This week - The pilot light's gone out... on the sun (Sunshine) and Will Ferrell goes iceskating (Blades of Glory).
Don't you hate it when the sun is going out and you have to go and reignite it? First up, Sunshine
Bradshaw gives it 4/5, calling it a "beautiful-looking new space adventure".
All of the reviews today are impressed with the way this film looks,
It's a film with some stunning sequences and gobsmacking Nasa-graphic visuals which are destined to be shown on giant Imax screens around the country.
(Unofrtunately it looks as if the BFI IMAX in Waterloo is showing 300 until the end of time.. along with Lions 3D: Roar of the Kalahari, of course. Who goes to see Lions 3D: Roar of the Kalahari?)
This is where Bradshaw flexes his muscles and gets filmy,
Garland and Boyle's story reaches out, or reaches back, to the lost 1970s tradition of darkness, scepticism and subversion in science fiction, a period that combined the technological optimism of the Sputnik/Apollo era with the succeeding decade's political discontent. Sunshine alludes, empathically and even unsubtly, to Kubrick's 2001 and Carpenter's Dark Star with their weightlessly calm personnel procedures, vertiginous perspective planes of hyperdrive and enigmatically mutinous computers. We also feel the austere mysticism of Tarkovsky's Solaris - a movie that shows what space travel would be like if they'd managed it in the reign of Henry II - and the paranoid contaminations of Ridley Scott's Alien.
Phew. Next, Bradshaw gets a bit philosophical about aliens,
When Kubrick's 2001 came out, audiences genuinely did believe that space travel and encounters with other worlds, and therefore an enhanced understanding of our own world, were plausible 21st-century achievements. It is shaming to think how we have abandoned this idealism with hardly more than an incurious shrug. Interest in other existences gets laughed off as absurd or cranky, and yet the implied assumption that we are alone, or at any rate uniquely relevant in the universe, is surely its own kind of Ptolemaic irrationalism.
We'll tell you what is a Ptolemaic irrationalism and an OJ Simpson scale injustice, Peter. The fact that the solar system doesn't orbit around you. You are our God. We've prepared a special hamper of meats for you. Drop us a line and we'll bring it round on the bicycle.
Anyway, overall, the film is "a thrilling and sensual spectacle."
Wendy Ide gives it 4/5. As with Bradshaw, she picks up immediately on the visuals,
The only thing more dazzling than the angry star throbbing at the centre of our dying solar system is the production design on Danny Boyle’s visually arresting sci-fi picture. Sunshine looks magnificent ... With its eerie beauty and ambitious scale, this British production can match anything that Hollywood has churned out on a budget many times the size.
It's not called Great Britain for nothing Wendy.
The film stars Cillian Murphy and Ide is quite taken with him,
Murphy has matured into his striking looks — his icy blue gaze dominates a bone structure that, until recently, looked as if it had a few too many angles, an origami interpretation of a face. In Sunshine however, Murphy’s beauty is undeniable. He has the white-hot intensity of a young Peter O’Toole.
Anthony Quinn gives it only 3/5. He has two main problems with the film. He begins his review with,
One of the perks of being a successful film-maker is that you can get to remake your favourite movie. The practice is usually bracketed under the term "homage", because it's not an actual remake, just a series of lifts from all the famous scenes and themes that you wish that you'd dreamed up first ... What's disheartening is the inability to transcend their influences and make of them something new.
In Quinn's view, Sunshine owes two much to Ridley Scott's Alien, "arguably the most imitated film of the last 25 years". His second problem with the film is its end. It isn't very good, and all the reviewers agree. Quinn writes,
I wonder if the film-makers themselves were suffering a touch of sun when they put together the finale. Up to this point even science know-nothings like me could more or less follow what was going on (the science is mostly speculative in any case, it just has to sound plausible) and Boyle has nicely ratcheted the tension: the moment that Murphy, one of the four survivors, learns from the computer that there's an unidentified "fifth crew member" on board is deeply chilling. What ensues, though, is something I couldn't even hope to explain.
I wasn't sure about the great dramatic encounter in its final act, which did not, for my money, emerge satisfactorily from the personalities established at the very start.
Ide completes the tryptych of disappointment,
The Sun is all that is needed to inject enough jeopardy into this story to keep us on the edge of our seats — which is why it’s so disappointing that the story introduces an additional device that instantly shifts the tone from intelligent, adult drama to teen exploitation picture. It’s a cheap tension-creator that jars with the quality of the film-making that comes before. It’s the reason, ultimately, that this film is not the masterpiece that it could almost have been. It’s just a pity that the film sells out much of its initial potential and intelligent restraint with a final act that feels as if it was tacked on to appease a teenage audience.
Watch the trailer -
Next up, starring Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Will Ferrell (Every American comedy so far this millenium) Blades of Glory
Bradshaw gives it 3/5, calling it a "serviceably funny underdog sports movie".
Ferrell has already worked the comeback-kid storyline in Anchorman and Talladega Nights, but with enough gags, comedy training montages and funny secondary characters, it always works perfectly well, even if Heder is always in danger of getting eclipsed by Ferrell, that one-man macho-comedy delivery system.
He concludes that "Blades isn't quite as funny as Zoolander or Dodgeball, but it deserves a solid score from the judges." Why does everyone like Zoolander so much? It's so bad!
Wendy Ide gives it 3/5
Will Ferrell "reprises his Anchorman/ Ricky Bobby persona almost note for note" while Jon Heder gives "his most satisfying performance since Napoleon Dynamite". The writing is,
as slick as the ice rink they train on; it’s not always successful, but this is a script that puts an Olympic effort into making us laugh. What makes this film a genuinely unexpected delight are the sight gags and set pieces, which often involve cast members sustaining horrible ice-related injuries. I can’t remember a time when I have laughed so long and hard at a decapitation gag.
Anthony Quinn really likes it and rates it higher than Sunshine with a 4/5, writing that, "The spirit of Dodgeball lives again - on ice!",
Ferrell and Heder are such expert physical comedians that merely watching them together should put you in a good mood, yet they're also drawing on a terrific script (a first-time effort by brothers Craig and Jeff Cox) that keeps raising the level of cherishable silliness ... It becomes slightly less funny as it goes on, though you won't want to miss the finale featuring the "Iron Lotus", the duo's revolutionary dance manoeuvre whose principal danger is one partner's decapitation. The only danger you'll experience is laughing your head off.
Watch the trailer -
Trailer of the week- This Is England