Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Movie Reviews...

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Shane Black, the screenwriter responsible for the some of the biggest blockbuster action films of the late eighties and early nineties, including ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘The Last Boy Scout’, makes his directorial debut with the magnificent ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’. At the height of his career, Black was the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood. He received four million dollars for penning ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’, which subsequently received a critical thrashing, and failing to perform at the box office, contributed to Blacks’ ten year absence from the movie business.

Adapting, in part, the novel ‘Bodies are where you find them’, by Brett Halliday, Black has created one of the most refreshingly original pieces of cinema in years.

From the moment the gorgeous opening credits are done, the film takes off at incredible pace, and just keeps going. Our narrator, Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.), is a petty crook, who indirectly finds himself in the middle of a movie audition, in a hilarious early scene, which sets the tone for the entire piece. Once he finds himself in L.A., Harry gets caught up in the middle of a murder investigation, along with his high school dream girl (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective-cum-movie-consultant Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), who has been training him for an upcoming role.

As well as the detective film-noir that Black has created here, ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ is also a complete send-up of the entire buddy-cop genre. Harry’s self-aware voiceover narration is a stroke of genius. It goes on to twist the timeline, forget things, criticize itself and other movies, and even interact with the film itself. Black’s strength remains his sarcasm, and his lines are delivered brilliantly by the perfectly cast Downey and Kilmer. Also worthy of mention are the action scenes. One in particular sees Harry, clinging desperately to a corpse's arm, hanging off an L.A. motorway bridge, and in a burst of gunfire, picking off bad guys. This is just one example of the marvellously choreographed comedy action scenes which are peppered throughout. The movie is certainly an unusual variety of tones; sporadically violent, regularly silly, often both. But, most importantly, it’s never boring. ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ is highly recommended viewing.

4.5 out of 5


Doom

Based on the popular 1993 videogame of the same name, ‘Doom’ is nothing you haven’t seen before. It borrows liberally from superior action films, and fails to contribute anything new to the marines-in-space sub-genre, established in James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’. Starring ex-W.W.F. wrestling star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and ‘Lord of the Rings’ bit-part actor Karl Urban, the casting leaves a lot to be desired. The plot is wafer thin. Something has gone wrong at a remote scientific research station on Mars. Quarantine is put into effect, so that the only personnel allowed entry to the space station are the R.R.T.S. (Rapid Response Tactical Squad), a troop of hardened space marines whose job it is to investigate and neutralise the threat using any force necessary. Sound familiar?

Doom is a throwback to the glory days of the no-brainer action movie, the likes of which Schwarzenegger or Stallone would churn out in the mid-to-late eighties. ‘The Rock’ is no star though, struggling to shoulder the weight of ‘Doom’, looking uncomfortable doing anything more than throwing a punch, or firing a weapon. At least Arnie and Sly could pull it off with a cheesy one liner thrown in for good measure, but the fact is, ‘The Rock’ has about as much on-screen charisma as a wet sponge. In between the mildly diverting action sequences, we are informed by Rosamund Pike (former Bond girl), who is perhaps the least convincing genetic scientist ever put to film, that the creatures attacking her colleagues in the space station are none other than genetically enhanced versions of themselves. But by this time, you’ll be too bored to actually care, and will be begging for another mediocre action scene, to replace the dire-logue spouting non-actors who insist on insulting your intelligence for the duration of their exposition drenched scenes.

The one redeeming scene comes close to the end of the movie. A lengthy sequence, shot entirely from the fist person perspective, just like the videogame, that is executed with a large degree of technical skill and ability. Not enough to save ‘Doom’ from its bargain bin destiny then, but an unexpected treat nonetheless.

1 out of 5