RENTAL ROUND-UP (June-September 2014)

That Awkward Moment

An attempt at mixing up the rom-com formula that flounders due to its crude and flaccid script. What purports to be a more grounded and honest take on relationships from the male perspective ends up falling back on many of the old clichés, with the serious moments feeling abrupt and the comedy too often resorting to the vulgar. Made only vaguely watchable by the efforts of its impressive cast, That Awkward Moment certainly creates one on these actors’ résumés. 4.5/10

 

The Legend of Hercules

Wow. Just…wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie this expensive look this incompetent. Most major films are at least technically competent if nothing else, but The Legend of Hercules looks worse than most movies you’d find on the SyFy channel. Everything in this movie is just laughably awful: the story is bland and ripped from other better movies, the dialogue is barely above harlequin romance levels, the acting is uproariously OTT, the costumes look like they were bought at a fancy dress store, the action sequences are uninspired and ruined by their lack of violence, and the special effects are just horrendous. By all means, The Legend of Hercules is pure crap, but if you love to watch crap then you need to see this movie. It’s so bad at points that it becomes incredibly enjoyable. 1.5/10

 

Under the Skin

I’m not usually up for watching arty films, but Under the Skin is something I think everyone should at least try to watch. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for those who can stick with it will find an incredibly unique and captivating experience. Scarlett Johansson’s performance is what mainly sells the movie, embodying this cold and emotionless character but still showing a huge amount of depth with very little dialogue; easily some of her best work to date. Under the Skin also features some of the creepiest and shocking scenes I’ve seen in a movie in recent memory, which combined with the great cinematography and minimal but eerie score make for a truly unsettling experience. This is the movie I most regret missing in theatres this year. 9/10

 

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

This is a hard one to review for many reasons, mainly because of its low-budget aesthetic and my own personal fandom for the AVGN web series. As a love letter to the fans it delivers on what you’d expect, though I’m not sure how well it stands as a movie on its own. Some of the story ideas are inventive and a lot of gags do hit their mark, but the loose nature of the plot and the simplistic characters do make it hard to really care that much about what’s going on. Whilst I did enjoy the cheesy nature of some of the practical effects, a lot of the digital ones look cheap in the bad sense; I understand it’s part of the aesthetic and that this is an indie production in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly some polishing that could have been done. All in all though, I’d say it’s certainly worth a watch for fans but I don’t think a general audience would really appreciate it. I’m going to give it a 7.5/10, but if you’re not into all things Nerd, then you should probably knock off a point or two.

 

Locke

Bottle films are always an interesting idea for a film even when they don’t succeed, but Locke is probably one of the more unique examples of the concept in recent history. Tom Hardy carries the film almost entirely with his performance, showing off an incredible range of emotions whilst remaining confined to the driver’s seat of his car; it’s an impressive feat by itself. Managing to keep its narrow setting engaging through its brevity, simplicity and somber tone, Locke is a unique picture that is only marred by its abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion. 8/10

 

Divergent

Adaptations of young adult novels aren’t going anywhere, and Divergent is supposedly supposed to be the next big one. Why? I have no idea, because all I saw was an overly complicated riff on every YA story cliché. If you want the brief description, it’s essentially The Hunger Games but without the tension or the biting if somewhat overdone social commentary. The movie’s pacing is stretched to tedium, most of it being just a series of training sessions with very little forward motion in its plot, before rushing through a stale and underdeveloped climax and setting up for the inevitable sequel. Other than the appreciated efforts of Shaileene Woodley, who is honestly too good for this material, there is nothing here that any number of its contemporaries haven’t done better. 4/10

 

Ride Along

There’s nothing more painful to sit through than an unfunny comedy, and though Ride Along is far from the worst example of this it is excruciating at points. Running through the motions of the clichéd buddy cop picture, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart lack chemistry on screen and the jokes they’re given rarely rise above titter-worthy. There are some amusing set-ups for gags, but all of them are stretched out way too long and lack a good punch line before devolving into banal and incompetent action sequences. The fact that this is somehow getting a sequel just baffles me to no end. My advice: if you want to see Ice Cube and Kevin Hart be funny, skip this and find the skit they did with Conan O’Brien on YouTube. It’s far funnier and free. 3/10

 

Cuban Fury

An amusing if occasionally imbalanced romantic comedy that avoids some of the tired clichés but falls back on others. The ever-enjoyable Nick Frost makes for a likable lead, creating an underdog protagonist whose own insecurities and disadvantages seem like genuine obstacles rather than things to get in the way of the plot, as well as proving himself as an impressive dancer for a man of his build. Rashida Jones, Ian McShane, Kayvan Novak and Olivia Colman are good fun in their supporting roles, but the usually appealing Chris O’Dowd feels a bit miscast as the typical “arsehole rival” character, though that may be more down to the writing. Funny and feel-good for the most part, but could have done with some polishing around the edges. 7.5/10

Author: Jennifer Heaton

Aspiring screenwriter, film critic, pop culture fanatic and perpetual dreamer.

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