Monday, 12 December 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Age Of Heroes

Directed by: Adrian Vitoria

Produced by: James Brown
Jamie Carmichael
Christopher Figg

Starring: Danny Dyer
Sean Bean
Izabella Miko

Music by: Michael Richard Plowman

Cinematography by: Mark Hamilton

Editing by: Chris Gill
Joe Parsons

Distributed by: Metrodome Distribution

Release date: May 20, 2011 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 90 minutes

Country: United Kingdom

Language: English

Budget: (N/A)

Box office revenue: (N/A)

Hey hey, updates time! So, I've now seen Breaking Dawn, and I'd recommend keeping an eye out for my review because I have very strong opinions regarding the film. Also, this week I'll be going to see Hugo, and possibly Albatross and Puss In Boots. Once again, I'd like to reiterate how amazing a film Casablanca is. I know it is forever on the 'lists of lies' as one of the greatest films ever, but it truly is something. On a final note, this year I've keeping on schedule with regards to my 5th annual best and worst of the year, so keep an eye out for my hall of fame inductions, coming in January, and the complete list of awards in February, before the Oscars, so keep your eyes posted!

Right, today we have Age Of Heroes, a new release from Metrodome, starring the 'majestic' Danny Dyer and the majestic Sean Bean in a war film which purports to have been based on the true-life exploits on Ian Fleming's forming of the 30 Commando Unit. To give this some context, I was recently at Cinemagic's Mark Kermode Film Night, and in the Q and A section the good Dr. asked the audience to suggest their best and worst film's of the year. One member of the audience, while nominating Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes as his favourite of the year, was unanimous in his opinion that Age Of Heroes was the worst of the year. I had bought this film beforehand and had it waiting for review for a period of time, and if I'm frank, this audience member's opinion didn't do anything to endear the film to me, before I had even seen it. Furthermore, it gave Kermode a good excuse to do his entertainingly terrible impression of Danny Dyer, who has threatened to beat him up as a result of this ludicrous impersonation. In the interest of fairness, I did like Dyer in The Business and Human Traffic, so despite it being rather easy to take the piss, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Dyer stars as Corporal Rains, who is sent to military prison for disobeying orders and assaulting an officer. Due to be court-martialled, Rains escapes after holding up Major Jones (Sean Bean) and confessing his dream to be a Commando. Impressed by his tenaciousness, Jones offers him a spot on the unit he is gathering if he passes the intensive training.

To start off with what is good about the film, I can't say they went wrong in casting Sean Bean as a tough disciplinarian leader of a Commando unit. Now that Bean is in his fifties, he has that rugged look about him in the same way Lee Marvin had, but you can still legitimately buy him as a badass you shouldn't mess with. He may not receive many awards, but Bean is most definitely a fine actor. Also, the film has some good locations. For a movie that is supposed globe-trotting and seeing these Commandos go through various hard-ships, it is always good to have believable locations, and there is no question that it does. In particular, the intensive training in Scotland is suitably believable and dirty, while the snow of occupied Norway helps you get the idea of what these men are having to content with. This is important in a shootout near the end of the film (the shorter one, not the ambush at night), creating a sense, albeit temporary, of tension. This is all the good I have to say about Age Of Heroes: it's not especially bad in the vein of Friedberg and Seltzer or Barbarossa: Siege Lord, but it is unremarkable.

Now, despite these good parts, Age Of Heroes is a few slices good and many slices rancid. Let's start with Danny Dyer. Firstly, I'll reiterate (lest he threatens to knock something across my canister), I like Dyer in The Business and Human Traffic, but he's rubbish here. His character is poorly written (more of which later), but even still he manages to stamp his own unique brand of terrible on the role. At the start of the film, we get him being a bit of a rebellious, no BS soldier, same old. However, in military prison, he meets up with an ex-Commando, and all of a sudden the seeds have been planted for his pipe dreams to become a Commando: from wanting to go home to trudging around in Norway in less than five minutes of screen time is ludicrous, and Dyer acts this story arc as though he is a naive teenager. He might look like a boy, but Danny, you're a thirty-three year old man! The scenes in which he is crying because despite his determination, he is exhausted, are positively laughable. Not helping is his constant "Thank you, sir," to Sean Bean: if he was black, there would be national outrage for depicting such a "Thank you, boss" character is today's world. Minstrels were the first thing that came to mind watching Dyer here. So, Dyer, terrible, as is everyone bar Bean, but I won't use too much space to attack them as their parts are smaller and by rule of thumb less irritating than Dyer. Next in the line of fire is the script. As mentioned in relation to Dyer, the characters are written terribly, all written with the basest personality traits, though so base that you can't differentiate between anyone else, so that any time someone is knocked off and we get some terrible incidental dialogue in the vein of "(insert name here) is dead," you end up thinking 'who?' Also, structurally it gets along way too fast, going through the proceedings without a care for the establishment of a legitimate plot or cast of characters. The ending, for instance, is a horrendously botched affair that doesn't so much wrap up the film as sever the film's already weak pulse. Tonally too the film is a mess. We have the whole 'Dirty Dozen' scenario, which really originated with Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, with an ensemble cast going on a mission, a tried-and-tested scenario that has worked well in other films such as Aliens and Ocean's Eleven. However, mixed in with that, the filmmakers attempt to depict a 'horrors of war' film. There is a scene in which a group of actors (who have the unenviable task of playing Nazis in the wake of Christoph Waltz' Hans Landa) jovially execute an entire family while drinking and cavorting, all filmed rather voyeuristically by a camera. Frankly, while the 'Dirty Dozen' scenario is flimsy at best, the 'horrors of war' part of the film comes across as a poor man's Come And See, a film I'd sincerely recommend that everyone see at least once. Finally, to top this all off, we have a terrible 'Isn't this glorious and heroic?' score from Michael Richard Plowman, which sounds like the Royal Military Orchestra by way of Pearl Harbour, unquestionably Hans Zimmer's worst score.

My interest in Age Of Heroes is probably reflected in the rhetoric that I have used to review it. It is not an especially bad movie, with Sean Bean always a watchable screen presence and a relatively believable mise-en-scene, but, Jesus, is it a consistently unremarkable and dull film. It displays all of Danny Dyer's negative points, has a shoddy script, a score that sounds like it has been lifted from another movie and given a remix. Furthermore, the 'special' effects, which have nothing special about them, are terrible, and it is directed with all the detachment and lack of passion of a relationship between Michael Bay and the Transformers franchise, although frankly these two I'd say have a better sex life. Indeed, when the new Transformers movie is better than Age Of Heroes, you know you're are in far trouble. Simply unremarkable in every which way possible.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.8/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Glad (to see the back end of this movie: let us never speak of this foul creature again!)

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