In a strange paradox, executing a proper farce demands preternatural planning. Stray but a little from the knife’s edge, and the tone can spiral out of control as the conflicting elements of the film separate like a broken sauce. Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire suffers such a fate, though it isn’t for lack of effort or a gripping central idea. The film tries to position some idiosyncratic characters in a bottle, shake everything up, and let them shoot guns at each other for 75 minutes, but too many of these elements are just a bit off the mark. The characters and the performances mostly hit, and the inciting event feels reasonable, but the organization and the length of the fight strains comprehension and ends up being to repetitive to hold the spectator’s interest. Free Fire does a better job than most genre-bending farces, but ultimately it just feels too boring for a movie centered around a free-for-all firefight.
I’ve got a pair of sweet trailers here, and they both look like high-octane, shoot-em-up action flicks, though they have wildly different tones. Free Fire is going to be the first to hit theaters, and features an insane collection of talent along with a humorous concept. Baby Driver is similarly stocked, and an Edgar Wright film is always worth checking out – especially given the recent hype coming out of the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. Fortunately, we’ve got some trailers to hype us up.
Kong: Skull Island is an unbalanced amalgamation of B-Movie schlock and hyper-budget blockbuster special effects (est. $185M). It teems with A-List stars searching vainly for a place to die so they don’t have to embarrass themselves any longer. The plot makes some sense, but the specific beats that move it from scene to scene are fairly nonsensical. And like clockwork, we can’t go five minutes without someone getting eaten, something exploding / catching on fire, or the titular great ape fighting something. The film especially founders tonally, where it can’t quite decide how serious it should be. Even the gigantic action set pieces are bizarre and uneven – sometimes incredibly realistic and other times practically cartoons. At its best, Kong: Skull Island is an expensive farce; the most fun you can have is wondering aloud what possessed so many people to light so much money on fire in such a strange way. At its worst, it is a hum-drum reiteration of better movies without anything particular noteworthy about it at all.
Lenny Abrahamson’s Room rewards a naïve viewer. The film doles out exposition in a precise and practiced manner, and trusts in the intellect of the viewer to recognize important subtleties. Suffice to say that if you are still in the dark and curious about the contents of Room, and you wish to experience the full weight of the masterful construction of its narrative, I must recommend you watch the film before continuing with this review. For those of you who have seen the film, know its basic plot structure secondhand, or just plum don’t care about spoilers, I welcome you to continue on with my review of one of the five best films of 2015, and one of the most life-affirming films released in recent memory.