Archives for the month of: December, 2015

I keep oscillating between 1/5 and 2/5 for a score for this movie, because while it wasn’t any good at all, it also wasn’t actively bad, so 1/5 seems mean, but it was also really not any good. And probably other people aren’t quite as keen on James D’Arcy looking tense in a naval uniform, so that doesn’t get a free point.

In WWII, radar happened, and it is the subject of many excellent movies and even better quips (see, for instance, the charming exchange from Battle of Britain: “So I tell the cabinet that you’re trusting in radar and praying to God, is that right?” “More accurately the other way ’round. Trusting in God and praying for radar.”). And, in that grand tradition, Age of Heroes is about commandos sent to Norway to take out a German radar installation, I’m pretty sure.

Danny Dyer saves some of his men in the retreat towards Dunkirk, but then is sent to prison for desertion because of a misunderstanding or simple nastiness on the part of a superior officer. Sean Bean ignores the pleas of his pregnant wife to lead a commando unit (helpfully made up of men from Danny Dyer’s military jail and also some random Scandinavian-born American, which is where Askel Hennie comes in).  John Dagleish has to go with the commandos to Norway as the radar expert, but is largely useless for anything else. Our old friend and the only character whose name I learned, and that only because I already knew it, Ian Fleming (Mr. D’Arcy), is stressed out in the cabinet war rooms.

So they go to Norway and it’s cold and John Dagleish is useless and their contact has maybe gone dark or is maybe dead or is definitely a girl. Nazis are very unpleasant, to a point that seems cartoonish but is probably accurate. At this point the movie loses shape entirely, but not out of attempts at realism, just out of carelessness. All the set-up–explaining radar, commandos, intelligence services, geography–falls by the wayside in a welter of bad dialogue and worse pacing. Danny Dyer is, I think, meant to be conflicted and confused, but he comes off as dense and ineffectual. Which is not great, for a titular hero.

Commandos are fascinating, and I daresay a good film treatment of Fleming’s war service could exist and perhaps already does, but this isn’t it. (Neither is Any Human Heart, in which he figures as a minor character but which I couldn’t even finish watching, it was so dire.) Accounts of the early part of the war are usually depressing–Battle of Britain ends with a collective, near-despairing shrug–but this one is also just bad.

Oh, and, of course Sean Bean dies.

Director: Adrian Vitoria
Rating: NR
Length: 90 minutes
Score: 1/5

This is a family movie, and is therefore sort of terrible. I guess? We seem to cut “family” movies a lot of slack because ostensibly they are made for children, and children lack critical reasoning skills. This is the standard explanation, but I submit that the real lack of critical reasoning skills betrayed by this movie is evenly divided between the studio and the lead actors. I have no idea why either Ioan Gruffudd or Toni Collette agreed to be in this, and I know Mr. Gruffudd makes a lot of terrible movies, but Ms. Collette is definitely a real actress who can turn rôles down. Also Richard E. Grant! What the hell!

Apparently, this was originally called Foster, which is more mysterious but also less cloyingly terrible, so I wish they had stuck with that. Alec (Mr. Gruffudd) and Zooey (Ms. Collette) Morrison are married, work in absurdly cutesy jobs (Alec owns a toy factory and Zooey has a book shop), have a beautiful house somewhere in Britain where it’s always sunny, but are not happy. This is because their son died in an accident some years back, and they have not managed to have another child.

That is an unbelievably sad thing to happen to someone, but this movie addresses it in a way that will make children go “huh?” and adults puke. When the Morrisons consider fostering a child, one arrives on their doorstep: a preternaturally calm and well-informed being called Eli (Maurice Cole), who wears a suit and a fedora and prefers CNN to cartoons. He teaches them many lessons about…something, bails out Alec’s failing toy manufacturer with a laughably awful suggestion, gets Alec and Zooey to reconnect at LegoLand, befriends Richard E. Grant the homeless man, and then disappears without a trace, leaving Zooey being sick on Christmas morning. Show me a child that can grasp what’s happening, or care. Once you have any capacity for comprehending what the stakes are, the facile, saccharine response is almost insulting. Is it religious? It has some stabs at it, but never commits.

“Embarrassing” is the first adjective that comes to mind.

Stray observations:

  •  Why is Richard E. Grant here? Why is he homeless? Why does he believe in fairies?
  • Seriously, where do these people live? And how do they afford that beautiful house near those beautiful gardens?
  • The child is adorable on his own merits, but his world-wise schtick gets old quickly.

Director: Jonathan Newman, who also directed The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, and I think I just figured some things out
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes
Score: 2/5