Film Round-Up: Playing with Fire, Doctor Sleep and Ford v Ferrari
We all need some films to watch right now but should it be these films?
Playing with Fire
John Cena stars as a smokejumper, not a firefighter, that ends up having to take care of three children when he rescues them from a fire and their parents are unable to pick them up. Well, this is a film right out of 2003! I always feel bad ripping into a children’s film because it's like telling a puppy off, it just looks at you with its big eyes and suddenly you feel like it’s ok that it’s just shat in your converse for the third time this week. But no, that puppy needs telling off and so does this movie for being so dated. This really does feel like a movie from 20 years ago with the key joke at its centre being ‘Men taking care of children? How wacky!’. It’s 2020 now, I think we can see a man take care of a child effectively and yes, having John Cena get the fireman equivalent of a hazmat suit to change a nappy is embarrassing for everyone involved. Oddly for a film of this sort, things move rather slowly and for the children this is aimed at, I feel like this is the biggest problem. Of course, it’s not the worst like Monster Trucks because due to the talent of Cena, Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo, the odd laugh is squeezed out of the terrible script. But there are much better things to keep the kids entertained while they are stuck indoors.
A grown-up Danny Torrance tries to help a little girl who also has The Shining evade a cult that feeds on those who have the ability. Yes Stephen King wrote a sequel to The Shining and yes they decided to make a movie adaptation of the sequel. This was tough for me as I love Kubrick’s The Shining and it’s one of my favourite films of all time, definitely in the top five at least. But I’ve always known that this opinion is not shared by Stephen King. This meant I was very worried about the film because I always thought because of King’s influence it would end up more of a sequel to his book than the film. Thankfully not! This is a fantastic homage to the original film and it also stands up very well on its own. By itself, it is a creepy thriller about telepaths trying to avoid a killer cult while our lead, Danny, tries to get over his PTSD from that fateful night in the Overlook. But that final sequence in the Overlook which is just a love letter to that amazing film, it takes it to another level. It is too long and as much as it benefits from The Shining, it also hurts it because you do compare it in your head which yes is unfair but so’s life. But it is far better than it has any right to be.
Ford v Ferrari
Caroll Shelby is tasked with making a car that will beat Ferrari in the Le Mans 24 hour race. A few years ago, Rush was released. This was a fantastic movie detailing the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, two fantastic drivers that lit up F1 when they were competing in it. Not only was it great, but it was a huge success, a surprise considering that America doesn’t really get F1 because of it having some right turns. I mention this because Ford vs Ferrari is very much inspired by that movie but in my opinion, I think this one is better. It takes one of the great motorsport stories, a pissed Henry Ford doing his best to take down the arrogant Ferrari at the most prestigious motorsport event there was, and completely reframes it, which is smart. Most retellings of this story have Ford as an underdog but considering the world’s apathy for rich assholes right now, making it more about the clever engineer and brash race driver was the right move. And so because of making it about Shelby, played by Matt Damon, and race driver Ken Miles, played by Brummi accented Christian Bale, the film is utterly engrossing. It’s not an ego battle between two uber-rich car magnates, it’s a fight for acknowledgment by two guys often ignored by the corporate world. It’s incredible stuff and while it may be a bit long and ignore the achievements of the other Ford drivers who helped in that historic Le Mans race, this is one of the best racing films of all time.