As a word of warning, there is no way that I can properly review this film without talking about the story in detail. I usually don’t like to do this for films under the A Droid Premiere banner, because I know that most of us haven’t seen them. But this film is a little different. There are the makings of a brilliant film here, but there are a few reasons why it is not. In lieu of a “It was good, but it has problems.” non-committal review, I deemed it necessary to reveal a substantial amount of the story. Now I leave it in your capable hands to decide if that matters or not. I suspect most won’t care, but I provide this disclaimer in the name of covering my ass. Read on.
The knives are out and no one’s been sharpening more furiously than me. ‘Battleship’ has got to be the nadir of Hollywood creativity. It’s a film, based on an antiquated 80’s board game. Hasbro, the company responsible for Transformers and GI Joe, are unflinchingly determined to exploit every possible product they have in their catalogue. But a board game? Transformers and GI Joe I can fully understand, because they began life as a line of toys, and by proxy have somewhat identifiable transferable characteristics and personality for a feature film. But what characteristics and personality does a board game have, when the whole game is just players taking turns yelling out grid coordinates in an attempt to hit the others plastic ship? And would the target audience know what ‘Battleship’ is? Does anyone even play board games any more?
I’ll be upfront and honest, I’m not very familiar with the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I haven’t read anything by him apart from The Raven and The Telltale Heart. I also know absolutely zero about him personally. I only discovered when looking him up just prior to seeing this film that he died at just 40 of an unknown ailment that has been the subject of much conjecture. He only wrote the most famous of his works in the last five or six years of his life, and at the age of 26, he married his 13 year old cousin. Nowadays he’d be hearing a rap-rap-rapping at his door alright. And a rap-rap-rapping up the side of the head as he’s dragged off in shackles. My how times have changed.
First, a bit of background. Many of our brethren are ignorant of the details of Tintin. So I’ll try to give a brief synopsis of who he is, and why he is beloved by millions around the globe. The character Tintin was created in 1929 by a 22 year old Belgian artist named Georges Rémi. Under the pen name Hergé, Remi took Tintin, the young investigative journalist and his faithful dog, Snowy to the far reaches of the world on 23 adventures. From the peaks of the Himalayas, to the Sahara desert, and the jungles of the Congo (and even to the moon), Tintin always found himself at the heart of a mystery, and through pluck, bravery and ingenuity, he would thwart the bad guy and save the day. In animated storybooks, Rémi created simple, vivid, expertly paced stories laced with visual wit. Some of the views of the time are antiquated, and there was recently a bit of a storm in a teacup concerning the portrayal of Africans in ‘Tintin in the Congo’ (Tintin’s second adventure, written in 1931). This aside, The Adventures of Tintin remains to this day a creative, fun, exciting and entertaining read for young readers, and a great piece of nostalgia for those who grew up on them.
I’m on the fence about the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series. During the dismal summer of 2003 (Bad Boys II, Terminator 3, The Matrix Reloaded), the first film, ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’, was an entertaining surprise. It featured an unusual, superstar making (and Academy Award nominated) performance from Johnny Depp, a memorable villain and was above all else, fun. Then the inevitable sequels arrived, shot back to back. ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ and ‘At Worlds End’ took the fantastical elements of the first film, dropped a fistful of acid and ran screaming, naked and cartwheeling through the cineplex. Davy Jones was a squid. One characters father was a giant barnacle. There was the Kraken, limbo, waterwheels, voodoo, crab army, enormous whirlpools and Keith Richards. Put simply, it was all too much. Seemingly taking note of this, Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney have reeled in the crazy for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’.
I can’t say I expect much from Marvel movies now. The first in the new “Marvel Studios” production line, ‘Iron Man’ proved to be an entertaining surprise (upon first viewing) at the cinema in 2008. The new studio was off to a promising start. But just two months later that promise came crashing back to earth in the shape of a giant green steroid freak in stretchy pants, with the release of ‘The Incredible Hulk’. That film firmly established the trend. Marvel Studios will be dumbing their movies down for the masses, with little attempt to create bold, challenging and satisfying stories. In short, their game plan is to play it safe.
I haven’t had the written a Premiere review for a while, so here’s a quick reminder of the category. Essentially it’s dedicated to the small number of films that I bother to see before anyone else. It’s intended to spread the word, be it positive or negative, about a film that might be of interest to your good self. This is such an occasion.