Run All Night (2015)

Run All NightWhen limousine driver Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman) is witness to an incident involving Danny Maguire (Boyd Holbrook), the rebel son of reformed crime lord Shawn (Ed Harris), he finds himself being targeted by everyone Danny has on his payroll. The situation is further complicated when Mike’s father Jimmy (Liam Neeson), an old friend of Shawn’s who left his own family to serve the crime boss’ as their go-to hitman, kills Danny while defending his son and incurs Shawn’s wrath in the process. As Mike fears for his young family, evacuating them to a lakeside retreat from his past, Jimmy fights his way through the ranks — starting with their new hitman, Mr Price (Common), in an attempt to stop Shawn before the latter can exact his revenge.

Although Liam Neeson’s bewildering action-man makeover started with the Luc Besson produced Taken series, director Jaume Collet-Serra was also complicit in making the actor so ubiquitous within the genre. Having collaborated on Unknown and Non-Stop, two preposterously high-concept Euro-thrillers that — respectively — saw Neeson forget his part in an assassination attempts and face off against apparently well-intentioned terrorists aboard a crashing plane, the two reteemed for Run All Night, a rather more realistic and grounded sins of the father saga set in New York. However, what truly distinguishes Run All Night from Unknown and Non-Stop, and any other Neeson actioner for that matter, is that it’s actually quite good.

Neeson carries on pretty much as usual, but Collet-Serra has this time chosen to surround him with a higher caliber of supporting actor — Julianne Moore notwithstanding — of which Ed Harris is undoubtedly the most familiar face. Always watchable, Harris brings real conflict and complexity to Shawn, a character driven to avenge in death a son he wasn’t necessarily too fond of in life. However, lesser known talents include Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6), Vincent Philip D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) and Common (Selma), while Joel Kinnaman (of the much-maligned RoboCop remake) quickly redeems himself as Mike. It wouldn’t be hard to imaging Run All Night going straight to DVD, its poorly photoshopped cover replete with embarrassed-looking A-listers phoning in performances for an easy paycheck, but the actor’s here really earn their cinema release.

While undoubtedly Collet-Serra and Neeson’s most inspiring collaboration to date, Run All Night is sometimes a little too audacious for its own good. Stylistically, the computer-enhanced tracking shots that whisk the action from one location to the next jar horribly with the gritty, down-to-earth aesthetic established elsewhere, while a Christmas setting serves almost no purpose at all — save perhaps for a third act skirmish set to A Fairytale in New York that is barely eventful enough to register. It’s also needlessly violent, especially for a film about families each endeavoring to reinvent themselves as peaceful and legitimate. Jimmy spends the whole film insisting that his son doesn’t pull the trigger, all the while killing just about anyone who appears in his sights. It’s also a little confusing that such an apparent pacifist as Mike should coach boxing and work for Shawn (as a chauffeur, admittedly) in the first place.

Neeson’s best film since The Grey (not, of course, including his inspired, self-effacing voice work on The LEGO Movie), Run All Night is an unexpectedly taught, tense and intelligent thriller. With the actor teasing another two years of action hero-ing before he finally returns to more genteel roles, however (he will forever be the dad from Love, Actually, in my eyes at least), the question is whether he can keep it up.

3-Stars

 

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Non-Stop (2014)

Non StopWhile flying New York to London, U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is contacted through a supposedly secure network by someone threatening to kill one passenger every twenty minutes unless $150 million is wired into a specific account. The account, however, is revealed to be in Marks’ own name, and while attempting to identify the culprit he further implicates himself in the terrorist plot. As passengers start to die, and a bomb is found onboard buried in briefcase full of cocaine, Marks — aided by fellow passenger Jen (Julianne Moore) and flight attendant Nancy (Michelle Dockery) — finds himself labelled a hijacker, and excommunicated by ground support.

Reuniting Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra with unlikely action hero Liam Neeson, Non-Stop is yet another B-movie with an A-list cast. The premise, which as seen above can be easily summed up in a single sentence, is admittedly an intriguing one, but the film quickly eschews all tension, analysis and socio-political commentary in order to focus on Neeson’s latest gun-toting doberman.

Having brilliantly and mercilessly satirised his Hollywood persona in The LEGO Movie, playing both Good and Bad Cop to hilarious effect, Neeson here returns to his usual portrayal of Sad Cop, a jaded law enforcer troubled by a tragic past. The actor appears to be on autopilot — all sense of turbulence confined to the outer side of the plane’s fuselage — and though the script may mention past horrors there is very little evidence of it in Neeson’s performance.

The film’s only hope lies with its red herrings, and of the countless crew-members and passengers fingered by a desperate director only two of them make any sort of lasting impression. Julianne Moore is obviously one of them, endearing almost immediately as Jen Summers, a character who whether by accident or design finds herself sitting next to Neeson’s Marks. The other worthwhile diversion is Michelle Dockery as Nancy, a regular on Downton Abbey who transitions remarkably well to the big screen. Obediently, everyone else jumps thoughtlessly from suspicious to heroic the moment the seat belt sign is switched off.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, Non-Stop is almost the perfect in-flight movie. Not only will it pass a few hours, be wholly undiminished on the small screen and keep you nodding off onto your neighbours shoulder, but will give you tens of vaguely familiar but ultimately unrecognised names to Google while waiting for your bags at the carousel. (Was that really Oscar-nominated 12 Years A Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o as the other British flight attendant? I sure hope nobody from the Academy sees this on their way to LA.)

2-stars

 

 

The LEGO Movie (2014)

The Lego MovieEmmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) — an inconspicuous, conscientious construction worker — follows instructions to the letter. He’s a model citizen, particularly in the eyes of the megalomaniacal President Business (Will Ferrell), who wishes everyone was just as respectful of the rules. Everything changes for Emmet, however, when he happens across The Piece of Resistance, a mythical relic sought after by the rebellious Master Builders, gifted individuals capable of redesigning the world around them. He is dragged into an ongoing conflict between order and chaos, suppression and expression, and — with the help of Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett) — begins to realise his true potential.

The main problem with Battleship, the last plastic plaything to be adapted for the big screen, aside from the wooden acting and terrible special effects, was that nobody involved in it understood or respected the game it was based on. Unconvinced that audiences would flock to a nautical war film that eschews explosions for tactics in the numbers necessary to justify production, the studio added aliens for no reason other than to boost profits, twisting the film into something that bore almost no resemblance to the game. Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy similarly mistook the appeal of the toys of the same name, instead producing a film for teenagers that was about pixels and inappropriate posturing when it should have been a children’s movie about toy robots.

The LEGO Movie makes no such mistakes in terms of theme or demographic, as directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller clearly understand the attraction of brightly coloured building blocks. Theirs is a film about imagination, creativity and doing big things with little pieces. The master builders — sort of alchemist Jedi — are fighting for the freedom to express themselves against a tyrant obsessed with order and perfection. Building from the instructions was always fun, and undoubtedly has its place in play, but what makes LEGO so popular and enduring is its versatility. Fans are invited to use the prescribed plans as a springboard, to mix things up and create something new and unique; something only that particular individual could have created.

With its heart in the right place, and by employing a premise that perfectly embodies the brand values of the product, then, the filmmakers are free to have as much fun as they desire with their box of bricks. The LEGO brand has branched out in recent years, into video games and other media, and it’s great fun to pick out the various subsets and other licensed properties; still, the relative newcomers are not allowed to overshadow proceedings, and the focus remains very much on the archetypal LEGO figurine, as well as with the animals and building blocks that are ubiquitous in all collections, past and present; familiar to all children, big and small.

The voice cast are wonderful — without exception — and Chris Pratt leads the lot as an everyman who may or may not be The Special. Morgan Freeman is a delight as Vitruvius, a blind wizard and leader of the rebellion, who gets many of the film’s best lines. The supporting cast (and assorted cameos) are great fun as well, with a number of real stand-outs: Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, poking fun at a character who is all too often held up as the model of po-faced seriousness, while Liam Neeson excels as Good Cop/Bad Cop, a play on the actor’s kick-ass persona and possibly the first role to truly reconcile his non-threatening demeanor with his altogether more menacing voice. The film even rights the wrongs of Transformers, albeit unofficially, with a shape-shifting pirate (with a shark for an arm) who has as much personality as he does pixels.

The film, then, is hysterical, has an inspired plot and boasts a cast of colourful characters, and yet its successes don’t end there. An uncanny combination of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut‘s facial expressions, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs‘ zany humour and A Town Called Panic‘s manic energy, the crude animation has a charm and depth all of its own, beautifully blending stop-motion and CGI animation. The 3D too is outstanding, with the format’s much-maligned miniaturisation effect facilitating the belief that you are indeed watching tiny figures in action. It’s also gorgeously soundtracked, with both “Everything Is Awesome” and Batman’s ode to darkness likely to stay with you for weeks to come.

It’s only February, but 2014 has already seen its first masterpiece of the year. Everything about The LEGO Movie is note-perfect: the themes, the tone, the animation and the humour are all priceless. Cynics may still see it as one big advert for a global brand (or several, judging by the number of cameos), but this film isn’t for them; it’s for you.

5-Stars

Batman Begins (2005)

Blaming himself for his parents’ murder years before, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) bides his time until the man responsible is up for parole and then sets out for revenge. Robbed of absolution when somebody else beats him to it, Wayne forfeits his family’s empire and exiles himself in a Bhutanese prison, where he is eventually courted by Ra’s al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) The League Of Shadows. Trained as a ninja and taught to overcome his childhood fear of bats, Wayne returns to butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and his family’s fortune when the organization’s true intention – to destroy Gotham, ridding it of its evils – becomes clear. With pawn Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow) already in place, the newly created Batman will have to seek assistance from DA Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) and Sgt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) if there is to be much of Gotham left to save. Read more of this post

Battleship (2012)


After getting tasered by the police for ransacking a gas station in order to microwave a burrito for a girl he fancies (Brooklyn Decker), Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is forced into joining the Navy by his disapproving brother (Alexander Skarsgård). Finding himself in the position of weapons officer despite being notoriously hot-headed and completely unreliable, the now Lieutenant Hopper is further promoted when an alien armada slaughters his superior officers and isolates his ship from the rest of the fleet. While Alex fights for his life against four extraterrestrial warships, with only a sixty year-old boat, a chart-topping Barbadian and a geriatric crew of retirees for help, Girl From Earlier (who is actually the Admiral’s daughter AND a buxom physiotherapist) walks up a hill with a crippled war veteran who has apparently given up the fight for good. Or has he? Do we care? Maybe he’s a cyborg? Wait, huh?

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Wrath of the Titans (2012)


In exile with his son as anonymous fishermen after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington) refuses to aid his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) in the Godly battle to keep the escaping prisoners of Tartarus at bay. When a mutiny at the hands of Ares (Édgar Ramírez), God of War, sees the Gods either killed or imprisoned, however, Perseus has no choice but to travel to the underworld in order to free his father and prevent Hades (Ralph Fiennes) from releasing the nigh-unstoppable Kronos from his dormancy. Knowing that only the combined might of Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades’ Pitchfork, and Poseidon’s Trident – combined to make the Spear of Triam – has ever proved effective in stopping Kronos, Perseus seeks the weapons’ creator, Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), along with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike, for pity’s sake) and Agenor (Toby Kebbell), the demigod son of Poseidon.

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D (2012)

Sent to resolve a taxation dispute with the Trade Federation, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) instead find themselves under attack as Viceroy Nute Gunray (Silas Carson) orders an illegal invasion of the planet Naboo. The Jedi – along with exiled native Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) – escape with The Queen (Natalie Portman) and depart for Coruscant in order to find favour with the Galactic Senate. Forced to stop on Tatooine for repairs, the Jedi happen across a young boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) with whom The Force is unusually strong. Their discovery does not go unnoticed by Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), however, the political alias of a burgeoning Sith power.

Thirteen years ago, in a galaxy uncomfortably close to the bone, a loyal fan-base snorted in derision at a movie so apparently terrible that it not only made a mockery of their decades of devotion, but tarnished the memory of their once-hallowed original trilogy as well. Betrayed by the man to whom they had given years of their lives, a considerable sum of money and their first cinematic love, a generation found themselves sorely disenfranchised by the infamous phantom menace.

Except, they didn’t really. In the subsequent years, these individuals have upgraded their collection first onto DVD and then onto Blu-ray, continued to invest in expanded universe games and novels, and returned to watch the film’s two sequels, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. There is still great affection for George Lucas’ brain child, and where a generation was once inspired by the original trilogy, so too has a generation been enchanted by the new series of films. The franchise has endured, despite the continued resistance of a select few.

With Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace returning to cinema screens following a 3D overhaul, old wounds might once again begin to itch, however, as those once slighted by the film’s 1999 release question why they would ever wish to see the film again. After all, it is the same film, riddled with the same flaws, simply retrofitted in 3D. This is true, but with over a decade to let the old scars heal, I urge you to revisit The Phantom Menace and make peace with a film mired in unjustified contempt.

It’s ridiculous, after all, to think that George Lucas has somehow done his fans wrong by not making the movie that they wanted to see. It’s a shame to think that the man himself has been worn down to the point of retiring having been unfairly vilified by a group of people who just happen to have grown old and cynical faster than he can make movies. The Star Wars films have never belonged on a pedestal, their iconic status ultimately bestowed on them by misguided audiences determined to adopt the franchise as their own, resulting in a sense of entitlement that would see them become their beloved franchise’s own worst enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say the film is perfect, or even particularly great. Indeed, the problems with The Phantom Menace – and the prequel trilogy as a whole – have been well documented: the overly exclamatory dialogue that is rife with exposition, the embarrassingly wooden acting as actors grapple with excessive green-screen and a plot that gets too bogged down in pseudo politics to allow for any real momentum or character development. The truth is, however, that many of these criticisms can be just as easily levelled at the other films, and if we can overcome clunky dialogue and awkward plotting for them – anyone who denies there’s political jargon in A New Hope simply isn’t listening hard enough – then what’s stopping us here? Surely it can’t just be nostalgia alone?

Because – as I have already argued – there is so much to love in The Phantom Menace, particularly now that it has been spread over an extra dimension. The pod race, the lightsaber battles and the space dogfights are on a par with anything the series has to offer, and with the benefit of stereoscopy this is clearer than ever. This is one of the best conversions I have ever scene, the screen opening up to a degree reminiscent of the finest 3D experiences. Coruscant is quite simply breath-taking, while the underwater world inhabited by Naboo’s Gungan quotient dazzles as it looms into view. There is a size and scope to Lucas’ creation that is utterly cinematic – from Darth Maul to Sebulba, Mos Espa to the Galactic Senate – it’s pure genre entertainment.

But as ever, The Phantom Menace‘s biggest asset has never been the films admittedly stunning visuals. The film’s score is arguably one of John Williams’ finest; as the Star Wars theme blasts out over the opening crawl, it is impossible not to feel time rewind and yourself regress back to childhood once more. But unlike the film’s narrative – which riffs quite obviously (and unfortunately) on Return of the Jedi – this is no rehash. The usual leitmotifs are blended with a more diverse soundtrack, as the true operatics of this space opera come into play, crescendoing with the film’s piece-de-resistance: Dual of the Fates. Throw in Ben Burtt’s characteristically impeccable sound design and you have a film that is tantalisingly close to being note-perfect.

Revisiting Star Wars Episode I you will quickly realise that Jar Jar Binks is nowhere near as annoying as you remember him to be, that the midichlorians do little to demystify The Force and that the laughable Yoda puppet has been mercifully replaced with a decidedly more palatable special effect. Of course it could have been improved; the opening could be more exciting, the dialogue written by literally anyone else and Jake Lloyd replaced with someone who could actually act – if only Max Records or Dakota Goya had been around in 1999 – but even as it stands, The Phantom Menace is far from the mess your unfounded prejudices would have you believe.

Imagined as the cinematic equivalent of a Saturday morning serial, The Phantom Menace serves its purpose completely. While the film may be juvenile, flawed and inconsistent, it is nevertheless a beautifully crafted, ruthlessly imagined and wildly entertaining piece of children’s entertainment. Not a travesty or a betrayal, just a perfectly serviceable slice of science fiction. Nothing more, nothing less.

Ten 2012 Movies I Could Take Or Leave…Preferably Leave

With the year mapped out and the requisite drool reserves allocated to each of the releases I am most highly anticipating, I am left with a near-equal list of movies I don’t care much for at all. The cinematic landscape for the coming year is awash with bile, as Judd Apadow returns with another hateful bromance, Christian Bale’s career survives to let him grumble another day and G.I. Joe gives Development Hell the slip for a completely unnecessary second instalment. While other critics have their evil eyes set firmly on the upcoming 3D rerelease of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (let it slide, world. It’s time to make peace), I have other, decidedly less enticing things on my mind. Namely: Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill.

Man on a Ledge

Hollywood has had its fair share of the-clue-is-in-the-name film titles, with Snakes on a Plane, Cowboys & Aliens, We Bought a Zoo and (*spoiler alert*) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford all springing immediately to mind. Man on a Ledge, however, manages to be so remarkably uninteresting that it instantly stands out from the crowd. We’ve already seen Man on Wire, after all. Sam Worthington wasn’t even interesting in 2010, the year in which he inexplicably starred in all of the movies, only Avatar surviving uniform dismissal by virtue of director James Cameron’s extraordinary vision and all of those flashing pixels. How he has been chosen to front another movie after the dismal Clash of the Titans is beyond me, even if all Summit Entertainment expect him to do is stand on a ledge. I bet he doesn’t even jump.

Jack and Jill

The latest Katie Holmes movie is never something to get particularly excited about, there was nobody camping overnight to see Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, but Jack and Jill takes this barely concealed indifference to a whole new level. Joining Lady Cruise on this occasion is Adam Sandler. And Adam Sandler. Apparently labouring under the delusion that The Nutty Professor I & II (along with every other Eddie Murphy movie produced in the 90s) was actually funny, Sandler has cast himself in the dual roles of Jack and Jill Sadelstein for little reason other than to herald some impending apocalypse. Shoot me please. In one eye for every character played by Adam Sandler.

Safe House

I’m sorry, but is it just me or have we seen this movie before? Like everything else in his back-catalogue, Ryan Reynolds stars as a low-hitting ubermensch who we – the imperfect masses – are supposed to root for simply because he is adrift in a completely fictitious job. Watching Ryan Reynolds under normal comedic circumstances is always trying enough, but the prospect of sitting through two joyless hours of him trying out his serious face opposite Denzel Washington (WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DENZEL WASHINGTON?) is nearly too much to bear.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

I don’t know about you, but when Nicolas Cage was first cast as the flame haired, leather-coated vengeance demon Johnny Blaze, I caughed a little bit of sick into my mouth. I’m sorry, what?? Naturally, the first Ghost Rider movie – with its boring story and Eva Mendez – was utterly terrible, and for the past four years we have been permitted the right to pretend that it was never in fact allowed to happen. Tasked with essentially rebooting the franchise, however, the filmmakers have somehow managed to make the same mistake AGAIN and have returned Cage to the role for another go at the character. Also, after Drive Angry, shouldn’t this really be Ghost Rider 3?

The Three Stooges

Having no doubt acclimatised to Development Hell during its decade-long stay, The Three Stooges aims to update the mid-20th Century sketch comedy of the same name for contemporary (read: even stupider) audiences. Boasting a plot that, for all intents and purposes, makes you want to kill yourself, the film focuses on Moe, Larry, and Curly, who inadvertently stumble into a murder plot, and wind up starring in a reality TV show while trying to save their childhood orphanage. I’m not even joking. Did I mention that it stars Sean Hayes from Will & Grace?

Battleship

Do you remember Battleship? It was the tactical, grid-warfare game that you could play on a page of squared paper if you really wanted to; the one that the Grim Reaper challenged Bill and Tedd to during their bogus journey. Do you remember the aliens? No? Oh, wait, that’s probably because there were no aliens. Hear that, Hollywood? NO ALIENS! Regardless, an upcoming adaptation housed at Universal Pictures is set to pit Liam Neeson, Rihanna and their boat against a myriad of extra terrestrial invaders. Naturally, the filmmakers were inspired by the financial success of MICHAEL BAY’s Transformers trilogy, and therefore, naturally, the film is going to be headache-inducing nonsense.

Snow White & The Huntsman

While most might laud Snow White & The Hunstman as fairest of them all in this, the year of the seven dwarves, I am forced by my utter hatred of this infernal darker is better movement to side with Mirror Mirror, however soul-shittingly awful it might appear to look. While it is impossible to get too riled by the absense of happy-clappy show tunes (the original fairy tale was, after all, a completely different beast), the rampant miserableness and unfathomable presence of body armour on show in the film’s trailer nevertheless have my heckles up. There’s already one Twilight movie due this year, we really don’t need another.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

The release of a new Ice Age, Blue Sky Entertainment’s flagship property, has always ranked pretty low on my must-see list. About as historically accurate as The Flinstones, the franchise proposes a history in which early man appears only initially, dinosaurs dawn AFTER the ice has melted, and a saber-toothed squirrel has continued adventures despite having been frozen in ice at the end of the first instalment. With nothing left to do but pair off the remaining characters (who wrote this, JK Rowling?), the ice age itself having ended whole movies ago now, this is one series of films that is practically begging for an extinction event.

The Dark Knight Rises

Oh shoosh, you must have seen this one coming. While it might indeed be the hype and the inevitably of the automated acclaim that I am dreading more than the actual movie (nobody’s suggesting this will be worse than Jack and Jill), there is still no denying that I would like nothing more than for Christopher Nolan to trot off back into the shadows and take his blasted interpretation of Batman with him. Now three movies in and not a single superhero in sight, I have spent the last – oh I don’t know, how long has it been since the last one? – listening to fanboy after fanboy ejaculate over every smidgeon of news pertaining to Bane, Catwoman and when the teaser for the viral for the trailer might hit. I just don’t care.

Halloween 3D

Torn arbitrarily between whether to include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D or Halloween 3D on this list that nobody will read (or if they do, they will unlikely get past the previous entry), I finally settled on the latter on account of how unscary I have found the entire franchise to date. At least the story of an inbred maniac who wears the faces of his victims held interest over the course of a few movies (and even the requisite remake), Halloween, however, has been tedious from pretty much the beginning. A man named Michael Myers – ooh, the guy who played Shrek? Wearing an inside-out Captain Kirk mask? Scary – stabs babysitters with a knife. The end. Any acclaim received by the original Halloween movie was courtesy to John Carpenter’s direction, and John Carpenter’s direction alone. The fact that this one hasn’t even started filming yet just says it all.

If 2011 Were A Movie…

In recent years we have seen Hollywood tap a variety of different resources in its ongoing search for new ideas. Stopping just short of sticking its hand down the side of the sofa and rummaging for loose inspiration, Tinseltown has instead chosen to adapt everything from the usual books, video games and television shows, to websites, theme park rides and – I still can’t quite believe it –  even board games. So, why not an entire year?

If 2011 were a movie, aside from reflecting such recent events as The Royal Wedding, the London riots, the Eurozone crisis and those pandas arriving at Edinburgh zoo, it would also have to reflect the trends and tendencies prevalent in the films it has seen released during its tenure. As such, it would most likely be a remake of a foreign language prequel, a motion-capture throwback and a steamy tale of friends with benefits, with no strings attached.

If 2011 were a movie it would star Michael Fassbender as a man haunted by an unsuppressable Irish accent, Ryan Gosling as someone who can wear clothes really well, and Natalie Portman in the midst of what must amount to the most productive pregnancy ever. Stellan Skarsgård would play a man with a hidden agenda, Felicity Jones’ character would ultimately win your heart and Justin Timberlake would appear as a surprisingly capable actor.

If 2011 were a movie it would be set in Rio de Janeiro, where endangered birds come to mate, the fast are as fun as they are furious, and vampires routinely honeymoon.  At least, that is, until Michael Bay crashes a Transformer into it, forcing our heroes to set sale, on stranger tides, in search of the secret of the unicorn. On a Zeppelin. It would see McLovin slay some vampires, James Bond team up with Indiana Jones, and Queen Amidala wooed by a bunch of carrots and a period mix.

If 2011 were a movie it would be called 2011: The Movie – Part II Of The Rise Of The Planet of The Apes Of The Moon 3D (in 4romascope). It would have more punctuation than characters, more dimensions than punctuation, and in all likelihood be prefixed with Green. It would be a kid’s film by Martin Scorsese, a superhero movie by Michael Gondry, a live action movie by Brad Bird and an animated movie by Steven Spielberg.

If 2011 were a movie it wouldn’t be as good as the book, the original or the trailer for Sucker Punch made it out to be. It would miscast Liam Neeson, boast too much Nicolas Cage, and at some point feature a fat character shaving his head and shitting into her dress. Worst of all, however, New Year’s Eve would kill the finale. And it would be inexplicably steampunk.

More importantly, however, if 2011 were a movie I would pay to see it. I would marvel at its melancholy, gasp at its production values and laugh unabashedly at its failure to kill Bono. It would be surprisingly heartfelt for a summer blockbuster, unexpectedly jaw-dropping for a low budget Norwegian flick, as funny as the TV show, and a fitting conclusion to a much loved franchise.

If 2011 were a movie, 2012 would have a lot to live up to.

FILM NEWS: Battleship trailer sinks; where do we go from here?

The first trailer – barely a teaser – has landed online for Universal Pictures’ upcoming Battleship, the latest feature film to attempt to bring a children’s game/toy kicking and screaming to the big screen.

Following in the footsteps of Transformers, batteries are almost certainly included, along with implausibly massive explosions, a pair of denim short shorts and an utterly bafflingly alien invasion plot. Rather than attempt to locate a story somewhere in the game’s instruction manual, director Peter Berg has instead taken the MICHAEL BAY route and blown anything that can’t be unsuitably sexualised into a million or so pixels.

Starring Taylor Kitsch, Tadanobu Asano, Jesse Plemons, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Neeson and *cough* Rihanna, Battleship – the trailer for which can be scrutinised here – has already come under fire for not only being completely incomprehensible, but uniformly spiritless too.

But Battleship is just one of many adaptations looming on the horizon. Having exhausted the previous century’s stock of horror movies, raided the tombs of a thousand video game stores, made their way through just about every superhero ever pencilled and tapped the planet’s theme parks for any filmic potential, Hollywood has apparently stopped by Toys ‘R’ Us on its way to the next film factory (Disneyland, it seems, with Alice in Wonderland and Beastly heralding yet another age of unenlightenment). Joining Battleship in a cineplex near you will be Ouija, Monopoly and – presumably – Bucking Bronco too.

So, what next? After Battleship has sunk its opponent, the next seventeen “supernatural romances” have swooned into theatres and Snow White has conquered her cross-studio split personality, where else is there for Hollywood to turn in its evasion of new and original ideas? Perhaps they could turn to supermarkets; I’ve always wanted to see how Coco managed to usurp the position of Coco Pops mascot from Sooty (with explosives and short shorts), how the Jolly Green Giant got into the sweetcorn business (with explosives and short shorts) and what the exact nature of Red and Yellow’s (M&M’s spokescandies) relationship might be (with explosives and short shorts).

Ideas people? Hollywood isn’t about to start helping itself!