Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…
Apollo 18 tried out the idea of a found footage semi-documentary set on board a space craft, but unfortunately it failed pretty miserably in the script and plot departments. Now Europa Report is trying a similar thing, but where Apollo 18 failed, Europa Report succeeds. This is a film that emphasizes the science in science fiction, presenting the viewer with a realistic look at what a manned mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa would look like, and that realism is what makes every moment of eerie tension that much more palpable. This a film that would be hurt if any of its plot details were spoiled, so instead I will say that the production values of Europa Report are terrific. Every moment of the space mission feels completely real. The sets looks great, the CGI is top-notch, and the cast is likewise stellar (see what I did there?), particularly Sharlto Copley in the lead role and Michael Nyqvist as the grizzled veteran astronaut. If the film has one weakness, it’s that the ending gets a bit generic, but everything leading up to that point is excellent, and you’ll walk away wondering what would happen if this movie were to occur in real life.
3.5 out of 5
World War Z
Here’s a zombie movie that brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Playing more like a series of set pieces rather than a cohesive story, World War Z follows Brad Pitt as he traipses around the world observing zombie attacks in a global outbreak. Unfortunately, there’s very little in this film that is interesting or original, and because of its PG-13 rating, the intense threat posed by the zombies is severely blunted. What’s more, the bulk of the film focuses on Pitt’s character and no one else, and since Pitt is not only the star but a producer, you know that he’s not in any danger of being killed. This means there’s no tension at all to be had, and a zombie movie without tension is bland and largely uninteresting. The final set piece in the science facility has its moments, but it’s not enough to save the rest of the movie. Come on, guys, you had a perfect book to use as source material and you decided to ignore it. WHY?
2 out of 5
White House Down
I expected a big, dumb, fun, self-aware version of Die Hard set in the White House. I got everything I wanted except the self-aware part. White House Down really is nothing more than Die Hard in the White House, and if you go in expecting only that, you won’t be disappointed. However, I was hoping for a bit more humour and creative action, but much of the fighting is just guys shooting guns at each other, with the exception of a clever car chase all over the White House lawn. I’d complain about the characters, but this isn’t the kind of movie that you go to for the characters – the protagonists are likeable (Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum have good buddy-cop-style chemistry) and the bad guys are both obvious and forgettable. There’s a moment early on where one baddie played by Jason Clarke off-handedly shoots a portrait of George Washington between the eyes. If there had been more stuff like that, I think the movie would have been quite a bit better. As it stands, I got what I expected out of White House Down, but not what I had hoped for. This isn’t the best movie on any of the resumes of the people involved. But that being said, it’s a big, dumb, explosion-filled summer action movie, and you could do far worse.
3 out of 5
See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!