Movie Review: About a Boy (2002)

Having kids. Not everyone’s cup of tea. There, I said it. So many think everyone should have kids and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. But that’s such a narrow view of stuff. Be open to other people’s life choices. And those who don’t wanna have kids, don’t look down at those who have kids. Let’s all be friends.

Ladies and gentlemen… “About a Boy”.

Will (Hugh Grant) is an immature, cynical bachelor that has chosen single mothers as his new dating targets, and he’s willing to put up any lie to get inside their pants. This however backfires when a 12-year old boy (Nicholas Hoult) starts seeing through his lie, and becomes a central part of Will’s life. And maybe these two will learn some stuff from each other. So now we have our rom-rom/coming-of-age story. And it honestly subverted a lot of expectations I had. With these two genres, one expects a lot of tropes, and we do get a few of them here, which end up being some of the weaker elements of the story. But with that said, there’s still enough nuance and subversion here to make it an intriguing and surprisingly engaging take on these two familiar genres, while still giving you some of the heartwarming bits you’d expect.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Hugh Grant plays Will, the cynical man-child at the center of this story. Never one to commit himself to a single person for long, he drifts around various women like a lying asshole. He isn’t the typical charming, Hugh Grant rom-com character, and it makes him quite an intriguing and refreshing character to watch as he evolves. And Grant is great in the role. Next we have a young Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, the little kid that Will begrudgingly “befriends”. He’s a bit weird, but he’s also clever, charming, and quite an endearing kid. And Hoult is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Toni Collette, Natalia Tena, Rachel Weisz, Victoria Smurfit, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by the musician known as Badly Drawn Boy, and it was good. They’re basically indie pop songs, which I’d assume is the genre that Badly Drawn Boy might be associated with usually. There are even a few instrumentals that could fit that description used throughout. And this music works alright within the story. The tunes themselves are pretty good, it’s just that when used within a movie context, it creates a bit of a bland vibe. So overall… pretty good.

Based on a novel by Nick Hornby, this movie was directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, and I think they did a good job with it. There’s certainly a warmth their direction brings that makes it feel nice to watch (if that makes any sense). What really surprised me though was the shot composition. So many romantic comedies out there have what I like to call a “start the camera” look, in which it just looks like they started the camera, with no real thought of giving the movie an interesting style or any fun camerawork. But here, there’s plenty of both, this is a really well shot movie. And since it’s a comedy, we should talk about the humor… it’s funny. Some light slapstick, some surprisingly dark jokes, some clever digs at things. I laughed throughout.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay.

While it still dips into cliches at times, “About a Boy” still subverts enough to impress. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “About a Boy” is an 8,97/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “About a Boy” is now completed.

Hughbert Grantchester is a lot better when he gets to do these slightly more offbeat characters.

Movie Review: Constantine (2005)

So what’s on the Month of Spooks meny today? Spooky comic book adaptation? Neat.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Constantine”.

The story follows John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a private detective handling cases of the supernatural kind, as he helps an LAPD detective (Rachel Weisz) try to prove that her sister’s death wasn’t a normal suicide, but something more sinister. All while John is dealing with the recent news that he has a really severe case of lung cancer. So now we have our spooky detective story. And it’s good. Not perfect, but good. Overall it’s a very well paced story that never feels like it drags, but there is kind of a weird disconnect between the plots of the movie. It’s clear that they used the “Dangerous Habits” story arc from the comics as basis, but then added the cop with the dead sister plot onto it because I guess they needed a more movie-esque aspect in the plot. And the two sometimes tie into each other okay, but a lot of the time they don’t fully gel. Both plots on their own are really good, but putting them together like that doesn’t fully work. But overall, pretty good stuff.

The characters in this get some decent development and are all pretty interesting. First up we have Keanu Reeves (whoa) as the titular hellblazer. He’s a sarcastic jerk who doesn’t let anyone get close, for reasons we shall not disclose, but it’s some good stuff. He’s quite a departure from the comics, but I still found him to be an entertaining and interesting character. And Reeves is really good in the role. Next we have Rachel Weisz as Angela Dodson, the detective that Constantine decides to help. She’s tough as hell without it coming off as forced or unrealistic. She feels a bit more real. And Weisz is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Tilda Swinton, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Peter Stormare, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Tyler (with some additions by Klaus Badelt) and I think he did a great job with it. The score takes influences from a couple cultures as well as taking inspiration from a couple different genres such as horror and action. And it creates a really interesting sound that elevates the various scenes where music can be heard.

Based on the “Hellblazer” comics by DC/Vertigo, this movie was directed by Francis Lawrence, and I think he did a really good job with that. While elements of the story and character have trouble capturing the vibe of the comic, his direction gets closer to capturing that feel… if it was turned up to 11 that is, but that’s slightly besides the point. But I do like the slightly gothic vibe this thing has, which often manages to add some creep factor to it all. And the cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is pretty great too, giving us some damn fine looking shots throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 46% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 50/100. Roger Ebert gave it 1,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

While not necessarily a great representation of its source material, “Constantine” is still a damn good supernatural action thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by elements in the story feeling somewhat disjointed. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Constantine” is an 8,94/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Constantine” is now completed.

Whoa.

Movie Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)

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We are now here, at the fourth part in my series of reviews leading up to “Jason Bourne” this July. For anybody new here: Over the past few months I have been watching and reviewing all of the “Bourne” movies. And at long last we have gotten to the fourth one. So let’s just get into it and see what happens!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Bourne Legacy”.

So in this film we don’t follow the character of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), oh no. Instead we have a new guy named Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who is on the run because of reasons triggered by the previous three films. And he teams up with a female doctor (Rachel Weisz) because there needs to be a female lead. Look, I had trouble following the plot because it makes no damn sense and it’s not even really there. I’m being one-hundred percent serious guys… the plot is not good or compelling or memorable and let’s just move this shit along so I don’t start rambling too much.

Where the story happens to be lacking (a lot!), the actors kind of make up for it. Jeremy Renner does a really good job in his role as Not-Bourne. Rachel Weisz is good in her role too. Then we also get some really good supporting performances from people like Stacy Keach, Edward Norton, Joan Allen and Oscar Isaac. Sure, the characters aren’t that interesting overall, but the acting I think makes up for that pretty well.

The music for the movie was composed by James Newton Howard, who is a composer that I’m a fan of. And how was his score in this movie? Meh. It was fine for what it was trying to do, which was to be music for an action movie. But there’s no piece here that I would even dare call memorable. In the previous three films I could listen to the music and go “Ooo, that was a great tune! Oo, THAT was a great tune!”, but I never had any such moment here. It wasn’t bad, just not that great. And how was this film’s version of Moby’s “Extreme Ways”? Meh. It isn’t a bad version, but it’s not that great either.

So this movie wasn’t directed by Paul Greengrass… or Doug Liman for that matter. No, for this one they got Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter for the previous three films. And did he do a god job directing the movie? Yeah, I’d say so. It’s a pretty smooth movie, filled with a lot of really good shots. Sure, it doesn’t have the shaky intensity of Greengrass’ “Bourne” films, but it at least looks good. And the action in the movie was actually pretty good. Sure, there was never any tension in the action taking place in front of our eyes, but it was entertaining to look at. I can’t say that I found it boring at all. The word I would use though is… toothless. Like I said, there was no tension in it at all. But it was pretty fun. Don’t expect too much action though, because there isn’t too much. This is a more dialogue-driven film… although, the dialogue is pretty mediocre if you ask me… so I’m conflicted.

This movie hasn’t been that well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 55% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“The Bourne Legacy” is a bit of a mixed bag for me. While the story isn’t that compeliing or interesting, there is still some good stuff, including good acting, decent music, and good directing/action, even if it lacks tension. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Bourne Legacy” is a 7,25/10. While not that great of a movie, it’s still worth a rental.
Rent it

My review of “The Bourne Legacy” is now completed.

“Jason Bourne” is finally out in a month… what will I do until then?