences, Shutter Island doesn’t seem like a film my generation would cling onto and speak so highly of. Out of all the friends I have that have seen the film, four of them have said it was, at some point in time, their favourite film. There was no denying the strengths of its cast and direction, but the best film of all time? Surely, they can’t be serious.