Wild Target Review

Wild Target is a comedy based on the 1993 French film Cible Emouvante.



We are introduced to Victor Maynard (played by the usually brilliant Bill Nighy) who is a slightly older then middle-aged solitary assassin. Victor is extremely close to his retired killer mother who broaches upon the subject of legacy: if Victor does not continue the family line, who will inherit the family business? Soon he is given an assignment to dispatch the young and beautiful Rose (played by Emily Blunt). Unexpectedly sparing her life, Victor is soon on the run from his employer (played by the excellent Rupert Everett, a rival assassin (The Office's and soon to be Hobbit Martin Freeman ) and his mother as he is suddenly thrust into the role of protector of his would be crush / victim and a tag-along soon-to-be apprentice (played by Rupert Grint). Needless to say, stiff-upper-lip wackiness ensues.



Movie trailers are made by companies that specialise in producing movie trailers. They are sent all cuts of footage and are free to use them in any way that they see fit. Usually, this is done even before a final edit is done on the movie, where sometimes footage seen in the trailer actually doesn’t make it in the film (Gwyneth Paltrow gave Iron Man’s mask a kiss before throwing it out of a plane, and The Transporter batted a missile away using a silver drinks tray, both unfortunately didn’t make the final cut!).


Movie trailer music is also a specialised industry. Music heard in the trailers are rarely part of the movie’s soundtrack, and this is why the same operatic theme used for the King-Kong trailer and The Fantastic Four were the same, and neither movie had it in their soundtrack. Basically, there is a lot of room to move to make a trailer extremely exciting and a limitless media to showcase your product to a wider audience.  With all this at hand, the trailer for Wild Target looked like an early 90’s trailer that you would fast-forward through on your VHS player and not look back. Unfortunately, this is just a taste of what was to come............


The movie starts off well as we are led to believe that the movie will be a strong, dark comedy, what with Bill Nighy’s character trying his best to dispatch Rose through a silent, stealthy deadly chase through a London street. Soon however, the usual romantic plot mechanisms kick into gear and this deliciously dark comedy turns into an awkward, flaccid experience.

It is quite uncomfortable watching Bill Nighey as the relatively extremely young Emily Blunt uses her feminine wiles on him. It is even more irksome when she suggests to him that his parental instincts directed at young Tony may be sexual. This is at least a clever sub-plot exploring Victor’s middle-age complex, but is dropped so quickly one has to wonder why it was introduced in the first place.


Even if one was to suspend their disbelief over the romantic coupling of Victor and Rose due to the age difference, it is hard to believe the character change in Rose: she starts off as a selfish, irritating Lolita type- bratty child, and then suddenly becomes a dow-eyed romantic. The abrupt clash of characterisation could be accepted as the onslaught of ‘true-love’, but to me it seemed forced and totally unconvincing.


The ending is incredibly lazy, as if the director himself wanted to end it as quickly and as painlessly as possible, knowing that the movie is a turkey, and it would be best to snuff it as quickly as possible.



It is good to see Martin Freeman in a different sort of role, Rupert Everet is always a pleasure and Rupert Grint is enjoyable. However, the sum-of-its parts is not enough to raise this above a pleasant, but missed opportunity of something more. Needless to say, the trailer to this movie was truly horrible, but unfortunately it had all the best parts in it.


2 out of 5 moustaches.


Check out what Rotten Tomatoes has to say, and see the trailer (which is actually different to the one screened in cinemas)!

Luke McWilliams, December 2010

Legion Review

Legion is a 2010 apocalyptic supernatural thriller currently available on DVD.


We quickly see Archangel Michael ( played by A-Class actor Paul Bettany) after he has fallen from heaven and landed in LA (the City of Angels), where he quickly cuts off his wings, raids a gun shop, has an altercation with possessed police officers and steals one of their cars, as you do (no – this isn’t The Hangover).

Flash to a roadside diner in the middle of the desert, we are introduced to zombie / angel fodder including the diner’s owner, Bob Hanson ( played by Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep ( played by American Gothic’s Lucas Black), a short-order cook, single father Kyle (played by Tyrese Gibson); an urban married couple and their daughter and a pregnant waitress, Charlie.

Soon creepy beings start descending onto the Diner, with only the arrival of Michael bringing any sense of hope and a message: God has lost faith in mankind and has sent down his angels to destroy the human race. However, going against His orders, Michael is attempting to save Charlies’ unborn baby as it is prophesied that it is the saviour of mankind. Soon the apocalypse comes to the diner, where its residents, Michael and a whole lot of guns experience wackiness in biblical proportions.


 This is unashamedly a B themed movie done with A list trimmings. The acting is surprisingly strong, from Dennis Quaid to Paul Bettany. Surprisingly, a lot of film time is given to the characters, setting them up as more than 1 dimensional (this has been seen as a negative however by some critics, taking away time for holy-war exploits). Like Kevin Bacon in Tremors, it is amazing and fun to see A-lister Paul Bettany in all of this B-movie shenanigans. Paul has had a go at playing quite a few religious and intellectual characters in such films as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Creation and his turn as an albino monk assassin in The Da Vinci Code. Paul has striking, classic features and a quiet, calming accent that evokes ease and intellect. In Legion, he pulls all of these characteristics together to create Michael, a calming, well-bible-researched archangel who is quite good at hand-to-hand combat and gun use!

 The story is similar to a wealth of others before it involving Angels that are jealous of the relationship God has with his creations; God gave humans the choice to follow him or not, whereas Angels were created specifically to serve God,  without any of the means to enjoy themselves or to have full lives as seen in Dogma, Wings of Desire it’s remake City of Angels and the creepily cool Prophecy trilogy.

 Legion takes the themes from the Prophecy trilogy and The Terminator franchise further by showing the actual apocalypse take place, albeit in a budget sensible location; a desert. We are set-up for a zombie movie which has cool shoot-outs, creepy villains and bullet-proof angel wings. The special effects are strong, and we see plenty of creatures that will give you a fright (the old woman scene is priceless). Watch the DVD extras to see how they made the grass-hopper like ice-cream man effect out of Hellboy’s physical actor Doug Jones.


 This movie does not pretend to be anything more than it is: a B movie. Like Scott Pilgrim Vs the World however it is given dedicated actors and amazing special effects. It feels like it is lucky to have been made to such a specific audience at such a high quality. If you like this type of thing, and let’s face it, if you like the poster with an Angel with a knife and a gun, you know what you are in for - Legion does deliver in bucket-loads! I give this B movie themed, A class actors and special effects movie 4 out of 5 angel wings.

 Check out what Margaret and David have to say, and watch the trailer!


Luke McWilliams, December 2010

Fair Game Review

Fair Game is not a remake of the action-romp starring Adam Baldwin and Cindy Crawford, but is actually a 2010 thriller directed by The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman and is based on Valerie Plame's memoir, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.




We follow Valerie Plame Wilson (played by Naomi Watts) during her time as a covert CIA officer at the start of the war in Iraq. During the investigation to whether or not Saddam Hussein does indeed have weapons of mass destruction, Mrs Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson (played by Sean Penn), is sent to Niger, Africa, where he finds no such evidence.


In retribution to Mr Wilson’s published findings, What I Didn’t Find in Africa, a member of the Bush administration reveals Mrs. Wilson's covert status, and wackiness ensues………………




Doug Liman is best known for the original The Bourne Identity and Mr and Mrs Smith (should we blame him for Brangelina? Yes, yes we should). As Director of the Canberra International Film Festival Mr Simon Weaving pointed out at the Australian premiere of the movie, the film is a real life retelling of Mr and Mrs Smith; spies and political intrigue under the same roof.


The movie does not start with a clear focus however. We are presented with the origins of the War in Iraq, and the question of whether or not a substance called yellow cake is being shipped from Niger, Africa, for the purposes of Saddam Hussein to build weapons of mass destruction, and the spinning from the Bush administration to demonstrate that even if there is a small risk of such weapons manufacture occurring, that it is still a significant one. We are shown the responsibilities that CIA covert agent Valerie has, and the real dangers her contacts in the field face working with her. This of course all becomes threatened once her cover is blown, and an ethical debate arises between her and her husband. The movie takes a long time getting to its purpose, and, once it gears up, it is suddenly over.


Political thrillers can be done in an entertaining way, and in a way that is understood by the audience. Brilliance is simplicity, and it seems that this story is presented too convoluted and takes too long to get to its purpose: a man and his wife at odds over very big themes with tremendous consequences. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan thrillers are well researched and intriguing, even the The Bourne Identity’s was a clearer, more accessible movie.


Even more distracting is the camerawork. Where Paul Greengrass made his Bourne sequels into shaky-cam territory, Doug Liman takes it here, into the world of conferences, phone calls and coffees. Shaky-cam is great to give a first person documentary feel inside a world of action, however, when it is used to artificially liven up a scene a la Michael Bay, it is distracting at best and nauseating and irritating at worst.




Like last year’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, this deserved a better telling. A fantastic story that could have been delivered clearer, both in plot and cinematography.


2 Out of 5 board-room meetings.


Check out what Margaret and David have to say, watch their interview with Director Doug Liman and the trailer!


Luke McWilliams, December 2010

Podcast-17 December - Megamind, Teenage Paparazzi, Gomorrah and favourite films of 2010!

Join Luke McWilliams, Liam Jennings and Felix Barbalet as they review Megamind, Teenage Paparazzi and Gomorrah and have a look at their favourite films of 2010 and upcoming films in the Christmas holidays!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 is the first part of the 7th and final chapter in the Harry Potter series.


We quickly meet Harry Potter (again played by Daniel Radcliffe) in his England ‘muggle’ house as he is to be escorted to the safety of the Burrow, by the heroic Order of the Phoenix. Hogwarts is now host to the evil Death Eaters led by the villainous Lord Voldermort, who do their best to dispatch our hero along his way. Escaping the chaos and destruction that the Death Eaters bring to their supporters, Ron Weasley ( played by Rupert Grint), Harry and Hermione (played by Emma Watson)soon choose to go their own way, constantly disapparating to areas throughout England on a quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes ( physical objects that aid Voldermort’s immortality) before the evil Wizard can kill Harry and come to his full power. Wackiness this-way ensues....................


Last year’s Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince ended with a quest being set up, giving birth to a new trilogy of films in the Harry Potter series. Whereas each previous part started with an introduction of a plot, a year in the life of Harry and his friends and then a quick resolution of the storylines mentioned at the movie’s / books beginning, The Half-Blood Prince positions Harry on the path to his ultimate showdown with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In other words, this is the start of the end and what we all have been dying to see for so long!

The Half-Blood Prince went a way to take us off of the beaten track that has set up the Harry Potter series: we usually are introduced to Harry in his muggle home, again returning to Hogwarts to learn more about being a Wizard, his mysterious past and overcoming another obstacle, most usually Voldermort’s attempts to get his groove back, all in time to go home at year’s end. At the Half-Blood Prince’s end, all bets are off and Harry and friends decide not to go back to Hogwart’s but instead to go on a mission to find Voldermort’s magical devices and destroy them, giving them a chance at ultimately defeating him.

This premise was enticing as it moved our heroes away from an environment that they, and we, have gotten comfortable with. Done with English private boarding schools metaphors and allegory, this movie chooses to showcase themes of maturity and being able to finally put theory into real-world practice: metaphors of the machinations of war during WWII brings up the atmosphere and tension of a thriller. However, in the execution, we get a road movie reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, complete with a shared object of evil power, worn around our characters’ necks that force them to turn on each other during their journey to destroy it.

In relation to script, Alfred Hitchcock invented a script-writing term for an arbitrary object to kick his protagonists and antagonists into action: a MacGuffin. A MacGuffin was usually something that the antagonist needed to complete their evil scheme and one which the hero must then stop him from getting. The first Mission Impossible movie was criticized for having a too convoluted plot, where the 2nd was given a MacGuffin which was cheekily constantly explained throughout. The third film went further and referenced their MacGuffin in theory only, never revealing what it was to the audience! The movie admitted that it was only a plot device to what the audience really wanted to see anyway: action action action and Maggie Q. Harry Potter 7.1 however relies on no more than 7 Macguffins, with two previously being dispatched in HP6. The story is basically a treasure hunt for our young heroes whilst avoiding the attacks of their enemies.

Another lazy script-writing technique is, when one is facing writer’s block and just cannot move their story along, they kill a character to send a shock-wave through the remaining character arc / storyline like the butterfly effect. This usually progresses the story through a myriad of new threads, setting up questions such as who killed the character and why? What sort of affect will this have on the characters and their situations and so on.

JK Rowling has done this since Harry Potter 4, and doesn’t slow down. Admittedly, a big theme of the Harry Potter series is death, what with Harry’s parents being killed by an evil wizard who wants to kill he-who-lives. However when a minor character is reintroduced to a series just to be killed-off is cheap and reeks of bad television.

That all being said, the acting and characterization in this film is great. The Hermione character hits her stride after leaving me cold in a few of the previous instalments. Emma Watson has now found a middle-ground between early adolescence and just being a brat. Harry is great as always and Ron gets a few good laughs as well. The relationship between our three heroes is well balanced out. Of note is a particularly poignant scene with Harry and Hermione dancing in the face of misery and death: not in a romantic moment at all, but just two very good, old friends being there for each other in a moment of crisis.

The look of the film is fantastic. Whereas the earlier Christopher Columbus directed films have a classic, stage and CG feel, the introduction of Alfonso Cuarón in Prisoner of Azkaban gave the series an organic, natural feel: glows from wands where not overly dramatic but looked like moonlight, and Hogwart’s surrounds were rich and atmospheric. The Goblet of Fire added wands which fired off naturalistic, organic hot and cold lava which splurted and spilled plenty o’ magic about.

David Yates joined the series in Order of the Phoenix and has kept these stylistic choices, whilst getting our characters out of their school and their uniforms, placing them in the cold, dark and mysterious UK woods, country-side and beaches. The action is great and intense, melding a lot more of the real world with its magical set pieces (such as a shoot-out in a London cafe) than any other of the instalments. This feels like a gritty Harry Potter movie that we can empathise with, away from the magic of Hogwarts and into our world.


All in all, a very solid first part to a complete movie which fans of Harry Potter will lap up. Hopefully the mechanical set up will give way to a brilliant and satisfying conclusion to a film series that surprisingly still has a massive fan base. 4 out of 5 wands.

If you had to click on any of the links in the plot section of this review, chances are you will have trouble keeping up with the goings-on in this particular episode as it references close to all previous adventures. A solid Potter knowledge is required and expected with this outing!

See what Margaret and David have to say and check out the trailer!

Luke McWilliams December 2010

Toy Story 3 Review

Toy Story 3 is the third and apparently final film in Disney/ Pixar's Toy Story series. Interestingly the editor of the first Toy Story, Lee Unkrich, stepped up as co-director of the second movie and is the director of this one.


We meet the usual team during an exciting imagination/playing sequence with their young owner Andy. Soon enough, we discover that Andy is now 17, and has neglected playing with his toys for years, instead choosing to leave them in his toy-trunk. Whilst packing up his belongings before moving on to college, Andy separates his toy collection by choosing to bring Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) to college with him, packing up his other toys into a plastic bag to be taken to the attic to go into storage,. In the shenanigans however, Andy's mother makes the mistake of throwing the bag of toys out with the other trash, where literal death-defying wackiness ensues.


Disney is best known for their fairy-tale/princess stories (starting with Snow White in 1937) and their journey home stories. The Toy Story series have done much with themes of abandonment, the journey home and growing up.

In 1942 Disney introduced the film Bambi which is famous for its ‘Bambi moment’ – Bambi and his mother are racing from a hunter to the safe and secure surrounds of the forest. After making the distance, Bambi turns to see where his mother is only to be informed by his father that “your mother can't be with you anymore". Finding Nemo was chock-full of these moments, with the main character’s mother and entire family being wiped out in the first few minutes of the movie, and going so far as to giving Nemo a physical disability along with the requisite large, emotive ‘Disney eyes’. Toy Story 3 takes all of this contrived, sad and sorrowful elements and ramps it all up to factor 10.

I do not like to be emotionally manipulated in this way and therefore did not connect with the movie at all. Where there is an inherent sadness to the beauty of the Shrek series as they deal with themes of discrimination, prejudice and love, simply taking a character away from its family to explore child abandonment issues is upsetting and ultimately lazy. To the detriment of characterization the toys are given several arbitrary obstacles to overcome while on their journey home, which we have seen countless times before from Disney, let alone the Toy Story series themselves.

As in the basic story structure, there is the introduction of the stories’ characters and storyline. The second act deals with the characters arcs while adding in obstacles and plot complexity with the third act bringing all of these story threads to a resolution. Quite literally, the structure can be seen as birth, life and death. Most movie trilogies based on the arche-typical hero’s journey follow this, none more so than The Matrix trilogy that explores the literal birth, life and death of its protagonist Neo, and...I guess...the Bible as well.

Toy Story 3 then explores the theme of death head on: the toys make their preparations as they head ‘up to the attic’, their choices between certain death during their many trials along the way, up to a very upsetting scene reminiscent of Bosch’s and Dante’s hell. The toys, like Nemo, are constantly in harm’s way or are under oppressive authority like the patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, complete with a child-friendly lobotomy scene. It is as if the writers of the Final Destination film series have gotten their fatalistic hands on the script at some point. The toys are only having a good time when the credits are rolling. The only reprieve from all of this misery, sadness and facing one’s mortality is a Spanish dance sequence that rips of Shrek’s superior Puss in Boots.


Whereas Shrek has a great time whilst dealing with his issues, Toy Story will have you feeling like rubbish and your children screaming.

It is a shame that the company that brought us the beautiful and genuinely moving Up and The Incredibles, a children’s movie with a classic 50’s cool look that dealt with strong themes of family and personal sacrifice better then the Fantastic Four movies, would serve up Toy Story 3.0. Following the adventures of Buzz Lightyear or having a bit more play-time reminiscent of the opening sequence would have been a much more enjoyable way to go.

It has been 15 years since the original Toy Story and the animation, 3d model rigging and texture have come a long way. To watch the original after this is almost an assault on the eyes as the stock-colour looks garish in comparison. The same expertise and attention to detail is given to live-action movies and for this technical marvel I give TS3 2 monkeys-in-a-barrel out of 5.

It should be noted that currently the movie is highest-grossing film of 2010. It has surpassed Finding Nemo to become Pixar's highest ever grossing film, and also has surpassed Shrek 2 as the highest-grossing animated film of all-time worldwide. It is also the first ever Pixar film and animated film in history to make over $1 billion worldwide. It is currently the 5th highest-grossing film worldwide of all time. Not surprisingly, it is rumoured that there are new adventures to be had with Woody and his fellow immortals.

Check out the movie at Rotten Tomatoes and watch the trailer!

Luke McWilliams December 2010