CommonSpace film critic Scott Wilson takes a look at the big movies of the moment
A FANTASTICAL Boy Scouts rendition of an Arthurian legend, a genre-defying monster movie and a mother/daughter kidnapping caper make for a varied week.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – ★★☆☆☆
People adore Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and fantastical myths set across Britain’s sprawling and unforgiving countryside. Taking each of these influences and melding them together, weaving the legend of King Arthur among their stolen parts, ought to make for a spell of delights draped in cloaks and crowns.
It doesn’t. Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is somehow inexplicable and dull. Opening with a siege involving elephants the size of high-rise towers, it’s a CGI-laden spectacle of imagination and visual wonder, yet it’s so utterly generic that the question of why these super elephants exist in an Arthurian legend isn’t worth answering.
It’s a hot mess, told with such confusion that it naturally provokes these questions repeatedly, but also with such mundanity that there’s no dissatisfaction in not knowing any of the answers.
Ritchie has made a $175m adolescent male fantasy and it has cost him dearly.
Charlie Hunnam is a geezer King Arthur, with his geezer pals with names like Goosefat Bill and Wet Stick. The only prominent female character, played by Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, is known only by the moniker The Mage. She pops up when Arthur needs to learn something, while the rest of the female cast are either sacrificed to sea monsters in exchange for magical powers or imprisoned and helpless.
There are moments where it finds its footing. A pursuit through a town after an assassination attempt is entertaining enough, and by the climactic videogame-boss ending its bonkers approach becomes slightly endearing.
But for all its lofty inspirations, it has much more in common with Eragon, a mercifully forgotten film that tries and fails in many of the same ways as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Ritchie has made a $175m adolescent male fantasy and it has cost him dearly. Already labelled a box office bomb, his target audience (teenage boys) is too financially weak to possibly turn King Arthur into a success. By sacrificing representation, and in making no effort to tell a tonally coherent story, King Arthur feels like an old and out-of-touch relative trying to be cool.
Colossal – ★★★★☆
Heralded by a quirky trailer and starring romcom staples Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, Colossal requires a more open mind than one might assume.
Alice Cooper once said horror has changed from the monster under your bed to an existential grappling with mortality and the uncertainty that comes with it. Recently, it seems horror has moved on again, and now it’s the person next door, and the unknown intent behind the eyes of someone you thought you were safe around.
Hathaway’s Gloria is a shambolic alcoholic, and having just been kicked out of her city apartment by her (now ex) boyfriend, she’s moved home to the suburbs. She bumps into Sudeikis’s Oscar, a childhood friend who sets her up with a job at his bar and furniture for her empty home.
Meanwhile, a monstrous creature is terrorising Seoul, levelling buildings and killing hundreds of people. Gloria is somehow tied to this creature, and her connection to it is a moral conundrum for her and her friends.
It’s about gaslighting and manipulation, and how a helpless puppy will keep returning to its violent owner.
Gloria is an addict and she’s vulnerable, ignored when she needs attention. Her ex wants rid of her, but the moment she’s gone he’s checking in on her. Oscar wants to help, but on the condition he’s the only one who helps.
Horror has changed. The monster in Cloverfield wrecked the city, but the monster in 10 Cloverfield Lane was John Goodman. The monster isn’t the Xenomorph in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, it’s Michael Fassbender. Similarly, the monster in Colossal isn’t the kaiju stomping around South Korea.
It’s a tough sell, and time is spent unlearning what the trailers were selling. Its comedy is dark, and while there are Godzilla-like creatures, there’s emotional, psychological, and physical abuse too. It’s about gaslighting and manipulation, and how a helpless puppy will keep returning to its violent owner.
Yet, it’s empowering, and heart-warming not only in its defiance, but in its sheer existence. It’s an easy guarantee to say you won’t have seen anything like this, and in a month where Furious 8, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, and the 7th instalment in the Alien franchise are in the cinema, Colossal is a gargantuan breath of fresh air that feels modern, unique, and captures the excitement of daring cinema with something to say in a grand and ludicrous way.
Snatched – ★☆☆☆☆
There’s a character in Snatched who, having been kidnapped, Amy Schumer’s Emily and Goldie Hawn’s Linda keep calling. He’s homeland security, and he’s completely uninterested in their plight. Having told them to get to the embassy in Bogota, he hangs up. He hangs up again and again. He has the utter delight of ending his interaction with the rest of the characters in Snatched on multiple occasions and, God, do we envy him.
Emily is fired and dumped, and with two non-refundable tickets to Ecuador, she convinces her mum to go with her in her ex’s stead. They’re kidnapped by a local gang, and spend the rest of the film trying to flee the pursuit of their captors.
Emily is deeply unlikeable, experiencing no arc or redemption along the way. Linda is a cautious and sensible mother who is under-appreciated by her woman-child daughter, but this being Goldie Hawn’s first cinematic role in 15 years is a real waste of a comeback.
Mums will be exasperated by Emily’s narcissism and exhausted by Linda’s tolerance of it.
Released in time for Mothers Day in America, it’s a shenanigans-laden tale the likes of which has been seen a hundred times since the turn of the century, with its unique selling point resting solely on the central mother/daughter dynamic. Mums will be exasperated by Emily’s narcissism and exhausted by Linda’s tolerance of it.
Films like Snatched come along a few times per year with varying levels of success. Last year’s Bad Moms had laughs and heart as an accessible and easily digestible piece of entertainment. Snatched is similarly easy viewing, but so aggressively unfunny and void of the heart-warming mother/daughter story it attempts that it’s completely forgettable and makes for a long 90 mins.
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