Time to check in with Matt J Blake, and see what’s what over on the big screen this month….
Run All Night
Liam Neeson is (well I can’t really say he’s back; it’s not as if he’s actually gone anywhere) once again snapping necks, spraying an unlimited amount of bullets (seriously, what is it with Hollywood?) and generally making life hell for his foes.
Jimmy (Neeson) is a retired murderer and alcoholic. He used to carry out killings for his best friend Shawn McGuire (Ed Harris); each have a son Mike and Danny respectively.
Danny owes a huge sum of money to some Albanian creditors, and he kills them so he doesn’t have to pay. Mike witnesses this, as he was chauffeuring the Albanians – and he runs away to escape the same fate as the Albanians.
Jimmy meets Danny at his house. After getting him to promise not to rat out Danny, Jimmy leaves. He spots Danny trying to kill his son and shoots him before Danny can fire. Then holy hell breaks loose.
The plot takes about 15 minutes too long to get going, but once it’s up to speed it never stops. This is the film Taken 3 should have been. The action is brutal, the script is neither here nor there and it’s all directed through rather a dark lens. But then it is filmed over a night.
Neeson is on auto-pilot here, Ed Harris returns to form as a mob boss with incredible ease and it’s a serviceable B-movie.
It’s worth it just to see hip-hop star Common make a star turn as a contract killer.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
I know you all used to watch it. So you know who all the characters are; but here’s a refresher: there’s burger flipper SpongeBob, his best friend Patrick, Texan squirrel Sandy, Krusty Krabb owner Mr Krabbs and SpongeBob’s neighbour Squidward.
Mr Krabbs’ secret formula for his infamous Krabby Patty disappears during an attempt by his arch-enemy Plankton. I won’t reveal how, because that’s part of the fun. The town of Bikini Bottom erupts into a post-apocalyptic hell without Krabby Patties.
SpongeBob and his motley crew must venture to the surface to find where they suspect the formula is. This involves the blend of CGI animation and live-action as seen in the recent Smurfs adaptations. Which is beautifully rendered, with not a pixel out of place.
The film is narrated by Antonio Banderas from a book he stole from a skeleton, who does his best Captain Jack Sparrow impression minus the rum – come on guys, this is a kid’s film.
It’s made with the same frenetic gag-a-minute lunacy and bouncing energy that made Who Framed Roger Rabbit so fun. The animation is seamless, the screenplay is line-to-line full of gags and zingy in-jokes.
It’s hilarious good fun, and it’s surprisingly well written; the colours and the action pop and bounce out of the screen and SpongeBob is still cutely naïve.
When the headline stars are as well-known as Rihanna and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), you’re expecting the best that Dreamworks Animation Studios have to offer. Well, you’re not far off the mark; but there are a few niggles.
The film opens with Earth being invaded by The Boov, a race of tiny purple aliens – who relocates the human race to a single island. One of the Boov, Oh (yes that’s his name) is a lonely alien. He is excitable, naïve and adorable – he invites everyone to his house-warming party using his version of the smartphone. Oh (Parsons) is left feeling depressed and sad when nobody turns up.
Unwittingly he invites everyone in the galaxy, when he accidently hits “Send to All” on his phone – including the Gorgs, the archenemy race of the Boov. The Gorgs are set to invade Earth and attack the Boov in 24 hours – setting a time-scale in which Boov must come up with a way of cancelling the invite.
Oh goes on the run and bumps into Tip (Rihanna) – a Boov hating human wanting vengeance for her mother, who was relocated by the Boov. After a fantastically funny exchange in a petrol station, Tip and Oh team up to find her mother, unaware of the impending doom.
It’s bright, colourful, funny and comically musical. But it feels rather contrived. There’s a sweetness in the bond that Oh and Tip form, but it feels forced for the sake of the audience.
The screenplay is nowhere near as funny as SpongeBob’s, but the animation is fizzy and eye-popping. Rihanna and Parsons have a delightful chemistry, that’s let down by the script.
Eye-popping and comical, but let down by a drab script.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
I loved last year’s Divergent, but I’m struggling to love its sequel as much.
We pick up where the last film left off, with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend Four, her brother Caleb and resident k**bhead Peter hiding out in the Amity faction – the kind and pacifist faction. This is following the assault on Tris’ faction Abnegation in the first film.
Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is still seeking out Divergents, this time to open an artefact found underground in Abnegation. And that’s all I’m telling you about the plot.
The film is a rollercoaster of not a lot happening, then EVERYTHING happening all at once. A blistering visit through the factions, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and the Factionless will leave you scrambling to keep up with what’s going on.
Tris is suffering horrific nightmares, leaving her in tears and cold sweats. Four is trying to stop her ripping Janine’s throat out, whilst Caleb defects to Jeanine’s Erudite faction. But there isn’t much in the way of character development – even with Tris we’re expected to just know what’s going on in her head.
Kate Winslet is once again the stand out. Her Jeanine is superbly wicked and we at least know exactly what she’s doing 100% of the time.
The direction is balanced and the CGI benefits from the budget increase over the last film. The action is great to watch, with guns and martial arts exercised in equal measure.
It’s rather disappointing next to its sequel, because the plot droops in the middle, but it is better than the latest Hunger Games instalment.
The sequel needs to be much better.