Rating: The Ugly – 60 Genre: Action Duration: 124 mins Director: Johnathan Hensleigh Stars: Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Samantha Mathis, Ben Foster
Standard enough action fare as Tom Jane does the best he can with a fairly unadventurous interpretation of comic book hero Frank Castle aka “The Punisher”. There are some good actors on show here with John Travolta and Will Patton playing the bad guys and the late great Roy Scheider in a cameo appearance as Castle’s father. Ben Foster in an early appearance gives a good turn as Castle’s nervous neighbour. The story is predictable enough and the tension slips around the beginning of the final act but it nonetheless remains an entertaining watch.
Rating: The Ugly – 62.6 Genre: Horror Duration: 105 mins Director: Renny Harlin Screenplay: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers Stars: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson
A sea-based research centre where sharks are genetically bred larger and more intelligent to harvest their brain matter in a bid to find a cure for Alzheimer’s (or something) becomes a giant smorgasbord for the mutant fish when a storm gives them the opportunity to turn the tables on their captors. OK, the scenario is a bit of a stretch and some of the dialogue is a bit clunky (although not always unintentionally) but there is plenty to enjoy here. There is an array of colourful characters ranging from Thomas Jane’s terrific shark wrangler to LL Cool J’s philosophical cook while Samuel L. Jackson’s plays the money man with an interesting past. The action is thrilling and will in the main have you sliding towards the edge of your seat and some (but not all) of the special effects are impressive. Renny Harlin was definitely having fun with it and the tongue is firmly planted in the cheek for the most part. As such, Deep Blue Sea is very easy to enjoy and as pure brain candy you should be quite satisfied.
Rating: The Bad – 54.5 Genre: Horror Duration: 126mins Director: Frank Darabont Stars: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
Frank Darabont’s third adaptation of a Stephen King novel counts as an opportunity missed, and it’s not a close miss either. There’s a great premise, impressive production values, and brilliant special effects all wrapped together with some classy taut direction. But it’s all utterly destroyed by a laughable, bloated, contrived, and trite screenplay which crams every cliche in the book into its excruciating two hours and ten minutes.
Thomas Jane stars as a small town artist who heads off to the store with his son to collect supplies in the aftermath of a terrifying storm. While in the store, a thick mist rolls through the town enveloping anyone it catches up with in a bloody screaming demise. Soon enough, everyone is holding up in the store as they try to figure out collectively and individually what horrors the mist has brought to their town. So far, so good. So very good in fact. In these early scenes, some interesting characters and character dynamics are set up which promise to provide a rich pretext to the drama when it eventually unfolds. After all, working together is much more interesting when there are differences to overcome.
Unfortunately, just when those moments arrive, the tense build up begins to unravel as our characters show the first signs of unbelievable behaviour. Now we all know that people under stress will do weird things but when everybody in the store has locked the front door because something inconceivably nasty is outside, going out the backdoor to unclog a drain equates to a type of behaviour so dumb that words cannot do it justice. Worse still is the cockamamie pretext for that decision which boiled down to “I’m going to do it because the guy who’s telling me not to is a fancy college boy”. Unfortunately, this stupefying sequence is the first of many dominoes to fall as every other character demonstrates confounding and illogical behaviour in one contrived circumstance after another. OK, many horror films are weighed down by such things but few are so ponderous and fewer still are imbued with such a deluded sense of importance. As if in the middle of all the acid spitting spiders and giant insatiable ants, lay some perceptive and critical socio-cultural commentaries. Sure, there were some nice observations about human beings needing to take sides but nothing we haven’t come across before and even if we hadn’t, how about incorporating them into the story rather than just dropping them in like a bowling ball and at random intervals?
The Mist isn’t a total washout. Jane consolidates his status as a strong lead, the visual effects are fantastic and set against the heavy atmosphere of the mist, they feel substantial. Darabont’s direction is flawless and would’ve easily facilitated the script at the level it wanted to be at. Alas the script isn’t at the level. It was nowhere near it. So bad was it in fact, that everything in this movie fails because of it.
Rating: The Good – 70.4 Genre: Crime Duration: 107mins Director: Bronwin Hughes Stars: Thomas Jane, David O’Hara, Dexter Fletcher
Thomas Jane is excellent as the real life Andre Stander, the South African police captain who out of guilt and disgust at his departments’ treatment of the black population, begins robbing banks so as to humiliate them. The action is handled very well by Bronwin Hughes and Jane receives strong support by David O’Hara and Dexter Fletcher as his partners in crime. However, more than anything, it’s Stander’s fascinating real life story that makes this film so compelling.