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Film Review: “The Raid” (2012)

The Raid has proved a difficult film to pass judgement on. It is in no way a bad film and it is, moreover, one of the better action films of recent cinematic efforts and far outstrips anything such as the recent Jason Statham release, Safe, for example; that film was just a rehash of multiple other action pictures but delivered with one tenth of the quality.

In The Raid writer/director Gareth Evans shows us (or at least showed me) something we’ve never seen before as a SWAT team storm a tenement building filled with disposable bad guys on every one of its 30 floors, with multiple and varied styles of death and execution along the way; everything from guns and knives to hammers and a doorframe is used in the film to maim, bludgeon, and destroy the opposition. One by one, the SWAT team is picked off until only three or four remain in a battle to the death with the crime lord who owns the building. The plot is simple and straightforward in any language and anyone who doesn’t like subtitles (for this is an Indonesian film) shouldn’t be put off – and should also learn to appreciate subtitles.

The opening 30 minutes is excellent as the film picks up the pace quickly and it’s not long until the action begins and it reminded me of the way Speed is set up; it gets the detail out of the way in the opening few minutes and clears the way for nonstop thrills. However, unlike John Woo’s Hard Boiled, to which this has been wrongly compared to, The Raid is mostly martial arts and fist fights, rather than the ‘ballistics ballet’ of Woo’s cinema – and this is the main reason The Raid lost its appeal to me from the halfway mark onwards. The film turns out to be a continual fight sequence, broken up by a change of location and this, for my tastes, is not exciting for such a prolonged period of screen time. I prefer my action to be guns and explosions, with a great fight to end with (Lethal Weapon and Die Hard being perfect examples of this balance) rather than what The Raid offers. That said, Evans has made a very competent film featuring some excellently choreographed fights and not a shaky-cam in sight. The script, however, is very weak and there are some needless twists along the way which slow the film down but add very little to the enjoyment of it.

Ultimately, if hand to hand combat is your thing then The Raid is the perfect action film for you. I, however, got a little tired of the relentless fighting, but have no gripes with the film making and would certainly recommend at least one viewing.

(On another note; the punctuation and grammar of the subtitles was atrocious and the worst I’ve seen either at the cinema or on DVD.)

Morbometer™: 6.9 OUT OF 10

10:48 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” (2012)

How I Spent My Summer Vacation is a return to form for many things. It’s a return to form for the action genre, unapologetic onscreen violence, dark black humour, simple and straightforward storytelling, and most encouragingly of all, for Mel Gibson. The film is one of the most refreshing I’ve seen this year, and it’s all about something which is increasingly missing in films as the years go on; star power. Personally, I’m bored of comic book or ‘young adult’ novels taking the box office by storm, each of them led by one-dimensional actors or A-listers under a mask or as a CGI creation. I miss the days of seeing the latest Mel Gibson film because, simply, it’s the latest Mel Gibson film.

At the height of his fame, he was box-office gold; no one else could have been Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series, he took Shane Black’s screenplay and brought the character to life so perfectly that Riggs will always be remembered as one of the all-time great movie cops. Gibson has a charisma which is sorely missing from most leading males today; the twinkle in his eye when he delivers those killer lines added with a seemingly natural vulnerability which gave films such as Ransom, Maverick, Conspiracy Theory, and Signs their life and make them endlessly rewatchable. How I Spent My Summer Vacation deserves to be added to his long list of career highs.

Gibson is now out of favour in Hollywood because of some very public issues, but this review is not reviewing the man or his demons. His latest film should be reviewed on its merits alone. And the merits are numerous.

First of all, in a time where studios are cutting films to achieve 12A or PG-13 ratings, this is a refreshingly violent picture for anyone who misses the hard-hitting action pictures of the 1980 and 1990s. Due to the film being an Icon production (Gibson’s production company) and not released by a major studio, How I Spent My Summer Vacation has free reign on the graphic depictions of violence; a woman is tortured with electricity, a man’s toes a cut off (and we see this), a young boy is punched in the face, the same boy stabs himself in the kidney with a blunt instrument, and a huge body count is amassed in the 90 minutes. Like Gibson’s Icon produced The Passion of the Christ, this is not for the faint of heart.

The film isn’t just action and violence. At the film’s core is a relationship between Gibson’s unnamed character and a nine year old boy who lives in the Mexican prison where the film is set. Normally I despise scripts where children are involved in action films as for the most part they either cannot act or the film is toned down because of their involvement. In this picture, however, the nine year old (played by Kevin Hernandez) is as tough talking as Gibson and the film revolves around him and the violence that follows his every step. Their relationship feel real and there is something at stake in the film which keeps its pulse pounding from the very first scene.

For such an action-packed film, it is paced well; first time director Adrian Grunberg worked as a 1st and 2nd Unit director on some big films like Master And Commander, Man On Fire, and Traffic, and has chosen a good film to start with; it is low budget, low key, but has a major star carrying every scene. The film is dark and grimy and the prison scenes feel dirty and dangerous just looking at them, but the tone remains upbeat throughout thanks to the witty and zinging dialogue. The mix of all components works very well. Anyone who has seen Gibson’s 1999 Payback may feel this film is something like a prequel; I could image Porter (Gibson’s character in Payback) spending time in a Mexican jail and stealing from the other inmates and causing all kinds of carnage before escaping and making his way to Chicago where Payback’s action picks up. It’s not quite up to the quality of Payback (either versions) but for 2012, it’s the next best thing.  

Ultimately, How I Spent My Summer Vacation is a triumph of star power and onscreen charisma. Casting this film which someone like Jason Statham or Clive Owen would render it just another disastrous action film, but thanks to Mel Gibson and his talent for such characters, the film is a low key success. It’s a shame it won’t see much of an impact at the box office and I wish it were made 10 years ago because it deserves to be a success.

Morbometer™: 7.8 OUT OF 10

01:10 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “Safe” (2012)

The all-out action movie is dead, we all know this. The Mission: Impossible, Bond and Bourne series are spy films, the Transformers series is based on a cartoon and toy series, and the Fast and Furious series is… an anomaly. Gone are the days when cops chased drug dealers and everything went BOOM along the way, and I for one miss that. I would, however, prefer action films never to be made again than seeing B-movie output in the shape of Safe taking over the mantel.

That’s not to say that Safe is a terrible film because it does have its merits in 2012. The action is loud, violent and frequent and it doesn’t rely on CGI to entice its audience, mainly because writer/director Boaz Yakin has attempted to make an ‘old school’ action film and doesn’t have the budget to do much else.  The budget is so (relatively) small that he goes out of his way to show as much of New York as he can when filming on location and some of the locations are there just to see the skyline before we cut away to somewhere much cheaper to film (e.g. Philadelphia). Still, a film maker must do the best with what he can and Yakin does a decent job throughout and there is barely a shaky-cam in sight which came as a big and welcome surprise.

The real issue here is the complete lack of originality and the dreadful sense of having seen it all before and done so much better. Why even bother make a film like Safe for theatrical release when it looks like it belongs on Video On Demand? The film is nothing more than a violent TV movie and Jason Statham simply does not have the charisma of a Willis, Gibson, Stallone, or Schwarzenegger to make the audience believe in him and the ridiculous on-screen antics. He tries hard but is never convincing which is a shame because if you were to put Bruce Willis in this film, tighten the story, and clean up some of the atrocious dialogue, you might have something. I still believe a good leading man makes all the difference in action films, and Statham is not that man. He may have his place amongst a certain audience, but he and his films have yet to convince me.

Morbometer™: 4.3 OUT OF 10

07:20 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “The Avengers” (2012)

The Avengers is not a great film. It is at best an average summer blockbuster.

I want to make my opinions clear from the very beginning of this review because I know there are many, many people who will not agree with most or all of the criticism I have for the film. This is my personal opinion and I will back up my criticisms where possible.

Firstly, I love films based on comic book characters and I enjoy many summer blockbusters, so I cannot complain that I wasn’t part of The Avengers target audience. Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, X-2, X-Men: First Class, Superman Returns (yes, that’s right) and the greatest superhero film of them all, Superman: The Movie all range from very enjoyable to truly outstanding in my opinion. It’s interesting to note that all but one of these were released before 2008 when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were made and paved the road to The Avengers. Moreover, it is this group of films – Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, – which were so poor (Iron Man 2 and Thor made my ‘worst of’ list for 2010 and 2011 respectively) and so rushed in order to get to The Avengers, that The Avengers ultimately suffers for it. The exception being Captain America, for reasons I will explain.

My main gripe with the film is the lack of excitement the action scenes generated. Just having these iconic characters on screen is not enough to warrant a free pass from criticism; the final battle in New York is no better than anything in universally-panned The Transformers series, borrowing inspiration from Michael Bay’s Armageddon along the way. For all their charisma and comic timing, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo offer nothing to the action scenes involving Iron Man and Hulk, reducing their scenes to that akin of watching someone play a computer game. The film shows us a series of fights between the characters, all of which seem to be there to tick boxes off a ‘fan boy’ wish list, but add nothing to the development of the story; Iron Man v Thor, Thor v Hulk, Hulk v Black Widow, Black Widow v Hawkeye… It just becomes tiresome and predictable. The only character which doesn’t bore me when they’re in costume is Captain America, because his lack of super power means that we get to watch Chris Evans run and jump around rather than a special effects team showing off; this is the very reason I enjoyed the 2011 film so much and am highly anticipating the sequel on April 4 2014. Hawkeye, however, as character without his own film, does precisely nothing until, surprise surprise, the script calls for the all-action finale and he fires a few arrows and is involved in the weakest effect shot in the whole film.  

Tom Hiddleston as the villain, Loki from the first Thor film, delivers the film’s best performance by a long way and is the only believable character stealing each and every scene when he is on screen. If it were not for him, The Avengers could have been a woeful affair. Yet, despite the undeniably funny scene where Hulk throws Loki around like a rag doll, I thought this completely undermined his menace and hinders the film’s already tired final act. Moreover, the lack of real threat is confounded when Loki’s army, barely seen in the 90 minutes beforehand, descend on New York for no other purpose than being cannon fodder for a shield, hammer, repulsor ray, arrow, bullet, or giant green fist. Again, there is no excitement here, nor does it come across as heroic.

There are three scenes which are just terrible. Firstly the cameo of Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts with Robert Downey Jr. is like a bad sitcom pilot destined never to be picked up for a full season. Secondly, the scene in ‘Stuttgart’ is clearly a film set and with $220m budget they should have either set the scene in America, or actually gone to Stuttgart on location, not that it matters that it’s Stuttgart – it could have been Sunderland and have had just as much impact. The (I assume) Jewish man who stands up and answers back to Loki as if he were  Hitler is woeful in its attempts to say something about dictatorships.   

The film isn’t without its merits, of course. The production value is excellent, the effect are mostly good, and writer/director Joss Whedon has done a very good job of putting  this mammoth task together and making it family friendly and excellent entertainment for younger audiences who haven’t seen New York get destroyed before, and who may have enjoyed the previous films.  The plot is simple and the action starts quickly and is non-stop for the 140 minutes so no one can complain about a lack of action, but I just expected so much more from a film 4 years in the making and over $2.3 billion in accumulated ticket sales.  The film, so anticipated, felt too rushed to me and a better story and action set-pieces may have lifted it up to the standard set by Bryan Singer’s outstanding X-2, but not even a year after Thor and Captain America is just too soon and the lack of originality in the output shows.

Morbometer™ 5.8 OUT OF 10

01:33 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “The Cabin In The Woods” (2011)

THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW.

There are some film trailers which give too much away, and there are some which do not entice you to find out more. The trailer for The Cabin In The Woods trailer should not be seen by anyone wanting to see the film, and moreover the less you know the better your enjoyment of the film will be. The film itself, however, should be seen by everyone interested in horror.

The beauty of the film, co-written by Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, is in its successful attempts to deconstruct, parody and critique the genre whilst remaining scary and creepy in its own right. The very fact that I’m advising you to stay away from any spoilers suggests there will be a major twist or three along the way and that this is not an average slice ‘n’ dice horror picture. There is plenty of killing, but not from the usual horror film sources – let me at least tell you that much. Throughout the course of the 95 minutes, Whedon treats us to a checklist of horror clichés and wink and nods at the audience along the way. The characters, once they reach the cabin of the title, turn into the stereotypes we always see; jock, slut, virgin, slacker but they are clearly not this way when the film starts, but horror conventions tell us that characters in the genre have to be this way, without any good reason.

The second and third acts are hard to write about without mentioning any of the plot for the risk of spoilers, but I can tell you that the whole story is based on modern audiences’ desire to watch young people getting massacred, and why is that? Why do we spend millions of pounds at the cinema and on DVD watching these films? What would happen if watching them die were essential to… life itself?

Like the first two Scream films, The Cabin In The Woods is clever in both its dialogue and its action and knows the genre well enough to have the confidence to go all the way and never look back. If you’re not aware of the horror genre, you may think the film goes way beyond your expectations of what a horror film should be; but this isn’t a horror film, it’s a one-off experimentation that works. I just hope it isn’t copied like the Scream films were, because then well be in for a decade of Whedon-less attempts, and no one wants to see that.

Morbometer™:  8.0 OUT OF 10

04:53 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “Battleship” (2012)

Battleship is not a good film. There is no way in which I can ever say this is anything other than utter tripe, inspired by films just as bad and just as senseless. Aside from the terrible script, plot, acting, and complete lack of comprehension the real problem with Battleship is that there could have been a half decent popcorn picture in there somewhere, had the filmmakers attempted some degree of originality.

There’s no point in going into detail and tearing the script apart because anyone going to see a film based on a board game cannot complain if the dialogue is ear-achingly bad. The plot makes no sense from the minute it’s explained, but again, you expect this when you buy your ticket. The real issue is that the film doesn’t have the courage of its convictions to be one thing or the other; as a post-Transformers blockbuster it falls short simply because, and I never thought I’d say this, it doesn’t out-Bay Michael Bay. Director Peter Berg (of the equally poor Hancock) copies the classic Bay trademark shots but never captures his undeniably (at times) jaw-dropping visual style; the problem with Bay’s action is when it’s put into a film with scenes either side, and becomes intolerable. Berg, nor anyone, should ever attempt to copy Michael Bay and in doing so it comes across as lazy, uninspired, and draining on the senses.

The alien crafts look like Transformers and the aliens themselves look like Iron Man, neither of which are good films but when directly copied, for there is no source material on which Battleship could have taken its visuals other than previous box-office hits, you’re faced with a tragic case of déjà vu. This was also the loudest film I’ve ever heard at the cinema; it is as if the film is trying to draw our attention away from the visuals by looking to see if the speakers are exploding around us.

It is utter trash with no redeeming features and there are plenty of things I’ve ignored in this review because the film just isn’t worth going into in any depth. Although, maddeningly, it does come across at times as a sort of parody of brainless blockbusters, but never goes all-out in the fear that it may miss an opportunity blow something else up and lose the attention of its core audience. Some of the dialogue is so bad and the acting so unconvincing that you can only think its tongue is firmly in its cheek; there’s no way it can be taking itself seriously. The same goes for the Armageddon-style shot of the old sailors matching across the ship – it must be ridiculing its own genre, surely Berg wouldn’t expect his audience to take that shot seriously. If the film had been self-aware from the start and the script had had more obvious winks at the audience, then this could have been something, but as it stands it’s neither a good blockbuster nor a Starship Troopers style satire.

The very fact that Universal Pictures made the film reeks of desperation to rival Paramount’s Transformers series. The film doesn’t even try to deliver anything new or groundbreaking with its $200m budget and despite some good CGI and effects, Battleship misses its mark.

Morbometer™: 3.5 OUT OF 10

12:21 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “Wrath Of The Titans” (2012)

There’s not much to say when reviewing a film such as Wrath Of The Titans; it’s a sequel no one wanted but was financed off the back of a surprisingly successful first entry, the same of which can be said for countless other sequels. Simply put, if you didn’t mind, or even liked, 2010’s Clash Of The Titans, then you might not hate Wrath. If, however, you hated Clash, then stay well away of this latest instalment.

I watched Clash for the first time the day before seeing Wrath believing that, if I remotely enjoyed it then maybe I’d see the sequel. As you may have worked out form me writing this review, I did quite enjoy Clash; although far from faultless and at times wooden, the set design and special effects were so good and the story not hampered by too much romance or side-plots, I felt it was raised slightly above the usual CGI-laden offerings. So, it passed the threshold and off I went to see the follow-up.

Essentially it’s more of the same but just not as well rounded. There’s the same quota of action and mythological spectacle and the film makers have put every penny of the $150m budget on the screen which results in, yet again, some very impressive creature effects, sets, and visuals and at only 99 minutes it certainly can’t be accused of out-staying its welcome. There script, however, is far too rushed and is full of exposition in the opening ten minutes leaving the remaining 89 filled with either action and battles (which I liked) or crassly interspersed dialogue to remind the audience of why the characters are doing what they’re doing, because not one person either in screen or in the cinema could describe it by those points. It’s in these scenes where Wrath shows its weaknesses; we shouldn’t need great long speeches and laughably anachronistic dialogue to justify the action and character motivation, even in a film as silly as this. Ever other line is either an ill-advised attempt at humour (thankfully missing in Clash) or characters telling us what’s going on.

Worse still is the casting; in any other film Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy, and Rosamund Pike would be a casting dream, but here they are just paying the bills until something better comes along. That is not the case, however, with the leading man. Sam Worthington is so bad when it’s time to open his mouth, it’s a wonder he gets roles in such big films. Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, Clash and Wrath are all masterclasses in how not to act. I want him banned from any future big-budget productions but sadly I fear he’s here to stay for a while longer. He’s an absolute charisma vacuum.

You could tear into this film if you really wanted to (and many reviewers have) but to me it was passable entertainment and most importantly of all it was not offensive. It’s not a remake or reboot and there’s no foul language or racist robots or blatant rip-offs from other films. Yes, director Jonathan Liebesman can’t shoot a scene for more than three seconds without cutting, and yes that it very annoying and is an attempt to hide the fact that he cannot direct a film to save his life… but it’s a million times better than he last offering, Battle LA, so we have that to be thankful for.

Morbometer™: 5.0 OUT OF 10

02:18 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “The Hunger Games” (2012)

This is a film review, not a book review. I’ve not read any of The Hunger Games novels and, moreover, I have absolutely no interest in reading them now that I’ve seen the film. If they are as average as this film, I’ll stay far away.

It’s been three days since I saw The Hunger Games and it has fallen drastically in my opinion of it. Upon reflection there is nothing new here; the main story is a cross between The Running Man and Battle Royale, the love story is as unbelievable as anything you’ll see all year, and the costume and set design is straight out of The Fifth Element. For a brand new film it looks like it was made 15 years ago and the shockingly bad visual effects only prove to evidence this.

At nearly two and a half hours, the film is needlessly long and its attempts to be an ‘epic’ are all part of its downfall. With the exception of the lead character, Katniss, not one of the cast is in the least bit believable and in a film where we are supposed to care about children killing children for live television broadcast, this is a major flaw. There are supposed to be 24 children who take part in the ‘games’ but none of them are given any background or detail, nor do we see any of them die unless Katniss is involved. Furthermore, the reason why the ‘games’ even exists is either A) never explained or B) so poorly written it passed me by. At least with The Running Man we know it’s supposed to be criminals playing the game and that makes perfect sense (in the world of the film) but here we never find out; why isn’t it the adults or the elderly, or the under 10s? In a dystopian world, the viewer deserves and should demand to know why the world they’re watching is like it is and why the rules are now in place.  Imagine if Minority Report didn’t take the time to explain who the Pre-cogs are, or if in Logan’s Run the age limit rule was just passed over. It would be unacceptable.

The film does not work as a satire on government or reality TV and once the children enter the ‘games’ the fact that it is televised is barely mentioned and the need for sponsors, so emphasised in the first act, is rendered pointless in favour for straight-to-video standard CGI and underwhelming set pieces. And what is with the three finger salutes that is obviously supposed to be so significant? Unless you’ve read the book I can’t imagine how anyone would work it out.

The one saving grace and the sole reason you keep watching is the performance by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. She has a real screen presence about her and conveys both the fear and strength you’d need if this situation were real. It’s just a shame nothing else about the film gives the same levels of commitment as Lawrence. The film isn’t a disaster in the way in which the Transformers or Pirates series are and is in no way offensive, but just because it’s more intelligent than Twilight does not mean it’s beyond criticism.  

With the third biggest opening of all time at the US box-office, the other two parts of the trilogy will undoubtedly be filmed as soon as possible. They may well be an improvement on this underwhelming first instalment, but I won’t be there to see if that’s true.

Morbometer™: 5.5 OUT OF 10

07:32 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself[1 note]

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Film Review: “21 Jump Street” (2012)

The churning out of yet another unwanted and needless remake of an 80s TV show continues this week with 21 Jump Street. The show is pretty much only remembered for being the launch for Johnny Depp’s career but you need know nothing about the show if you intend on seeing this as the film-makers have taken a familiar title and that is where similarities end. If you are intent on seeing the film, however, I would recommend you don’t as it is largely a complete bore.

Jonah Hill is not funny. He simply is not funny. That fact is crucial as this is supposed to be a comedy, yet the lead star cannot make you laugh and his writing (he is has story credits) relies on constant swearing to paper over the cracks of there being nothing else in his ‘locker’. His breakout role in Superbad was amusing, but seeing the same old routine time after time is simply boring and dull; there is nothing funny about a fat young man swearing for 90 minutes and knowing he’s been paid a fortune to do so. To make matters doubly worse, he is paired with the charisma vacuum that is Channing Tatum; a man so unbelievably dull and wooden he makes Vin Diesel look like a genuine talent. He delivers each and every line with such a lack of belief he may as well have the script in his hand on camera.

The tone of the script is all over the place. It starts as a parody on 2005 where wearing one strap of your rucksack was cool, but in 2012 everyone is ‘two strapping it’ but never keeps these nuances and observation up, rather ditching them for fights and swearing. Nor does the film keep up the only genuinely witty set up of Hollywood lacking ideas and creativity buy rehashing old material; this is mentioned only once and never referenced again which only goes to show the film makers could not write anything else to back it up, so in comes the fights and swearing again. The film soon moves in to action territory and takes itself way too seriously by trying to make us care about anyone involved, yet the action is not directed or staged well, so it just ends up as another woefully inadequate series of events. It’s half as funny as The Other Guys, which in itself was at best 3 stars.

As a side note, the day after watching this nonsense I revisited Midnight Run for the millionth time. Now there is a film with even more swearing and violence and action than 21 Jump Street but with a script and screen talent which makes it endless watchable and consistently funny; everything that 99.99% of modern action comedies fail to do.

Morbometer™: 3.5 OUT OF 10   

11:17 am, BY stopthinkingforyourself

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Film Review: “Carnage” (2011)

Two married middle class couples having a constant argument for 80 minutes may not sound like a barrel of laughs, but that is the concept of Roman Polanski’s latest film comedy, Carnage. It is, however, a very funny film largely due to a razor-sharp script and four fantastic performances.

When Nancy and Alan Cowan (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) arrive at the luxury New York apartment of Penelope and Michael Longstreet (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly), they are there to settle the matter of their son ‘attacking’ the Longstreet’s son with a stick following a playground argument. At first, Nancy Cowan is apologetic and goes along with everything Penelope (who is calling the shots) says. The husbands are either relaxed and say boys will be boys, in the case of Michael, or they are largely uninterested and have seemingly better things to do, like Alan. They agree that the children should meet and apologises should be said…. then comes the homemade cake, and the characters’ true colours begin to show.

The cake is simply a plot devise to keep these couples in the same room, but by eating it, it opens discussions about art, work, human rights in Darfur, and the misery in their lives. When Nancy is sick all over the coffee table, the couples are forced to stay even longer and then the real bitchiness and mud-slinging begins.

What makes Carnage work so well is that we are laughing at these rich and wealthy characters dissect their lives and marriage and hopes and fears to relative strangers because no one else will listen, especially their spouses. Not one of them has a real problem and, despite their seeming dislike of each other, the women team up against the men and husbands and wives swap allegiances whenever it suits them just so they can be heard. They soon turn into the very children they are supposed to be standing up for, and nothing is funnier (or sadder) than watching adults act like spoilt kids.

At only 80 minutes with end credits, the film is quick and breezy despite taking place solely in the apartment; and there are many times when you might think ‘why don’t they just get up and leave?’ but the comedy is in Cowans’ need to stay and prove they are just as good (or pathetic) as the Longstreets, and the Longstreets’ desire to have the moral upperhand no matter how much their own personalities are scrutinised. The acting is first rate and needs to be to deliver the satirical dialogue with a straight face; the comedic talent of three Oscar winners and one nominee is on show throughout and no one disappoints at any time. It is a joy to watch good acting at any time, but to have four people deliver in a four character screenplay is rare.

This may not be classic Polanski in terms of directorial brilliance (Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby) but he stages the film perfect well and he keeps the film alive when it could easily have dragged or out stayed its welcome, like the Cowans do.

In an age where most comedies seem to have one of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, Will Ferrell, or Todd Phillips attached, Carnage make for a refreshing and welcome change; but if you like your comedy lowbrow, then stick to The Hangover Part II.

Morbometer™: 7.3 OUT OF 10

09:33 pm, BY stopthinkingforyourself