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This Week's Film Reviews (Feb 6, 2015)

05 Feb 2015



Alex de la Iglesia, Hou Hsia-hsien and Barbara Stanwyck retrospectives go on at TIFF Cinematheque.


JUPITER ASCENDING (USA/Australia 2014) *

Directed by The Wachowskis


The Washowskis’ first film BOUND and second film THE MATRIX were the best and their other films can be loosely described as ‘crap’, especially this latest sci-fi auctioneer JUPITER ASCENDING that has stolen unashamedly from films like STAR WARS (the Princess Lea character specifically), action hero movies to JURASSIC PARK (the grunting monsters that look like dinosaurs). Even the name of the lead character has the last name Jones stolen from Indiana Jones.

Nothing in the plot makes much sense. But what is worse is the discontinuity of the action sequences. Worst of all, the Silver Surfer like character Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) surfing around with his magic boots is ridiculous beyond comparison. A Hans Solo type character, Stringer (Sean Bean) is also introduced, one which could be to totally eliminated from the plot with zero effect.

The film begins with poor Russians, a loving husband who loves astronomy and his poor wife. Poor as they are, they still get robbed. But they speak English too. But their daughter Jupiter (Mila Kunis) turns out to be destined for royalty saving the entire planet Earth, though she cleans toilets for a living. She meets twin brother baddies from another part of the Universe (pretty boy Douglas Booth and Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne). But she is aided in her quest by believe it or not an interplanetary warrior, a half-albino with both human and wolf DNA with Spock pointed ears played by Channing Tatum.

The performances are equally ridiculous. Eddie Redmayne’s deep voicing of the villain Balem Abrasax) is so bad the Academy will never forgive him and will likely dismiss his nomination for Best Actor in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING completely (as punishment). The Academy did the same to Eddie Murphy for DREAMGIRLS and the KLUMPS not too long back. Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones looks totally out of place with perfect hair and make-up playing the role of a janitor cleaning toilets.

The lazy script dispenses of many key issues. Stringer’s daughter is completely left out of the picture after Stringer goes into action. How Jupiter’s family is freed is also conveniently left out of the equation. And how could janitors afford the price tag of a shiny new telescope? But where are the Universe Keepers to ensure the villains would accept Jupiter’s royalty in the first place? But most important of all is the fact that no one would really care anyway, in this entire silly exercise.

The film could be watchable if one is to dismiss all logic. But considering the past talent of the Washowskis and the huge budget they have wasted, the film deserves a one-star rating and a quick death at the box-office. Warner Bros. should have mown better than to have undertaken the project.

The Washowskis have been going downhill and rather steeply since their last bomb CLOUD ATLAS. JUPITER ASCENDING at a gigantic cost of $175 million might be more appropriately called JUPITER DESCENDING.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoCyL_Pqzu8

Directed by Paul Tibbitt


The film begins live action. A pirate known as Burger-Beard (Antonio Banderas) sets his ship auto-pirate and lands on an island to find a treasure. Meanwhile down below in Bikini Bottom land, everybody’s favourite CGI hero, SpongeBob (Glenn Kenny) is working at his Burger Joint when the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty is believed stolen by competitor, Plankton (Mr. Lawrence). The quest to find the recipe takes SpongeBob, Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) and other friends into the world of humans where they encounter Burger-Beard.

These are two separate stories that are not convincingly blended into one towards the end. The mix of live action and animation, missing in other SpongeBob outings is a welcome change and works well to create more high jinx hilarity,

In most other animated features, the quest is often something pressing such as saving the world (example THE LEGO MOVIE, DESPICABLE ME), but this one, just to find a lost recipe, is a not so urgent matter. But the ridiculousness of the plot only serves to enhance the mood of the film. Goofiness prevails, as evident especially in the voice characterizations of everyone from SpongeBob to Patrick. It is this goofiness that keeps the film alive and allows the audience’s forgiveness of its flaws. There is a loud-out laugh every minute. The few nutty songs help too.

The latest more expensive outing is also shot in 3D. Animation in 3D works usually better that not, but there are quite a lot of blurry images in a lot of the film’s segments. 

The film’s trailer and title are misleading in that they set to make the audience believe that most of the film is set out on the beach with SpongeBob and his pals out of water. The out of water segment occurs at the end of the film makes a small fraction of the entire film, but is the funniest segment.

Despite the hilarious zany anarchy characteristics of the fame Emmy Award TV series, this second outing is not as funny as the first SPONGEBOB movie.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwTf3xiBG28




Drama: A Most Violent Year

Foreign Language: Leviathan (Russia)

Animation: Paddington

Comedy or Musical: Into the Woods

Best documentary: Red Army

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