Monday, 30 April 2012

That was the week that was (23 - 30 April)

Well, there's some good news and some bad news this week (though, as Malcolm in The Office once told David Brent, you may see it as some bad news and some irrelevant news).

First up, the bad news: this will be the last instalment of TWTWTW for the time being. I've found that it's becoming a bit of a chore to write up reviews of every film I see, to the point where I'm sometimes only watching a few films a week to save me having to to do a lengthy edition of the blog.

However, the good news is that this won't be the end of Kirk's Movie Blog - I'm still going to do a (much shorter) weekly entry, which will now be called 'The Week In Brief'. I'll list the films I've seen, add a few thoughts on anything movie related over the past week, and (introducing a new and exciting feature!) will include a movie quote of the week. This should hopefully take up much less of my time, so I'll be able to do my 'Listorama!' top ten lists on a far more regular basis.

Keep your eyes peeled for those changes, starting next weekend, when there will be a first edition of 'The Week in Brief', and a list of my top ten L.A. movies.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

As I've mentioned in the last two editions of TWTWTW, I've really been looking forward to seeing this one, and this week, I finally got the chance to check it out. It's a film where knowing too much of the storyline going in is likely to reduce your enjoyment, so I'll restrict my plot synopsis to events which take place in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Five college students are hitting the road and heading for the backwoods of America for a funfilled weekend in a strange old cabin (looking rather like the one used in the Evil Dead), oblivious to the danger that will soon be arriving on their doorstep. The five represent the usual stereotypes you tend to encounter in slasher movies - you have your obvious Final Girl, rather more proper and studious than her friends. Then we have the Nerd, the Jock and his girlfriend, the Promiscuous Woman. Completing the ensemble, we have the Obnoxious Comic Relief, in the form of a shambolic stoner who looks and acts rather like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. However, it's soon apparent that there's rather more to the story than initially meets the eye - our protagonists are being watched on camera by a group of scientists in some kind of industrial installation, with these scientists able to influence the environment and actions of the people they're observing... As I've mentioned, I enjoyed this one, on the whole. The script was generally pretty sharp - poking fun at horror movie tropes, and mixing in plenty of laughs. The big twist, when it is revealed, makes sense within the context of what you've seen leading up to it, and there's a fantastically over the top, bloodsoaked finale. On the other hand, the film isn't particularly scary - sure, there are one or two jump scares in the early going, but compared to a movie like Scream, which managed to include a couple of genuinely terrifying scenes as well as deconstructing the slasher genre, it isn't as successful. The acting is of variable quality - the cast members playing the college kids are generally fair to middling in their roles, but Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are tremendous fun as the wisecracking head scientists. The Cabin in the Woods probably didn't quite meet the levels of anticipation which had built up in my head, but it's still an interesting take on the horror genre, and well worth checking out if you're a fan of horror movies, Joss Whedon or both of the above.

Rating: 7/10

Marvel Avengers Assemble (2012)

My second encounter with Joss Whedon this week, and a second enjoyable trip to the multiplex. This much hyped superhero team up sees Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye join forces to fight against an invading alien force led by Thor's half brother, the trickster god Loki. It can't have been easy to develop a fast paced film which provides for each of these characters to get their share of screen time, but Whedon has accomplished it. What's even more surprising is that the film is genuinely funny, with a number of laugh out loud moments that met with great approval in the cinema I saw it in. The cast is strong, with standout performances from Robert Downey Jr (having fun in his role as the suave, charismatic Tony Stark), Mark Ruffalo (as brilliant as ever) and Tom Hiddlestone (on fine, moustache twirling form as the weaselly Loki).  Aside from its cumbersome title, there isn't too much wrong with the film - I suppose my only complaint would be with the villains of the piece. Though Loki makes for a fine bad guy, his partners in crime are an army of faceless aliens who don't really offer much of a threat to the Avengers, and chiefly serve to act as cannon fodder and provide our heroes with a chance to display their fighting abilities. Despite that minor flaw, it's a really entertaining, action-packed blockbuster, and sets a high bar for The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises to live up to later on this summer.

Rating: 8/10

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