Review: This week's new films
Jean Pierre Jeunet, the director of the delightful Amelie, serves up another quirky flight of fancy in the inventive and charming quirky comedy Micmacs. Plus: The Crazies, Extraordinary Measures, Leap Year.
French Jean Pierre Jeunet, the director of the delightful Amelie, serves up another quirky flight of fancy in this inventive and charming comedy.
Charm, though, is not what you'd first expect from a movie about a video store worker taking revenge on the two arms dealers he holds responsible for the death of his dad, the bullet lodged in his brain and subsequent loss of his job and home.
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In Jeunet's world though, this all becomes an excuse for a series wildly imaginative physical comedy set pieces as Bazil (Danny Boon) and his collection of oddball pals take the fight to the enemy.
Taking it's cues from the silent comedy masters as well a few Bugs Bunny cartoons, the film mixes slapstick, wordplay, satire and a visual playfulness into a package that's impossible to resist.
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From the street posters that reflect the action on screen to the complicated contraptions used in the gang's missions, the level of detail and sheer number of ideas on show would fill 10 lesser movies. All the creative energy could leave you in a spin but thankfully Jeunet tempers the wild creative energy with a magical warm-hearted charm aided by Boon's wonderfully sympathetic clown hero.
THE CRAZIES (15)
The current trend to remake old school horror films may be as hard to kill as a flesh-eating zombie but every so often it throws up a pretty worthwhile effort.
The Crazies is one of them. Based on the 1973 film by George 'Dawn of the Dead' Romero, mayhem descends on a sleepy town when a chemical weapon is accidentally released into the water supply.
While the sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) attempts to deal with the newly zombie-fied inhabitants, things go from bad to worse when the army arrives to stop the infection spreading by killing everyone.
With one eye on Romero's original and another on current day news, director Breck Eisner creates a sharp, grim and enjoyably tense survival horror flick.
There are plenty of great set pieces - from a gruesome battle with mortuary corpses to a freaky ambush in an abandoned carwash - while Eisner reins in the ridiculous gore to keeps things decidedly uncomfortable, if not particularly scary. Sure, things fizzle out a little before the climax but if you're the kind of horror fan who enjoyed the remake of Dawn of the Dead, you're sure to go crazy for this.
EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES (PG)
Without doubt, this is the worst film we've seen since my grandmother's last effort with the camcorder.
Based on a true story, Brendan Fraser is John Crawley, a father who jacks everything in to find a miracle cure for his kid's fatal disease. Harrison Ford plays the cantankerous scientist whose pioneering research could provide said cure and together they form a bio-tech company with funds raised through back-breaking campaigning.
It's got everything: sacrifice, drama, sick kids, inspiring dads, a gorgeous mother. What could go wrong? A lot, as it turns out.
It's trite and ridiculously clich�d: a weepy that's reliant on lingering close ups of kids in wheelchairs smiling bravely while a single tear slides down dad's face, topped off with an air-punching orchestral soundtrack and abysmal script.
By the 12th scene of Fraser crying as the camera pans to take in photos of his wife hugging their kids, people in the cinema were sniggering. Watching him joyfully wheeling his daughter around a roller skating hall surrounded by random clapping children became snort-inducing. Straddling the line between cloying and patronising, the only thing that could save this film is an unexplained ecological disaster that wipes everyone out. Accompanied by a crashing violin crescendo, of course.
LEAP YEAR (PG)
Urgh, here we go again. This is another romantic comedy about a couple finding love away from the big city. We've already had the similarly-themed Did You Hear
About The Morgans dumping its turgid load over cinema screens and now this comes along - and it's even worse.
As funny as a Holocaust movie - and just as romantic - the film sees prim and proper Anna (Amy Adams) fly to Dublin to take advantage of the old Irish custom of women proposing to their boyfriends on leap day.
Due to a series of mishaps, Anna ends up in the middle of nowhere and enlists grumpy but handsome Irish pub landlord-cum-minicab driver Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her to her man on time.
So, can you see where this is going? What is harder to get a grip on is the lack of style, wit or logic. To call the gags lazy would be to suggest there are jokes while director Anand
Tucker can't even show off the glorious Irish countryside right, making it look like bad special effects. The only redeeming feature is the natural charm of Adams and Goode but saving this mess is well beyond their talents.