Identity Thief


Viewed – 09 April 2015  Netflix 

Hot off the success of her star-making turn in Bridesmaids, comedienne Melissa McCarthy plays Diane, a woman who steals people’s identities.  One such unsuspecting victim is Sandy (Jason Bateman) who’s life quickly spirals out of control when debts wrack up in his name.  In an attempt to reclaim his identity he chooses to track Diane down in a hope of bringing the woman to justice – but doesn’t bank on the heap of trouble that comes with her.

identity-thief

This was a fun movie.  I had heard about it and the rather ‘meh’ reviews that followed so didn’t exactly jump at the idea of seeing it, but hell – sometimes I like an easy going comedy if I’ve had a stressful week, and this fit the bill nicely.  What I wasn’t expecting was just how funny and likable Melissa McCarthy is – who for me wasn’t the sole reason Bridesmaids was so damn good.  She handles slapstick, a motor-mouth persona and more than matches a very enjoyable Jason Bateman as the everyman nice guy (sort of his thing these days) on a roller-coaster road trip from Florida to Denver chased by a duo of hit men and a bounty hunter (a great appearance from an almost Terminator-like Robert Patrick).

The jokes aren’t exactly stunners and it relies a bit too much on McCarthy’s prat-falls and I’ll admit her wild antics sometimes fell short (was that the un-funniest sex scene ever?).  The hit men (or should that be hit man and hit woman) were also glaringly under-developed and even a cameo from Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks shed no light on just why they were after Diane.  That being said, McCarthy & Bateman made for a very enjoyable pairing and I for one had a good time in their company.  Worth seeing.

Verdict:  3 /5

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Star Trek Into Darkness


Viewed – 03 September 2013  Blu-ray

Although far from calling myself a Trekkie, I have enjoyed the movies and grew up with a brother who is quite passionate about them along with the various TV shows.  When learning that director J J Abrams was bringing the franchise up to date with an all new, younger cast – I could understand why fans were somewhat nervous what the creator of Lost may do with their beloved saga.  Rest assured though that 2009’s Star Trek was a resounding success and with a (mostly) perfect cast breathing new life into very old characters – I came away rather impressed.

This second outing had much to prove – could Abrams nail it twice in a row?  The simple answer to that is … yes.  We return to the crew of the Starship Enterprise who get caught up in a terrorist attack on Star Fleet and accept a mission to hunt down a rogue officer who seems responsible.  Joining the likes of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg this time is British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as the mysterious terrorist, who brings no shortage of sinister intensity to his role and really gives Kirk & co a run for their money.

The big-budget FX laden look of this is just gorgeous, set-design and locations all adding a wow factor (including London).    Pegg has a little more to do this time around as engineer ‘Scottie’ and Quinto’s Spock is just excellent, capturing the spirit of the character as well as adding a few quirks of his own.  Yet the sultry Zoe Saldana is a little side-lined, as is John Cho’s Sulu.  Although not a big fan of Chris Pine, I think he is a perfect Kirk, arrogant but charming just like Shatner in his heyday, and the friendship between him and Spock is really well observed.  For me the frequent nods and winks to Star Trek of old got a bit much, (“I’m a doctor, not a torpedo technician!”) bordering on satire, but were still fun.  Also the script borrows a little too much from the older movies, yet still manages to make it work regardless … especially towards the end.

So a worthy sequel that in some aspects surpasses the last movie, whilst also managing to be a fine tribute to the Trek legacy as a whole.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantonamo Bay


Viewed – 06 January 2012  Blu-ray

Harold & Kumar first hit our screens in the very enjoyable buddy comedy Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (aka Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies), which if I recall correctly pitted a very likable duo, the straight-laced office clerk Harold (John Cho) and stoner best bud Kumar (Kal Penn) as they go from mad cap escapade to madcap escapade in search of the perfect burger.  This follow-up however has a broader focus and in my opinion is better put together, with the two friends being mistaken for terrorists on route to Amsterdam, and from then on things just get crazier and crazier.

Kal Penn & John Cho are for me at least, one of the best double acts in recent memory, with Pen causing the most trouble and getting all the best lines, whilst Cho struggles to get them both out of increasingly ridiculous situations.  This movie really got me laughing, and when it comes to comedy, my funny bone is certainly tickled by the more juvenile and down right crude type it seems, including fart jokes, drug-fuelled dream sequences, nudity, penis jokes and just plain ‘oh my god I don’t believe what just happened’, including a very funny cameo by a look-a-like George W Bush.  Also the racial-ignorance nods are spot on.

Any fan of movies such as American Pie, The Hangover etc will soak this up like a sponge, and considering that Harold & Kumar aren’t even that famous across the pond here in the UK … this comes highly recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5