Okay, as soon as I saw reference to this movie at the Galway Film Fleadh, I was hooked. This movie has been described as a B-movie comedy. “B-movie” does not mean bad, just that it does not have studio millions behind it. This is a comedy and as you probably know by now, I like my comedy to be properly constructed, following ancient rules, this movie does that, indeed following rules and convention is something director Jon Wright (Tormented, 2009) and newcomer to feature length work, writer Kevin Lehane do throughout the movie.

I’m going to get the obvious connections out of the way; Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990); this is very much in the same style but probably more funny.  It is probably more in line with Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) with the community feel to the ongoing story. I mentioned rules earlier and Wright seems to follow very closely some Irish rules of thumb when it comes to comedy. 1) an outside in the village, usually a slightly eccentric Englishman or German such as the character of the General (Sam Harris) in John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) or Major Yates himself (Peter Bowles) in The Irish RM (1983). The Irish RM brings us to the second necessary character – the town drunk who also happens to be quite smart and more than capable of coming out well from any situation, we see this with the Character of Slipper, played by Niall Tobin is the series. Such a  character might be described (using the Hiberno-English vernacular) as a “cute whore” which is a cunning but good natured person.  Another movie which comes to mind is The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973) given the sense of isolation.

Being so formulaic can often destroy a movie as the team concentrate on the formulae and not the heart and soul of the movie, here however they capture the comic essence needed, indeed the casting was perfect as soon as you saw the actors in a number of cases you knew what you were in for.

Headed by Richard Coyle (Going Postal 2010) playing Garda Ciarán O’Shea with Ruth Bradley (Love/Hate, 2011) playing the Garda sent in to support O’Shea while the sergeant is on vacation. The pair seem totally mismatched and polar opposites. As strange things begin to happen such as whales washing up on shore, they meet up with the English marine biologist working on the island, Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey, Being Human, 2008) who brilliantly plays the reserved and very proper scientist trying to do things the right way. SO here is the village outside needed by the “rules”. The team deserve credit for knowing just how far to take a character such as Smith, stopping short of cliché.  Pretty soon people start to go missing and alien  creatures start to appear.

One is captured by the town drunk/small time fisherman and general smart-arse (again using the H-E vernacular) played brilliantly by Lalor Roddy (Game of Thrones, 2011). An experienced stage and screen actor he know exactly what was needed. I could continue with the rest of the support cast , but sufficient to say they were all first class. I should also give a mention to the excellent CGI, evidence of the work that can be done on a budget.

The plot, in short is; alien creatures crash in to the sea just off the island and quickly make their way ashore. Strange things start to happen and people begin disappearing. Eventually one of the octopus like alien creatures is captured and killed (possibly). This bring more trouble in the shape of the alien’s (far, far larger female partner). Ultimately our heroes and the rest of the village have to make a stand in the village pub (probably another rule there) for reasons most enjoyably left to the movie to explain. Here they battle to save the community, the island and of course all mankind. The battle tactics make the movie.

I’ve avoid reference to The Guard (John-Michael McDonagh, 2011) so far, so it is about time I did the inevitable. I enjoyed The Guard, I really enjoyed Grabbers. Wright has placed the McDonagh brothers on notice. In short this movie is Father Ted (Channel 4, 1995-98) meets Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) and as good as either of them.

A lesser effort would have been wholly predicable, this was not. This is The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963) as a full comedy.

Rating 9/10, I look forward to more work from this team.

Men In Black III

The first thing that hits you is the 15 years or so of this franchise. Unlike many other which were milked to death, these have been given a chance to mature. There is more characterisation than most comedies and indeed one of the main aspects of the story line is Agent J (Will Smith) trying to get the ever so taciturn Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) to open up more. The obituary for Agent Z just about says it all…or not.

The long story short; a really bad bad guy/alien escapes from a maximum security prison on the moon. He knows how to go back in time and rewrite history, and so he does this.  Agent J realises something is wrong and persuades people of the alternate timeline.  He then has to go back and try prevent the alternate history events from happening.

Along the way we meet the usual assortment of aliens, one that stands out is Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg (Flight of the Conchords, 2007-2009) who can see multiple future events based on probabilities. He brings both character and story to the offering. The main cast Agent J, (Will Smith, Robert Neville, I am Legend 2007), Agent K, the elder (Tommy Lee Jones, Colonel Chester Philips, Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011) and Josh Brolin (True Grit, Tom Chaney, 2010) all give the performances we have come to expect; we have the charged and excitable Agent J trying to force out some human expressionism from the stone faced K, only to come up against the young K. When J joins up with K he quickly realises that the younger man is more positive, optimistic and open that the older K he knows and asks “what happened you?” to no response, as the movie works to the climactic ending we eventually learn just what was that life changing event that transformed Agent K.

It should be pointed out that this is a movie that does exactly what it sets out to do, it entertains well.  One piece of the movie which stands out it Josh Brolin’s take-off of a young Agent K, it was great and produced some genuine laughs from the audience.  I saw this movie in China – 3D IMAX.

MIB is a rare thing in a franchise set, it works. This might be why the producers felt they could afford to leave so long between offerings. We now have three entertaining movies which will withstand the test of time.  Will there be a fourth? I don’t know. Will go see it if there is? Yes. So let’s wait and see, but in the meantime you might do a lot worse with your time than go see this third offering.

There are some side jokes and statements on 1969 America and these largely work well and serve to place the movie in the times.

Rating 7/10 – it is not the type of movie that would be happy with a 9 or 10 out of 10.