This sci-fi action “epic” was very much Mr Osbiston’s choice but I’ll admit to sitting through it. The world is under attack from aliens who want our water and a band of US marines, lead by a staff sergeant who wants out (Aaron Eckhart) are all that stands between the aliens and the destruction of the city of Los Angeles. There are pros and cons to this film. The main pro being that it’s fast paced and, if you turn your brain off, enjoyable in the most superficial way possible. The cons are more numerous. First of all, it’s about as original as a McDonald’s burger. Seen Independence Day? You’ve seen about 97% of this film. Secondly it’s so full of “America, fuck yeah!” spirit that you might start to feel nauseous about five minutes in. And finally, it’s about as subtle as a boot to the face. The first twenty minutes, which are spent giving “background” information on the unit we’re going to spend the duration with, might as well be sporting a caption that says, “care about these people, godammnit cos they’re all going to die later”. Approach at your peril and with your tongue firmly in cheek.
There’s no storyline here to speak of. The world is going to end but nobody knows except some scientists and world leaders who are planning to sneak off in ships that they’ve been building on the sly. Oh and Woody Harleson, in top bonkers mode, has also figured it out, based on ancient Mayan prophecies and is broadcasting it on his independent radio channel. When failed writer, Jackson (John Cusack, becoming more boring and pathetic with every film he makes) starts to pay attention to Woody, he realises he needs to get his family out… and quick. If this film was about 90 minutes shorter and had about 50% less random characters that keep getting wheeled out to die and elicit an emotional response, it might have been alright. Instead, it’s bloated and boring, leaving you dozing off in between the epic and breathtaking CGI destruction scenes, which are almost, but not quite worth it.
Serial funeral crasher, Carys Reitman (Bijou Phillips) accidentally steals the engagement ring of a corpse, leading her into the arms of the recently deceased’s fiancé, Tyler (Ian Somerhalder). Despite the total inappropriateness of the situation Carys finds herself connecting with someone for the first time, but it doesn’t take her long to start wondering if Tyler is hiding something from her. This has kooky and amusing moments and Carys is fun in the kind of way that you’re glad she’s not your friend. Only if you’re bored.
Promising boxer, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), has always wanted to be in the big leagues but his intense white trash family could be both his best asset and his biggest challenge. Trained by his brother, Dicky (Christian Bale), a failed fighter on the very edge of succumbing to a life of drugs and crime, and managed by his possessive mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), Micky is forced to decide who he can trust if he’s ever going to make it. This biopic is more about character than plot, really and the family drama at the centre of it is engrossing. Bale is almost unrecognisable playing the hyper, tweaked out Dicky (although I had to ask myself if he was overacting just a smidge) and Wahlberg is appropriately subdued as his needs are largely ignored, but it’s Leo that steals the show, playing a kind of Lady Macbeth character, flanked by her chorus of witchy daughters. Definitely worth watching.