Quick Takes

Shrek 2

Shrek 2
Newly married Shrek (Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) travel to the kingdom of Far, Far Away to meet Fionas parents, the king and queen of Far, Far Away played by John Cleese and Julie Andrews. The king, especially, is not too happy to discover that his daughter has married an ogre and her Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) is furious that Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is out of the picture.

No prizes for guessing how it all ends.

Shrek 2 is an attempt to satirize Hollywood and its conventions. It doesnt even get close to achieving this and instead simply makes the blindingly obvious observation that this is a glamorous, shallow and very commercial place.

Its not a great film, but it does manage to provide plenty of laughs - Eddie Murphy as the Donkey and Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots are both on great form - and the nods to a whole slew of films from Frankenstein to Mission Impossible were never less than entertaining.

Its a fun film and worth seeing, but not a patch on the original.

Van Helsing

Van Helsing
19th Century Catholic monster hunter, Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is sent on his most dangerous assignment yet - to kill Dracula before he can kill the last surviving member of the Valerious family, Anna (Kate Beckinsale).

Van Helsing is a big dumb action movie. And, like most - if not all - big dumb action movies, it suffers from an over emphasis on action, poor plotting - there are holes in the films plot that you could drive a truck through - and a lack of space for the actors to do anything - like acting - that might slow down the pace of the film.

But its also a lot of fun.

David Wenham, as Carl the Q-alike inventive brother, holds his own against the overwhelming onslaught of CGI and manages to create an entertaining character in his own right. Kudos, also, to Shuler Hensley who manages to invest an emotional depth to Frankensteins Monster thats lacking elsewhere in the film.

The special effects are, of course (this being a Stephen Sommers film), both overwhelming and spectacular. It would be easy to knock this as nothing more than a pile of CGI, but to do so would miss the point of Van Helsing.

Its an effects heavy, plot light visual spectacle and, on a Friday evening after a long week, this is as much as I want to see.

Kill Bill: Volume 2

Kill Bill: Volume 2
The Brides roaring rampage of revenge comes to a conclusion in this, the second installment of Quentin Tarantinos Kill Bill.

While the first film was very much a samurai film that wore its Asian influences on its sleeve, Volume 2 is much more of a western - and a spaghetti western at that. As such, the set pieces are both shorter and much less spectacular than those of the first film, but Volume 2 more than makes up fior this in terms of both dialogue and characterisation.

The final scenes in which The Bride finally meets Bill are both moving and powerful. But before that, we meet - and see the demise of - both the drunken loser that is Budd and the strangely honorable poisoner, Elle.

There is also much entertainment to be had from The Brides tutelage under kung-fu master Pai Mei.

As with Volume 1, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a great film that manages to hold your attention even though the plot is completely lacking in twists, but I cant help feeling that Kill Bill would have been even better if it hadnt been split into two parts.

Starsky Hutch

Starsky and Hutch certainly has its moments - and some of the jokes did have me laughing out loud - but they are just moments.

Uptight, wannabe tough cop, David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is partnered with casual rule bending - and breaking - detective Ken Hutch Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), the two clash and wackiness ensues. The rift between the tow characters attitudes could have made for an interesting - and funny - twist on the original TV series, but this is quickly abandoned and what we get instead is a 100 minute episode from the TV series with jokes.

And this is the problem the film is neither an all out comedy nor a buddy film. Instead, it falls between the two - not incredibly bad, but not particuarly good either.

Its an easygoing enough film and there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours. However, there are also much better ways to spend your time.

Gothika

Gothika
Clinical Psychiatrist, Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) wakes up to discover that she is now an inmate at the very hospital that she worked. Gothika then follows her attempts to discover how she got here.

Its an interesting premise which, unfortunately, the film doesnt really live up to. Instead, we get slightly muddled ghost story that is neither particularly good nor exceptionally bad.

I wouldnt recommend seeing this film, but if youre a ghost story completist you might enjoy it.

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