“Say Fate Gave You The Choice: You Can Get The Lady, Or You Could Catch That Tuna That’s In Your Head. Which One Would You Choose..?”
On the one hand, Serenity is thankfully not an attempt to reboot the Firefly live-action spin-off of the same name from 2005, and instead is a movie which this week manages to pull off the contemporary trend of being released both on the big and small screens in a supposed attempt in order to gather an excessive amount of viewers on its’ opening weekend. Backed by the behemoth that is Sky Movies, whose previous endeavors, including the likes of Anon and Final Score, haven’t exactly set the critical underworld alike, Serenity is the latest from Peaky Blinders creator and Locke director, Steven Knight, who returns to the big screen with an absolutely bonkers and unbelievably stupid neo-noir thriller which has already been tipped as the front-runner heading into the next Razzies ceremony. Led by the usually respectable figure of Matthew McConaughey, (Interstellar) Knight’s movie sees the Oscar winning American as Baker Dill, an alcohol ridden, musky small-time fisherman whose quiet life on the island of Plymouth is soon interrupted by the re-emergence of ex-wife, Karen, played in equally over-the-top form by Anne Hathaway, who reunites with McConaughey after their work together on the masterful Interstellar.
With an opening camera swoop which feels like a sub-90’s porno flick as we are swiftly introduced to the glowing sands and seas of the film’s idyllic locale, the tone of the movie is laid faced down almost immediately, with gobsmackingly awful dialogue and monologues about life-chasing tuna one of the many highlights of a piece which you can’t help but stare at in complete shock as you try and piece together how on earth such a raspberry pudding of a movie came to be. With a central narrative which blends together fantastical romance with some sort of supernatural mystery, the opening hour is stuffed with unintentional hilarity as we become subject to some of the most awful, ham-fisted acting performances I have seen for a very long time, typified by McConaughey himself who seems to have taken the material as serious as his work on Dallas Buyers Club and just ends up making a complete and utter turkey of himself as he drunkenly stumbles and screams his way through a performance which gives The Room‘s Tommy Wiseau a run for his money. Awful editing and effects aside, the real talking point of the movie is undoubtedly the final thirty minutes of the piece in which Knight goes full on M. Night Shyamalan with an already infamous and thunderously stupid jack-in-the-box twist, and whilst it’s obvious to class Serenity as a work of complete and utter nonsense, I cannot shy away from the fact that it made me laugh more times than most American comedies, and whilst such comedy is clearly unintentional and stems from Knight’s soon to be sectioned and ludicrous mind, the fact that certain points were actually quite enjoyable means that Serenity isn’t the worst film I’ve ever sat through, but it may indeed just be the silliest. So bad, it’s almost good.
Overall Score: 4/10
“You Managed To Build A Multi Million Dollar Business Using Not Much More Than Your Wits…”
The first film of 2018 has swiftly arrived and brings with it the talented presence of writer/director Aaron Sorkin whose screenplays for the likes of The Social Network, Moneyball and Steve Jobs have placed him at the top of many’s list for the most in-demand screenwriter in America. Turning to the director’s chair for the very first time, Sorkin utilises the prestigious talents of Jessica Chastain in a dramatic representation of Molly Bloom’s autobiographical memoir about the rise and fall of her independently managed luxurious poker empire and the subsequent legal battles following the fallout of a statewide led criminal investigation. With Sorkin’s recognisable literary craft sweeping throughout, Molly’s Game is a rigorous exercise of the American’s unmistakable style audiences have grown to respect and love, and whilst a lengthy and bloated narrative timeline does weaken the finished product and prevent the movie being held in the same esteem as previous Sorkin penned releases, Molly’s Game is a flashy full house of a movie with a Chastain on unmissable form.
Beginning with a quickfire introductory voiceover outlining a young Molly Bloom’s disastrous Olympic skiing experience, Sorkin’s narrative weaves its way sharply and smoothly throughout a first act which follows Chastain’s Bloom as she develops from wandering idealist to opportunist successor, one who uses her real estate agent contact (Jeremy Strong) to flex her intellectual muscles and take over control of an infamous and highly prestigious unlicensed poker ring. With the money flowing, the famous faces increasing and a drug addiction mounting, Sorkin’s script attempts to mix in a wide range of elements of both a personal and dramatic nature of which the source material may have successfully delved into on paper, but even with a two and a half hour runtime to play with, these multiple plot threads do end up feeling convoluted come the final act where even the addition of a ever reliable Idris Elba does strangely seem somewhat added on, with his character never really having the depth to solidify his existence. However, with Chastain owning a leading role which carries all the charisma and charm you would expect from an actress renowned for playing similar characters in Miss Sloane and Zero Dark Thirty, Molly’s Game is a zippy and smart character drama which excels thanks to the involvement of a writer whose move to directing has began more than rewarding.
Overall Score: 8/10