Reviews (8)

  • According to arbitrary statistics; over 90% of Americans don't know who Jane Austen is, which is why the name was dropped from the promotion of Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998). In other news, at least five quarters of all Popes found to be Catholic. Film at eleven.

    Directed and partially written by spoof veteran Jim Abrahams; Mafia! is to The Godfather (1972) as Hot Shots! (1991) is to Top Gun (1986), a merciless p*ss take. The competent yet lacklustre Jay Mohr stars as Tony Cortino, an amalgam of Casino (1995) De Niro and Godfather Pacino, along with Christina 'don't call me Bundy' Applegate ostensibly filling Diane Keaton's shoes. Elder performers Olympia Dukakis and Lloyd Bridges get to suitably degrade themselves, in the late Bridges' case, for the last time, with roles as senior Cortino family members.

    This being a spoof movie, large liberties are taken with the films it sends up. Probably the most successful instance comes in the form of a well executed imitation of the explosive Casino opening titles. Unfortunately, this of course comes right at the start of the film, and it's a peak not really matched in the following hour and a bit. The period switching device of The Godfather Part II (1974) is borrowed, allowing the freedom for some amusing asides, but badly breaking up the flow of the movie. The gags manage to keep up a reasonable pace, but often whither on the vine in the hands of performers unskilled in this brand of comedy. Mohr in particular would have served better with a more confident, energetic performance similar to the one he later would display in short lived, cult hit series Action (1999). Fans of the genre will notice some flatly recycled material and will probably miss the input of usual Abrahams collaborators the Zucker brothers.

    Though Scorsese's Casino receives plenty of attention, it's superior predecessor Goodfellas (1990) remains inexplicably untapped. Clearly a wasted opportunity as the faster pace and contemporary tone of Scorsese's films lend themselves to parody far more readily than the austere mob epics of Coppola. Grasping cribs from Forrest Gump (1994) and Jurassic Park (1993) suggest Abrahams was struggling for material to pad out the relatively modest eighty odd minute running time. The diminishing returns are finally retired with a successful finale mirroring that of the much maligned Godfather Part III (1990).

    Mafia! is a middling entry in a sub-genre that reached it's zenith with the sublime six half hours of Police Squad! (1982). Abrahams benefits greatly from his choice of such classic, strongly iconic films to make fun of. It's this that puts even the mediocre Mafia! way ahead of the facile ilk of Scary Movie (2000) and it's increasingly vulgar sequels. It's difficult to find humour in lampooning material that's already too lame to be taken seriously. Mafia! is a fairly safe bet to raise a chuckle or two from mob and spoof fans alike, but it's not up to the standard of either Hot Shots! instalment.
  • There's a core of irony at the centre of documentary American Movie: The Making of Northwestern (1999). While documenting a struggling, no budget filmmaker, American Movie, and it's low budget documentary styled horror contemporary The Blair Witch Project (1999), attracted lucrative bidding from the major studios. On top of that, Mark Borchardt, the focus of the documentary is clearly desperate to be recognised for his film-making, but ultimately seems destined to be remembered, perhaps unfavourably, for being the subject of somebody else's successful film.

    American Movie director Chris Smith was teaching a film-making class when the eccentric enthusiasm of pupil Borchardt caught his eye. Spotting rich material to be documented, Smith set about shooting the 70 or so hours of footage that would become 107 minutes of Borchardt's unwavering ambition to be a 'somebody'. We see his struggle with personal and production finances, responsibility, doubting relatives, ham amateur actors and an indeterminate level of competence. Though prone to moments of insightful self evaluation, Borchardt eschews all usual sensibility, such as holding a steady income and providing for his barely mentioned children, in favour of pursuing the less than bankable prospect of completing his film projects. This, along with his somewhat redneck appearance and acid casualty side-kick, has lead many treat American Movie as a comedy piece or in some cases even a Spinal Tap (1984) style mockumentary. On the contrary, Smith resists the smug temptation to make fun of his subjects; the content is genuine and occasionally affecting. There are, of course, moments of humour on show; the scene where Borchardt is forcing an actor's head through a stubbornly solid door is classic, and friend Mike Schank seems at times to conform to the familiar comedy stoner caricature. Admirably, Smith resists condescending from his bohemian, middle class director's chair, possibly because he sees something of himself in Borchardt. For example, Smith had trouble funding the documentary and ran up $28,000 over nine credit cards, in the opening scene we see Borchardt receive his first, and only card amongst a pile of legal threats and tax demands.

    American Movie is filled with colourful characters, minor conflicts and major aspirations. Whatever you make of the people it depicts, the film provides a thought provoking study of a struggling filmmaker, and yet another spin on the ever elusive concept of the 'American Dream'.
  • Following the success in Spain of his gritty horror Session 9 (2001), director Brad Anderson was approached by production company Filmmax to shoot a feature in Barcelona. Finding that there's a corner of America anywhere, if you look hard enough, El Maquinista (The Machinist, 2004), became a Spanish produced, English language film.

    The Machinist documents the dreary twilight existence of a shift working lathe operator Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale), and his deteriorating physical and mental health. Emaciated and insomniac, Reznik causes a work accident that claims the arm of a colleague. His deterioration quickens. The post-it aide-memoirs he leaves for himself become increasingly cryptic and alien. He soon becomes convinced of an elaborate conspiracy against him, and chases it's, and his own, shadow.

    Current Batman Bale undoubtedly provides the core of the film, and not just in terms of content. If you've heard anything about The Machinist, it's most likely in reference to the physical appearance of it's lead. Bale shed around a third of his body weight in order to portray Reznik, a man who proclaims he hasn't slept for a year. The result is a painfully sullen, gauntly compelling central performance, for which Bale will remembered in years to come. In contrast to the narcissistically athletic physique displayed in American Psycho (2000), Bale here resembles a concentration camp victim, wearing his clothes like a wire coat hanger. There's even a shot in which a rotund refrigerator seems to poke fun by comparison at his frail figure. The film's exploration of identity, reality, insomnia, and memory will draw obvious and rightful comparisons with Fincher's Fight Club (1999), and Nolan's Memento (2000). However, the film's strong visuals and distinctive sets evoke also the nightmarish industrial claustrophobia of Lynch's Eraserhead (1977) and Gilliam's Brazil (1985).

    All of the performances in the film are of a high quality. Jennifer Jason Leigh copes well with the burden of 'tart with a heart' Stevie, the prostitute that Reznik relies on for intimacy, but it's John Sharian that steals his scenes. Looking like a cross between an Apocalypse Now (1979) era Brando and Sloth from The Goonies (1985), Sharian plays Ivan, a gimp limping, toe fingered enigma who may or may not actually exist. There's even Michael Ironside on hand to put in a reliably villainous turn as Reznik's work supervisor.

    A fittingly delicate score rounds off a very well made, but faintly hollow film. At points, it seems as if the screenplay has been kept deliberately vague in places to avoid having to make decisions; instead piling on the allegories, visual cues, and literary references. Let Dostoevsky sort it out. I was however taken aback that the screenplay was as good as it is when found out that writer Scott Kosar's only previous credit was penning the horribly redundant, ignorant remake of the classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). He seems to have reverted to type with his most recent project, beating the long dead, never haunted horse of The Amityville Horror with another 'pretty people in peril' exercise in cloying Michael Bay gloss. Overall, The Machinist fails to reach peerage with the likes of Memento or Fight Club, but features more than enough quality to make it well worth viewing.
  • "I'm sorry about the balls! It was a lucky shot, that's all!" Sam Neill's strained delivery of this line managed to illicit an early chuckle. As In the Mouth of Madness continued, I began to notice that this lament applied to the entirety of the proceedings. Any impact, testicular or otherwise, that the film had seemed to be down to "a lucky shot" rather than crafted direction.

    John Carpenter is a director with a somewhat chequered record. Responsible for classics such as Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978) and The Thing (1982), Carpenter also has the dubious distinction of helming misfires like Ghosts of Mars (2001), Escape from L.A. (1996) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986). In the Mouth of Madness falls somewhere muddy in between the extremes.

    Penned by studio executive and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) author Michael De Luca, the film plays like a TV movie mystery with a H.P. Lovecraft pre-occupation. Sam Neill plays John Trent, a seemingly pre-eminent freelance insurance claims investigator, hired by a publisher to locate their missing star talent, Sutter Cane, played Jurgen Prochnow. Cane is a ubiquitous horror writer, one of those literally 'big names' who's moniker dwarfs the title on the cover. Apparently his works have a profoundly disquieting affect on the less mentally stable members of his vast fan base, and the anticipation for his latest volume is at a violent fever pitch. In what is probably the film's most successful scene, even Cane's agent succumbs to the hysteria in time tested axe wielding fashion. The ever sceptical Trent is eventually dispatched to a possibly non-existent little corner of New England, along with the horribly stilted Julie Carmen playing Cane's editor, Linda Styles. The spookiness then begins in earnest, is it all a publicity stunt? Has Cane gone mad? Can Carpenter manage to hold things together long enough for us to care? In the Mouth of Madness clearly has lofty ambitions. The framing device initially seems hackneyed but grows in to almost David Lynch territory. H.P. Lovecraft's material, although not directly adapted here, is notoriously difficult to bring to the screen, and has been unsuccessfully relied upon to bring the bulk of the scares. My ultimate impression is that neither De Luca nor Carpenter have a firm enough grasp on the material to make a coherent or entertaining film.

    My expectations of the film were immediately lowered by the horribly clichéd heavy rock opening music. I think this interview extract (originally from Violet Veil magazine) humorously demonstrates just how far of the mark Carpenter's judgement was with this film: Interviewer: "In the Mouth lightly satirised the horror genre, but did you also do that with the music? The opening number has a very heavy metal feel…" JC: "What you do when you're screening for audiences you put temporary music on, when you don't have it done. And we put on Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' and the whole audience, their heads were bobbing and I said 'You know what, why don't we start the movie with something like that?' So one of my pals Dave Davies (the lead guitarist from the Kinks) wrote the song. It was a great way to get the movie going, it gets you cranked, it gets you going!" The fact Carpenter thought a limp, public domain doppelganger track would have a similar affect to the biggest ever metal band's most famous song pretty much sums up the level of competence, or lack thereof, on show. The genre references and instances of dark humour are too few and far between for the film to be considered a send up, and the horror is far too anaemic for it be straight. The globally poor standard of acting on show does little to help matters. Horror fans may find the less usual elements and Lovecraft flavour worth watching for, less passionate viewers should dust off a copy of Halloween, The Thing, or even Prince of Darkness (1987) before resorting to slumming it in the mouth of mediocrity.
  • The last two entries on my notepad after watching The Ninth Gate (1999) were "What?" and "WHAT?" It seemed I'd either somehow overlooked some intrinsically vital plot element, or the conclusion actually was that vague and unresolved. On further rumination, I've decided I didn't miss anything of importance; I was just looking in the wrong places.

    The Ninth Gate was Roman Polanski's first film since 1994's Death and the Maiden and as such was keenly anticipated. The fact that the promotional material, and Polanski himself, were intimating some kind of Rosemary's Baby (1968) / Chinatown (1974) blend, two of his most celebrated films, only added to the expectations. Far from the Hollywood starred (Johnny Depp), Hollywood horror thriller that many were expecting, despite Polanski's fugitive status from the US, The Ninth Gate more closely resembles a cross between Le Locataire (The Tenant,1976) and Frantic (1988), two of the directors far less appreciated films. The dispossessed, unresolved, hotels and taxis, wild goose chasery of Frantic and the deadly dark humour of Le Locataire make this film a difficult one for the uninitiated or poorly advised.

    The source material is a thread pared from Arturo Pérez-Reverte's multifaceted novel El Club Dumas, adapted by previous Polanski collaborator John Brownjohn. Mercenary, whiskey quaffing, chimney smoking antique book dealer Corso (Depp) is enlisted by wealthy Satan aficionado Balkan (Frank Langella) to compare one of his rare satanic volumes with the only other two known copies, ostensibly to confirm or disprove it's authenticity. This leads him across Europe and the paths of a cast of pleasingly eccentric bibliophiles, Satanists and, well, whatever it is that the insipid Emmanuelle Seigner (Mrs Polanski) is supposed to be 'acting' as. The puzzle solving inclined will find an ever accumulating in volume, though not necessarily in significance, number of hints, symbols, allegories and clues to chew on. The less intellectually energetic are best served sitting back and enjoying Depp's effortlessly cool and deeply knowing performance. In fact, the key to enjoying The Ninth Gate is not taking it seriously, not trying to piece together the clues, and just observing Polanski's craft. His only goal here is enjoyable escapism.

    In a film where three books collaboratively penned by the devil are the centre of attention, there is no sense of fear, no atmosphere of dread, no cloven hooves. We know from films like the darkly disturbing Repulsion (1965), and the urban alienation allegory Rosemary's Baby, that Polanski is more than capable of making his audience squirm in terror, and Chinatown shows he can hold together an elaborate mystery. The Ninth Gate seems more concerned with tipping it's hat to noir thrillers of past eras, and indeed Polanski's own films, to particularly care what the audience is feeling. Those who don't mind the journey being more important than the destination, fans of Depp, and Polanski aficionados, will find a couple of hours of entertainment here. Those hoping to scared or compelled will find themselves confounded.
  • 'Have you ever seen acting in zero gravity?' I have, it's not pretty. Event Horizon was directed Paul Anderson, or Paul W.S. Anderson as he now calls himself in an attempt to avoid being confused with indie auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, though apparently he's now confused with indie auteur Wes Anderson. Dyslexia is apparently more prevalent than I had previously imagined. I doubt the Anderson in question here has ever been accused of being an auteur. Second only to the frankly inexcusably inept Ewe Boll in destroying the reputation of video game to movie adaptations, and maybe those responsible for Super Mario Bros., Anderson here deals with a debut script from Philip Eisner.

    Establishing itself firmly in a Sci-Fi mould, Event Horizon kicks off with a brief captioned run down of the past 50 or so years of space travel. It's the year 2047, humans are now floating around far flung regions of deep space and happily robbing Mars of her natural resources. We learn that an experimental ship, called the Event Horizon, disappeared on her maiden voyage some seven years previously. Now that a transmission has been picked up from her, it's the dubious honour of a small team lead by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) along with the mastermind behind the technology of the ship, Dr. Weir (Sam Neill), to launch a salvage and rescue mission. The rescue crew is typically artificially diverse in personality, gender, and race in order to drum up some banter and accentuate conflict and distrust when the inevitable tough gets going. After the customary pseudo-science babble to explain how the ship works, it makes black holes and travels through them, the unwilling would be rescuers find and board the stricken vessel. It quickly becomes apparent that where ever the Gothic-nouveau ship has been all this time, it hasn't exactly had a positive affect. The crew quickly start experiencing horrific personal visions that seem far too tangible to be mere hallucinations, could it be that the ship is alive and trying to kill them? Wearing it's influences on it's sleeve, Event Horizon's opening scenes manage to ape both the Nostromo introduction from Alien and the external space station shots from 2001. Despite drawing from these rich sources, it's apparent in the brevity and showiness of the execution that these scenes are there simply 'because they can'. Though clearly the art direction and production design people have done their stuff admirably, and cinematographer Adrian Biddle, a veteran of both Alien and Aliens productions, is both comfortable and highly competent in his task, their efforts are sorely dampened by frenetic cuts. Just as you're trying to absorb some of the neo-Gothic dread, Anderson pulls you away in favour of a cheap fright or some inane expository dialogue. Though Sci-Fi in it's trappings, Event Horizon is clearly a horror film, and it's in this endeavour that it finds the most success. Overtly owing much to Clive Barker's Hellraiser vision, Anderson manages to conjure some memorably disturbing scenes. The notion that ship actually travelled to some other hellish dimension, or perhaps Hell itself becomes more compelling with each subsequent gory set piece. Indeed it seems Anderson was slightly too successful in this department. As any viewer will notice, the final third of the film suffers badly from confused editing. Characters go unaccounted for extended periods with no explanation, the action flits around in a chaotic fashion, what the hell is going on? The charitable might offer that it's an intentional device to mirror the chaotic, disorientating events the crew are suffering. The sensible know that, like many of the inhabitants of Event Horizon the ship, Event Horizon the movie has been eviscerated. Literally, the guts have been ripped out of this movie. It's rumoured that around 20 minutes of horror excess had to be excised from the film in order to secure the financially desirable 'R' rating for US audiences. Almost ironic considering Anderson's previous project, Mortal Kombat had the curious distinction of being significantly less violent than the video game that spawned it in order to be compatible with it's youthful target audience.

    It's a shame the strongest material, both in content and ostensibly quality, have been left out. It would likely have helped propel the film above it's critical and box office also-ran status, and helped distract from some of the films evident short comings. Though the leads Fishburne and Neill grind out characteristically workman like performances, most of the supports visibly flounder with the hackneyed dialogue and paper thin characterisation. It's clear Event Horizon has too many shortcomings to ever have reached the heights of it's influences, but it could have been a whole lot better. I for one would certainly welcome the arrival of the rumoured 'Director's Cut' style DVD. Perhaps this film still has more to offer. As it stands presently, Event Horizon is certainly worth a look for anyone looking for some stylish scares, so long as you don't try and follow it too closely.
  • Based on the novel of the same name by the pseudonymous AJ Quinnell, which is itself alleged to be based around true events, Man On Fire has previously been brought to the big screen in a 1987 European production by French director Elie Chouraqui. At it's heart, a simple revenge fable, Man On Fire follows the fortunes of a formerly accomplished military man known simply as Creasy, that's Creasy with a C, not a G as it sporadically sounds in the movie. Portrayed in this adaptation by Denzel Washington, Creasy is an amiable if evasive character, clearly troubled by a shadowy past of contentious moral value. This exhibits itself in a pervasively melancholy facial expression and an eagerness to spend rather too much time with his good friend Jack Daniels. It's only through the ever watchable Christopher Walken's character Rayburn, a friend and former colleague, that the viewer is afforded any insight into Creasy's character or past. After we're explicitly informed of the prolific rate of kidnappings in South American states, a bearded, bottle hitting Creasy is cajoled by Rayburn into taking a job as a bodyguard in his adopted home, Mexico. He's immediately hired by the unconvincing couple of Samuel and Lisa Ramos, played by Jennifer Lopez casualty Marc Anthony and Neighbours alumnus Radha Mitchell, to protect their little girl Pita, played by Dakota Fanning. Of course Pita is summarily abducted, Creasy is riddled with bullets, and the subsequent ransom drop is botched, ostensibly meaning curtains for the little girl. Well Creasy needed something to burn about, you didn't think it was about visit to the clap clinic did you? The rest of the film depicts a largely irrelevant criminal network being dispatched in creatively gruesome ways until the inexorable showdown with the architect of the kidnapping.

    The first half of the film plods along with a pleasantly restrained pace, allowing us to enjoy some truly memorably scenes between the excellent Washington and Fanning. Creepily precocious in previous appearances, c.f. the saccharine I Am Sam, Fanning is charming as a convincingly bright youngster with maturity beyond her years, and a penchant for oral hygiene, rather than some kind of miniaturised twenty-something. Washington performs admirably as a character that is detached and distant, not least because he clearly has little back story to speak of. Walken is used sparingly and his performance is restrained. His only foray into his usual trade of scene stealing dramatic monologues even ends with the assurance "I don't have anything else to say". Mickey Rourke puts in a brief performance as a lawyer that appears as though the word bar has no legal connotations to him at all, and all the other supports are of a generally high standard. Anthony and Mitchell, however, fail to convince as either spouses or parents. Mitchell manages to be pert and distressed at the appropriate junctures, but Anthony clearly struggles to make his character credible as an actual human being.

    The second half of the film, and it does start almost exactly half way through the two and half hour runtime, sees Scott abandon all directorial restrain and turn up the affectation to 11. In a scene which had the potential for Washington and Mitchell to display a deeper emotional side to their characters, Creasy flicks through his departed charge's diary while sitting on her bed, and is interrupted by the grieving MILF. After some cursory navel gazing, Lisa concedes that she doesn't know what to do and solicits Creasy's plans for the future, "What are you going to do?" "What I do best. I'm gonna kill 'em. Anyone that was involved, anybody who profited from it, anybody that opens their eyes at me (!?)" This statement of murderous intent comes complete with an irritating musical cue courtesy of Nine Inch Nails, and Lisa's response? Clearly suffering from a bout of the ever popular Lady Macbeth syndrome, barely batting an eyelid, she offers "you kill 'em all", pecks him on the cheek and sends him on his merry way. The inevitable 'tooling up' montage follows promptly.

    From here on in, the film resembles some unholy mash of Stone and Soderbergh via Akerlund, filming a Tarrantino script without the dialogue or stylistic aplomb. The soundtrack proceeds to irritate, offering the abrasive cheese-grater on a guitar posturing of Nine Inch Nails to let us know when the action is suitably 'hardcore', and the pseudo mystical foreign female vocals popularised by Scott senior in Gladiator, when something 'poignant' is occurring. The subtitles, required by virtue of the Mexican locale, fade, grow, wipe and move across the frame in manner initially intriguing, but quickly distracting. These two aberrations, on top of the 'kid in a sweet shop' approach to visual effects, serve to totally distance the viewer from any connection they may have established in early scenes. On top of this we're offered a fearless journalist who can seemingly find out anything, Creasy attracting and taking bullets like Rocky does punches, and yet another ridiculous club scene. Aren't there any normal night spots in Hollywood? The violent set pieces are generally well executed, no pun intended, the most memorable being a Reservoir Dogs style extremity deprivation to the strains of the radio. The climax, when it finally arrives is surprisingly subdued, though a tacked on final moment of retribution caused the film to leave me rolling my eyes in irritation.

    The main problem with Man On Fire is that it's a thin, simplistic story, prolonged to 146 minutes by a desire to show off stylistically. After Creasy sets off on his killing spree, the only thing left is to sit back and count the bodies. There isn't really any interest left in the characters, and the shadowy criminal network offers little more than greedy Creasy fodder. On the whole, it's a good quality action film, so long as you don't mind the bloated run time. Man On Fire is a predictably undemanding, enjoyable piece of entertainment from Tony Scott.
  • The political climate and events of recent years have proved rich pickings for comedians, satirists, and those who simply like to take the proverbial p**s. Team America: World Police falls firmly within the last category, primarily because it has nothing to say, and is only occasionally amusing. Produced almost entirely using impressively sophisticated Super Marrionette style puppets, Team America plays like something the South Park kids would watch for want of Terrance & Phillip re-runs.

    The action follows the eponymous anti-terrorist crusaders in an attempt to thwart a conspiracy involving everyone's favourite North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, and a group of obnoxiously vocal left wing actors led by Alec Baldwin. Well, at least a surprisingly acute imitation of Alec Baldwin. Unlike the often entirely irreverent, and occasionally irrelevant 'cameos' on Stone and Parker's long running South Park, the celebrity impersonations here are recognisably faithful. Only Matt Damon gets the silly treatment with a 'Timmyesque' inability to articulate anything other than his own name.

    Though Team America is undoubtedly a product of it's time and spurred by the actions of, and reactions to, the present Bush administration, it shies from indulging in any overt Republican/Democrat jibes. The lampooning is instead aimed at the nauseatingly jingoistic cinema of the Bay/Bruckheimer school, a soft yet deserving target. The whole film assumes the macho, self righteous attitude of blockbusters such as Armageddon, and intermittently even seems to genuinely revel in it. This is in part due to the lack of genuine, consistent laughs. As anybody familiar with the long running, and marginally popular, animated show South Park would expect, the level of humour here is crude, low brow, and eager to offend. The infamous sex scene is well realised, and despite the puppets being entirely Barbie & Ken in the wedding tackle department, i.e. bereft, humorously prudish censors still deemed it necessary to be cut extensively in order to avoid the dreaded NC17 rating.

    The movie benefits greatly by the efforts of cinematographer Bill Pope, taking a break from the digital extravagance of previous works on Spider-Man 2 and the Matrix sequels, in favour of a far more tangible project. The sets are lively and a semi-running gag involving the destruction of world landmarks is well executed. Despite the fact the puppets are obviously imbued with technology that would make Captain Scarlet turn green, they still 'walk' in pleasingly comical fashion, and wires are knowingly left on display. Although initially amusing, this conceit isn't sufficient to make up for the weak jokes. I only laughed two or three times, the alternative cyanide capsule and the 'panthers' being stand outs for me. The Kim Jong Il portrayal was mildly amusing, mainly because he sounded like Cartman doing an Oriental impression, and Cartman is funny. The customary musical pieces are hit and miss. The country flavoured freedom song, and the familiarly earnest cock-rock theme tune are well done if a little obvious, but ditties like the Michael Bay baiting Pearl Harbour ballad fall flat. By far the best piece, and through its virtue one of the strongest scenes in the film, is the homage to hoary old montage device. It should serve as a telling indication of the quality of this film that 'Montage', rather than being a bespoke piece, was in fact lifted from a season 6 episode of South Park. In short, far from the uncle-f**king, Canadian-blaming heights of 1999's South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. Sound wise, the voice acting is fine and effects functional. The keen of hearing and geek of thinking will be pleased by an appearance of the Wilhelm scream.

    The climatic reel of the film falls foul of some predictably lazy Matrix and Kill Bill references, which surely everybody must be tired of by now, though the subversion of the vitriolic hero monologue in the final scene succeeds in being cleverly obscene. The recurring feeling I experienced while watching Team America was that it's been before far more effectively. I found a lot of the jokes fell flat because of slack timing and unusually stodgy editing, curious considering films like Armageddon have cuts every 2 seconds. BBC3s animated series Monkey Dust nailed the Bruckheimer blockbuster far more effectively and humorously within a 10 minute sketch, in fact South Park, though wildly uneven, has produced material infinitely superior in a similar ilk. I can't help but feel that this type of material would have faired far better in the hands of Abrahams and the Zuckers for a Hot Shots!, Naked Gun style treatment. Overall, Team America: World Police is far too indifferent about its subjects to be able to penetrate to the vain of truth that runs through all good comedy, and simply perpetuates the fallacy that it's cool to treat everything with disregard.