Showing posts with label Tadanobu Asano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tadanobu Asano. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 June 2012


"Legend tells us one thing; history, another. But, every now and then, we find something that belongs to both"

A thousand years after his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard defeated the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, his arrogant but powerful son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to take on his father’s old nemesis after an unprovoked attack on Asgard. This is against his father’s will and as a result Thor is cast out of Asgard, losing all of his power and most importantly Mjolnir, his hammer. Landing on Earth, Thor is accidentally run over by scientists Jane (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard) who are skeptical about his story. Thor must prove his worth to Asgard and protect the Earth from his jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in order to be able to ascend his father’s throne.

I think that the tone of this film was judged very well. It didn’t take itself too seriously which considering the plot involves caped Viking Gods talking in late Middle English and large blue Frost Giants was a good call. It wasn’t as funny as Iron Man but I laughed several times.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Battleship is loosely based on the board game Battlships and stars Taylor Kitsch as an unlikely hero in a battle between the US Navy and alien invaders. We see Kitsch at the beginning of the film in a bar being told he has to think about his future. He is 26 and without a job, living on the sofa of his Naval Officer brother’s house. He is reckless and seemingly lacks direction. Then suddenly he is a Lieutenant in the US Navy and in charge of the weapons or something on the USS John Paul Jones (which isn’t named after the Led Zeppelin bassist unfortunately). While out on manoeuvres with an international fleet off the coast of Hawaii, Kitsch (and Rihanna…sigh…) are sent to investigate a crashed UFO somewhere in the Ocean. It transpires that five alien ships have been dispatched to Earth after a transmission to their home planet. After travelling though millions of miles of space, one ship inexplicably hits a satellite in Earth’s orbit, while the other four plunge into the Pacific Ocean. Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) orders a warning shot which starts a battle. A battle with ships.

I was sceptical going in about how a film could be made based on a game I used to play with my dad using two pens and a maths exercise book. For about five minutes, two thirds in, the film succeeds in making a film like the game. This sequence is also exciting and interesting. For the rest of the film, bar the odd overhead shot of ships in formation, it might as well have been any old Naval action movie.

There is so much wrong with this movie that I could go on for pages but I’ll try and keep it brief. Firstly, the dialogue is atrocious. It’s like it was written by a teenager who has seen two action movies. It is so cheesy that it is actually funny. Secondly, the acting is really bad. Good actors such as Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard have no more than fifteen minutes of screen time between them and instead we are left with Rihanna who mainly sits by a computer and says “Yes Sir!” I’m pleased that she didn’t take the Britney Spears Crossroads route into acting but she hardly sets the world alight and her casting is an obvious attempt to draw in people who wouldn’t see the movie without her in it. Brooklyn Decker spends most of the film standing on a mountain with a legless man, looking confused but pretty. This is apart from one scene in which she is somehow channels Colin McRae and becomes a rally driver. She is nothing more than eye candy here. After the critical and commercial failure of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch again fails to impress and lacks the charisma to carry the film. I personally think that Skarsgard would have been a better choice for the role. He completely outclasses Kitsch in their scenes together and has bags of charisma.  The whole film is played far too straight. It is always so serious. Blockbusters used to be fun and this definitely isn’t.

Much of the film is stupid and makes no sense. After an alien craft destroys a 7,000 tonne Cruiser, a mile away, it then fails to blow up a rubber dinghy carrying Kitsch and Rihanna which is ten feet from its hull. Also, after a ship has been destroyed with tremendous loss of life, someone asks Kitsch if everyone is ok to which he replies “Yes!” What he meant to say is “Well I’m fine, Rihanna’s fine and the Japanese guys alright too”. The entire plot is as full of holes as the destroyed Cruiser while the obvious product placement will have you stopping by Subway on your way home to pick up a Coke Zero. One thing that really annoyed me was the constant robotic/electronic noises which permeate the whole film. They are present in most sci-fi action films but just sound ridiculous. The film’s ending is ridiculous too.

The next paragraph contains spoilers.

After aliens have destroyed all of the modern ships, Kitsch et al find the 70 year old museum ship the USS Missouri and along with about five shells and a crew of pensioners manage to defeat the aliens when 21st Century technology has failed! Its admirable that the film makers used real WWII Veterans but their inclusion helps to pile on the cheesiness.  

Spoilers over. 

On the plus side, some of the GCI is good. The design of the alien ships and particularly the aliens themselves were excellent. A lot of though had gone into what they looked like and why and they were very believable. Another aspect I liked was that the aliens are never the aggressors. This also felt realistic and believable. If we went to a new world, we wouldn’t go in all guns blazing Independence Day style but would identify targets and differentiate between friend and foe. At the beginning of the film I thought that maybe this would be a rare Blockbuster in which the USA doesn’t go it alone but apart from a token Japanese guy, the excellent Tadanobu Asano (Zatoichi) this turned out to be the case.

The message the film delivers is commendable but is unfortunately lost in the explosions. The film is trying to tell us that sometimes the old ways are better and that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on technology but the way it tells you is ridiculous and laughable. On the whole the film is a massive disappointment. It is too long, it takes itself far too seriously, is no fun and features terrible acting and dialogue. The relationships feel false and while you’d expect a side of cheese, here it is served as the main course. If you want to watch Transformers on water then this is for you but if you want something more you need look elsewhere.


Thursday, 5 April 2012


Zatoichi is a 2003 Samurai action/comedy/drama written, starring and directed by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano, probably best known in the west for his game show Takeshi’s Castle and appearance in Battle Royale plays the title role of Zatoichi, a blind Samurai who comes to the aid of a town being ravaged by gang war. In the town, Zatoichi befriends a local farmer and helps two Geisha to enact revenge on the gang leaders who killed their family.   

The opening scene, which is darkly comic and features copious amounts of blood letting, sets the tone for the rest of the film. The film contains the kind of cartoon like yet realistic blood splattering that Quentin Tarantino used to such great effect in Kill Bill. It is always over the top and unnecessary but very entertaining. The film also features some quite surreal comic moments which includes the occasional appearance of a local fat man running around a house in his underwear, holding a spear and screaming as though he is going into battle. The fight scenes, as well as being wonderfully well choreographed are also often humorous.

So far, so good. For me the film falls down when the comedy and violence are left behind in favour of the rival gangs’ story. I couldn’t get into it and found it overlong and tedious. I wasn’t invested enough in any of the characters outside of Zatoichi and the film suffers when he isn’t on screen. I thought that parts of the plot were overly complex and the twist about who was really in charge was obvious.

Overall I’d say that I enjoyed the film but only up to a point. I’d watch a sequel but I’d like more Zatoichi and less of the faltering side story. The fights look great and the film is very funny but it was too long and often boring.