Posts Tagged ‘James McAvoy’

Starter For 10 – Revenge Of The Nerd

Posted 23 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Starter for 10, UK / USA, 2006

Directed by Tom Vaughan

Starter for 10 is a British/American film directed by Tom Vaughan from a screenplay by David Nicholls, adapted from his own novel Starter for Ten. The oddest thing about a film like Starter for 10 is that it seems to be almost completely pointless until the last thirty minutes or so, and the most unfortunate thing about the project is that the first hour is almost completely alienating. This isn’t the type of film where the audience is required to root for anyone in particular, nor are we given much of a climax to look forward to. We follow a young college student in England in 1985 as he enters Bristol University and attempts to find his place and enter a quiz show club, in which one does their best to win championships on television. We follow him through bum friends, a failed and unrealistic attempt at a relationship, and a conventional attempt at knowing everything.

The good news is that James McAvoy is watchable enough to excuse most of that. The bad news is that even though McAvoy is a watchable actor, of some considerable skill, the film itself is hollow and flatter than paper. It’s peppered with calm and collected performances, but that and a bad screenplay don’t make a good movie. Make no mistake, Starter for 10 is enjoyable, albeit conventional and formulaic. However, it’s great performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, and McAvoy himself that magically make the film worth watching more than once, even if you just want to catch all the reaction shots from Cumberbatch that you might have missed the first time; as with everything else in which he appears, he’s a complete joy. Read More

Gnomeo & Juliet

Posted 07 May 2011 — by contributor
Category Animation, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Gnomeo & Juliet, UK / USA, 2011Gnomeo and Juliet Poster

Directed by Kelly Asbury

In what might become an anthem for the Gnome Liberation Front, Gnomeo & Juliet (very loosely) retells the story of William Shakespeare’s famed tragedy of nearly the same name. But, after all, a movie about doomed garden gnome love by any other name is still as dreadful. Oddly enough, a pastiche of Shakespeare puns and gardening jokes took nine writers – Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Kelly Asbury, Rob Sprackling, and John R. Smith – to fully realize. That might be the funniest thing about the film. Between them, be it final touch-ups, penning the original stories, script drafts, or tossing in jokes here and there, they pulled off true movie magic: a film that feels like it has no screenplay at all, written by a small committee.

Most of us grew up knowing the story of Romeo and Juliet, and for the little kids who are for some reason seeing this film, a small gnome sets our scene: “Two gardens, both alike in dignity, in fair grass, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil dirt makes civil ceramic unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-cross’d gnomes pull through it all right; whose misadventured piteous overthrows do with their lame puns bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their scuff-mark’d love, and the continuance of their parents’ rage, which, but their children’s end, nought could remove, is now the 86 minutes’ traffic of our stage; the which if you with patient ears attend, what here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.” And if you’ll buy that, I have a bridge I need to get off my hands. Baz Lurhmann’s take, 1996’s Romeo + Juliet, was rooted in gang violence in Southern California. That feud was believable. All other versions, we’re committed to going along with simply because they’re direct adaptations of the play. Here, we’re expected to believe several key things without batting an eye. Read More