Published on May 6th, 2014 | by Brad0
Tarzan, Plastic and Pompeii – Movie Reviews
Yeah, I had an awful day at the cinema yesterday.
We all remember the classic Tarzan story, right? Meteor wipes out dinosaurs, benevolent head of Greystoke Energy Corporation flies wife and son to jungle with him while he goes to harness the power of the meteor, gets himself and his wife killed, son is raised by gorillas, evil new head of Corporation wants the meteor’s power, brings army to the jungle with him leading to pitched battle between mercenaries and gorillas on the kryptonite mountain from the end of Superman Returns. That old chestnut. I am baffled and fascinated by this movie in equal measure.
So we start, as one would expect for a Tarzan movie, in space. Obviously. We follow the path of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs as it crashes into central Africa. Cut to about 20 years ago, and John Greystoke and his wife and son, along with conservationist Jim Porter, are in the jungle, looking for the meteor. Tragedy strikes, leaving the young son in the care of a maternal gorilla. The traditional Tarzan story runs for a bit, with most of it looking exactly like the Disney version from the 90s, before it kind of turns into Avatar for the final act.
All of this is rendered in the creepiest, most unnerving CGI you’ll see in a while. There’s a phenomenon called the Uncanny Valley, wherein something looks almost, but not quite, human, and it causes a feeling of distress and revulsion to look at. This very much falls into that area. It’s quite distressing, and probably contributed to some of the many walkouts there were from the audience. The idiotic plot, glacial pace and horrible voice acting didn’t help, mind. Tarzan is a curious oddity of a movie, but not one I would ever dream of recommending to another human being.
From the baffling to the obnoxious, Plastic tells the allegedly true story of a bunch of university-age grifters (Ed Speelers, Will Poulter, Alfie Allen and Sebastien de Souza) who rip off the wrong guy, and have to raise £2m in two weeks, else he’ll kill them. In order to do this, they head over to Miami to run a series of high-value credit card frauds, but as a spanner gets thrown into the works, they attempt to run a con to steal £20m worth of diamonds.
This type of movie only works if we like the grifters. Unfortunately, with the exception of Poulter, there isn’t a likable one in the bunch, though to be fair to Alfie Allen, his character is meant to be an unpleasant scrote. As such, you spend most of the movie hoping that they’ll fail utterly and the generic European mobster will kill them and put us all out of our misery. As such, the movie just comes across as 100 minutes of time wasted in the company of people we never want to see again as long as we live. Poorly directed, poorly edited and poorly played. Poor.
And, from the obnoxious to the boring. It’s remarkable, for a movie featuring Gladiator battles, raining fiery death and Kiefer Sutherland hamming up a storm, just how tedious this actually is. Kit Harrington isn’t remotely compelling in the lead, his lack of any sort of chemistry with Emily Browning leaves their romantic subplot dead in the water, and Jared Harris and Carrie-Anne Moss are just wasted in a pair of horribly underwritten supporting roles as Browning’s parents. The only cast members to come out of this with any credit are Sutherland, delightfully villainous, with a bizarre accent, who has the gusto to pursue his petty grudges even as fire is raining from the skies, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as a champion gladiator Harrington befriends.
The bulk of the movie is pretty rote fare – a young Celt sees his family butchered by Romans, is taken as a slave and raised as a Gladiator, and sold to Pompeii around the time of the eruption. Whilst there, he falls in love with the daughter of the ruler of Pompeii, who has also caught the eye of a visiting Roman senator, the very same man who killed the Gladiator’s family. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. So the Gladiator fights for his freedom, and the heart of his rich beloved, who is of course betrothed to the butcher of his family. And then it remembers that it’s meant to be a volcano movie and all hell breaks loose.
The volcano sequences themselves are actually quite impressive, on a technical aspect. The raining fire, the tidal wave caused by the seismic activity, and a chase between Harrington on horseback and Sutherland on a chariot, carrying off Browning, are all extremely well-executed. The problem is the total lack of investment in the characters on our part makes it impossible to care about what’s happening. I started checking my watch about ten-fifteen minutes into Pompeii, and never really stopped. It’s an unforgivably boring movie.