Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recent Viewing (Short Reviews)

Wall Street (Oliver Stone, 1987)

Wall Street is an iconic 1980's portrait of the American Dream and the world of Wall Street entrepreneurs and big business moguls. The story follows the rise and fall of visionary young stock broker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) as he forms an illegal business relationship with unscrupulous billionaire trader, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Made during the golden era of Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and JFK) and is an exhilarating experience and one of his finest films. Charlie Sheen is quite convincing in the lead role, but it is Michael Douglas who steals every scene. He is fantastic! Daryl Hannah is absolutely awful, however. Now considered a classic, I decided to re-visit it on the eve of the release of the sequel in Australian cinemas. I have heard some positive things but naturally I'm skeptical that Stone can recapture the form here.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Other Guys (Adam Mckay, 2010)

Surprisingly, I didn't find this as funny as expected, and some of the best jokes appear early before drying up altogether for the second half. Actually, following the faults of most recent comedies, the best moments all appear in the trailer. I found this buddy-cop/action spoof to be more of a typical action film than a comedy, and there are some pretty spectacular stunts throughout. Ferrell and Wahlberg are quite a good pair, but they spend most of the film yelling at one another and this is far from either of their best works. Overlong, the plot is strangely convoluted and confusing at times and the stabs are obvious, inconsistently successful and lack real inventiveness. Ferrell is only really bearable when he collaborates with Mckay but this is certainly no Anchorman. Disappointing and not recommended.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Despicable Me (Pierre Coffin, 2010)

Cute and mildly amusing animation with quite an obscure and eccentric central character and some very interesting human representations. Living amidst a happy neighborhood, Mr Gru and his army of minions are plotting to steal the moon and complete the greatest heist in history. But when he adopts three young girls to assist his plan, his world of mischief is forever altered. Overly ridiculous, much of the plot will appeal to youngsters, but unlike Pixar, not much is there for the adults. The climax was quite exciting and some of the 3D effects (notably a trip to the theme park) are pretty impressive but I was never really engaged. Steve Carrell's bizarre accent was a head-scratcher too.

My Rating: 2 Stars

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007)

A brilliant documentary following one man's attempt to break the world record for the highest score in the Donkey Kong arcade game. Steve Weibe, a likable family man and self-taught gamer tried to beat the longtime high score set by Billy Mitchell in the mid 1980's. After overcoming a string of bad luck and some corrupt tactics from rivals, Steve challenges Billy to a head-to-head game to decide the worthy successor. Often quite hilarious, this is surprisingly exciting, and makes you really engage with Steve's quest. His emotions are heartfelt and you feel like you live the pressure of each of his attempts at the record. As a very real villain, Billy Mitchell is one of the most despicable pricks around.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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