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Friday, 12 February 2016

Review Round-Up: Limitless; Hellions; R.I.P.D.

Limitless (2011): With the TV show hitting these shores any day now, I thought I'd check out the original movie that the show has spun-off from.

Playing with the same misconception as Lucy that we only use a small percentage of our brainpower, Limitless posits the existence of a secret wonder drug (NZT)  that unlocks the remaining potential of your brain.

Bradley Cooper stars as struggling - and pretty unlikeable - sci-fi author Eddie Morra, who comes into possession of this drug through his ex-brother-in-law.

Morra's journey then takes him from getting his life back together, through finding a penchant for share dealing, getting tangled in high finance, and eventually politics. All the time dodging shady characters that he either owes money to or who want the NZT.

Unlike the superheroics of Lucy, Limitless takes a much more practical approach to the power it offers its protagonist, and while there are a couple of NZT-fuelled fights, it's really an extreme allegory for the power of addiction and the depths it can drive people to.

Kaleidoscopic visuals accentuate the drug's effect on Eddie, especially when he first starts using it and then eventually begins to suffer blackouts and lost time.

Even though much of the main story revolves around stocks, shares, and blah, blah, blah, this is all colour to the core theme of Eddie's addiction, giving it almost an American Psycho feel at times.

My interest is certainly piqued for the television spin-off, even if only to discover what has become of Eddie Morra.

Hellions (2015): It's Halloween and home alone teenager Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose), having just found out she's unexpectedly pregnant, is plagued by strange, child-like, demonic trick 'r treaters.

The jeopardy quickly escalates as the tale becomes increasingly surreal and Dora's night goes from bad to worse.

Seemingly more art film that straight horror,  director Bruce McDonald brings his unique vision - which we already know from Pontypool - to this strange little film.

Where Hellions comes up short is its reliance on a central conceit that has not only been played out in far better films but is signposted about ten minutes in.

This means - as long as you're paying attention - that while the rest of the film is a creative, visual treat, you already have a very good idea of what's really going on and probably won't get the full impact of the big reveal at the end.

The main appeal of the film, outside of Chloe Rose's convincing central performance, is the numerous creepy little trick 'r treaters - who bear a passing resemblance Sam (from the seminal seasonal horror flick Trick 'r Treat) - in their various grubby costumes.

R.I.P.D. (2013): Ryan Reynolds stars as Nick, a recently-slain cop, enlisted into the afterlife's Rest In Peace Department, a supernatural police force that tracks down errant spirits (known as 'deados') that don't want to move on.

Partnered with ornery Western lawman Roy (Jeff Bridges), Nick unearths a potentially apocalyptic plan that somehow involves his partner from when he was alive - crooked cop Kevin Bacon.

Definitely going for a Men In Black-meets-Ghostbusters vibe but not quite capturing it, R.I.P.D. has a reasonably engaging central story but sadly the narrative logic often plays second-fiddle to the extensive CGI special effects.

With its great cast, and based off an old Dark Horse comic, there's an inescapable feeling that the filmmakers were looking to create an enduring franchise, but it never quite took off.

2 comments:

  1. "Playing with the same misconception as Lucy that we only use a small percentage of our brainpower"

    Keep in mind that that explanation is the one offered by a person who is not exactly a reliable narrator. The drug, NZT, is based on real-world drugs that seem to have a positive effect on memory and creativity tests in users, and definitely have an effect reversing brain damage in Alzheimer's patients.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reminding me of that. I do like a good "unreliable narrator".

      I was using the point to accentuate the similarities between the set-up of this movie and Lucy, so I could then point out the different directions the films took with their similar starting points.

      Delete

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