Toby Jaffe

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Total Recall Review


Weak
Audiences weren't exactly clamouring for a remake of that 1990 sci-fi hit starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, but here we are. The filmmakers promised to return more closely to Philip K. Dick's original story, but instead they merely lift visual references from a series of much more involving movies. And with only one decently realised character on the screen, the only other thing to hold our interest is the way it looks.

That one good character is Doug, played with real depth by Farrell. After a chemical war has left just two inhabitable spots on earth (Britain and Australia), Doug is working as a robotics engineer and living a quiet life with his wife Lori (Beckinsale). But he keeps dreaming about running for his life with another woman (Biel), so he heads to a Rekall memory-implant centre to clear his mind. Of course he instead opens a can of worms, discovering that he's not who he thinks he is. But what's the truth? And who's side he really working for - the totalitarian chancellor (Cranston) or the violent rebel leader (Nighy)?

Continue reading: Total Recall Review

Rock Star Review


OK
In his short career, Mark Wahlberg has been most effective when playing characters full of naïve sincerity. In Boogie Nights, The Yards, and even Three Kings, his talent is in making the audience believe he's a good guy with a lot of heart, just trying his best. That honest hopefulness works well for him in Rock Star, a generally entertaining tale of an 80s heavy metal superfan who suddenly becomes his favorite band's lead singer. The problem with the film lies in director Stephen Herek's inability to take advantage of the strengths that Wahlberg displays.

The story is loosely based on metal icons Judas Priest, who, in 1997, replaced singer Rob Halford with an actual fan (so tell me, how would one actually know if Judas Priest replaced a band member?) Wahlberg, as Steel Dragon fan Chris Cole, is just brimming with dedication -- he works hard as a copy machine repairman, busts his ass in his Steel Dragon cover band, tells his parents he loves them, and has a long relationship with his girlfriend/best friend/manager (Jennifer Aniston, still underrated by Hollywood). After being booted from his band for taking things too seriously, Chris gets a call from the real Steel Dragon, who are interested in his pipes. Just like that, he's the new guy out front.

Continue reading: Rock Star Review

Blue Streak Review


Grim
Typecasting. Definition, when writers pigeonhole you into one role, assuming you can do nothing more than that. However, typecasting is not just a product of the writers. It is not just a product of your Hollywood image. It's a product of what you choose to do.

Case in point Martin Lawrence, whose new movie Blue Streak seems like a carbon copy of his last one, Nothing to Lose. The jokes work off of the same punch line, the scenes seems stolen from one another. Everything is placed towards a completely predictable ending.

Continue reading: Blue Streak Review

Life Or Something Like It Review


Good
Like a gift-wrapped tennis racquet, director Stephen Herek's Life or Something Like It reveals most of its secrets with the packaging. The contrived tagline of "Destiny Is What You Make Of It" screams "Feel Good Movie," and sure enough a brief tour of Herek's resume uncovers dreamers (Mr. Holland's Opus), overachievers (Rock Star) and time-traveling prophets bearing the benevolent message, "Be excellent to each other" (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure).

But I like Herek - a sort of populist Cameron Crowe - because he specializes in dreams and dreamers, yet still understands enough about pacing and characterization to prevent his films from drifting off into the stratosphere before they reach their natural conclusion. He may be light, fluffy and conventional, but his films contain an unforeseen element of stability and (as a result) respectability.

Continue reading: Life Or Something Like It Review

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