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Cima Ali Baba: Unconventional Egyptian Comedy
Cima Ali Baba is made up of two separate films, the first being the Star Wars style ‘Go and Kill Them All’, and the second being ‘The Cock in the Nest’.
Mekki stars in the first film as Hazal’om, a human being who has been abducted from planet Earth by three corrupt government officials on Planet Rivo. He was specifically chosen due to his resemblance of their assassinated president who died without appointing a deputy. As part of a plan to assume control of the planet, the corrupt officials want to pass Hazal’om off as the president until he fulfils their plan to appoint one of them as his deputy after which they intend to dispose of him. Hazal’om is caught between the officials who have him captive and the resistance who wish to establish a democracy.
Directly inspired by the revolution, ‘Go and Kill Them All’ combines a run-of-the-mill story with Star Wars-esque visuals, though honestly, the thirty year old original Star Wars looked better. Nonetheless, the jokes and the sheer amount of body paint are barely enough to sustain it.
The second film, ‘The Cock in the Nest’ revolves around the animal inhabitants of a farm who are being terrorized by a gang of hyenas who forcefully take an ever increasing percentage of the farm’s output every month. The farm animals live in the hope that one day Habash the fighting cock will return and save them from the hyenas’ tyranny. Mekki plays a thieving cock named Baraber who along with his sidekick Sondo’ the rat, plans to rob the farm. Before they have a chance to get their plan straight though, the farm animals see them and mistake Baraber for Habash.
Baraber and Sondo’ go along with this mistaken identity that has afforded them food and shelter and a respected status and plan to milk it for as long as possible. Their sense of victory is short lived though due to the arrival of the hyenas who thoroughly humiliate the new arrivals thus crushing the farm animals’ hopes. Baraber who has come to love living as an honest and respected cock, deigns to bring down the hyenas with the help of the farm animals, however before they can execute the plan, the farm animals uncover his true identity and cast him out.
The costumes and acting are really cool. Seeing the actors wearing feathers and animal noses and mimicking their animal’s mannerisms was pretty awesome. It was mainly this and not the jokes that provided the few laughs.
The moral of both films revolve around seizing the chance to do the right thing and that a unified resistance can topple the strongest enemies. While the first part was funnier, the second was more interesting though neither film was particularly successful. Either way, it’s an unconventional film for Egyptian cinema however, in this reviewer’s opinion; Cima Ali Baba might have been better as a television show.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.