Film Review: Night At The Museum 2

I really enjoyed the first Night at the Museum. To anthropermophise inanimate objects like statues and exhibits and see them interact as what they embody is hilarious. How would cowboys who are often depicted operating solo cooperate with Roman infantry who function as teams; The perfect situation for comedy!

The story: The Night guard Larry Daley has left the museum and started a company selling his inventions such as the glow in the dark flashlight (torch to you and me), the museum has lost the attraction of the public and is being updated with technological aids, such as holograms, to make it interesting once again. For this the exhibits have to move and the tablet of Akmunrah with them, not prepared for the calamity that will ensue Larry tries to stop it. On the first night in their new homes on of the Pharaoh Kamunrah tries to takeover and Jedimiah the cowboy calls Larry for help.

With such high standards set in the first film any sequel is likely to be cursed with what happens to most; it tanks. For me the subtitle “Battle of the Smithsonian” is misleading, I imagined all the exhibits in the Smithsonians 19 museums to come alive and face each other in a slapstick engagement. What we end up seeing really is several new characters alongside many of the old ones.

Night At The Museum 2 Cowboys And Romans

Don’t get me wrong here, the film was executed beautifully, the animation was vivid and blended, the story just interesting enough and good acting all round. The gags come thick and fast, blowing away the expectation on jokes dug up from the dirt and tried on something new, they makers kept it fresh.

I’m not usually one to enjoy Ben Stiller Movies (and I’m not the only one) because of his insistence on playing OTT characters, but when he does play ‘ordinary’ people as Mosh puts it I quite like them.

Night at the Museum 2: Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart

Something I didn’t like very much was that Amelia Earhart was portrayed as alone in her flight, she was navigated by Fred Noonan, where was he? I’m not trying to undermine her accomplishments, but Neil Armstrong wasn’t alone getting to the Moon, the often remembered Buzz Aldrin landed in the Lunar module as well and the seldom remembered Michael Collins orbited just above in the Command module. And even then there are hundreds/thousands of unseen and unsung people that helped and planned the Apollo 11 mission.

Sailor Kissing Girl In Times Square V Day

There were some really great sequences in the film such as when they dived into the photograph Sailor Kissing Girl in Times Square (by Alfred Eisenstaedt), seeing all the celebrations and their reactions to the out of place Night guard, Aviatrix and their attire. (P.S. Keep watching the credits for more on this 😉 ). The octopus was a great creation (and I’m not making this up like The Goonies did) although I was expecting it to be ferocious rather than angry.

Summery: you don’t need to have seen the first one to watch this, it is a great movie to chill out with or to entertain the kids with and very few should be disappointed.

  • Picture: 8/10
  • Sound: 8/10
  • Effects: 9/10
  • Story: 8/10

Film Review: Arthur and the Invisibles

On a whim from my girl I watched this peculiar children’s flick, I immediately came to realise this is the noughties Labyrinth. For those not old enough to have watched Labyrinth as a child then imagine only ever having watched animation or live actions films. Nothing in between or computer generated. Then think what it would be like to have all manner of creatures interacting in a real way with actors, okay they were muppets from Jim Henson but it was amazing to see something so different to what you are used to.

That is how it felt to watch this film, they didn’t try to make the digital characters look completely realistic, nor did they try to make them look cartoon like they have in so many films by Pixar (Toy Story for example) they simply styled them in a beautiful and unique way that sets this film apart from so many other CG animations.

Enough about its differences, was it good? Crikey it was, even for a children’s plot as an adult I was gripped, you weren’t quite sure what was going to happen next and they didn’t make a point of struggling with easy problems in the film, it was performed as you’d expect people (with a little know how) would do. This was carried remarkably by the male protagonist Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) whom most of the live action sequences focused, accompanying him are some marvellous vocals from Robert de Niro, Madonna, Emilo Estevez and Jimmy Fallon.

There are those that have criticise the film for mimicking certain fairytales* but so many other films re-tell those all important and ancient fairytales and myths so I don’t think its fair to point at this one when so many others have done it, I think the contrary it adds to the reverence of the film.

The plot without revelling to much follows the line along this; a young boy, resourceful and obsessed with his grandfathers inventions and trinkets from his expeditions in Africa sets out to save this family’s farm from debt collectors by finding both the treasure in their backyard and his grandfather along the way. Luckily he has help….

There are rumours of 2 sequels in 2009 and 2010 but unfortunately I won’t have any kids as an excuse to go to the cinema so I might have to wait for the DVD releases.

In my opinion this film should gather a fan base in the future akin to Labyrinth or perhaps Tron, but only time will tell on this one. Give it a watch, its entertaining for adults and children alike.

Rating: 93%

Film Review: Hot Fuzz

Another motion picture from the witty talents of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see Pegg without seeing the Tim Bisley in the character we was portraying, as a great testament to Pegg’s acting skill he manages to create a very distinct persona that holds the film separate from any of his other works.

There is a great deal of depth to this film, subtle pieces of information a sprinkled from the very start and you’re only reminded of them towards the very end; making for great re-watching. For example the Andies mockingly say they should call everyone in the village starting with ‘Aaron A. Aaronson’ whom we actually get to see at the very end.

A lot of the information is quite accurate as well, a copper I met through the European Jamboree told me that Police training scenario’s are portrayed in a fictitious village called Sandford in Gloucester, the place where the film is focused. Brilliant, there must’ve been some real investigation into Police procedures when writing the screenplay hopefully winning some awards over the next year!

A laugh a minute film suitable for all occasions and company, certainly worth my £5 cinema ticket, and I wouldn’t put it past myself to making it an addition to my DVD collection in the future.

Rating: 96%

Film Review: Zathura

Would you like to play a game? Ordinarily a harmless request but this is an extraordinary game. Zathura takes you into the Jumanji universe where board games aren’t just pieces being moved around a board, they’re adventures beyond your wildest imagination.

Although a film targeted at children I found this thoroughly enjoyable; there are plenty of jokes for all ages and a deeper story about how hard it can be for children after a divorce.

The story starts with a father and his 2 sons enjoying their weekend together playing games, intermittent with him finishing preparations for a presentation at work. Typically the boys compete for their father’s attention and in the process raise some minor havoc which leads to one of them being tricked into the basement and discovering a cool looking game.

The discoverer opens it up and starts playing; a card is ejected but being so young he can barely read and asks his slightly perturbed brother what it says. Upon reading, a meteor strikes, devastating the living room. Looking out of the window they are stranded in space with no parents and an apathetic sleeping teenager – what are they going to do?

I thoroughly enjoyed Zathura. Usually there’s an obvious formula to children’s movies meaning you can almost predict what’s going to happen next, but Zathura certainly kept it interesting for me. You expect a big hoohah seeing aliens immediately and then getting back at them but Zathura takes a different approach, withhold seeing them until absolutely necessary. Get the kids thinking of the most disgusting and scary monster alien they can imagine, and just when they can’t bare it any longer they show you and it’s pretty intimidating but nothing a 5 year old can’t handle.
A good film to go and see if you’re looking for some easy entertainment, firm acting from the cast, thoughtful plot and respectable CG effects. Certainly worth the price of a cinema ticket.

Rating: 82%

Film Review: Thumbsucker

Thumbsucker Film Poster

A diamond in the rough, this is definitely not another Napoleon Dynamite. What Napolean did for Pop Culture Thumbsucker does the exact opposite to the teen angst genre producing one of the first films to be widely regarded as “American Indie”.
Thumbsucker brings all those problems that we are so used to seeing to new sensational heights.

Justin Cobb (Lou Pucci) is 17 and still sucks his thumb. It’s not surprising that Justin is still clutching to his “security blanket” as his mother dreams over of television heartthrob and his father mourns his college football days. In addition to this both insist that their children call them by their first names in a vain attempt to not be perceived as old.

His ‘problem’ combined with his parents might be overcome if there were some other strong role models for him to turn to but unfortunately there are not any. The closest is possibly Mr Geary (Vince Vaugh) the teacher in charge of the schools debate club, a character that feels it’s entirely acceptable to summon the entire club to the men’s room for a pep talk.

Keanu Reeves, a name everyone should know by now, performs brilliantly with a dialogue consisting mainly of “hippie psychobabble” as the alternative inspirational mentor. Reeves plays a orthodontist who believes that he can treat teeth damaging problems psychologically. Using various methods such as encouraging Justin to summon his power animal to pointing out that sucking your thumb is a substitute for a mothers nibble. Whilst encouraging he isn’t without his own problems as he performs on his reclined open mouth patents.

Diagnosed by his principal and treated for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with Ritalin-type drugs Justin then begins his metamorphosis. The transition begins with Justin being held in limbo, opportunities have now opened to him and he’s lost with choices. Whilst this sounds incredibly samey to other films you really feel the despair as you are essentially shown Justin’s entire world before this happens giving you a full panoramic of where he is and how hard it is to see where he’s going.

The personal growth of Justin is entirely undermined by the fact that his parents resent being adults something that whilst not as obvious as a hit in the face adds to the tethers that is holding him back.

The Director/screenwriter Mike Mills transfers Walter Kirn’s novel perfectly (yes I enjoyed the film enough to read it) expecting vast plot points and internal insecurities to be placed in the dark for the film I was surprised to see how many were portrayed if even subtly into the film.

Certainly something to see if you have the chance although I wouldn’t choose it for a first date, perhaps for a third or forth when you can both happily sit together and take in everything that you are bombarded with. Stunning story, well cast and enjoyable to watch.

Rating: 76%