Newest Review: ... well as Alicia Silverstone, Mickey Rourke and Stephen Fry all play characters in the film and add their presence to the respective scenes.... more
L Plate Agent - Quick Learner!
Member Name: T4imbo3107
Advantages: Novel adaptation to screen.. very loyal.
Disadvantages: Should have done better ticket sales.
Based upon the Antony Horowitz's first novel Stormbreaker tells the story of a fourteen year old boy who gets recruited into the British Secret Service. Released in 2006 the film tells the story of Ian Rider, an agent who in the opening part of the film is killed in action. His nephew, Alex, only ever knew him as a Bank Manager whose work was based far from home and is surprised to learn that he was a spy working for the British Secret Service. Alex Ryder is even more shocked to find that MI6 want Alex want to recruit Alex to continue his Uncle's work involving an undercover assignment to discover just what millionaire businessman Darius Sayle is up to with regards to the distribution of a computer system called Stormbreaker to all schools in the UK.
The star of the show is Alex Ryder, it's undoubtedly his film and playing the main character is a young actor called Alex Pettyfer. Tall with long blonde hair, he is the complete modern looking hero and a refreshing departure from the usual dark hair and neatly dressed appearance. Even though Ryder is still a child, his presence and the style of dialogue that he is given makes him appear a lot older and more adult than some of the characters he comes up against.
For a film of this nature it seems every major British actor has been assembled to give the film the oomph factor, in fact the scope is quite diverse. Actors such as Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Ewan McGregor, Andy Serkis, Damian Lewis as well as Alicia Silverstone, Mickey Rourke and Stephen Fry all play characters in the film and add their presence to the respective scenes. Even Jimmy Carr appears as an operative and looks decisively creepy when on screen in the short yet rather memorable scenes he is in. Mickey Rourke has no problem wearing a little make-up in the film to give his character a different appeal, however the plastic surgery aspect does give him the gruesome look and so the character stands out more than expected.
There has been a lot of "borrowing" from the world of 007 and also some other well known sources and although you are bound to get some crossover with the scenes that see Ryder in jeopardy, these are entertaining to watch and although simpler in terms with the audience it's aimed at the film does make good entertainment and provides a number of action sequences that raise the bar in terms of suspense. Interestingly the action sequences in the film do not exceed the realms of physic bending as some film have recently and set out to show the hero in a situation rather than a continuous run of good luck. As the film continues it is obvious to see that the formula has been borrowed and rewritten as the obligatory scenes when Ryder is kitted out with field equipment is situated in Hamley's Toy Store, this is when we see Stephen Fry as Smithers hand Ryder his kit of product placement gadgets such as a Nintendo DS with extras. This is also where a friend of mine wa an extra playing a father of an annoying child in the toy shop itself, and I have to say its quite strange to see him on screen!
Stormbreaker is very much a kid's film, yet a film that can easily be enjoyed by the entire family which today is quite a rare thing to see, given the fact that this could have been called James Bond Jr in one easy breathe is something that could easily be said at the beginning of the film and surprisingly as the film evolves it tends to get further away from 007 in terms of story and sees the main characters grow in such a way that a sequel should have been a sure thing. It is an obvious franchise in the making as Alex Ryder is plucked from what he thinks is a normal life and taken into another world. Its also refreshing to see Ryder when out on the mission fail in some areas, okay so there is going to be the obligatory scene where the hero is captured, yet here its done slightly different with regards to the manner in which it happens and therefore the approach taken to get to this stage is fresh in how its actually done. Although an origin story, its also a coming of age test for Ryder as well and throughout the film you see him grow up and take on the challenges in quite a mature way, none more so obvious when Ryder has to go on a training course where he is placed with soldiers who have no faith in the child and so they are captured, whilst the others have given up and are being held Ryder takes the imitative and makes his own plans to get out and escape and therefore earning respect from those around him.
The film isn't a comedy by any means at all and throughout the suspense is kept at a good level with sprinkles of humour added in just the right places that lighten the feel of the film. The comedy is applied in just the right places and used in quite a dry way allowing the adults watching to get the joke in a much deeper way than the children, so the film works on both levels.
Extras wise, the film does deliver to give a comprehensive overview of the film production. With commentary by Geoffrey Sax who through his direction has lifted a very good novel from paper to screen, to a very informative Making Of documentary that gives granular detail into the films and how it was made. With mandatory trailers and and a surprise addition of two music videos the extras are quite surprising and again you can see that the packaging was geared up for the film to become part of a franchise, alright this does try and take on two other franchises such as Harry Potter and James Bond with the hero being only 14 years old and you can see the obvious "borrowing" as well in the extras and the clear overlaps.
Overall this is an entertaining film and Film4 have been showing this a lot over the school holidays, around the teatime slot between 5 and 6pm. The series of novels based on Alex Ryder have been very successful and I can only think that the fans would have welcomed a cross-over to the big screen that bought the character to life. One thing that I didn't like in the film was the fact the fourteen year old is an expert with guns, there are scenes towards the end that see Ryder taking aim with a rifle to prevent something happening. I was quite uncomfortable with this scene and what the hero was doing and thought if this part was actually necessary. Apart from that I do recommend the film to be watched as it truly a film that is underrated in my opinion and probably a film that will go on to become a cult classic by some. Personally I would like to wonder if the second novel in the series would have been the next film or if they would have been produced out of order. Bottom line this will keep the kids occupied for 90 minutes, so perhaps the peace and quiet this film will generate will be welcomed.
One thing for sure... Alex Pettyfer has a good acting future ahead of him. Just a shame that no sequel is being made.
Summary: A good watch for the family.