The Incredible Hulk
And so the summer blockbuster season came into full swing. Your views on each will probably have depended on your advance expectations. As such, The Incredible Hulk scored well. It’s the comic book hero with the least appeal to me, so to have a film version that entertained, had laughs, very good CGI, good action sequences and good acting was a pleasant surprise. A solid, decent, good value-for-your-money movie.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
No kids franchise these days can deliver a sequel without promising us “darker”, but Prince Caspian is one installment that delivered on that promise. With less of the cutesy fantasy of its predecessor, the bad guys are real people here and actually die too, they aren’t just turned to stone. With all-too-human notions of greed, ambition, hubris and doubt at play, this pushes its PG rating to the limit. The special affects are vastly improved, some of the action sequences are genuinely thrilling and two out of four of the Pevensie kids turn in engaging performances (well done Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley; must work harder Anna Popplewell and William Moseley – although this was their last chance, as neither will appear in Voyage of the Dawn Treader). Ben Barnes offers some smouldering good looks for the older viewer, while Peter Dinklage continues to delight and impress.
My Brother is an Only Child
An Italian family saga. Spanning multiple decades. Two very different brothers. Their love of the one woman. The Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu) I hear you ask? Not quite, although with two of the scriptwriters having worked on both films, comparisons are as understandable as they are inevitable. My Brother is an Only Child, however, still works on its own merits. Funny, warm and dramatically engaging, it tells of two brothers, Manrico and Accio (pronounced ‘Acho’, fact fans!) with clashing political beliefs. Set in 60’s and 70’s Italy, the clash between communists and facists serves as both a grander political back drop for the Italian story, and as a catalyst for the loving yet tense relationship between the brothers and their object of desire, Francesa.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
If a lack of overly high expectations worked in the favour of The Incredible Hulk, then the opposite was the case for Ford, Spielberg and Lucas’s latest (last?) outing as everyone’s favourite archaelogist (sorry Ross from Friends). While far from being a bad film, it certainly disappointed, especially towards the end. A bright opening, some good sequences and a genuinely engaging interplay between Ford and la Boeuf made for a good first hour and a half. We dared to dream. Then Lucas’s influences became all to clear and it lost its way somewhat, with an excess of unnecessary CGI and a ludricious denouement. Harrison Ford has still got it though, and there’s no denying that theme tune.
The first in a planned trilogy to chart the life and rise to power of Genghis Khan, Mongol offers us a strange mix – a loving, loyal, family-oriented Genghis (he is still known as Temudjin at this stage), but with 300-esque bloody battle sequences. Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film, Mongol displays scenes of breathtaking beauty, utilising the great expanses of the Mongolian steppes to great effect. While clearly taking some artistic liberties in telling the story, it is an interesting and well-made epic. We await the subsequent (although as-yet-unannounced) installments with positive anticipation.
Special mention: The Happening. Is it really that bad? Well, yes. Would it have worked if marketed as a knowningly-bad satire? Possibly. It’s the only way that the ponderous, badly-delivered dialogue, ludicrous plot and frequently visible sound boom can be explained. I predict a revisionist take by Shyamalan by the time of the DVD release.