Archive for December, 2013

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After losing his job and his wife, the legendary news anchor Ron Burgundy and his news team find themselves at the forefront of the 24 hour rolling news revolution.

Although billed as “Anchorman 2″, “The Legend Continues” is actually the third film in the Anchorman universe, as the material that ended up on the cutting room floor for the first film was edited into another movie: “Wake Up Ron Burgundy”. This “lost movie” contained much of the plot that was intended to be in the original, as when putting together the final cut Ferrell and Mackay found that the riffing of the cast was so good that a story was barely needed. When watching “Wake Up Ron Burgundy” it is easy to see how good a decision this was, as the plot heavy little brother doesn’t hold a candle to the loose fun of the actual movie. It is easy to wonder if that mentality at the editing stage is exactly what this film needed as well.

With an incredibly bloated run time of 2 hours, “Anchorman 2″ is a film that could sorely have used some brutal trimming. As excellent as Meagan Good, James Marsden and Greg Kinnear are (and make no mistake, they are excellent, easily matching the standout performances of the original cast, returning to roles that fit them as snugly as spandex bodysuits) their parts are largely needless and slow down the flow of the movie. Any one of the three would have been been perfect grist for a wonderful subplot, but all together none are given the attention they need and detract from the whole rather than adding to it.

A perfect example of the film’s logjam of ideas is a completely unnecessary subplot involving a shark that serves no purpose and falls incredibly flat. Like so much of this film, it simply wouldn’t be missed if it were gone. It may seem harsh to criticise a film for being too ambitious, but while everything is definitely bigger that has not made it better. The old writing adage is to “kill your darlings” and it is clear that Ferrell and Mackay had a hard time letting go of ideas they were in love with.

the original “Anchorman” thrived because the incredibly talented cast were given space to flesh out minor scenes; set free to improvise and bounce off each other until tiny moments became unforgettable treasure troves of comedic genius. These moments are much rarer here, but are real highlights when they do occur, such as some early Ferrell riffing which elicits a very visible bout of corpsing from Christina Applegate.

This being a sequel, there is a healthy dose of fan service, and those who loved the original will likely get a real kick from the return of Ron’s jazz flute or the brief reappearance of Sex Panther, but many will find this only adds to the feel of self-indulgence.

For all there is to criticise, there are many outstanding moments and easily as many big laughs as any film released in 2013, particularly for those who enjoy Ferrell’s brand of offbeat humour. It is also commendable that the film has a very real message about the direction news has taken, although again this is swamped by the deluge of ideas and not fully fleshed out.

While there is much to like, this is a film that was always going to be judged against it’s predecessor and, although a good solid comedy in it’s own right, it simply does not match up. It lacks the sweetness and charm that set the original apart and buckles under the weight of trying to do too much.

Somewhere amongst the discarded rushes there is likely an incredible sequel to “Anchorman” waiting to be put together, matching the tone and sense of fun that made so many fall in love with these characters. It is a real shame we ended up with the spiritual sequel to “Wake Up Ron Burgundy” instead, as the barrage of ideas and call-backs stifle the excellence of the talent on display.

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In the near future of 2001 prisons have been privatised and are run through fear and violence. A young man, Riki-Oh, finds himself incarcerated and, appalled by the conditions he finds, sets about righting wrongs the only way he knows how: with his fists.

Made in 1991 by legendary Hong Kong production studio Golden Harvest, “The Story of Ricky” is an adaptation of the Japanese manga “Riki-Oh”, and while it does depart from it’s source material in some ways, this is a film that is never strays too far from it’s comic books roots.

The cast of characters are a gloriously over the top gallery of grotesques, from the one-eyed piggish assistant warden to a Buddah look-a-like killing machine. Ricky himself is rather bland by comparison, idealised and generic, set apart only by his ridiculous bad-assery, his character an indestructible wrecking ball, literally demolishing everything and everyone standing in his path. His seeming invulnerability, while the driving force of the movie and the source of much enjoyment, does have a negative effect on any tension the film tries to build, as you know that no obstacle can stop him or chain hold him.

That is a minor quibble however, as this is not a movie that truly cares a great deal for tension or any other standard cinematic goal. The real aim here was to cram as much outrageously gratuitous violence and gore into one film as humanly possible. In this sense, “The Story of Ricky” not only hits the target but rips straight through it in an explosion of blood, guts and twisted body parts. Punches tear through torsos, drenching the camera with innards, while a Riki-Oh uppercut will send a jaw flying through the air; the bloodshed is stylised, ludicrous and downright hilarious. You frequently wonder exactly how the last stupendous assault on your senses can be topped, before the movie simply ramps it up another level, continually one-upping itself all the way to a magnificent climax so ridiculously bloody that you feel dirty just watching it.

The film does have the occasional lull and it’s structure is overly episodic, likely due to it’s comic book roots. The quieter moments don’t really work dramatically, and although the intent was clearly to be as silly as possible, some of the laughs are unintentional, notably a pivotal suicide scene that is gloriously undercut by the most obvious use of a dummy in cinema history. The plot also barely makes sense despite how slight it is, and some key elements are not really explained at all, although this adds to the surreal feel of a movie that was clearly supposed to have a off-beat tone.

“The Story of Ricky” is a bizarre b-movie, drenched in blood and containing some of the most ridiculous violence ever committed to celluloid. At it’s best it is outrageous fun, a hilariously brutal live action cartoon. If you have a strong stomach and are in the mood for an hour and a half of excellent trash cinema; grab a few beers, gather a few friends, sit back and enjoy this genuine one-off. You won’t be sorry.