At a time when the stars of Bruce Willis and Richard E. Grant were rising and rising, an unstoppable collaboration between the two should have been, well, unstoppable. Hudson Hawk brings those grand and polished star powers together in a feature that was post-Die Hard 2 and saw Grant preparing to work with the great Robert Altman. It seemed like a concept too hot to handle. What a lucky experience it would be to work on Hudson Hawk, and what a nightmare it turned into. Michael Lehmann overextends his reach as an artist and director, as does everyone involved in this ensemble car crash, struggling from the tonal whiplash of genre-bending ideas and stars not given a script worth their time.
Follow these rats and swine unto the great unknown, the song of Over the Hedge plays over and over. It is not the exact lyric, but it is close enough. Possums and skunks and squirrels may not be perceived as the best of friends, but this ill-remembered nostalgia box of light comedy would have you think so. They are desperate to survive the harsh realities of winter and to do so must rely on RJ (Bruce Willis) to guide them through neighbourhoods of fine food. Knock-off Doritos because Dreamworks couldn’t secure the license are the golden ticket for a raccoon who has usurped a bear, Vincent (Nick Nolte), and his hibernation plan.
Yes, yes, the boy sees dead people. Get it out of your system. What a relief. The Sixth Sense is enjoyable with or without knowing the big twist, and thanks to a somewhat startling dominance of internet culture, anyone who has clicked on anything on the world wide web is bound to know the twist of this M Night Shyamalan piece. That doesn’t matter. Stories can transcend their twists through good writing and strong performance. The Sixth Sense does exactly that. A formidable debut from Shyamalan gifts audiences with a pop-culture thrill ride that tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) a boy who can, you guessed it, see dead people.
Asteroids are always threatening Earth. Just today, there were two that skittered on by like bowling balls rolling along the gutter. There’ll be five more in just as many days over the first week of May. We have nothing to worry about. Armageddon thinks not. Instilling within its audience is a fear founded by the dinosaurs. It happened to them; it will happen to us. Michael Bay tends not to disappoint when blockbuster blowouts are concerned. As he opens with the immediate destruction of Earth, narration rolling on saying “…it will happen again, it’s just a question of when,” you get the feeling this is not just a threat from the sentient powers beyond the stars, but from Bay too.
Movie-goers may be somewhat aware of the dip in quality Bruce Willis is working through at present. His appearances in Precious Cargo, Hard Kill, and now Cosmic Sin, are components of a wider problem. It is not “what” he is appearing in these barebones action flicks for, but “why” he is doing so. Consider their measly box-office takings in recent years, financial responsibility cannot be the driving force for his appearances. Willis has followed the route of Steven Seagal or Jackie Chan, banking on the name value of their heyday (in the case of Willis, Die Hard), and using the name-value to clamber aboard project after project, all sharing the same action tropes that the straight-to-DVD market are gracious for.
Initial, raw hatred for Twelve Monkeys has subsided over the three years since my last viewing. Somehow, I had failed to realise, all those years ago, that the real charm of Terry Gilliam was his artistry. No, I unfortunately do not remember what affliction to the brain I was suffering from all those years ago, but it must have been something near-fatal to consider Twelve Monkeys as anything less than a great piece from the former Monty Python member. His atmosphere and world-building abilities are dysfunctional and dystopian, as they always are. Inevitably, he borrows from the tones of Orwell and his own work on Brazil a decade before, but therein lies the fun and beauty of Gilliam’s consistency.
Grindhouse is one of hundreds of branches of cinema that I find myself having no real knowledge of. I’ve seen a couple of B-Movies over the past few years, but I’ve never had the heart or intrigue to find explore the realm of grindhouse, low-budget exploitation films that rely on horror, gore, and unintentionally hilarious performances. Robert Rodriguez, then, presents a love letter to the genre, Planet Terror is the culmination of wanting to bring together a formidable cast in a gory zombie flick. Starting with a film made in jest and good humour of the genre it looks to implement isn’t probably the best place to start, but it provided the splattered action I was looking for.