Edge of Tomorrow


DIR: Doug Liman • WRI: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth • PRO: Jason Hoffs, Gregory Jacobs, Jeffrey Silver, Erwin Stoff • ED: James Herbert • DOP. Dion Beebe • DES: Oliver Scholl • MUS: Christophe Beck • CAST: Tom Cruise, Bill Paxton, Jeremy Piven, Lara Pulver

There’s an old Rich Hall routine that sums up every Tom Cruise movie as; Tom Cruise plays an X, a very good X, but has a crisis of confidence and then meets someone who will teach him to be a good X again. Little has changed.

Tom Cruise plays Cage, the face of the propaganda machine for the global war effort that’s badly losing a war with the Mimics; a race of tentacled aliens that almost seem to know what the humans are going to do before they do it. He’s a pretty good propagandist until he has his identity and rank removed by Brendan Gleeson and is tossed onto the frontlines with no combat experience. Soon though, he realises that he seems to be Groundhog Day-ing the big invasion day anytime he dies and only Emily Blunt as the stoic, impossibly-skilled, war-vet Rita, believes him. So Rita has to train him to be a good soldier so he can be pretty good at that too and save the day. Also, there are robot-suits in this film for little obvious reason outside of the fact that anything in proximity to the words Iron Man makes all of the money and any film that doesn’t look like a videogame simply won’t get green lit anymore.

Cast-wise; Emily Blunt is the standout, Cruise is impressively bearable, Bill Paxton is a huge amount of fun as the hard-ass sergeant that these films always have to have at least one of and Brendan Gleeson looks hilariously bored as General Plot Device. He has literally two proper scenes; the first is to justify demoting Cruise’s character and sending him into battle in order to cover his own ass (somehow) and thus set the story in motion, and the second is to give Blunt and Cruise the MacGuffin when they finally decide that they’ve been faffing about for long enough and should probably get act three started.

What’s truly impressive about the film is that it shows promising signs that the end might be in sight for the Holy War fought in the name of Christopher Nolan that has seen so many blockbusters’ sense of fun sacrificed at the alters of ‘realism’ and ‘grittiness’ (cough, Man of Steel, cough). The trailer gives the impression of a very dour and portentous war movie that happens to involve a time-travel gimmick, robot-suits and aliens. It’s pleasantly surprising then that this tonally ends up as more Run, Lola, Run than Source Code and embraces its sillier elements. The explanation of the time-travel is the key to this. Another film might contort itself into a tangled mess of exposition (see previous ‘cough’) in order to explain something like this ‘realistically’ but here it is explained in pretty simple terms, doesn’t bog the film down and things move on swiftly. Now, that’s not to say the explanation doesn’t immediately start raising endless questions in your head as soon as you begin to think about it too much but why bother? Just sit back and enjoy it; sometimes an alien with a biological affinity towards temporal transmogrification is just an alien with a biological affinity towards temporal transmogrification.

So in addition to the fun that is to be had at the sight of Tom Cruise being repeatedly beaten, crushed, run-over, shot, exploded and just generally killed over and over again, the screenplay manages to find (or rather, make use of) all the sardonic humour that just naturally comes with this situation. Both leads have a surprising amount of fun in the various montage sequences as the dull routine of repeated Tom-Cruise-icide takes hold. Blunt is tailor-made for the straight-faced delivery of pithy one-liners and exasperated sighs as she’s forced to shoot Cruise, yet again. Given the tone that the promotional materials present, these sections in particular were a great surprise.

Outside of this, the plot is on the whole interesting enough to keep your attention and the film is quite well-paced. Since you’re going to be seeing the same action scenes again and again, the film is smart enough to know when they’ve outstayed their welcome and to move onto the next stage. Said action scenes are decent, if a little grey and the CGI is quite good on the alien creatures even if you’ll never forget that what you’re looking at is very clearly CGI. It is a minor disappointment that they don’t make more of the WW2-parallels that are so apparent and in Cruise and Gleeson’s first scene together it seems like the film might almost be about to have an undercurrent of social commentary on war culture but this is sadly dropped quite quickly.

Aside from the god-awful ending, which is completely expected given the premise but still a massive cop-out nonetheless, the only other issue of note is the sound-design. Now this may only be a persistent issue with IMAX screenings but the sound is very piercing. The sound-design itself is fine but given how many times we’re going to see Tom Cruise shot in the head, close to the camera, said gunshot sound being as sharp and loud as it is begins to hurt after a while. See also: the aliens’ high-pitched screams, all the metallic objects that get crushed and the entire final sequence which takes place within an area filled with wrecked cars and all the eardrum-stabbing sounds of scraping metal and smashing glass that it entails.

Since peak blockbuster season is upon us and this is just one of the many films vying for attention at the moment, it’s definitely one of the better ones. A solid, fun action-film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, makes the most of its gimmick to give the film a great visual sense of flow and is only hampered by a few minor quibbles. It never reaches the same heights of delirious entertainment that, say, Godzilla’s final act does but it also doesn’t suffer from the long stretches of boredom that film was afflicted with. Perhaps it could be considered a little unambitious in that case but it’s consistently fun throughout.

Richard Drumm

12A(See IFCO for details)
113 mins

Edge of Tomorrow is released on 30th May 2014

Edge of Tomorrow– Official Website





Cinema Review: Oblivion


DIR: Joseph Kosinski • WRI: Joseph Kosinski, Gajdusek, Michael Arndt • PRO: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Duncan Henderson, Joseph Kosinski, Barry Levine • DOP: Claudio Miranda • ED: Richard Francis-Bruce •  DES: Darren Gilford • CAST: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko


Given how character-driven science-fiction films are something of a rarity these days, when something like Oblivion comes along, it’s hard not to get swept away with the excitement or hype. That said, Joseph Kosinski – in his second film – is a master of meeting expectations. While Tron: Legacy was something of a beautiful mess, a two-hour Daft Punk music video, it worked on some level. Here, with Oblivion, he’s working with less gimmicks and more story. Set in the not-too-distant future, Earth has been left ravaged by an alien invasion. Although humanity has succeeded in defeating the aliens, Earth is almost uninhabitable and have migrated to an orbiting space station known simply as ‘the Tet’. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are the lone remaining humans on Earth, charged with keeping the security drones online which guard huge turbines that sucking up water and other precious resources. Naturally, things take off when Harper is attacked by the few remaining aliens and he witnesses a shuttle fall to Earth that contains a cryogenically-frozen Julia Rusakova (Olga Kurylenko).

The story itself does veer sharply off into science-fiction tropes that you can see coming a mile off. That said, however, the film is so beautifully designed and staged that you won’t necessarily care. The film is thankfully 3D-free, which the director is adamant  was his own decision. Instead, you’re treated to huge landscape shots of Iceland, posing as a post-apocalyptic Earth and a clean-cut, Apple-inspired apartment where Cruise and Riseborough live. The film’s attention to design and detail can’t be understated. It’s such a treat to see a sci-fi film where the world seems, for the most part, utterly believable. There’s a real sense that the environment they are in feels and looks real. Indeed, much like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, it has that feeling of perfect design and usability. However, like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, it does suffer from a stale and overwrought storyline. As mentioned, the film does become somewhat predictable in parts and some of the dialogue does come off as wooden. It’s not due to the individual performances, rather the dialogue itself simply seems to be going in circles and not moving the plot forward. When it does move the plot forward, it somehow feels forced and written after the fact.
Tom Cruise is, as always, is a delight to watch. Whatever about his personal life / beliefs, he can never be accused of phoning in a performance. It is a little hard to think of him as a blue-collar worker, simply because you’re watching Tom Cruise be a blue-collar worker. His level of stardom is hard to separate from his roles. That said, he works effectively in this and is as convincing as he’s been in years. Andrea Riseborough, likewise, turns in a very competent performance. Fluctuating between ice-cold glares and moments of genuine heartbreak, it’s easy to see why she continues to gain momentum and bigger roles. Olga Kurylenko is decent, if a little understated in her role. Morgan Freeman, on the other hand, is simply window-dressing. He’s capable of far more than his role allows, but he’s simply not given any opportunity to move beyond the narrow parameters. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones fame shows up as Freeman’s right-hand man, but little else. It’s a decent cast, overall and there are some moments where Riseborough, in particular, outshines Cruise.
For the most part, Oblivion is an entertaining science-fiction film that works well. The story itself is somewhat stale, but the power of the imagery presented, mixed with M83’s fantastic soundtrack will block out any qualms you might have watching it. Find the biggest screen and enjoy the first blockbuster of 2013.

Brian Lloyd

12A (see IFCO website for details)

Oblivion is released on 12th April 2013

Oblivion – Official Website


Interview: Joseph Kosinski, director of ‘Oblivion’, starring Tom Cruise



Brian Lloyd chats to Joseph Kosinski, director of Oblivion, which is released this week in cinemas.

Oblivion may be the second film by director Joseph Kosinski, but his credits reach far beyond Tron: Legacy. Having directed some of the most widely-known advertising campaigns in the last ten years, including the Halo 3 – Starry Night and Gears of War – Mad World to name a few, it’s clear that Kosinski is on the up and up. Indeed, his second film and he’s already working with Hollywood legend Tom Cruise. ‘Despite the stature he has, he’s extremely collaborative. He has opinions, he has thoughts – why would I not listen to that? Especially when he’s worked with directors I admire, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann.’ Kosinski goes on to mention how fun it was to hear stories about these directors, admitting that directors work alone. ‘We never work with other directors, as such. We’re isolated, working on our own projects so it’s really cool to hear about them and how they work.’


Joseph Kosinski, prior to becoming a director, studied architecture and design. Anyone who’s seen Tron: Legacy or indeed Oblivion will remark about the set design and its use of physical objects, as opposed to CGI’d sets. ‘If you’re not interested in design, I don’t know how you work on these types of movies,’ he explains. ‘I had a very clear idea of what I wanted it to look like. The skytower, up in the clouds, if you want to look for influences, it’s something like Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.‘ Discussing sci-fi films, I mention Ridley Scott’s use of physical sets in Prometheus, which Kosinski agrees with. ‘I wanted it to be as real as possible. It looks better, the performances are better. On the flipside, as well, there’s a lot less time in post. Compared to Tron, this film had 800 visual effects shots. Tron had something closer to 1,600. Some films are 2,000. A big tentpole film like this that has fewer effects shot helps keeps costs down. As long as you plan ahead, know what you want, it’s a great way to work.’


The film does pay homage to arguably the best era of sci-fi – the 1970s. Films like The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run and Star Wars are all touchstones for Kosinski, but not as you’d expect. ‘Those influences come when you’re growing. It’s different to watch films after you’ve made a couple. They seep themselves deep inside you, but when you watch them again, they don’t have the same impact.’ Kosinski continues, ‘1970’s sci-fi were far more character-driven, simply because they didn’t have the tools we have. I thought Oblivion was going to be a much smaller film when I started. But the action and the spectacle is in support of the story and the character.’ It’s also notable that the film isn’t in 3D. Considering his debut is oft-considered one of the best films to make use of the technology, why did he not make Oblivion with it? ‘That was my choice, from the beginning. I looked at a couple of different formats, 48 frames. Brightness is really important to me. But with this being a daytime sci-fi, shot in Iceland, I really wanted the images to pop off the screen. With 3D right now, there’s a limitation with how bright it can be. Using Sony’s F65 Camera, it felt like the right choice to capture the detail of the landscapes, it’s very high-resolution.’


Not only is Oblivion not in 3D, it’s based on an original idea. ‘Getting any movie made is hard. An original film at this scale is a big challenge. It’s not that studios don’t want to make original material, but having something that already has an audience is a leg-up. And having someone like Tom Cruise involved is great. And to have him call me was a thrill. I pitched the story to him over an hour and he was immediately taken by the story and the character and it was something he hadn’t seen before. Having him attached gave it momentum.’ The script, written by Kosinski, was also co-written by William Monahan and Michael Arndt. ‘I wanted to work with someone who didn’t work in science-fiction, which is why I went to William (Monahan) first. But I had the sense that one screenwriter wasn’t going to take me to the finish line, because the film has so many elements. It’s a mystery, it’s a thriller, it’s got action. I also worked with Karl Gadsujek, a great writer who I really wanted to work with. And Michael (Arndt) gave it the final pass, who I’d worked with on Tron: Legacy as well. I’m just the keeper of the story, working closely with each of them and it ended up being the right arrangement for it.’

Oblivion is in cinemas from 10th April and stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurlyenko, Andrea Riseborough and Morgan Freeman.


Cinema Review: Jack Reacher


DIR/WRI: Christopher McQuarrie •  PRO: Tom Cruise, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Gary Levinsohn, Kevin J. Messick , Paula Wagner • DOP: Caleb Deschanel • ED: Kevin Stitt • DES: James D. Bissell • CAST: Werner Herzog, Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall

The award-winning Jack Reacher character has given readers constant pleasure through Lee Child’s seemingly endless novelistic forays into his world, and he has now made the inevitable leap from page to screen.  But who to play this 6ft 5in man of mystery, steel, and fire?  The words ‘A Tom Cruise Production’ appear onscreen, sending familiar chills of fear as it is revealed that, yes, The Cruiser* (*trademark pending) is attempting to give birth to yet another franchise.  For better or worse, this is a movie about whether Tom Cruise can still successfully kick ass and take names.


There are many things to like about this movie – the engaging plot, the well-rounded characters and the slightly 70’s action all hark back to a less complicated style of movie, and for the most part it plays like an amped-up John Grisham adaptation with added guns.  These good points can, however, all be attributed to the base text, where the character development and drive of the story have been meticulously sculpted.  The main downfall of this movie, it has to be said, is Tom Cruise and the weight of baggage he brings to every role.  From his initial introduction there is so much about his interpretation of the character to find irritating: we get the tracking ‘back of head’ shot as the camera follows the enigmatic Reacher through a bar; girls’ heads turning in comical 1950’s ‘oh’ fashion as he struts through a corridor; and his end setup purchase of the ‘Cruise’ outfit – short leather jacket, white cotton top and super-cool, non-Dad jeans.  Cruise is painfully trying to be an action hero who is cool and likeable – but the end result is off-putting and melodramatic. The bad guys in this movie are one-dimensional, providing standard if not always coherent villainous dealings.  Leading the group is a damaged Russian prisoner, about as frightening as a two-legged Rottweiler (grizzled, but no real danger), who is more terrifyingly played by Werner Herzog – why he agreed to this movie is anybody’s guess.


While the film has some nicely crafted action sequences, the story itself is tied too closely to novel format – in fact, you can almost feel the cliff-hanger chapter endings punctuating the narrative throughout.  The dialogue, too, can feel over-written, taking away from what could have been a simple and solid action movie.  As the anchor of the entire movie, though, Cruise just does not swing it anymore.  From his tired topless shots – which are scattered throughout the movie as some sort of twisted ‘treat’ – to the ‘I’m a good guy’ reminders of his inherent morality, the only thing he does with complete believability is run…because nobody runs like Tom Cruise.  Robert Duvall appears as a grizzled gun-range owner, but his overdone ex-marine patter simply highlights how lost for ideas this movie is, and while Rosamund Pike is actually quite likeable as lawyer Helen Rodin, the overall effect is of actors phoning it in.


In the end, though, this is Tom Cruise’s vehicle, and it is by his performance that the entire show should be judged.  His exhausting attempts at humour, topless appeals to who-knows-who and constant insistence on his ability to carry action movies have become something to pity rather than enjoy.  While there are certainly those that would like this movie, it seems to me that the action is too slow, the plot too thick, and the main character too unbelievable for this to work as anything other than a Sunday night movie on television.  Though Jack Reacher 2: Unreachable will most likely prove me wrong, overall I can’t imagine that it’s worth the ticket price.


Sarah Griffin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

130 mins

Jack Reacher  is released on 26th December 2012

Jack Reacher – Official Website


Cinema Review: Rock of Ages

I heard the Cruise today, oh boy


DIR: Adam Shankman  WRI: Allan Loeb, Justin Theroux  PRO: Adam Shankman, Tobey Maguire, Matt Weaver  DOP: Bojan Bazelli  ED: Emma Hickox  DES: Jon Hutman  Cast: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russel Brand, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Musicals are the epitome of cinematic marmite. You either love them or you hate them. Rock of Ages is no different. The film tells the story of Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) and their romance during the ‘hair metal’ era of 1980s Los Angeles. Sherrie and Diego work at the Bourbon Room. The owners, Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand) are about to put on the final concert of Arsenal, a heavy metal band that’s fronted by a mercurial singer, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). It’s here that Drew gets his big break and begins the story of the film. Concurrent to this, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Bryan Cranston – who play a mayoral couple looking to wipe heavy metal from the streets of Los Angeles – are plotting to shut down the Bourbon Room and run them out of business.

As mentioned earlier, musicals are either in your taste or they aren’t. It’s very difficult for someone that has a passing interest in the genre to watch this film, given that they break into song every five seconds. Rock of Ages is a cheesy romp and it makes no excuses for it. Most of the songs are based in that era, including Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar (On Me)’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead Or Alive’ as well as some originals, too. It’s clear from watching the film that the cast were thoroughly enjoying their time on screen. Tom Cruise’s singing voice is surprisingly good and Russell Brand is playing a role he’s lived for the past thirty-odd years.


The young couple at the centre of the film are schmaltzy and corny beyond belief. However, the film itself is not to be taken seriously therefore this can be easily forgiven. Adam Shankman’s direction is straight-forward and to the point. Having worked on musicals prior to this, Hairspray being one of them, it’s clear he has a talent for the genre and it’s evident throughout. The plot and screenplay are all very much rudimentary and simply serve to bridge the huge musical set-pieces together. The film is very much a faithful adaptation of the musical and fans of it will not be disappointed. Rock of Ages is enjoyable and a tongue-in-cheek ode to a musical fad that’s best left in the history books. If musicals work no charm on you, however, you’ll find Rock of Ages a grating experience.

Brian Lloyd


Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Rock of Ages is released on 15th June 2012

Rock of Ages – Official Website



Cinema Review: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Cruise for Christmas anyone...?

DIR: Brad Bird • WRI: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec • PRO: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Tom Cruise • DOP: Robert Elswit • ED: Paul Hirsch • DES: James D. Bissell • CAST: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg

Always clambering to be the American’s answer to Bond, the franchise to date has already had something of a roller coaster of quality and tone. The first was a quite good and surprisingly intelligent Hitchcockian spy thriller, the second was a quite bad and frustratingly stupid balls-out action film, and the third something of a mixture of the two, with smarts and explosions, and it felt like the series had finally settled into a groove. And settled it has, with this forth entry in the cannon feeling like a direct sequel to M:I-3.

This being the live action debut of animation genius Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille), expectations were high. And while in the action department he reaches and surpasses them, the movie disappoints in terms of story. It kicks off with Simon Pegg and Paula Patton breaking Tom Cruise out of jail, then they head to the Kremlin to find out why he was put in prison, only for someone to blow it up, and pin it on Cruise and Co., and now they’re on the run with new recruit Jeremy Renner to find a bad guy who’s plan is to nuke the planet and start again. Seriously. That’s the bad guy’s plan.

But if you can ignore the awful plotting and get lost in the action, then you will have a deliriously good time. There are four or five massive set-pieces, with the centrepiece starting with Cruise climbing on the outside of the world’s tallest building, and ending with a violent car-chase in the middle of a sand-storm, and is a shoe-in for Best Action Scene Of 2011.

The cast are uniformly excellent, especially Renner who is rumoured to be replacing Cruise as franchise lead, and on the whole the movie is a lot of fun, but it is also about 30 minutes too long, and if they’d put as much effort into the story as they had on one of Paula Patton’s outfits, we’d be on to a great thing here.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is released on 26th  December 2011

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – Official Website





DIR: Bryan Singer • WRI: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander • PRO: Gilbert Adler, Nathan Alexander, Lee Cleary, Christopher McQuarrie, Henning Molfenter, Bryan Singer, Jeffrey Wetzel, Charlie Woebcken • DOP: Newton Thomas Sigel • ED: John Ottman • DES: Lilly Kilvert, Patrick Lumb • CAST: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp


Take a moment to understand the degree of stigma surrounding the subject of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Now, add the tension of a cinematic portrayal of the mid-1940s that looks to the German population for acceptance. But then, unexpectedly, a different story reveals itself: Still 1940s, still Germany, but now proclaiming an unsung hero. Quite the sigh of relief…

Until we learn that Scientology is considered a dangerous cult in Germany. Suddenly the story of Valkryie’s production becomes a lot more complicated.

Here’s the history lesson in a nutshell: Along with the majority of the world at the time, there were a lot of Germans not happy with Hitler’s endeavours around the time of the Second World War. This led to the formation of a small group of military officials who plotted a coup against the Führer. The leadership of this group eventually fell to Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise, who is determined to rid them of ‘Germany’s arch-enemy’. To do so involved an assassination attempt on Hitler, and a follow up plan-of-attack (Operation Valkyrie), which entailed convincing the reserve army force that the SS had staged the coup, and thus relieve the Führer’s chain of command completely.

Valkyrie sees a shift in duties from regular collaborators Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie who have hooked up to form The Usual Suspects and X-Men previously. Director Singer has been focussing on box-office monsters of late, with X-Men, X2 and Superman Returns his three most recent projects. Writer McQuarrie meanwhile has been on the other end of the spectrum, writing The Way of the Gun as in-your-face as possible, a two-fingered gesture toward the major studios who wouldn’t allow him creative control. Valkyrie serves as the happy medium.

Although focussing on the 20th July 1944 plot, the film begins in North Africa where we see an Allied air-attack inflict the injuries that will leave Colonel Stauffenberg without his right hand, two fingers from his left, and his left eye. Stauffenberg continues forth, duly eye-patched, and over the forthcoming years, rises through the ranks of the German military and leads the opposition against the Nazi Regime in a powerful tale.

However, this is not a character portrait, and although the political implications are dealt with early on, what begins as an intriguing tale, well told, becomes a reasonably basic action film. This is unfortunate, as Stauffenberg seems a captivating fellow with enough intelligence to single-handedly stage a mutiny and enough ballsy grit to reveal his devious plans from the outset to new military colleagues. Also, the deeper politics of the scenario are wholly substituted by moral dilemmas, and although it is quite the mind-boggling experience – rooting for the allies while still passionately patriotic – this context is lost after thirty minutes.

Cruise is adequate in what is not ultimately a demanding role. The support cast pack a punch or two, with the shuffle of Adolf Hitler (David Bamber) creating genuine unease, both Tom Wilkinson and Terence Stamp are persuasive as usual and Jamie Parker deserves note for his nervous portrayal of Stauffenberg’s adjutant Lieutenant Werner von Haeften. Disappointingly, Christian Berkel’s authentic accent is the only one to grace the screen, apart from Cruise’s three-line German voiceover and some extras. There are a handful of beautiful shots: a roofless church making do as a rendezvous point, and the Wolf’s Lair (as the name suggests, Hitler’s bunker), which is blanketed in a dense wood and incomparable security.

You know what to expect from such an action film: some explosions, tense musical crescendos and an attempt at a moving finale. Valkyrie is not to be proclaimed a national treasure, but it has been welcomed by German military officials and critics nonetheless and is a fitting tribute to a soon-to-be icon. The end product, like the original story, brings some wiles and a tense moment or two, but fails to pack the punch intended.