An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs out of steam. Which is far too early. Despite the always-engaging presence of Ryan Reynolds, this fantastical thriller is slick enough to hold the attention, but fails because it's unable to generate any interest in the central characters. And instead of exploring the fascinating issues the story raises, the filmmakers instead fall back on irrelevant violence.
The story opens as billionaire Manhattan businessman Damien (Ben Kingsley) discovers he has six months to live. But he has heard about a new medical procedure called "shedding", in which his mind is implanted in a lab-grown body. At $250 million, it seems like a bargain, so he signs up with Dr Allbright (Matthew Goode) and prepares to abandon his old life for a new one. He wakes up in New Orleans as Edward (Reynolds), and begins to adjust to his fit new 35-year-old body. But after he misses his adjustment meds one day he has a series of bewildering flashbacks that make him wonder about the true nature of the shedding process. Maybe his new body wasn't so "new" after all. So he goes looking for answers, which involves teaming up with Madeline (Natalie Martinez) and seeking help from his business partner Martin (Victor Garber).
There are all kinds of intriguing themes swirling through this set-up, including issues of identity and mortality. But writers David and Alex Pastor seem uninterested in exploring any of this in lieu of a much more simplistic morality tale packed with continual shoot-out and chase scenes, plus far too much body-swapping. All of this is produced to a very high standard by director Tarsem Singh, who has a reputation for seriously stylish cinema (see The Fall or The Cell). He adds a strong edge to every scene, with intriguingly haunting editing choices and camerawork that add plenty of tension and uncertainty even if the plot itself is utterly predictable.
Continue reading: Self/Less Review
A new Amazon series is now available online, with Jeffrey Tambor as an ageing parent battling gender dysphoria.
Potentially one of the most important dramas to ever hit the internet is now being aired on Amazon Prime. Starring Jeffrey Tambor as a recently un-closeted transgender parent, 'Transparent' presents a heart-warming story of identity, love and acceptance.
Jeffrey Tambor in a very different kind of acting role
Tambor (known for his roles in 'Arrested Development' and 'The Hangover') takes on what could be the most challenging role of his career in 'Transparent'. The series depicts a loving parent named Maura Pfefferman - formerly known as Mort - who has decided after 70-years-old of living that she can no longer dress like the man she physically appears to be. In a brave move, she begins to transform herself into a woman, though it breaks her heart to see her beloved children so shocked and confused. Meanwhile, it seems she's not the only one who has been keeping secrets, and she's certainly not the only one battling inner demons.
I fall into the latter category. That's probably why I'm one of the few film journalists speaking positively about The Comebacks, a riotously hilarious spoof that pokes fun at those annoying inspiring sports dramas. (Editor's Note: Blake, you're on your own on this one. This movie is so bad it made me cry.)
Continue reading: The Comebacks Review
Rob Schneider's new low-brow body-swap romp "The Hot Chick" is such an insipidly sexist so-called comedy that the movie's entire female cast is reduced to jumping up and down, giggling and playing patty-cake while rhyming about the ickiness of sex.
These characters don't have a brain cell to share among them, but Schneider (who plays an idiot too, but what else is new?) and director Tom Brady genuinely expect the audience to identify with these one-dimensional teenage airheads.
More specifically, they expect us to identify with catty queen ditz Jessica (Rachel McAdams), who, through a curse not worth explaining here, wakes up in the short, hairy, burlap-sack body of a scummy, gas-station-robbing low-life (Schneider) just a few days before the prom.
Continue reading: The Hot Chick Review
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