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The Cold Light of Day: Bland, Confusing Thriller
For anybody planning to watch this for Bruce Willis, be warned- he’s barely in it. We instead spend the whole film following Cavill who plays his son Will who is the only member of the family left free to roam the streets of Madrid. Will’s family has been kidnapped due to Martin’s (Willis) work with the CIA. He’d taken a briefcase from the kidnappers and Will now has to find the bag, which he suspects is with his father’s double crossing partner Jean (Weaver), and get it back to them before they murder every last member of his family.
The film is, as a whole, painfully average but there’s one part in particular that’ll have you screaming in frustration; we never find out what’s in the freaking briefcase! People are getting killed left, right and centre over a plain, black bag. And no, this trick doesn’t give the bag some kind of epically dangerous aura; it’s just infuriating. But lack of clarity is a theme with this film. The fight scenes and car chases are murder to get through. In the former, you can barely see who’s hitting who because the shaky camera work and fast cuts, while the lighting in the latter makes it really difficult to tell the cars apart. Everything’s just so dark. The car chase, despite having some pretty cool scenes of cars rolling down stairs, is robbed of its tension because it’s so confusing.
Cavill joins the generation of actors who are beautiful to look at but incredibly bland. He just goes through the motions here as a man who discovers his inner badass when his family is threatened yet never really embraces those powers. Echegui plays Lucia, his shrieking female sidekick who, despite this unfortunate character flaw, is the most likeable person in the film. Rounding of the cast is Weaver’s Jean. She skirts the line between angry, irritated and insane yet never quite manages to form a compelling villain mainly because we don’t know anything about her or why getting her hands on the briefcase was worth selling out her partner. At the very least though, she’s a badass with a gun.
What the ads fail to show is that this ‘film’ is actually a feature length commercial for Audi to the point that in addition to the cars scattered around everywhere, there’s actually a huge billboard advertising the brand in the film. It’s astonishingly unsubtle but again, when a film is this dull and confusing, product placement becomes highly fascinating.
The idea of basing a film on a video-game hasn’t always proved successful – Super Mario Bros, Mortal Kombat are great proofs – and with yet another gaming-adaptation upon us, one is naturally a little skeptical about what to expect.
Luckily, first-time feature directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly have managed to keep the story of Angry Birds relatively exciting, inducing the story with just enough colour, character and infectious energy to keep the cynics at bay.
The Angry Birds Movie follows the story of Red (aptly voiced by Sudeikis); a permanently short-tempered resident who, thanks to his enraged disposition, has been forced into anger-management classes taught by Matilda (Rudolph). There he soon meets and befriends fellow students, including Chuck (Gad); a seemingly hyperactive yellow canary, Bomb (McBride); a typically docile blackbird with very little control over his feelings once his fuse blows and Terence (Penn); a behemoth bird who only grunts.
When a boatload of green pigs, led by the dubious-looking Captain Leonard (Hader), sail up onto their land bearing free food and catapults to help them fly, Red is instantly suspicious of their true motives but, of course no one believes him. When his suspicions turn out to be true and the pigs end up taking what is most precious to the them, Red – along with Chuck, Bomb and Terence – takes it upon himself to lead an attack on pigs in order to take back their precious keeps.
While it may stand as one of the most popular freemium game series of all time, The Angry Birds Movie - despite its best intentions - may not resonate as one of the finest video-movie adaptations made to date. But that is not to say it doesn’t have its charms. The colorful visuals are captivating, a couple of sequences – including a pig sing along – are creatively thought-out, while the voice work from the entire cast is spot-on, with both Sudeikis – a great fit for the sarcastically-loving Red - and Frozen’s very own Josh Gad coming out on top.
On the downside, however, the story – can feel a little slow with writer Jon Vitti – from The Simpsons, Alvin and the Chipmunks – taking a while before bringing the story to any kind of development, while the internal logic behind some of the story’s trademark features is a little flimsy.
Even though it may not turn into a must-see classic anytime soon, there is still plenty of whimsy, colour and slapstick comedy present in The Angry Birds Movie to keep the adults relatively entertained and the kiddies – who are more than likely to be the most entertained - giddy with joy.
There’s a certain draw to the idea of watching George Clooney and his real-life gal-pal Julia Roberts together on-screen. The duo’s fourth movie together, after Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, comes in the form of director Jodie Foster’s fourth-feature-film, Money Monster; an intriguing but seemingly cheesy and off-balance financial thriller which, despite its brief moments of genuine tension and topical subject, feels empty and somewhat even outdated in its storytelling.
The film tells of Lee Gates (Clooney); a flamboyant TV host of a financial show called ‘Money Monster’ where he provides advice to his viewers on how, where and when to invest their money. Gates has earned quite a bit of success in doing what he does, though his long-time producer, Patty Fenn (Roberts), is deserving of most of the credit.
Things take a turn, however, when IBIS Global Capital's stock takes a tumbling dive and results in an $800 million loss for its investors - a day after Gates advises viewers to invest. The studio is then taken hostage during a live broadcast by one seemingly irate and explosives-strapped investor, Kyle Budwell (O’Connell), who has lost his entire life savings and blames Gates.
One of the most disappointing things about Money Monster is how predictable it all feels with its socio-political commentary. Attempting to depict the ugly face of Wall Street, the subject is a topical one, yes, but has been covered much more affectively with recent films such as The Big Short and 99 Homes. Adding very little understanding or insight into its subject, Foster keeps things relatively tight in the first half, only to lose focus and complete control in the second when the plot swerves off-course into moments of complete implausibility, as the Julia Roberts’ Patty figures that the only way to diffuse the hostage situation is to go digging into IBIS, to provide an explanation to the hostage taker.
However, Clooney and Roberts share an easy chemistry and seem very much at home with their respective roles, with the former offering just enough charisma as the media pinhead with a heart of gold and Roberts keeping things grounded as his steadfast producer and friend. O’Connell, dubious New York accent aside, is equally convincing, however, the solid performances make little difference. Money Monster is just too contrived, uninvolving and one-dimensional.