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.
There’ll always be a memory or two associated with Horrid Henry: The Movie. Pancakes on a Thursday afternoon after finishing school, sat in front of the TV waiting for 16:30 when Horrid Henry would come on CITV. Another, more recent memory, is polishing off a quarter bottle of Bullet Bourbon and sticking Horrid Henry: The Movie, the awful adaptation of the Francesca Simon books, on the telly and trying to rekindle some love for being young. No such luck. This star-stuffed package of British stars is more a reminder of why audiences must never rely on nostalgia in the hopes it may spark something in their hearts. It will not, and you will look a fool for thinking it was ever possible.
Collaborating minds in the directing chair, two greats of the industry coming together, knocking heads and building something powerful. That should happen more, but the outcome is often less than stellar. Joe Johnston and Lasse Hallström learn the hard way with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a feature that wishes to inspire some of that Disney magic. All it can do is scrape the paste of Christmas cheer from the underbelly of projects past. Surely the men that brought us Jumanji and Hachi can mean us no harm. They are polite, reasonable, nice. They would never betray the qualities of Christmas for, say, cash, or the chance to work with Matthew Macfadyen.
Loki, despite worries of quality and caution from sane minds, is the best Marvel miniseries thus far. That is similar to saying you have a favourite flavour of petrol or have spent hours playing spot the difference with two identical images. Part and parcel moviemaking. These are the same core concepts with a fresh coat of paint. A cut and shut bit of branding that shuffles the deck of predictability and spills out another six-episode cluster. Aren’t we blessed? At least it takes a character whose interest has spiked not because of the writing, but because of the man that inhibits him. Surely, Loki would use that to its advantage? A dependable, reliant character who audiences know the story of.
We live in the land of rejection, but much of The Player is focused on how we adapt to sore losers than an implicit desire to improve upon refusal. Its tale of a studio executive hounded by death threats from an anonymous writer is in pole position to criticise and chastise the Hollywood scenery. With Robert Altman helming a finely-tuned ensemble, it is hard to see where or why he could put a foot wrong when presenting Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) to audiences. As its tracking shot makes the hectic life of a studio producer known, The Player introduces us to the lust, allures and obscenities of star-power, stardom and desire.
Countless adaptations, reworkings and allusions to the Bram Stoker classic have been offered to audiences through a variety of mediums. There are only so many that can stick out and ingrain themselves in the legacy of Count Dracula. Who better to helm such a project than Francis Ford Coppola? Knowing that the best way to open any adaptation is with the sultry, smooth Welsh tones of Anthony Hopkins, Coppola’s rendition of Dracula adapts the Stoker classic with a finesse audiences should have expected. Here is a director whose finest works are based on the written word, whose first Academy Award came from adapting life into art, and who, when pressed for a rich experience, has no trouble delivering.
Seeing the unrivalled success that puppetry has within Team America: World Police, some wise producers decided this system had better be applied to the United Kingdom and its rich history. Thrusting a childish, fictional setting to the streets of London during wartime, Jackboots on Whitehall is an amalgamation of talented performers coming together to drizzle grey paste into the ears of any audience doomed to listen. The Battle of Britain is lost to the Nazi forces, and their invasion causes a ragtag bunch of characters to defend the homeland from horrid invaders, peculiarly voiced by Alan Cumming and Tom Wilkinson.
Britpop died, not with a bang, but with the ushering in of a new brand of music, one that soon pulled the curtain back to showcase itself as pop music all along. Scoundrels. The Spice Girls aren’t too bad of a pop group, and their foray into film with Spice World seems rather an inevitability when you come to think about it. It was certainly a financial hit; they blew The Beatles out of the water entirely in that regard. But when discussing the quality of the overall product, there is only one, clear winner. It’s certainly not Spice World, for it fails to reach the surprising consistency of the album it shares its name with.