Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Rocker: Movie Review

The Rocker: Movie Review

Cast: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Jeff Garlin, Will Arnett
Director: Peter Cattaneo

Rating 5/10

Let's face it - we've all dreamt of being the lead singer of a band and practised on a hair brush in front of the mirror.
But how many of us have always wanted to be the drummer of a band?
Rainn Wilson (of the US TV version of "The Office") stars as Robert 'Fish' Fishman, failed drummer with Whitesnake/ Aerosmith knock offs Vesuvius.
As Vesuvius is about to erupt in the music business, Fish is unceremoniously dumped at the urging of new management.
Flash forward a couple of years and Fish has given up the music business while his former band revels in rock star adulation, and he wallows as a call centre worker.
However, even that doesn't last long as he's promptly fired after anger and resentment overflow when a co-worker plays him the latest Vesuvius CD. His day gets even worse, when he's dumped by his girlfriend.
So without a job or home, he's forced to move back in with his sister and their family, your average American family with 2 kids.
But his rockstar dreams bubble away under the surface until his nephew gets him involved in his band as a stand in drummer - and that's when Fish's taste for the rock'n'roll lifestyle is re-ignited.
The Rocker is moderately entertaining in places - Wilson doesn't stray too far away from his role as Dwight Schrute on The Office but is at times deadpan enough to just about carry the role and emerge as a likeable schlub.
Being a film from Peter Cattaneo, the director of The Full Monty, you won't be surprised to learn there is some nudity in this - even if it is just the horror of seeing Wilson perform as a naked drummer.
Christina Applegate is fine as the mother of the singer of the teen band and shows some of the sass we've come to expect from the Samantha Who? actress.
There are a couple of predictable sub plots bubbling away - such as the singer falling for one of the other band members but not knowing how to tell her, and Fish finding he's a bit too old to be donning the spandex and partying all night.

The Rocker is OK and may help pass some of the school holidays, but it's a bit of a disappointment from Cattaneo and won't do much to help Rainn Wilson move away from his US Office role and into the higher echelons of the box office

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Movie Review

The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Movie Review

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, John Hannah
Director: Rob Cohen

Rating: 3/10
De La Soul once remarked that three was the magic number.
When it comes to the Mummy 3, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the third time is definitely not the charm.
This latest (and hopefully last) instalment in the franchise finds Brendan Fraser's Rick O'Connell and Maria Bello's Evie O'Connell in 1946, retired from the archaeology game after twice defeating an Egyptian mummy.
Only this time, they're struggling with retirement - Evie's writing novels of derring do and how she and hubby beat the mummy; Rick on the other hand is trying his hand at fly fishing (although resorting to the gun when it doesn't go how he wants); and Evie's brother Jonathan (John Hannah) is now running a bar in China.
But trouble has a way of finding the O'Connells as their son Alex (newcomer to the franchise Luke Ford) manages to unearth Chinese emperor Han (Jet Li) during a dig.
Emperor Han was poised to gain immortality and take over the world with his army of warriors until he was cursed by Michelle Yeoh's Zi Juan and turned to stone.
Trouble is Alex uncovers a whole heap of problems for the world once Han's resurrected via betrayal, double crossing, a magical jewel and some blood&can the mummy be defeated a third time? Well, have a guess...

The "charm" with threequels is that you know the characters, their quirky ways and don't have to worry about the back story and a director can just get on with it.

The "problem" with threequels, is ultimately many appear to have run out of plots and rely on old favourites, bigger bangs and explosions to hide the gaping holes in the story.

I think my problem with this film is that I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu early on and subsequently lost all interest.
However, I was impressed that Maria Bello's appearance as Evie (Rachel Weisz sensibly declined reprising her role) was explained away in a throwaway (but savvy) line about how the Evie of her books was a different person to her; but, the malaise appeared to have spread to the rest of the cast with Brendan Fraser looking like he's simply going through the motions and John Hannah's bumbling fool has a reduced role and seems surplus to requirements.

Although I can pinpoint exactly the moment I mentally checked out of this film - it was when Lin (Zi Juan's immortal daughter and potential love interest to Alex) issued a cry for help in the Himalayas and it was answered by a crack squad of CGI yeti....

There are some attempts at showing the strains of retirement on the O'Connells with the father/ son relationship being difficult (though ultimately resolved through a love of guns) and with Rick and Evie's relationship struggling to survive the banality of a normal life after the thrills of being thrown together in their quest to defeat Arnold Vosloo's Imhotep Mummy in the earlier films.

But if you want to leave your brain in neutral, discard any rational thought, then the Mummy 3 is bigger, dumber and louder than its predecessors.

Sadly though, I'd side with the opinion that it's time this franchise was as dead and buried as the mummies (and ancient plots) they dug up to make it in the first place.