Maniac (2013)

ManiacSomeone really should talk to Frank (Elijah Wood); mistreated as a child, he has been left to mismanage his family’s failing business, all while suffering crippling migraines for which he requires heavy medication. Rather than seeking therapy and finding new employment, however, Frank has given into his disturbed desires, fetishising his stock of restored mannequins and scalping unsuspecting victims in a perverted attempt to recreate his absentee mother. When artist Anna (Nora Arnezeder) asks to use Frank’s dummies for a photographic display, it seems that Frank has found his next target. Read more of this post

Evil Dead (2013)

Evil DeadIn an attempt to wean Mia (Jane Levy) off of drugs, brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and best friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) retreat to the family’s old log cabin for the duration of her treatment. A strange smell leads them into the buildings basement, where they discover a shotgun, the hanging corpses of several dead cats and a book wrapped in human skin. When curiosity gets the better of him and school teacher Eric reads one of its many inscriptions, an ancient evil is unleashed which latches onto Mia and endangers the lives of everyone in the group. Read more of this post

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Driven near-mad by the continuation of a tradition which should have ceased with her disappearance, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires disgraced investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) in a last-ditch attempt to determine the identity of his great-niece, Harriet Vanger’s killer – someone who Henrik believes to be a member of his own warring family. Promised information which might help to clear his name, Mikael takes on a research partner to assist him in solving a case which has baffled the local authorities for 40 years. Before she can bring her unparalleled abilities to the table, however, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) must overcome troubles of her own.

David Fincher’s re-adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo gets off to a promising start. Kick-starting proceedings with a Bond-esque opening number brought to life by a CG river of shape-shifting metal, the film’s title sequence is quite something to behold, hinting at the darkness to come while also foreshadowing elements of the following instalments: The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. Alas, the creativity and ingenuity displayed in said sequence sets the bar too high, and Fincher spends the rest of the movie trying to deliver on his initial promise, one which at times seems directly at odds with his source material.

Let’s get one thing straight: I have nothing against remakes. Indeed, given the right circumstances they can even play an important role in the filmmaking process. Gore Verbinski, Zach Snyder and Marcus Nispel, to name but a few, all honed their craft helming remakes of horror classics, each franchise diluted by a stream of lesser sequels, and practically calling out for another lease of life. While the results might themselves have failed to recreate the same success as the originals, they at least updated the stories for contemporary – and often foreign – audiences; nobody wanted to see A Nightmare On Elm Street 25, but there was still undoubtedly an audience for a new take on the original premise.

Enter David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now, Fincher is not some filmmaking hack in need of a guaranteed hit, nor is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo an outdated work plagued by diminishing returns. Both are respected, and both are better than this: a needless, and ultimately thankless attempt to pander to an ignorant American audience. Attempting to justify his reimagining’s existence (it’s not a remake, but a new interpretation. Apparently), Fincher and his screenwriters have bent the narrative out of shape – shifting focus from the central mystery to the relationship between the two lead characters – and in so doing have birthed something misshapen and unwieldy.

Attempting to stay true – if not truer – to Stieg Larsson’s source novel, the filmmakers have reassigned emphasis, re-inserted plot points and rejigged the narrative in a bid for distinction. Importantly, however, they have not relocated the action, instead opting to once again set the narrative in and around Stockholm. As such we have a story which – although just 6 minutes longer – feels almost glacial in pace, a mystery which any perusal of the film’s casting will solve in an instant, and characters who speak English (even when both onscreen are Swedish) for no apparent reason other than to ensure that audiences need not read subtitles – no doubt the reason that they ignored director Niels Arden Oplev’s superior original in the first place.

Not that I was a particularly huge fan of the story the first time around. A minimalist screenplay, ludicrous plotting and disappointing dénouement robbed even the original from a place in my list favourite movies of either year. While Rooney Mara may excel as Lisbeth Salander (no small ask for such a strong and iconic character) and Daniel Craig may finally find a role suited to his talents in Mikael Blomkvist (a name which is not so suited to his accent), there is nothing on display to suggest that this is anything more than just the same story, the same flaws, repeated in the hopes of securing a wider audience.

Inexplicably paced, poorly judged and utterly pointless, Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a competent but wholly unnecessary retread of ideas formulated better elsewhere. Despite capable performances, stylish direction and a killer opening sequence, this film ultimately makes little or no case for its existence.

Footloose (2011)

Arriving in small-town Bomount following the death of his mother, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves in with his Aunt, Uncle and their two children. Quickly finding himself on the wrong side of the law, Ren is inducted into the town’s idiosyncratic legislation by fellow student Willard (Miles Teller), and informed that dancing has been banned by the town’s council following the death of the reverend’s (Dennis Quaid) only son three years previously. Catching the eye of Reverend Shaw Moore’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), Ren is soon fighting for more than just his right to disturb the peace.

What constitutes a good remake? While I appreciate that your immediate reaction might be to construct a bonfire out of Platinum Dunes releases in protest of the assumption that such a thing might actually exist, there are undoubtedly a handful of films that have genuinely improved on the original or at least not committed sacrilege by blaspheming on hallowed ground; Dawn of the Dead (2004) jumps to mind, as does The Thing (1982) and last year’s remake of The Crazies (2010). It is a list which has just grown by one, with director Craig Brewer arriving at the perfect balance between devotion and deviation with his retelling of 1984’s Footloose. What makes a good remake? Exactly the same thing that makes a good original: talent.

Craig Brewer didn’t even want to remake Footloose. Turning down Paramount’s offer to direct not once but twice, Brewer couldn’t see any reason to revisit a story he saw as having been done justice the first time around. Following the departure of High School Musical alumni Kenny Ortega and Zac Efron, however, the director later signed onto the project in the belief that he genuinely had something new to say about Ren McCormack plight to put a boogie back into Bomount’s puritanical tissue. With Bacon’s blessing and the writer of the original film, Dean Pitchford (only in the movies), contributing to the screenplay, Brewer set about updating the story for the 21st Century.

The result is a film which from the very beginning plays its hand for all to see. As a faceless DJ informs audiences that they know exactly what’s coming, and the title track kicks in over the opening credits to a montage of loose feet, the director’s approach is immediately clear, an eternal dusk ensuring that the sun is forever shining brightly and casting a warm, fittingly nostalgic glow. While I have no problem whatsoever with Zac Efron (Chase Crawford, however…), the star’s absence from the film is perhaps one of its biggest strengths. Having already seen Efron’s ANGRY DANCE in High School Musical 3: Senior Year, it would have brought a vehicular edge to proceedings as this cultish classic was sugar-coated for an ignorant audience not unlike the film’s own puritanical congregation. Cast almost exclusively with fresh faces and lesser known actors, Footloose has a delightfully innocuous touch, one that is uncannily 80s despite the obvious presence of iPods and mobile phones.

While able support is provided by an unexpectedly heartfelt Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell as Mr and Mrs Town Preacher, Footloose‘s success is undeniably down to its two leads, played with winning aplomb by Justin Timberlake backing dancer Kenny Wormald and two-time Dancing With The Stars winner Julianne Hough. Channelling James Dean as much as he does Kevin Bacon, Wormald is entirely compelling as the city kid who just wants to dance. Though he may struggle to tie his mother’s leukaemia into his crusade against curfew, the dancer-turned-actor does a very admirable job milking every last trace of drama from a story that could be seen as verging dangerously on rigmorol: so they won’t let you jig…AND?!

Hough, meanwhile, brings true likeability to the role of rebellious preacher’s daughter. Importantly, her presence is felt just as strongly off the dancefloor as it is when dancing circles around everyone else. The character of Ariel could easily try audience patience with her slightly less-than-sympathetic spoilt issues and behaviour, but Hough nevertheless manages to engage entirely, bringing a much-needed vulnerability and desperation to the film’s female lead. Furthermore, supporting cast members Miles Teller and Ziah Colon complete a thoroughly respectable ensemble, marking this remake as more than just a cash-in on not only an established brand, but the resent spate of Step Up rip-offs currently street dancing their way through cinemas.

Paying due respect to the original while upping the ante and updating the story, Craig Brewer’s Footloose is that rare beast: a re-visitation which not only justifies its existence, but earns its place alongside the original. Old-fashioned in the very best sense of the word – when did it ever become so unusual for a Hollywood film to comment on morality so unabashedly? – Footloose Mark II is every bit as entertaining, uplifting and relentlessly toe-tapping as its predecessor.

Star Trek (2009)

Born in the heat of battle, when an ambiguous Romulan threat destroys the U.S.S. Kelvin with one acting captain George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) still aboard, James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is left to pursue a few decades of rebelliousness in his patriarch’s absence. Talked into joining Starfleet by Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), Kirk is soon butting horns with the Academy’s resident Vulcan (Zachary Quinto as Spock) over the latter’s “Kobayashi Maru” simulation. When Nero (Eric Bana) rises again, however, the two must join forces if they are to save Earth from annihilation, rescue Pike from his Romulan captors and put into motion a friendship that once upon a time persuaded a group of loyal fans to don prosthetics and teach themselves fluent in Klingon.

If there’s one word I could use to describe J. J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the Star Trek, well, phenomenon, it would be kinetic. From the Federation’s first contact with Eric Bana’s disgrunted Romulan, the film picks up a staggering momentum that doesn’t let up until the film’s massively satisfying finale. Carried by a soundtrack that – parden the pun – hits all the right notes, Star Trek takes a group of well-worn characters and their famous vessel and reconfigures them into something fresh and contemporary while maintaining the same sense of infectious optimism originally envisioned by Gene Roddenberry all those years ago.

If there is another word – or more accurately words – I would use to encapsulate this reimagination, it would have to be Star Warsy. Star Trek has never been particularly high on cool, until now anyway. Taking a leaf tree out of George Lucas’ book, Abrams has peppered his movie with elements of the former’s once great creation without falling into the same pitfalls, such as the over-reliance on greenscreen and a preference for jargon over dialogue. As such, we have blasters rather than the more traditional phasers, rather more exotic aliens, space battles to hail home about and a half-decent “there’s always a bigger fish” moment without Gungan intrusion.  Oh, and the film culminates in a desperate attempt to prevent the destruction of a planet. The Force is strong with this one.

Throw in characterisation that successfully navigates the fine line between interpretation and caricature, enough lens flares to light the final frontier and some truly iconic sound design, and you have a movie which is almost impossible to dislike. Taking the time to honour what came before (there’s a welcome nod to Captain Archer’s beagle) while forging ahead on a new, creatively licensed adventure that is high on jeopardy and thrills, Star Trek is the ultimate remake, the rare reimagining which actually adds to the original. Bana might be wasted and a few plot points may hinge on some pretty convenient contrivances, but when you’re able to traverse 25 years (from Kirk’s birth to his promotion to Captain – never mind the 129 rewritten by Spock senior) of narrative with such expert dynamo and fluidity, such niggles are forced into perspective.

Bright, fun and thoughtfully executed, Star Trek is a massive success for Abrams and his team. It is nothing short of a new hope for a failing franchise, as well as a beacon of light in a blockbuster season otherwise lost in the shadows.

Six Fads That Are Arguably Stunting Cinema

Going to the cinema can be a frustrating experience – not least because of the disproportionate number of mouth-breathing Cookie Dough munchers championing drivel, but also thanks to the shocking lack of choice on offer. How many times must my eyes be popped? Since when was randomness any substitute for jokes? Will Spider-Man ever get past the third instalment? I explore the six fads currently crippling cinema.

Having already chronicled the recent slew of dramatic doppelgängers – whereby cinematic doubles litter cinemas, often separated by mere months – I cannot quite shake the suspicion that the issue runs deeper than mere surface similarities between two or three films. I love cinema, and it hurts me to watch the same movies being regurgitated on a near-yearly basis. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.

I try to maintain broad horizons and take in as large a variety of movies as is reasonably possible (from The Emperor’s New Groove to The Emperor’s New Clothes),  but having spent the last four years working for various plenty-screened multiplexes I have been faced with a growing number of facsimiles that are potentially threatening to the integrity of cinema. It has long been possible to read a number of fashions and fads into the celluloid of the times, but recently the choice and variety on offer in most cinemas is limited at best.

This year’s biggest releases read like a carbon copy check-list of every year thus far this decade. We have a wealth of superhero movies, a run of vampire films and an array of sex-comedies, each treading on the toes of whatever came before. On top of the genre staples there are also the usual regurgitations (who exactly was calling out for another Arthur film?), the ongoing search for a new Harry Potter (anyone ever remember I Am Number 4? No, I thought not) and the typical onslaught of sequels, prequels and English language adaptations (for which, if Wikipedia is to be believed, this is a record year). What follows is a trend by trend analysis of the creativity-zapping paths of least resistances characterising Hollywood today.

Part II: The Squeakquel

Cinematic sequels are hardly a recent phenomenon, dating back as they do to 1916’s Fall of a Nation, but with 27 sequels set to début this year alone (some constituting the fifth or even eighth instalment) they have become depressingly ubiquitous. While the tendency towards sequels can sometimes have little detriment on film quality – along with the often cited Godfather 2 and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, there are a great many other sequels of worth – the law of diminishing returns has claimed a great many more franchises than it has spared.

The problem is not only the lack of ideas by episode sixteen (I for one rather enjoyed Kingdom of the Crystal SkullFast Five and Scream 4), but the fact that sequels are often greenlit for their own sake as opposed to being the consequence of an ongoing saga in need of additional instalments to best tell its tale. As such we have seven Saw movies, ten Star Trek movies (pre-reboot) and a Land Before Time series that has lasted almost as long as the dinosaurs themselves. Nobody was begging for a second Cars movie, a Planet of the Apes prequel or a fifth Final Destination. As for Hoodwinked II: Hood vs. Evil – there was a Hoodwinked I??

Retcons, remakes and reimaginings.

Although many sequels are undoubtedly commissioned to capitalise on the fiscal benefits of our essential laziness and brand loyalty, at some point the costs of constantly ramping up the excitement/action/breasts will outweigh the benefits. Luckily, there still remains an attractive alternative to dreaming up new ideas: the reboot. I understand why it happens – hell, I can even quote a couple of worthwhile films which were themselves reboots – but that doesn’t help curb the suspicion that this is one of the most dangerous avenues of moviemaking.

Rather than simply recasting the roles and renewing their focus on character and plot, many studios are instead deciding to start from scratch, effectively scrapping everything that came before, making a mockery of any time, money or fanboyism wasted on that world. While this is true of just about every horror movie released before the turn of the century (and many after), it is particularly common for superheroes to drop everything in a hurry to return to square one. The Hulk will have effectively started over three times by the release of The AvengersThe Punisher has already managed his hat-trick, while Spider-man barely lasted five years before being unceremoniously rebooted. Surely it would make more sense to follow James BondDoctor Who and 90s Batman‘s example, continuing the narrative regardless of cast and crew changes?

Adapt or die.

It is not just existing films which prove an irresistible counter to originality in the Hollywood hills, as literally anything can form the basis for a box-office busting cinema franchise, with novels, games and even boardgames and theme park rides offering inspiration for willing film studios. As Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks and the Brothers Grimm find themselves relentlessly tapped for stories (of varying quality…), JK Rowling and J R Tolkein have unwittingly spawned two of the most lucrative and influential film franchises in history.

As such we have an onslaught of doppelgängers invading cinemas as rival studios abuse the Polyjuice potion in search of a hit. Over recent years a number of grandiose sword and sandal epics have trudged through auditoriums in search of an heir to these literary thrones, because let’s face it: what audiences really need is another vampire movie. Novelists have aptly risen to the challenge too, as The Golden Compass, Eragon, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire Assistant, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and the aforementioned I Am Number 4 duly auction themselves off to the highest bidder.

Eye-popping, wallet-emptying 3D.

As a recovering 3D apologist, I diligently dropped my jaw at Avatar and championed Thor 3D over Thor 2D. Over the past couple of, however, I have found it increasingly difficult to defend the medium following a slew of sub-par conversion jobs which suffered the 30% colour loss caused by the tinted glasses without benefiting from the visual splendour the effect makes possible. Following the success of Avatar – and the genuine awesomeness of films such as DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon – many studios made the mistake of pinning the responsibility on 3D alone.

The last few years have played host to films such as The Final Destination, The Last Airbender, Clash of the Titans, Cats and Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (not a comment on the latter film’s quality), each poorly converted into 3D during post production. Even films filmed in the medium are often sequels, the previous instalments hardly calling for an extra dimensional make-over.

The witless comedy.

I understand that it’s about time the romantic comedy is modified to appeal to both sides of the gender divide, but of late the longstanding tradition of wit and even jokes have been unceremoniously relegated to the realm of science fiction and fantasy. Where the comedy genre was once home to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Leslie Nielsen, Jim Carrey, Hugh Grant and the Monty Python team, modern comedy can generally be divided into three, equally uninspiring camps: the Judd Apatow bromance, the sex comedy and the Spoof Comedy Movie.

I have never been a particularly enthusiastic comedy buff, but lately I have been even less tempted to watch the genre’s latest offerings. Either Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis or Will Ferrell (or now Melissa McCarthy) will greet me with some quirkily random slab of nonsense, a former That 70s Show star will land a fuck-buddy or one member of the Wayan family will try (and fail) to lampoon everything that moves.

Darker is better.

It is this fad above all others which has become the bane of my life, often appearing as it does in tandem with the inevitable reboot. The last few years have been plagued with announcements of long-running franchises facing reincarnation as part of a relentless drive to rob cinemas of anything light and fluffy. Arguably started by the Nolanisation of Batman, this trend has devoured just about every superhero franchise going: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Hulk (Ang Lee’s was better) have each fallen victim to the disdain shown towards anything that doesn’t growl or lurk in the shadows.

It’s also worth noting that this is pushing the boundaries of the 12A rating beyond breaking point. Whether it is The Dark Knight‘s pathalogical moral paradigms or Harry Potter’s suffering at the hands of Voldemort, it’s increasingly difficult to work out what differentiates the lower certificates, opening more and more productions up to the limited attention spans of the younger generation. Aside from this, there is a relative dearth in variety when it comes to your superhero affiliations. Only Marvel seem to be above the rampant pursuit of realism (Green Lantern probably did more harm than good) – their lighthearted and unashamedly fun approach to characters such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America do at least allow the heroes to laugh as often as they growl broodily from the shadows.

While there will always be alternatives to such general dross on show, at your local independent cinema or film festival, there is no reason for studios to play to the lowest common denominator with such careless abandon. Why should we be forced to live in a world where Amanda Seyfried spends her life sending or receiving letters, Jack Black plays Jack Black and Batman Begins Again Because We’ve Run Out Of Ideas 2 3D?

The True Nitty Gritty. Yeehaw!

So, my old pal Wikipedia informs me that True Grit, released this month in the UK, is in fact merely the freshest reincarnation of a story which was published in 1968. This period in time is otherwise known as When Dinosaurs Roamed The Earth, and is so long ago that any little morsel brought forth for a re-vamp is usually so long forgotten that it’s practically a new idea.

Matt Damon (Maaaatt Daaaaamon. Ah, Team America. Still making me chuckle seven years on…) recently described True Grit in an interview. Somewhat incoherently, may I add:

“At first the idea is that, uh, it’s Rooster [Cogburn, U.S. Marshall] has true grit, and then she [Mattie Ross] says to me that, y’know, ‘I picked the wrong man’ and she sees that I’m the one who has true grit. But in reality, it’s the little girl that has the, y’know, the true grit.” [SIC]

Yeah. I see what you’re saying, Mr Damon. Kind of.

But it’s not him we have to worry about misunderstanding during the course of the film. He manages to cope with the English language much better whilst under the influence of a script. It’s Jeff Bridges, Captain Dude of the Coen universe, who needs subtitles. He sort of, erm, growls his words. Under his breath.

I know his character drinks a lot, but can’t we get that with a hint more of the actual words he says being audible? Don’t get me wrong – I love The Dude. Bridges is a total hero. Even in Tron Legacy, which was really just the product of some thirty-something computer geek masturbating with CGI software for an hour and a half, whilst listening to French electro music.

Anyway, enough of the criticism. The girl who plays Mattie Ross, Hailee Steinfeld, is brilliant. I’d love to see her take on a completely different role next. Having pulled off such a role as this at fourteen, though, who really cares if she is just a one trick pony? She brings such maturity to the character, delivering lines with clarity, understanding and purpose. And she has a fragility, the sort which only someone who really is a young teen can naturally embody.

Visually, the film is great. The costumes are wonderful in detail, and perfectly tuned to each character. The sets and locations are something special too, but what else could we expect really? It is a Coen brothers film after all.

The film has humorous moments (Damon’s LaBoeuf leaning back in his chair and declaring “That’s right… I’m a Texas Ranger” was definitely one of them.) as well as plenty of action and that classic American habit of gratuitous gun-shooting. After all, why fire one bullet when you can shoot a whole round off?

I also enjoyed the fact that, despite only having one eye, Rooster Cogburn still appears to have full depth perception.

Overall, I liked the film. Aside from the snake pit scene. Though, that’s just because I feel that ever since Disney released their animated film The Jungle Book, snakes have been kind of misrepresented as evil lurkers who love to slither all over people for kicks. And so really, it is not the fear of actual snakes which makes the scene scary, it’s the fear of what snakes do in films.

It’s the dolphins you have to worry about. Far too many teeth. But that’s a different story.

True Grit (2011)

Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfield) is a blunt little girl who, at the not-so-tender age of 14, witnesses her father’s murder at the hands of Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Robbed of her parent and two of his ‘gold pieces’, Ross decides to seek vengeance on her father’s killer by hiring the merciless Rooster Cogburn’s (Jeff Bridges) gun over Texas Ranger LaBoeuf’s (Matt Damon) lawful badge. Pacts and disagreement’s follow, as a series of contrived clues keep our heroes firmly on Chaney’s tail.

I saw True Grit three days ago now and I’m only just getting around to recording my thoughts now, though, for the little I actually have to say, I could have happily waited much longer. A generic remake of a stereotypic John Wayne western, True Grit is being hailed with such enthusiasm that it is even up for several Oscars, including Best Film. Although it was undeniably serviceable, and the direction and performances perfectly adequate, there was little to set True Grit apart from the hundreds of other movies released this past year; it simply does not belong in the same breath as The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Toy Story 3, Black Swan or…well, maybe The Fighter.

Where I appear to differ from the accepted consensus is in my refusal to chalk a film down as exceptionally cool simply because it was directed by the Coen brothers and starred Jeff Bridges. While I will save my issues with the directorial siblings for my next encounter with No Country For Old Men, my problem with Jeff Bridges has been simmering for some time now. Awarded the Best Actor accolade last year for Crazy Heart, Bridges all but robbed George Clooney (Up In The Air) and Colin Firth (A Single Man) of the Oscar for a distinctly unremarkable performance that in no way summed up his alright career.

Then there was Tron: Legacy, a truly uninspired assault on my precious awake-time which continued a tendency of filmmakers which goes like this: if I cast Jeff Bridges in my movie it will be intrinsically cool and I will no longer have to try. As a result, Tron: Legacy positively hanged itself on its laurels, as boredom set in and even precious Jeff Bridges drawl couldn’t save the day.

True Grit shoulders this moral and runs with it. As Jeff Bridges sits astride his horse, all eye patchy and sporting an incomprehensible cowboy accent, you can virtually hear the Coens applauding themselves on their casting prowess. Hailee Steinfield’s performance smacks of Daniel Radcliffe in mid-franchise Potter, while Matt Damon makes the most of a novelty swollen tongue, leaving Bridges with most of the bona-fide acting, a challenge to which he doesn’t so much rise as mounts drunkenly in the most Jeff Bridges way possible. Not so easily pleased, I sat in wait of goods that inevitably went undelivered – his lead character too gruff and charicatured to hold my attention.

After all the mumbling and the faux brusqueness, True Grit serves the final insult by doing what can only be described as “a Buried“. Said offence involves the needless inclusion of a bolt-on reptile which serves no purpose but to pad a lack of plot and break the organic flow of the narrative. Another intrusive snake later, and True Grit is suddenly racing a hobbit to Rivendell in search of a healer. The plot point is so unnecessary, so jarring, that it perfectly illustrates the sole argument for remakes, reimagining and reboots, to edit out the rubbish bits and expertly ignores it, instead opting to retread the original’s disengaging lack of plot.

True Grit was OK, it was mildly entertaining and boasted some nice props and costumes. It was not in any way remarkable, however, and is almost as one dimensional as Rooster Cogburn’s optic array.