Machete February 3, 2011
I didn’t go into this movie with high hopes; as much as I loved Grindhouse (or at least that part of it not written by Tarantino, the self-indulgent foot fetishist), I had fears that Machete would turn out to be a poorly hacked together movie that existed only to connect the disparate scenes seen in the mock trailer. As it turned out, I was right on the money and hadn’t even managed to guess the half of it; this machete is damned dull.
The somewhat eclectic cast, ranging from Seagal and Trejo to Alba, Rodriguez and Robert de bloody Niro, are poorly utilised in a way that’s almost criminal. Steven Seagal (who in his trademark arrogance can never be killed except by his own hand, an absurd conceit on the part of the D-list actor) and Danny Trejo make typically stilted performances which fit somewhat well in the the overall scheme of the movie, but neither, and I never thought I’d say this of Seagal, act badly enough to make it at all entertaining. The female portion of the cast, Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba, seemed to have settled comfortably and without complaint into eye-candy status, with Alba being the guiltier of the two. Jessica Alba, in a role I have to assume she saw as an independent and liberated female police officer, actually searches a police database, completely nude. In the shower. I completely expected that there would be pandering to the male audience, with teenagers and drunk frat boys evidently being the target demographic, but it’s so artless that I’ve seen pornography with nudity that seems less gratuitous. Neither of the two lead actresses redeem themselves in any way through the movie and frankly, both are out-acted by Lindsay Lohan’s performance as villain’s daughter and later, action nun. Jessica, Michelle, when you’ve been out-acted and out-charmed by Lindsay Lohan, the Norm to the rehab centre’s Cheers, you should perhaps consider a little break and a long look at your career. The worst part of this for me was to see Robert de Niro, who must have owed a favour to someone involved in this movie, so badly used as the Senator. He was given poor lines, inadequate screen-time and a disappointing send-off, which seems a complete waste of the acting talent de Niro can bring to a role. Ignoring anything he’s done in this last decade, which I’ll admit is a hell of a leap, this is the worst movie he’s graced with his presence.
It’s sad to see a movie with such schlocky potential fail to meet any of my very low expectations for it. It appears to be trying to go for the refuge in audacity that Planet Terror so ably reached, but somehow Machete manages to be audacious in a way that isn’t funny, shocking or even interesting. With a misused cast, terrible plot, uninteresting action scenes, Machete is a disappointing attempt at a movie. I’m not even sure downing a bottle of vodka could make this movie watchable, though if someone’s willing to pay for it, I might give it a go *coughhintcough*.
The King’s Speech January 20, 2011
Never before have I seen a movie that quite creaked of mahogany and velvet than the critically acclaimed “The King’s Speech”. This moving tale of royalty and their changing role in the world, it details the rise to kingship of King George the 6th (masterfully portrayed by Colin Firth) who undertakes elocution lessons to overcome a stammer he’s suffered from since childhood. A rather pedestrian plot on paper, the story is absolutely captivating in its portrayal of the isolation, insecurities and above all, humanity of the royals.
The cast is a rather, and one hates to use this term, star-studded one, with Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter, Derek Jacobi and Geoffrey Rush among others. Derek Jacobi gives a particularly good turn as the somewhat arrogant and toadying Archbishop Cosmo Lang (with just an insouciance of the sinister undertones that he brought so well to the role of the Master in “Doctor Who”) and Helena Bonham-Carter surprised me with an understated performance as the Queen Mother that only annoyed when she affected a posh voice, a mode of speech that somewhat eludes her and sadly brought to mind her turgid performance in the latest Tim Burton travesty, “Alice in Wonderland”. Only one actor seemed to me to be miscast and it was an ancillary character to the story, Timothy Spall as Churchill; he had the voice down, he seemed close to hitting the mannerisms, but the visual was incredibly off-putting, which was compounded by the repeating mental images of him crawling on the ground pretending to be a rat. Given his minuscule screen-time though, this is hardly a pressing complaint.
The bulk of the movie rested on the talents of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, with Rush playing Lionel Logue, the elocution teacher to Firth’s Bertie. Both actors give astounding performances, with Firth’s moving portrayal of a king ascendant, trapped to a regal destiny he feels is undeserved and so far beyond his capabilities, terrified of becoming a mute voice of a nation, contrasts wonderfully with Rush’s chirpy eclectic common man, although it must be said (and this is not to detract from the praise Rush rightfully deserves), Firth by far steals the show, as evidenced by his winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Dramatic Performance. The chemistry between the two main leads is superb, encapsulating neatly the relationship between subject and monarch, teacher and student and finally, that between good friends. The relationship plays out almost like a romantic one with partners spurned, arguments fuelled by frustration and finally, reconciliation and a lifelong relationship, spurred by mutual respect and adoration. The dialogue between the two is witty, without ever traipsing into pretentious territory, and deeply moving, with the right emphasis on dogged perseverance on Rush’s part and self-condemned frustration on Bertie’s side of the partnership.
I’ll attempt to avoid giving away too much of the plot, but I must take a moment to congratulate the superb juxtaposition between the old ceremonial monarchy and the new active-voice-to-the-nation king that is expected of King George the 6th, the contrast between Bertie and his brother Edward (who is played fully to the hilt as villain of the piece, right down to his personal leanings towards the Nazi party, sadly historically accurate) and finally, the beginning of World War 2 seen through the lens of oratory; Hitler’s fiery rhetoric against the stammering King George. The sheer hopelessness in King George’s eyes as he watches the fascist leader declare and denounce on a news reel is deeply poignant and reflects the hopelessness the nation must have felt at the knowledge a new World War was dawning.
Expertly and softly shot, interspersed with historical videos, and scored in such a moving yet understated way, “The King’s Speech” is a brilliantly written and performed movie and if it doesn’t score well at the Oscars, I will personally send Mr Firth a homemade Oscar to make up for it. Seriously.
Sherlock Holmes (Not That One) October 27, 2010
When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. And the truth is, Sherlock Holmes does not a successful movie make. In the other Sherlock Holmes movie released of late, we see our erstwhile hero Sherlock teaming up with Dr Watson to investigate an outbreak of monster attacks in and around the British Isles.
I went into this movie with the expectation that it’d be a terrible movie, in an entertaining way, rather like every Seagal movie ever made. However, I found myself disappointed and about ready to bomb Wales for its part in that travesty of a movie, which’d be a shame. They’ve got real pretty sheep.
One of the main issues this movie experiences is the surrounding Sherlock competition. At the time of watching, we’d not only had Robert Downey Jr’s “Adventures of Steampunk Puncherman” but also the exquisitely crafted “Sherlock” series from the BBC, which together probably raised the bar higher than this movie could ever hope to leap.
The movie uses the basic framing device of an old man (who is quite evidently Watson, before we’re pointedly told this) retelling a story from his past. A story, moreover, that Holmes apparently never wanted the public to know of, which is a neat enough excuse for a new Holmes story, if a little contrived.
The story begins with a group of, well, fabulously dressed sailors (the Village People had nothing on these guys) being attacked by a giant tentacled monster. The computer animations used to animate these tentacles is the absolutely peak of technology, assuming you’ve been locked in a room with nothing but a Playstation 1 for company. I can’t stress this enough. The graphics would have looked out of place in the 1980′s. Tron looked better than this.
Anyway, we’re suddenly transported to a hospital where we finally get to meet our Holmes and Watson. Dr Watson is played by Gareth David-Lloyd, of Torchwood and Doctor Who fame, that seems to have the poorest English accent since Dick Van Dyke and Sherlock Holmes is played by, it seems, a prepubescent boy, which I have to admit was an incredibly daring casting choice. I’ve never seen such an effeminate portrayal of Holmes, or indeed, any character. Well, until later in the movie. We are also introduced to the Lestrade of this tale and if ever you needed a drinking game for this movie, I recommend drinking every time you see a character in this movie try to portray people from the past by holding his hands behind his back. You’ll be absolutely gazeboed within 30 minutes, I promise you. Lestrade is seen only three times without his hands behind his back and on one of those occasions, he’s tied to a chair. That’s what it takes to stop him.
This movie seems to have problems with establishing any sense of drama; a T-Rex Dragon stalking the streets of London is introduced in such a pedestrian way that I spent a good ten minutes or so searching the credits for “T-Rex” under the Extras, not knowing that it was apparently a significant plot point. However, given how quickly it is thrown aside, it’s not hard to imagine that the writers felt the same way. We’re then subjected to an overly long ramble through the woods by Holmes and Watson; they are being chased by the T-Rex thing, but for all the sense of urgency that the actors put across, they be as well going for a gentle hike for all it matters to the viewers.
The ineptness of the writing is continued in the sheer predictability of the plot. We hear three references to the brother of Sherlock Holmes and it is so blatantly obvious that the villain is going to be the brother. Usually, I would spoiler that sort of thing, but honestly, if you can’t see that coming, you must be in a coma. I envy you. After a long shot of people walking with their hands behind their backs, we discover that the dinosaur and giant octopus are well-constructed fakes, which seems at odds with the computer graphics which, even at their very best, strive to be described as well-constructed.
Worst of all, I’m forced to compare this movie to Doctor Who. I’d been trying the entire movie to avoid doing so, purely on the basis that Gareth David-Lloyd was in Doctor Who and that it was lazy reviewing to compare it on those grounds. However, we soon find out that Sherlock’s brother is a cripple who has designed a cybersuit for himself, which he wears with an open defiance of the government that has spurned him. This story may seem familiar. It should. It’s the plot of the episode “Rise of the Cybermen” of the second series of the new Doctor Who run. The suit looks like a Cyberman and sounds like a Cyberman. After this realisation, the Doctor Who rip-offs come quick and fast: Sherlock dresses like a combination of Paul McGann’s Doctor and Matt Smith’s, Watson is continually referred to as “Doctor” and even the orchestral soundtrack seems upsettingly reminiscent of Murray Gold’s compositions for Doctor Who.
The final and most blatant act of plagiarism comes in the climax, although that’s hardly an appropriate word, of the movie, in which a giant machine, based upon the designs of a perfect Cyberman by a disabled man, is terrorising London with only the hero able to fight back in a hot-air balloon. In other words, it’s the Doctor Who Christmas special of 2008, in which the Doctor fights a giant machine, based upon the designs of a perfect Cyberman by a disabled man, in a hot-air balloon. It’s very hard to overlook such similarities, without leaping to the conclusion that the writer (Paul Bales, who seems to specialise in poor attempts to cash in on recent fads) has ripped off the work of much better writers.
This movie seemed to me to be a waste of a perfectly good actor in Gareth David-Lloyd; I’ve seen his performance in the Children of Earth arc in Torchwood, which was incredible and deeply moving, so to see his talents wasted in a movie that seems to exist purely to make money off the Sherlock Holmes name is disheartening. The other actors are so inept in their performances as to barely even register as worth looking up. And most upsettingly to a literature buff, Sherlock’s brother is apparently called Thorpe Holmes, instead of Mycroft, which seems a pointless change that only detracts from the movie.
All I can deduce is that watching this movie is not worth the loss of dignity you’ll suffer for doing so. Avoid this, until you’re so drunk as to warrant a coffin.
Hearing a scuttling near me, I slowly approach and look over the edge of the ridge. There’s a sting of mutated giant scorpions. My cyborg dog, adopted from the leader of a gang of Elvis impersonators, growls. To the strains of “Blue Moon” ably sung by Sinatra, I leap from the ridge onto the heads of my foes, brandishing my fireman’s axe. Pausing to rest a weary clicking finger and to loot the corpses of the newly-splattered scorpions, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth such disparate concepts have come together to create one of the best games I’ve played this year.
For Fallout: New Vegas, it was reassuring to see that some of the series’ original developers (from Black Isle Studios) has rejoined the creative team behind the sequel to Fallout 3. Fallout 1 and 2 were such spectacularly original games that it must have come as a relief for Bethesda Studios to receive such good reviews for Fallout 3 and it’s come as an even greater relief to the player that the combined styles of Black Isle and Bethesda has meshed together to make an immensely playable game.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world of irradiated wildlife and the ruins of civilisation, the Fallout series has always kept to its key theme of the 1950′s future; the world, despite its current state, is the ideal of 1950′s science magazines and forward looking editorials, with hover-cars, laser guns and robot butlers being the norm. For those new to the series, imagine the Jetsons if Elroy was dying of radiation poisoning and George and Jane had to resort to cannibalism and you’ll be pretty close to the Fallout universe. New Vegas takes a slightly different approach to Fallout 3, which is definitely attributable to the Black Isle staff, since it is much closer to the styles of Fallout 1 and 2. In Fallout 3, we were dropped into a fairly serious world; yes, it had some rather out there moments (finding Lucy’s Doctor stall, complete with the “The Doctor is in” notice was one of the highlights for me in the last game), but the game seemed settled in a gritty, if unusual, landscape. New Vegas, although it uses the same graphics engine as Fallout 3, seems a much different place, although more on that later. The graphics are exactly the same as in the previous game, which was rather disappointing as the game would have really shone under a new finish; however, don’t take that as a criticism. Although the graphics may never really shine or leave you gaping at the beauty of the landscapes, it will equally fail to disgust or annoy due to blockiness.
Following from the last game, New Vegas takes a great deal of pride in choosing its soundtrack; where we had upbeat swing and jazz numbers, we now have some slower swing (“Blue Moon” by Sinatra), Vegas-show style songs (“Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” sung by Dean Martin) and my particular favourite, country croonings provided by, most notably, Marty Robbins (“Big Iron”). But there’s just not enough of them, sadly, to last you even half the game before you’re willing to hunt down the musical director for the game and introduce him to your fist. The radio stations are, as always, a welcome feature, but I’ve now found myself turning it off; however entertaining and reassuring the talk radio can be, there’s only so often you can hear “Stay classy, New Vegas” before the urge to viciously sodomise the next ghoul you come across emerges.
The voice acting is a bit hit and miss too, sadly, which can rather ruin the otherwise entertaining and well-written dialogue with either bland emotionless drawls or, in one peculiar case, the completely wrong tone of voice, turning everything said into a question which, from reading the dialogue, was probably not the intention. Of note is the amount of celebrity voice-acting that’s present in the game; it begins with Ron Perlman narrating, the first villain you see is Chandler Bing, I’ve had two companions so far voiced by James Marsden (Cyclops of the X-Men movies) and Felicia Day (Dr Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, The Guild), which provided a soupçon of excitement to the proceedings. My particular favourite, despite my above complaint, would have to be Mr New Vegas of the talk radio station; he’s entertaining, a pleasure to listen to and I managed to last many, many hours of him before the aforementioned urges appeared.
Of course, the atmosphere would be rather wasted if not for the teeming masses of people and creatures populating the desert and thankfully, New Vegas is absolutely teeming with life. Sadly however, it teems with copy-and-paste style life to a rather irritating level; there appears to be around 20-something different categories of NPC and creatures roaming the map and this simply isn’t enough for the sheer scale of the playing area, which seems to be at least 3 or 4 times bigger than the map in Fallout 3. After killing my hundredth or so giant ant, I began to lament for the beginning of the game when it all seemed so new. The NPCs do fare slightly better than the creatures, it must be admitted, with my particular favourites being the Kings, the street gang that has styled themselves after Elvis Presley, down to their references, costumes and haircuts. However, you’ll probably soon get sick of seeing generic NCR troops at almost every 6th or 7th place you visit, especially since they seem to lack any speech capacity beyond a single programmed one-liner which is repeated ad infinitum. It’s like watching a bad sitcom, where a catchphrase is dragged out, regardless of context.
The variety available in the game is best seen in the sheer vastness of the weapon choice available to your player, the Courier. I have shot, beaten and exploded my way across the desert with a child-like glee and maliciousness, exulting the discovery of a new weapon with which to wreck destruction. However, you’ll soon settle into a routine as some weapons seem positively useless when compared to others you can get at the same time; specifically, I found myself using the Cowboy Repeater (a 7-shot rifle) for almost a third of the game so far, simply because it has a better iron-sight and accuracy than the hunting rifle, which at times has been inadequate for hunting anything, rendering it simply another item to sell to the game’s travelling merchants. The usual FPS array is here from pistols to revolvers, laser rifles to sniper rifles, flame-throwers to nuclear-warhead launchers, with a huge range of melee weapons to also choose from, my personal favourite being the fireman’s axe. It may just be the way I’ve been playing the game, but I’ve found that I’ve stuck to a few favourite weapons and the rest can go hang; it would have been nice if the game provided some incentive to use melee weapons instead of, say, a shotgun, but the only attempt at this, a range of special moves purely for use in melee (such as “Fore!” when using a golf-club in the game’s VATS system, a slowed-down targeting system) have never even popped up for me, which has left me a little jaded on the issue.
The quests seem to suffer from a severe lack of imagination after a while too; although the game has some spectacularly entertaining quests (if you have the game, try completing the quests from the REPCONN building; if not, click on this (SPOILER ALERT) link: http://tinyurl.com/ghoulsinnewvegas), it does eventually fall back into the old routine of fetch quests. I’ve brought messages to lovers, dog brains to scientists, a teddy-bear back to a little girl, but it all boils down to “Get X, bring to Y”. It’s not that much of an issue, given the distractions the game provides on your way to and from quests, but it can become a bit of a grind if you decide to plough through the quests on offer. The main quests that advance the plot are, naturally, better scripted and a welcome relief from fetching, but I refuse to say too much on those due to the sheer amount of times I’d need to type “spoiler”.
One of the game’s most salient characteristics is, by far, the bugs and glitches within the game. Bethesda are rather famed for their inability to pick up on these and they have not disappointed here, with glitches a-plenty.
Here’s just a small sample of what I found wandering the desert and cities:
- Objects slowly rose out of tables, instead of just sitting on them, giving dinner plates a horribly organic feel
- As seen above, one merchant glitched into her mercenary, leaving them more twisted than a David Lynch movie
- I stepped out of a building and promptly exploded for no reason
- Coyotes kept spawning in impossible places, such as fences, on rooftops and on one memorable occasion, on top of some scorpions
- I found one of the NPCs had gone off for a wander several cities away from where he was supposed to be, whereupon he was attacked by Deathclaws (which are still as broken as before)
- My companions have attacked quest-givers for no apparent reason, leaving me forced to reload my save
- Occasionally, bodies get imbued with a supernaturally high velocity from a standstill and this has led to a cow, catapulted through the air over a hill (this one, I’ll admit, was incredibly entertaining)
These will, hopefully, be patched out over time, but for now remain slight annoyances. Worse are the crashes, which some users have reported having every hour although personally, I’ve had only two crashes in the entire time I’ve been playing. I do now feel the need to save almost every 20 minutes though, which does not suggest confidence in the stability of the game; again, it’s hoped patches will soon remove this issue.
I have said a lot of negative things about New Vegas here, but it must be noted that despite every grouch and complaint I utter about the game, I’ve still played it for roughly 29 hours in about a week. 29 hours and I’ve not even visited a 20th of the locations in the game nor even completed half of the plot. Though this might speak more about my addiction to video games, it should let you know that this is a game that you can spend days wandering and wondering at the sheer amount of material to get to grips with. The game is a solid RPG/FPS adventure, sparkling with the magic of the Vegas strip and glittering with the witty dialogue and intelligent references to modern culture. If you played Fallout 3 and love it, there’s a lot here for you. If you played the originals and shunned Fallout 3, give this one a try and find the humour and irreverent style you’re used to. And if you’ve never played a Fallout game before, this provides a perfect starting place for what will become a lifetime of love for this series.
Worms Reloaded October 9, 2010
- Developed by Team17
- Already Released
- Out on Steam
- Up to 4 Players
- Metacritic Score: 79
It’s safe to imagine that if you’re at all interested in this game, you’ve probably heard of the Worms series before. If you haven’t heard of this series, then you’re a rather unique individual and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To quickly summarise for you lucky people: Worms is about two or more teams of Worms blowing the bejesus out of each other with mundane weapons like shotguns and bazookas up to more exotic weapons such as exploding sheep and air-dropped concrete donkeys. I’d highly recommend downloading and trying the demo via Steam, even if you don’t think this is your sort of game.
The single-player campaign in Worm is, to say the least, not quite its strongest side. Given the option between time-waster Body Count mode (wherein you kill as many Worms as you can before succumbing), Warzone mode (an increasingly difficult series of deathmatches) and the Campaign, you’ll spend most of your time on the latter. It’s a very short offering, consisting of 35 levels that are in the majority simple deathmatches of varying difficulty, broken up by the occasional puzzle or transversing-the-level-in-limited-time type of level. You’ll be facing AI that apparently can vary in its difficulty although I personally find that hard to believe; the AI often flips between being godly masters of Newtonian physics, able to richochet a grenade off several pieces of scenery, their own worms and land it directly on your last worm’s head and being clinically retarded, trying to fire a bazooka at you through the landscape and their own tails. It’s particularly galling in a match to see this; it’s impossible to not feel like you’re being pitied by the computer-controlled teams and it befuddles the mind to think that the programming team couldn’t have just added a small random element to computer aiming, instead of blatantly forcing AI worms to commit suicide.
However, multiplayer seems to be where the game wants us to spend our time and it has to be said, this is where you’ll want to spend your time as well. There is, of course, the ranked matches for people who like to take a casual game into a competitive arena and there are private matches, which can be played between friends, via Steamworks. I’ve personally found that trying to play the game without your friends agreeing to do so with you can be an incredibly irritating experience, with the majority of publicly hosted games aspiring to being privately hosted games. In my first 30 minutes of trying to find a public match in which to play, I was kicked from every game I tried to join, with a few helpful people explaining that they were in fact waiting for friends to join. It’s not, of course, the fault of the developers that the fanbase has failed to grasp the intrinsic difference between public and private or that others will only play ranked matches against friends, but it does somewhat sour the experience slightly. The best way to play Worms, as has always been the case, is to rope three friends into giving up a few hours of their time for a small tourney. There’s nothing quite like the malicious satisfaction gained from dropping dynamite among your friends, hearing their screams as you ninja-rope away.
However, there are still a few bugs that the constant updating has yet to deal with that, though not game-breaking, certainly can cause an inordinate amount of anger when you’re requiring pin-point accuracy to crush your friend’s hopes. They range from being kicked from a friend’s lobby after a game, to weapons prematurely firing to the camera flinging itself against the sides of the level as if in a deranged attempt to bash its own brains out. This had led, several times, to air-strikes and teleports in my games with friends veering wildly off course and ruining the game for the team using them. However, the game has been updated almost once every two weeks since release, so it’s probably safe to assume these issues will be dealt with in time.
The game allows, presumably to make you able to differentiate your worms from your friend’s worms, some small amount of customization, although this basically breaks down to skin colour, hats and an incredibly amusing variety of voices (my personal favourites being the Victorian cad, the Roman general and David Attenborough) and as such, doesn’t add terribly much to the game overall.
To be honest, this game is simply a prettier looking version of previous Worms games. If you’ve played this series before, you’ll already know if you’re going to enjoy this game. If you’re new to this series, I would seriously recommend that you buy the four-pack from Steam and play this game with friends; you’ll never enjoying hating them quite as much as you will when that bastard of a friend drops a bomb straight on your last worm.
You will all suffer.
Sex and the City 2 October 8, 2010
I probably should admit my biases up front here; I am a huge fan of the original show. I was even a fan of the first movie and went to see it, cocktail in hand. I mention this now to put the review in a proper context and to declare my love of Cosmos to the world.
We’re all familiar with the concept by now. 4 sassy, independent women doing their thang about town, shocking those around them (and the audience) with their life lessons and saucy behaviour. And when the show was originally shown, it was indeed ground-breaking material, a mix of the emotional messages of a well-written drama and the dirty talk not usually heard outside of a porn movie or an open-top brothel; however, 12 years later, we’ve lost the shock value.
So how best to bring the old spark back? Watching the introduction to the movie, it certainly seemed like we were in for an 80′s prequel movie, which actually sounded promising if it could be handled well. I would have loved to review that movie, but as you may have guessed, that ain’t the way it went. Our first major event brings us to a gay wedding, the wedding, in fact, of the only two gay characters on the show. For those of you thinking, isn’t it a bit convenient to have the only two gay men, who hated each other last we knew, marry? The movie, it seems, would agree with you, explicitly mentioning this without also taking the time to point out how poorly written a movie would have to be to force closure of loose ends in such a cursory way. However, the writers saw that the gay community might be a little irritated by the two gay men getting married on the strength of them being the only gay ancillary characters left, and as such, decided to make the wedding the gayest creation ever seen by human eyes. We’re greeted by pure white everywhere, swans, an all-male chorus and finally, we see the “broom” (the movie spells out what that is, for those watching who have just had brain-cells bleached to death via the sight of just so much white. Sorry, it’s really hard to get past) getting ready to make his leap into married life.
Then Liza Minelli turns up to sing “Single Ladies”. My dear god, it’s terrifying; Samantha and Miranda speculate that she manifests whenever there’s that amount of gay energy, but I assure you, at this point I was more worried that she’d crawl out the screen and devour my very flesh. No man’s libido should ever be put through the wringer like that. Liza should at this age just let death catch up with her and stop dancing. Especially the latter. Her arthritic movements put me in mind of a rubber alien from an old B-movie. But quite enough about the searing pain I went through as my testicles committed hara-kiri.
Watching the marriage of the world’s cattiest Italian-Gay and Penfold makes Carrie speculate about her own married life and those of her friends, though this should come as no surprise to those who have seen the show before. It seems Carrie can get a deep introspective urge from the littlest event in her life; “As I watched someone order a hot coffee, I began to wonder, would my relationship with Big stay as hot as that kettle or would it slowly cool, like that beverage?”. “As I saw Samantha grind herself silly against a lamppost, I wondered, would Big ever light up MY life like that?”. I realise that it’s the format of the show, but a slight deviation wouldn’t have killed them, surely?
After a minute or two of vapid thoughts about how great her life is, and from that alone, you can guarantee she’s going to screw it up somehow, we find Big and Carrie in bed, watching a black and white movie, discussing how it used to be shocking for its time but now seems quaint and non-threatening. Now, you may have noticed some parallels here. I find it impossible to imagine that the writers themselves didn’t see this. Why on earth do we have a movie that is out of its time and no longer edgy and provocative discussing a movie that is out of its time and no longer edgy and provocative? Surely, as a writer for Sex and the City 2, you’d want to at least strive to maintain the glamour and cutting-edge feel of the show?
We’re quickly distracted by, and these are in order:
- Samantha saying the word “hormone”, which has never sounded more appropriate
- An Irish nanny with the worst Irish accent I have ever heard, which pales in comparison with her gigantic breasts. She’s like a busty leprechaun. The movie then focuses on these breasts for at least a good 5 minutes altogether, which I assume was to keep boyfriends dragged to see this happy. It worked.
- This is followed by Charlotte breaking down when faced with the reality of two screaming, demanding children, afraid that she’s a terrible mother for not wanting to spend all her time with her children, followed by her locking herself in a cupboard and crying, to be found by the BOOBS nanny TITS. This scene is alone in the whole movie for its emotional candour and snap to realism, away from the fashion-obsessed focus of the series. Of course, this somewhat out of place scene is quickly followed by…
- …Samantha rubbing cream into her crotch in a glass cubicle. The contrast here is so incredibly jarring, I actually had to go back and watch Charlotte’s scene again, in case it was a fevered dream. It wasn’t. Mother’s heartbreak was indeed followed by crotch cream application. I can imagine that phrase will get this blog some very disappointed male searchers from Google, looking for something very different.
- Carrie and Big in their apartment, fighting. Big has just come back from Carrie’s friend’s wedding, which took up his entire weekend, to work all day and finally, happily, collapse onto the couch. At which point Carrie, who, it must be noted, seems to write about one article a fortnight, complains at his wanting to stay in instead of going to support her friend Samantha in her goal of sleeping with all the men of New York, again. He complains. He is the voice of every male watching this.
Then finally, we come to the crux of the plot; the girls have been given a week away in sunny Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid! This was inevitable, I guess. The writers had to take the girls somewhere that they could buy shoes and where their antics could be seen as provocative again, and with the focus of America on the Middle-East, how could they miss the opportunity?
So, they land after some very dull small-talk on the plane and much agonising over trivial issues, with the exception of Charlotte, who is agonising about leaving her husband alone with the BREASTS nanny GIANT MAMMARIES. Which, let’s face it, is a fair enough concern. Miranda also points out the morality laws to Samantha, who dismisses them. This may seem important for later, but I assure you, it really isn’t.
The movie then veers from its path of “predictable” to the path of “cliché”; it becomes a horrible tourism video for the next hour or so of movie, showing off Abu Dhabi’s wonderful shopping, culture, expensive hotels away from poor people and personal butlers. It’s really quite difficult to care a damn about this movie by this point. Of note, however, is the completely expected revelation of having one of Carrie’s ex-boyfriends in Abu Dhabi at the same time she is having worries about her marriage; if you didn’t see this coming, then please, disembowel yourself. This always happens. It’s Aidan, the personable and rugged ex, ably played by John Corbett who, along with Chris Noth (Big) and Kristin Davis (Charlotte), plays one of the few characters that has any emotional appeal in the movie. Of course, in Aidan’s case, you can only empathise with this character of limited screen-time because you know, just damn well know, Carrie’s going to screw everything up for him. After listening to Samantha screech about not responding to the thought of ploughing the whole Australian rugby team, I had to stop watching for a while. I’d had quite enough predictable dirty dialogue and clichéd Arabic settings.
I restarted the movie to see the girls ride camels and make jokes about camel-toes at Charlotte. Which was a shame, because given Sarah Jessica Parker’s resemblance to a dromedary, they really missed some easy jokes. This was quickly followed up by a karaoke scene that, to its credit, was not as cringe-inducing and ball-shrinkingly bad as I originally envisaged; it certainly wasn’t great, but I believe having much, much lower expectations for the scene really worked in its favour. The girls head home and the next day, Carrie sluts up for her “friendly” date with ex Aidan. The two (and if you think this needs a spoiler alert, please never breed; let your genes die peacefully) kiss for a second. This is rather pedestrian to be the crux of Carrie’s involvement in the movie and when Carrie calls Big to confess to this, Big simply says that he’s at work then hangs up. He obviously agrees that as the emotional crux of the plot, it’s simply not up to much, unlike the untold possibilities of Charlotte’s depression and self-esteem crisis, which, it should be noted, is dealt with over a single cocktail.
Then Samantha gets arrested by the Morality Police. I’d gloat over how I called this, but it’s so trivial an event that she’s quickly released as if nothing happened. It’s yet another turn in the movie that Ray Charles could have seen coming; it’s upsetting to see a show so witty in its prime turn to such mediocre plot twists. Of course, this is the second movie after the tying-up of loose ends in the series, so really, what else was I expecting?
But then, the movie took a surprising turn. Samantha’s whoring on the beach has led to the girls being kicked out of the hotel. Carrie can’t travel home because she left her passport while admiring shoes and ex’s. It seems, finally, we’re going to see the girls learn a moral lesson.
Idiots if you did.
Carrie finds her passport at the shoe stall, then buys victory shoes for everyone. Samantha becomes more disrespectful and shouts and swears at men answering the call to prayer, while throwing condoms in the air. This could only have been more disrespectful if she had lain down spread-eagled and inserted them rectally, and the movie probably took a few re-writes to stop that happening. The girls are then saved from a growing crowd of pissed-off Muslims by a small group of fashion-obsessed Islamic women, who then lend the girls their burqas in order to escape. It was at this point I remembered that there was no goddamn emergency at all and hence no drama. In fact, given that the worst that would happen to them if they missed their flights was that they’d have to fly coach, I was absolutely rooting for a camel to stand in the way of their taxi, or something equally contrived.
They get home in luxury.
The movie, however, still has the moral dilemma of Carrie cheating on Big to deal with. They do this through Big “punishing” Carrie by making her wear a ring mounted with a stunningly big diamond. I’m not sure if he actually cares at this point. I get the feeling he doesn’t and knows that a shiny thing will keep the ageing magpie quiet. It certainly works.
The conclusion of the movie is wrapped up in a rather dismissive way; it feels as if the writers knew that the audience just wanted every little story wrapped up and done, so they could go home and wait for the next movie. It’s an airbrushed ending, to match the airbrushed looks.
- Miranda, having quit her old sexist job, finds a new job where everyone listens to her.
- Samantha fucks someone on the beach.
- Charlotte takes time out from her children occasionally and the nanny (do I need to say it? Fine. BIG BAZONGAS) turns out to be a lesbian.
- Carrie ends up understanding the need for a couple to have quiet evening on the couch
- And Big wasn’t blamed for Carrie’s problems and gets to watch TV at home. Which is the best he could expect, really.
Just because a movie is a sequel doesn’t mean it will of necessity be bad. However, Sex and the City 2 does nothing to show this, being so infested with clichés and predictable dialogue that it begs apt analogy with Samantha’s nether-regions. It was rather fitting that the movie had a cameo from Liza Minelli; both are very gay, past their prime and ain’t as edgy as they used to be. But that’s not going to stop this becoming a trilogy now, is it?