Another week, another comic book adaptation. Yes it's Fantastic Four.
We were expecting bad reviews for this one, and that's what we got. The Independent are particularly appalled as their one star review makes patently clear: "Instead of drama we are offered some paltry musings on celebrity (it's set in New York) plus great swathes of scenery-trashing. If X-Men is the Big Brother of the superhero ensemble, this is pretty close to Celebrity Love Island."
Althought that's the only 'reviewy' part of the review - the rest is taken with summarising the backstory to the Fantastic Four and taking the piss of Michael 'the third Mitchell brother' Chiklis for having to spend five hours in make-up every day.
The Times is a little more thorough in its panning of the film, going for the easy shot first:
Fantastic Four is more than a misnomer, it’s a wide-open goal. Distinctly Average Four is closer to the mark. Or perhaps Woefully Unambitious and Creatively Barren Four, which admittedly doesn’t really roll off the tongue.
But in the end Wendy Ide blames the cult of the sequel for how hollow the film is: "the film-makers are so safe in the knowledge that they are working on the first part of a blockbuster series that they don’t seem to have bothered to try to make this movie memorable in its own right. This shoddy hack-job doesn’t deserve to spawn the franchise that Fantastic Four will inevitably become."
So, as you can imagine, we were rubbing our hands in gleeful anticipation of Pete Bradshaw's hatchet job...only to find that he loved it!
Yes, it's four stars from Pete plus a whole load of plaudits and some priceless information about what Pete eats when he's at the flicks:
It's a huge relief to settle down with Vanilla Diet Coke, plus nachos and dip, to a thoroughly enjoyable and unpretentious summer movie about superheroes that isn't freighted with loads of self-conscious darkness.
By 'self-conscious darkness' he means Batman and Spiderman et al, and what this film is good at (according to PB) is being funny - something the Times and the Independent don't even touch upon.
"Thank heaven, none of it is dark! Being a superhero is great! It's fun!" saya Pete, using more exclamation marks in that one paragraph then he has done all year. "Nobody feels compelled to apologise for any déclassé comic book origins with lots of gloom or spurious psychological agony."
So the jury's out on that one then - which usually means it will be a case of 'wait for the DVD'.
Another week, another Hollywood remake of a Japanese horror film. Yes it's Dark Water.
Jennifer Connelly, Pete Postlethwaite, Tim Roth? How can you go wrong? Quite easily reckons Tony Quinn in the Independent.
It's just two stars from him because it's just not scary enough: "Dark Water simply isn't disturbing. It's as if Salles is too tasteful a director to put the frighteners on us, though confronted with 105 minutes of permanent rainfall and ill-lit interiors, you would welcome a few good scares."
Both the Guardian and the Times are a tiny bit more generous, both giving it three stars. Steve Rose in the Guardian says "an accomplished but not particularly scary remake", concluding that, in the end this version "only underlines what a good job Nakata did with the Japanese original."
In the Times Wendy Ide thinks the problem may lie in the fact that anyone who's seen the original knows where the scares are coming from: "It’s difficult to judge how effective the film is in delivering jolts and chills if you’re familiar with the original and know what to expect behind each creaking closet door." Which is a good point, and it makes you wonder why directors even bother to take on these remakes...and, yes, we know the answer is money.
Another week, another French movie featuring masturbation orgies and incest. Yes, it’s Jean-Claude Brisseau’s Secret Things.
The Independent haven't reviewed this one for some reason (at least we can't find it on the site) but the Guardian and the Times do and they disagree completely on whether it's any good or not.
The Guardian give Secret Things four stars, even though it's full of "lesbian sex, public masturbation, orgies and worse," because "it's all incorporated into a thriller that's both boldly philosophical and operatically overheated.". Steve Rose thinks "It's a film that takes big risks, and springs grand, horrific surprises" but in the Times, Ian Johns reckons it's worthy of just one star because after the nooky descends into "an absurd baroque whirl of incest, Eyes Wide Shut orgies and histrionic power games" it just gets boring "and you give up caring whether this is a power-politics satire or porn with pretensions."
In film news this week, the Exodus Film Group have confirmed a pretty impressive cast for their animated feature film Igor: John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Jay Leno and Chrisian Slater. Cleese is to play the mad scientist Dr Glickenstein (obviously), Slater will play his assistant Igor, Buscemi will voice "a sarcastic rabbit named Scamper" which leaves Jay Leno with the part of "Brian, the angry brain in a jar".
We can't wait.
We're slightly less excited by the news that they're making another The Omen sequel - this time it's called The Omen 666 - and it's actally a remake of the first film rather than a proper sequel. One question: why?
And we could ask the same question about the news that Ant and Dec are to star in a film about "two best friends who go on a trip to the US and stumble across a piece of top secret military film that will change the way mankind sees the universe forever"...and that's when we reach for our paintball gun.
Anc trailer of the week? Got to be Cry Wolf just because half of it seems to be set in an IM conversation (cheap to make!) and Jon Bon Jovi's in it.