Neil Fox on film: Extremely Loud..., Ghost Rider returns

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

Wednesday, 15th February 2012, 3:31 am

Wow. The vitriol that has been aimed at this film since it was awarded Oscar nominations has been virtually unprecedented.

Online, bloggers, tweeters and film critics have all expressed astonishment that it has been nominated for best picture.

But to take that complaint seriously would be to suggest that the Oscars have relevance to film art, which they do not.

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They frequently get it very wrong – Titanic, Crash, Shakespeare In Love, The King’s Speech. So this is nothing new.

So is the anger deserved? Not really. I mean it’s no masterpiece. It’s a very simplistic rendering of a complex idea and a complex book.

It’s very sentimental and over-egged, but it has some really wonderful moments and when it’s not pushing its emotion down the throat it is genuinely moving and engaging. The problem is there aren’t enough of those moments.

Thomas Horn is a boy with Asperger’s syndrome who loses his father (Tom Hanks) in 9/11.

Devastated, he finds a key that was his dad’s and he sets about finding the lock.

A seemingly impossible task and the film tells the story of this journey and the people he meets and the lives he affects.

What is lost from the page is a depth of humanity that makes it real, and identifiable and complex.

What is left is a mostly one-dimensional tale of triumph over tragedy, of understanding, that wastes an impeccable cast. A real shame as it comes from a talented film-maker, but it is certainly undeserving of the bile raged against it.

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance

No one saw this coming – least of all Nicolas Cage, who spends the film looking surprised, and almost guilty.

It’s his fault, though, because despite the first Ghost Rider being pretty darn unwatchable he showed that 3D exploitation films still had legs with his turn in the fun Drive Angry, so this franchise has been brought back from hell to take us with it to the depths of fiery despair.

It’s better than the first – not hard – because now it seems it doesn’t try to be anything other than loud, insane, inane nonsense and so, as a result, succeeds.

Cage’s Blaze Rider character is in hiding in Eastern Europe but he is needed once more as the devil himself is trying to get into our world, in human form. Let battle commence.

It’s a strange beast, and presents us with a constant procession of noise and action, with a good cast who all must have fired their agents en masse when they landed this gig.

Two directors, three screenwriters, total nonsense – and yet enjoyable. A strange beast indeed.