Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Change-Up


Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde.

Although admittedly I wasn’t expecting a lot from this film, a big part of me still felt disappointed. The Change-Up is your classic body swap comedy. Two best friends live very different lives; Dave is swept under juggling his demanding family and demanding job, whilst Mitch is a lazy bastard, unable to see anything through. Naturally they get drunk, piss in a fountain and wish to swap lives (as you do). I think you can take a pretty good guess at what comes next...

The comedy in this just wasn’t what I thought it would be. I knew it wasn’t going to be a great film but I thought it would be at least pleasantly entertaining. Although it was fairly entertaining, the comedy was very poor. Fair enough, there were a handful of moments that were genuinely quite amusing but other than that, all that came through were the writers distinct odour of trying too hard. I understand that we are supposed to suspend our disbelief, but it felt like at times they were asking too much. It seemed like they snubbed a lot of the wit by opting for cheap comedy instead, which unless I was stupidly drunk or under the age of 10, just isn’t funny to me.

A big problem to me was the way the character of Mitch came across. Yes, I get it is necessary for him to be a douche and self involved, however I feel that likeability is still a key element within this genre, and for me, the guy simply had none. It was Ryan Reynolds reverting back to his earlier days of poor comedy in Just Friends. After recently realising, with the help of Buried that he is actually a decent actor, it is very painful to be suddenly kicked back to this view of him. He is better than these characters. This isn’t to say Reynolds is bad in the film, I actually thought both him and Jason Bateman did a good job. I mean we have to believe these characters have switched places, and I found their performances believable. It was just a mixture of the script and the actual production of the characters that bothered me. It immediately sucked a lot of acceptable potential out of the idea slamming it hard into the ground.

The final issue I had with the script was the very poor structure. The predictability and cliché cheese at the end I can get on board with as it’s the sort of thing I’ve grown to expect from this kind of comedy; however a lazy constructed order of events bothers me. It felt like the writers had all these ideas, but instead of incorporating them into a smooth and ordered way, they just threw them into the mix in whatever order they landed. They tried to include some depth to Mitch’s character through the breaking relationship he had with his dad, however it came across really sloppy and like there was no real jurisdiction to it.  

I can normally get on board with this typical comedy and I really felt like this film would be just another one that is a winner for mindless humour. Whilst I wouldn’t say I hated the film, I was left feeling pretty disappointed. Although not a hard genre to make, since every other body swap film has set the structure for it already, it seemed very rushed and that perhaps a bit more time could have gone into it. I quite enjoyed It’s a Boy Girl Thing and 17 Again – they are body swap films I could happily sit down and enjoy again. This one doesn’t quite cut it. I can’t see myself watching it again, even for mindless drivel. Definitely not worth an immediate watch. 

Sunday, 4 September 2011

My Top Moments: LOTR

After recently re-watching the fantastic trilogy that is Lord of the Rings, I have been inspired to create a list of my favourite scenes within the three films. Combined, the trilogy plays host to many, many wonderfully composed, shot and acted scenes - however these 5 are the ones that stand above all the rest to me.

FIVE- Gollum's Duality.

During The Two Towers, there are several moments where Gollum reveals his dual personality. The particular scene in which I'm referring to however is the first time we really witness this, and the point we see Gollum's good side stomping down his malevolence. The cleverness of the scene blows me away every time I see it. It is simply superb the way life is given to another character entirely merely through the interjections of different camera angles and the use of great editing. Gollum's two personalities physically come to life on screen in a way that is engaging to watch time after time. Beautiful editing and an incredibly well composed scene that I think thoroughly deserves some attention. 

FOUR - Aragorn's tracking of Pippin and Merry

After Pippin and Merry have been captured by Saruman's army, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli go in search of them. This is the point where they believe the Riders of Rohan have accidentally killed the hobbit's but Aragorn manages to track the steps they made and work out what happened. I particularly love this scene because it is a fantastic demonstration of just how truly awesome Aragorn is. I love how Aragorn's explanation of what took place is cut with the real time action of Pippin and Merry in the situation. It gives the scene a lot of pace and allows Aragorn's words to hold some resonance. It is a scene I always love and admire due to it's engaging thrill and brilliant directing. 

THREE - The beginning of the Battle of Helm's Deep.

This photo doesn't fully highlight the precise point I mean here. Although I absolutely love the whole Battle of Helm's Deep, so much so that The Two Towers will always be my favourite in trilogy, the approach of the orcs is the bit I love the most. I think the whole anticipation is captured so well. The moment where you can see the orcs approaching in the distance with everyone waiting patiently behind the walls is such a beautiful moment - especially when the rain begins, acting as a pathetic fallacy for the immanent bloodshed. The set up of this battle is so wonderful, we are completely drawn into a state of anticipation and are overwhelmed with fear for the fighting members of our fellowship. The way these emotions are created emphasises just how elegantly powerful the approach is. It is intrinsic that we are completely thrown into this battle even before it has properly begun and I think the whole production team has done an absolute stellar job with this. It gives me goosebumps every time I see the orcs approaching in the distance and the close up of the men's eagerly awaiting faces (admittedly some of those goosebumps may be down to seeing a dripping wet Orlando Bloom) which is something I always take to be the mark of something special. 

 TWO - Boromir's Death

I think it goes without saying that this is the best death scene in the entire trilogy. After trying to betray Frodo, Boromir proves himself by dying a truly heroic death. The moment he gets shot with the first arrow is beautifully done. I love the way the intensity of the music stops and what we hear is a translucent version of the diagetic sounds. The way he gets up and carries on fighting is amazing. The scene is absolutely perfect. Sean Bean is a fantastic actor and acts his part wonderfully. The moment the Uraki is standing over Boromir about to give the final blow is such a great piece of cinema with phenomenal amounts of power. Even though Pippin and Merry's attempts at avenging Boromir are futile, it is still a touching moment that adds to the depth and beauty of the scene. I honestly can't see how anyone could not fall in love with the perfection of this scene. 

                                  ONE - PIPPIN'S SONG.

Not only is this scene my favourite scene within the entire trilogy, it is one of my favourite scenes ever. It blows me away every single time with how visually and aurally captivating it is. The scene interjects Pippin singing a song to Denathor whilst he's piggishly eating, with Boromir and his army riding out into battle. It is an absolutely stunning piece of cinema. The way the words of the song reflect upon the riders downfall, and how we see Denathor ripping away at meat when men are dying comes together so perfectly in an absolute wonderful moment of symbolism. Everything about this scene is chilling. Pippin's voice is given a haunting echoed effect and the actions of the riders are slowed down to shower the tone with more despair. Despair not only for the fate of the unlucky riders, but despair for the impending doom upon middle earth and our burdened ring bearer. 
I could watch this scene over and over again and not get bored. It demonstrates the real talents of filmmaking and how actions should be layered. Absolutely magnificent!