Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Muppets Most Wanted
2011’s revival of Jim Henson’s loveable puppets in The Muppets was a welcome return to form for the felt-coated comedy troop, and was bolstered by the enormous enthusiasm of its star and co-writer Jason Segel and songs by Flight of the Conchords‘ Bret McKenzie. Unfortunately, even though director James Bobin, co-writer Nick Stoller and Bret McKenzie all return for the sequel Muppets Most Wanted, it becomes clear very quickly that Segel was the beating heart at the centre of The Muppets‘ success. While Muppets Most Wanted is still an entertaining film and enjoyable throughout, it doesn’t attempt to tug at the heartstrings or appeal to the nostalgia value of the Muppet characters, instead opting for a cavalcade of gags and jokes, most of which work, but some of which fall flat. The songs are still catchy and a lot of fun, and the humour is family friendly in that rare way that’s funny to everybody without always reaching for pop culture references or vulgarity. A sideplot involving Sam the Eagle as a CIA agent teaming up with Ty Burrell as a French INTERPOL agent to stop the evil Kermit lookalike Constantine is especially hilarious, although it had me wishing that the movie had been made 30 years ago with Peter Sellers’ Clouseau in the Burrell role. There are many other celebrity cameos, some of which are used to great effect, as in the case of Tina Fey as the warden of a Siberian gulag. Other cameos are a bit puzzling, such as James McAvoy as a UPS salesman who barely gets a line. All in all, Muppets Most Wanted isn’t the best Muppet movie, but it isn’t the worst either. It lives up to the standard of entertainment that the Muppets are known for, but doesn’t break any new ground. The only reason fans will be disappointed by it is because the last movie was so good. Still, the fact that there was a 70 year old man seated behind me and a 7 year old kid seated next to me in the theatre shows that the Muppets will always have mass appeal and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
3.25 out of 5

300: Rise of an Empire
300: Rise of an Empire has no right being as half-decent as it is, since the look of the first 300 movie has been copied and parodied countless times in the years since the film’s release. This isn’t to say that 300: Rise of an Empire is good, however, as the movie has all the trappings of something that might have gone straight to DVD. Sullivan Stapleton in the lead role of Themistocles is a rather uninspired protagonist, and pales significantly in comparison to Gerard Butler’s memorable turn as the shouting, rabble-rousing beefcake Leonidas. Leonidas’ chums played by David Wenham and Michael Fassbender are also sorely missed, though at least Wenham pops up in a few scenes. The best thing about 300 part 2 is by far Eva Green as Artemisia, the commander of Xerxes’ armies, who chews the scenery every chance she gets. Beyond her, the film is largely forgettable, made up primarily of mindless action scenes with little feeling or consequence to them. The way the story is interwoven with the events of 300 is interesting from a plot perspective, but the dialogue isn’t especially good. The only real highlight for me was a weird scene involving two characters alternating between fighting each other and having sex, which was strange enough to stand out in a movie that otherwise felt very much like a retread.
2.75 out of 5

The Holy Mountain
This is, far and away, the most surreal, bizarre film that I have ever seen, but what makes The Holy Mountain so much more than just a curiosity piece is the fact that it is so filled with meaning. Every scene has been meticulously crafted and, simply based on the complexity of each tableau presented, has obviously been thought out down to the smallest detail. To attempt to sum up the plot of The Holy Mountain would be futile, since the movie seems to operate on dream logic, and frankly, I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the surprises. If you like strange cinema that will inspire hours of discussion and shows you things that you have never seen before, then you owe it to yourself to climb The Holy Mountain. It’s so weird as to be completely incomparable.
5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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