Sign in using your account with
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Stiller Stars & Directs in Feel-Good Fantasy Flick
Loosely based on a two-page short – written by legendary New Yorker journalist, James Thurber, in 1939 – and told through a series of mesmerizing scenes, Ben Stiller's latest project sure is a pretty, though in terms of the story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty lacks the true imagination that it promises.
Meet Walter Mitty (Stiller); a forty-two year old negative assets manager working for Life magazine, who is known for slipping deep into his daydreams as a way of making up for his otherwise unadventurous existence. The job of handling negatives and keeping track of all the photographs used within the magazine has long served as a tool for Walter to escape into his wild world of fantasy.
Regrettably, the company soon announces it will be making cuts and that they will be running their final print before making their transition onto a digital platform. Walter's creepy bully of a boss, Ted Hendricks (Scott), instructs him to use a photo taken by renowned photo journalist Sean O'Connell (Penn) for their final cover, only Walter can't seem to find it.
In danger of losing his job, Walter panics and decides to hop on a plane to hunt the photographer down himself before the magazine's deadline. Encouraged by co-worker, Cheryl (Wiig) - who Walter has had a crush on for a long time – he soon finds himself on a globe-trekking journey which might not only save his job, but also his sanity.
The importance of living life to the fullest and making the most of every opportunity that gets thrown your way lies as the driving force behind the story. Stiller is likeable as the forever-lost daydreamer; an escapist who prefers the comfort of his imagination over real life itself. As Mitty's love interest, Wiig tones down her comedic instincts for the role and is sadly underused, with the same going for Maclaine and Hahn, who play Walter's supportive mother and sister, while Penn is in his element in the role of the adventurous photographer whom Walter is trying to track down.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is beautifully shot and thanks to the wonderful work of cinematographer, Stuart Dryburghs, the film's choice of scenery – from icy Greenland landscapes, to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas – is crisp, polished and incredibly alluring.
However, the message that the film is so desperately trying to convey – stop dreaming and start living – never really comes together in any real and sincere way, nor does it ever touch on the true sentiments of the allusion. Running out of steam pretty early on, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, although very pretty to look at, is perhaps a little too lost in its own world of dreams and fantasies.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.
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.