Friday, 3 October 2014

The Equalizer (2014)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Moretz
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Written by: Richard Wenk
Genre: Action, thriller, violence, drama
Rated: 15
If there is one thing that all avid movie watchers believe, it is that films are not just here to entertain us, but they are here to teach us something, here to help us feel. Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer – although mostly entertaining – somehow fails miserably in doing this. Despite the non-stop action, odd funny quips and expectedly kickass acting from Denzel, The Equalizer is empty and senseless, leaving the audience asking endless questions – and not the good kind.

Denzel is Robert, a typically lonely widower working in a hardware store, spending his dull evenings reading books in the local café (clearly a feeble attempt to add an inch of depth to this shallow tale). It is here he meets Teri (Chloe Moretz), a young girl working as an escort for a group of highly dangerous Russian men. After she suffers a beating, Robert decides to revert back to his past (which is never explained) and do something about it with swift, savvy planning and lots and lots of blood.

Washington doesn’t showcase his best skills here, however you can’t help but love the guy – his minor faults can be overlooked, as the main flaws here lie with a cliché script and empty characters that you feel like you never really get to know or love. Performances from Moretz and Melissa Leo are unsurprisingly endearing and captivating, which makes their lack of screen time extremely underserved and a real shame. Fuqua’s fancy camera work and daring angles are like that of a child with a brand new toy, which makes it all a bit too fast-paced - especially for a film which already takes much too long to get going and much too long to end.

For a quick action fix, The Equalizer ticks all of the boxes. The audience may find themselves on the edge of their seat, unable to look at the screen, and yes – it is highly exhilarating and undoubtedly enjoyable - but that is it. Within an hour, you’ve forgotten what the film was even about. There is no way this movie is going to stay with us for very long, but for an unnecessarily long two and a half hours, The Equalizer is perhaps not the worst movie you could choose to see.

Hector And The Search For Happiness (2014)

Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette
Written by:
François Lelord (novel), Maria Von Heland, Peter Chelsom
Genre: Comedy, drama, adventure
Rating: 15

As brilliantly funny Simon Pegg is, his performances in comedies like Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz are silly and hard to take seriously. So with each release of one of his films, it is hard to remain unbiased and put any thoughts of dubiousness to the back of one’s mind. Hector And The Search For Happiness (based on François Lelord’s critically acclaimed novel) therefore came as a pleasant surprise. This film is a typical Pegg hit - silly in parts, and undoubtedly funny, but the difference between this and his other comedies, is that it is meaningful and has the audience leaving the cinema feeling enlightened, with a desire to seize the day and live your life to the brim.

Pegg is Hector, a very ordinary, very comfortable and very bored London-based psychiatrist, who spends his days doodling whilst pretending to listen to his dreary patients, and spends his nights living a tidy, normal life with gorgeous girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). After endless days of the same old routine, Hector comes to realise that he is a “fraud”, how can he tell his patients to be happy when he doesn’t even know what happiness is himself? So he goes on an exotic journey to countries China, Africa and America, in a quest to discover what happiness is - and most importantly, how to be it.

Pegg was the perfect choice for Hector – it is hard to imagine anybody else playing this part as well as he did, being the well-balanced mix of hilarious, earnest and astonishingly likeable, which drives the movie to the very end. However, it is his encounters with each unique character on the journey which help Hector - and we as the audience - feel like a happy epiphany has been reached.

I’d be lying if I said this movie was perfect. The only criticism the film faces is its manic direction and heavy editing – although done artistically, it is a little unnecessary for a movie with a message as simple and profound as this. After all, isn’t the meaning behind a story the whole reason we started watching films in the first place? To feel something? Well, Hector And The Search For Happiness certainly does make you feel something - whether that be your own desire to find happiness, or perhaps the well-needed realisation that you already have enough reasons to be happy for.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure

Rated: PG

If there’s one thing you can expect from a Michael Bay film, it is mayhem – or as often put “Bayhem”. Knock him all you want, but it is undeniable that some of Bay’s worst films have given us some of the best, most heart-racing action sequences seen on screen (i.e. Bad Boys II). So, with the release of the 4th instalment of the Transformers series, audiences are expecting to take perhaps at least a little excitement and adrenaline from Age Of Extinction – albeit, if nothing else.

However, prepare for utmost disappointment. It seems that Bay is not even good at what he’s good at anymore, because this film is incredibly boring, terribly sluggish, frustratingly samey and just downright awful.

Wahlberg is Cade, an inventor who stumbles across a hidden Transformer after the battle of Autobots and Deceptions levelled Chicago, causing the Transformers to be seen as a ‘threat’ to all humankind. Cade, his daughter Tessa (Peltz) and her boyfriend Shane (Reynor) join alliances with this robot, who turns out to be Optimus – leader of the Transformers – and promise to help defeat the mysterious bounty hunter who seeks to rid of Optimus and his robotic army, much to the despair of the government and their operations.

Stanley Tucci may be the only element of success in this tedious 166 minute nightmare, as Joshua Joyce, leader of the KSI – a company in the midst of creating man-made Transformers to be used for military use. Tucci’s acting is watchable beyond belief, the scenes with him are the best (…of a bad bunch) however the only disappointment here is that a man of such talent would choose a film with this level of disastrousness.

There is nothing in this movie that could offer the smallest level of entertainment to anybody. Even the excessive fighting and banging around couldn’t make the most excitable 11 year old boy bat an eyelid, and there most certainly isn’t any worthy drama or sentiment that could tug at your heart strings. The only thing Age Of Extinction succeeds in doing is forcing you to put your head in your hands and cringe.

Whether it be the dire acting, embarrassing attempts at comedy or unrealistic CGI action sequences, it is hard to tell exactly what makes this film nosedive so much. It could also be the issue that the only female role is an objectified damsel-in-distress figure. Maybe it’s the dreadful plot and script offered by Kruger, or perhaps it’s the amateur direction and odd camera angles once again provided by Bay. In truth, the one singular thing wrong with Transfomers: Age Of Extinction is everything.