Stolen

These days it seems going to see a Nicolas Cage film is almost the same as going to the casino. You could end up with more than you had and have you quoting Kick Ass for the rest of your days, or it could leave you penniless and waking up to horrific nightmares of the debt you have to pay for watching his performance in The Wicker Man. Stolen happens to sit nicely in between the two . Although it’s at times laugh out loud ridiculous it will keep you entertained.

Cage plays Will Montgomery, a former thief who, after being released from prison finds that his old partner, presumed dead, is still alive and out seeking the $10 million they stole in their last heist. Montgomery races against time to find a way to get his kidnapped daughter back and replace the $10 million he threw away when he was caught.

In the 96 minutes that follows we are treated to some of the most dire dialogue and the longest opening sequence ever made as we see Mongomery’s botched attempt at stealing $10 million in almost real time. A sequence which was covered easily in a few seconds in the trailer but which director Simon West seems to take about 30 minutes explaining. Had he narrowed it down to five or ten he could have had more time focusing on things like character and storyline and maybe even possibly script to make for a more fun filled ninety odd minutes.

It’s clear that the film is trying desperately to be the new Taken and whilst Cage proves that he certainly has the strength to be some competition for Liam Neeson, his talent is wasted here. With some appalling supporting cast including a truly awful taxi firm controller whose accent and humour are just dreadful; and an Australian tourist character who makes Tarantino’s Django Unchained cameo look Oscar worthy.

But don’t let this put you off. Although it is downright insulting to moviegoers you can still watch it and not feel as though you’ve wasted your time too much. The trick is to go in and simply laugh at it’s pitiful attempt at entertaining you. Laugh at it’s awful dialogue and even worse editing. And let the laughter drown the sobs of disappointment at what Stolen could have achieved if anyone but Nicholas Cage had actually bothered to try their best with it. All while thinking of the people in the screen next door watching Cage in The Croods and actually enjoying themselves.

3/5

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The Host

It’s been four months since the Twilight saga ended its reign of the box office with Breaking Dawn Part 2 and already we have another adaptation by the same author. However, this time we don’t have sparkly vampires or unemotional female leads.

Starring Saoirse Ronan, The Host is essentially another teen romance at heart, but with an interesting premise. Set in a dystopian future in which Earth has been overthrown by an alien race who use human bodies as a vessel to take over the world, the film does give some thought provoking insights into humanity. Ronan plays Melanie Strider, a young girl who is part of a small human resistance. However whilst on the run from the surprisingly peaceful aliens, her body is soon invaded by Wanderer. As Melanie fights to stay alive in her own body, she shows Wanderer her memories of the loved ones for whom she is fighting, in the hopes that Wanderer will help.

At just over 2 hours long it does seem to stretch a bit. Time that could have been better spent expanding the themes more is instead spent on a love square rather than the traditional love triangle we’re all too familiar with, as Wanderer and Melanie both find themselves in love with different boys. A situation which doesn’t work two well with two personalities in the same body. And whilst it does entertain for the most part, there is the feeling that a better story could be told.

However, it’s not as anger inducing as the Twilight Saga (here the acting is somewhat better) it still lacks the spark it could have easily have had. At times it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be an action movie or a romantic drama and can’t seem to find the perfect line between the two, often switching between genre almost haphazardly.

Ronan proves yet again that she can hold a film up as she has done a number of times already in her short career. Whilst this is no Hanna it still provides as a worthy example of Ronan’s acting abilities as she manages to outshine the rest of her co-stars, although that’s not a very tough thing to do in a film like this.

Not the best release of the week but certainly not the worst either.

3/5

The Croods

Hollywood heartthrob Emma Stone has never quite looked as different as in The Croods; the latest offering from Pixar’s competitor DreamWorks, which just goes to prove yet again that, they are well on their way to overtake the Disney giant.

Set in the Stone Age, The Croods follows a family of cavemen headed by dad, Grug, brilliantly voiced by Nicholas Cage. Although it’s full of the usual stereotypes you find in any old family comedy – the over protective father not wanting to let go of his daughter; the rebellious teen etc –  it somehow feels fresh. With Ryan Reynolds’ Guy introducing the Croods to a more modern lifestyle with such marvellous things as shoes and fire.

As well as a light hearted children’s family comedy, the film also serves as a road trip movie as The Croods move from the safety of their dark cave, where Grug teaches the family to ‘never not be afraid’, to new surroundings as they follow the sun to the land of Tomorrow. The opening will grab you as The Croods show off their hunting skills which very cleverly reflects the modern day American football game.  Apart from ‘releasing the baby’ of course which I’ve yet to see at the superbowl…

The creative team behind this seem to have had as much time making the film as you will have watching it, with such an array of different animals. Each one is more beautiful than the last and adds to the delicious cinematography which drips with delightful colours throughout.

Although it does begin to drag a bit in the final act it still manages to keep you, and more importantly, keep the kids interested enough throughout.

With a great cast, the highlight of which is most definitely Nicolas Cage who brings the most laughs, The Croods will undoubtedly become an instant classic and family favourite. If not for the beautiful scenery and animation of such vastly different animals then for the screenplay, which boasts a ‘Story By’ credit from none other than John Cleese and features countless highlights. This is surely a film which will not disappoint both parents and children alike and will prove an afternoon’s trip to the cinema well spent. And of the two Nicolas Cage films out this week this is surely the one to spend your time on.

4/5