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Eagle Eye

Nearly 60 years after its publication George Orwell’s novel ‘1984′ continues to influence.  Devising a story based on ‘Big Brother’ style enforced surveillance, his tome still rings true.  Working on an undemanding level Eagle Eye turns this interesting scenario into a high octane techno-thriller.  Attempting to emulate ’70’s conspiracy movies, it falters in its quest with the ultra stylised mood negating any meaningful aims.
When his twin brother dies in suspicious circumstances, Jerry Shaw’s (Shia LaBeouf) world turns upside down.  After receiving a mysterious phone call, he becomes trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse.  Along for the ride is Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) who must participate in order to protect her son.  Chased by zealous FBI agent Tom Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), the pair uncovers a tangled web leading to the US President’s inner sanctum.
Appropriately saddled with a lead character working in a Xerox store, Eagle Eye feels like an audacious pastiche of better films.  With its ‘Simon Says’ leanings given an electronic twist, the spectre of familiarly looms large.  There are moments of paranoid intrigue throughout, but these are sadly washed away by a script leaping over the bounds of believability.  Its foray into quasi sci-fi territory halfway through becomes preposterous discarding any notion of providing an intelligent film.  Essentially working an overlong chase formula, the script gradually creaks under the weight of its old fashioned contrivances.
Eagle Eye’s main plus is its energy.  Despite being harshly edited in some scenes, the film provides some eye popping stunt work rivalling bigger budgeted outings.  LaBeouf and Monaghan make for appealing leads, although Billy Bob Thornton seems to have the most fun in delivering the badly written dialogue.  It’s a pity that current conspiracy films seem fearful of engaging its audience with something resembling cleverness.  This timidity is matched by director D.J. Caruso who sadly takes the easy option instead of working hard in gaining the viewer’s interest.
Heavy handed with its occasional ‘technology is dangerous’ message and light on genuine tension, Eagle Eye is a disappointment.  As hollow entertainment it delivers, but the potential for a sophisticated thriller unfortunately never comes to fruition.  George Orwell may have been frightened of the future when he wrote his famous work, but people’s acceptance of soulless products like these may have given him more cause for concern. 
Rating out of 10:  3 

Journey to the Centre of the Earth - 3D

Emerging from the waves in 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon, the title beastie popularised a new visual art form.  Allowing the viewer to totally experience the onscreen happenings, 3-D has become the most enduring of cinema’s great gimmicks.  Where others like Cinerama and Sensurround have fallen by the wayside, 3-D has continued adding the necessary spice to some mediocre films.  Utilising this tool for its adventure, Journey to the Centre of the Earth injects Jules Verne’s classic tale with a dazzling array of special effects that should please its optically enhanced audience.
Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is in a quandary.  Forced to look after his sulky teenage nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson), he wonders what hand fate will deal him next.  A book belonging to his dead archaeologist brother provides the answer.  Within its pages lies a secret code telling of a mythical paradise in earth’s hard centre.  Arriving in Iceland to find this fabled place, the duo hook up with mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem).  Discovering a place of wonder and danger, the trio enter into an apparent dimensional portal that time has long forgotten.
With characters forced to use intellect than technology to survive, the movie ironically goes into CGI overdrive.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as with the aid of 3-D glasses, ‘Journey’ conjures up some breathtaking scenery.  Although earlier scenes are far too self-conscious of its almost virtual reality surrounds, once they enter the lost environment, momentum picks up considerably giving a genuine feel for Verne’s vivid story, despite being set in modern day.  Whilst the term ‘family film’ brings up many suspect connotations, first time director Eric Brevig does a reasonable job at providing all round entertainment.
Subtracting from this is the somewhat lethargic screenplay.  Seemingly awed by the visions it’s created, the script only ever seems to half heartedly embrace its characters.  This robs proceedings a lot of impact, with several potentially exciting moments falling flat.  Given scant outlines for their roles, the actors do their best within the limitations.  Brendan Fraser gives a decent performance which almost erases memories of his ill-fated Mummy 3 turn.  Hutcherson displays a pleasingly mature acting range making him one to watch in future.
Viewers of the normal 2-D version may be nonplussed by the film’s generic adventurisms.  In 3-D however it passes muster as an illusionary spectacular papering over any gaping holes.  Like any good gimmick 3-D has come and gone in fashion, but its main bonus is that if people haven’t liked the film they always get a nifty pair of shades as compensation!
Rating out of 10:  6