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Puss in Boots: Badass Animated Kitties
Puss (Banderas) grew up in an orphanage where he met his best friend Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis). Together, they dreamed of finding Jack and the Beanstalk’s magic beans, which would lead them to a veritable treasure trove of golden eggs and the goose that lays them. These eggs would make them rich, allowing them to escape the orphanage. However, as they grew up, their paths started to diverge. Puss was more into being the town hero while Humpty couldn’t give up his mischievous ways.
As time goes by, Puss tires of the outlaw life. Upon hearing rumours of the magic beans being in the possession of the dastardly Jack and Jill, he takes it upon himself to steal them in order to get the golden eggs, repay his debts and go home again. While attempting to rob a sleeping Jack and Jill, Puss is interrupted by Kitty Softpaws (Hayek) who wants the beans for herself. Their altercation wakes up Jack and Jill, thus thwarting both of their plans. Upon escaping, Puss finds out that Kitty is partners with Humpty Dumpty, who is now out of prison, and inviting him to join their group. Puss, who is by now thoroughly smitten with Kitty, agrees despite being highly suspicious of Humpty’s motives and intentions.
The tight, focused script ensures that the crazier aspects of the film aren’t superfluous and don’t distract from the characters’ main quest. It’s also jam-packed full of hilarious jokes. Jack and Jill in particular have a really entertaining conversation revolving around Jack’s desire to have a baby and Jill’s complete lack of interest in procreation.
In fact, the voiceover work was uniformly very impressive. Banderas and Hayek do fantastic jobs with their characters. Puss is macho, smooth and pretty adept with a sword while Kitty is smart, fearless and can rob anyone blind, which she does pretty frequently. Galifianakis’ Humpty provides the snide, tense foil to Puss and Kitty’s suave, confidence.
The 3D definitely heightens the film’s fun factor. It was more than worth it just for the scenes where our trio ascend and descend the giant, flourishing, spirally beanstalk. Another fun showcase for the 3D was a scene in which they dive in and out of fluffy clouds, leaping from one to the other.
Puss in Boots (or Cat in Boots depending on which cinema you go to) targets kids but that doesn’t mean that adults won’t find it a whole lot of fun too.
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.
As an exploration of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the military, Dito Montiel’s Man Down is a muddled story that’s pretty challenging to sit through. Though on paper there’s plenty of potential depth in this particular effect of war – and a solid cast at its disposable – the film descends into military-movie clichés, while not really keeping up with its complex set-up.
The movie to take place over four separate time periods and opens with U.S Marine Gabriel Drummer (LeBeouf) and his military buddy, Devin Roberts (Courtney), making their way through a vast and seemingly wasted American landscape which appears to have been destroyed by a chemical attack. On the look-out for survivors, the pair is hoping to find Drummer’s son, Jonathan (Shotwell), whom he believes has been kidnapped.
Before the audience gets a chance to find out what is really going in, the story flashes back to another time period where a seemingly distraught Drummer is being interviewed by Counselor Peyton (Oldman) about an ‘incident’ that occurred on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Moving on to yet to another period, we also get to see the story of Drummer and Roberts during their Marine Corps training at Camp Lejeune before, eventually, cutting to the story of Drummer’s life at home with wife, Natalie (Mara) and their son.
Taking on several narrative threads without really knowing where to take them, let alone how to put them back together, is one of Man Down’s major issues. Used to give some kind of visual interpretation of PTSD, the movie’s choppy editing is ineffective and comes across as a messy, superficial tool.
Clocking in at precisely ninety minutes, Man Down is a relatively short film but, thanks to the overworked script and slow pace, it takes forever for any of the stories to build into something bigger.
Working its way through a series of military clichés, the story works best when it is focused on digging into Drummer’s fractured mind, with the conversation between him and his counsellor – played by the seemingly wasted talent of one Gary Oldman – serving to be one of the movie’s best elements. LeBeouf is convincing as a troubled soldier desperately trying not to sink deeper into madness and his commitment to the role is commendable, making it all that more frustrating to see that the script itself is so lacking.