The comparisons to The Karate Kid, Fight Club and The O.C are obvious ones with the skinny teens surrounded by babes beat-em-up that is Never Back Down. Anyone who grew up loving Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in The Katate Kid will see many similarities, with a single mother raising an outsider while moving to a new town and quickly getting on the wrong side of the popular jock/bully. It’s not new. It’s just a lot flashier. Character motivations are weak, the ending is way too happy and the statements about the YouTube generation are none too subtle. It starts strong with a rather disturbing portrayal by Cam Gigandet of mixed martial arts champ Ryan McCarthy when he first challenges newbie Tyler to a brawl at a party. Sadly it’s all downhill from there. Lots of training montages, stealing the bully’s girl – that sort of thing. The unusual highlight for me though was the music. Both tobymac and Mute Math, two of my favourite artists both feature, though I’m sure it was their record companies that allowed this, not the artists themselves. Still, hopefully they might find a greater audience through this average film.
The Mist is much better. Starring The Punisher himself (Thomas Jane why aren’t you in the sequel?) it’s an adaptation of a Stephen King novella about a trapped community facing a strange mist, inhabited by stranger creatures. Written and directed by Frank Darabont who also worked with King on The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, this film is a chiller. Highly entertaining, with just enough blood thrown in. It reminded me of Lord of the Flies and Dawn of the Dead, but here the humans are just as scary as the monsters and it has some interesting statements about what fear does to us. Apparently the book had no ending, but the film sure does. And how. It’s an ending you won’t see coming, but the ending after that ending you probably will. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.