THE ANOMALY

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 4th July 2014

Director: Noel Clarke (4-3-2-1 / Adulthood)

Cast: Noel Clarke, Ian Somerhalder, Alexis Knapp, Luke Hemsworth, Ali Cook, Niall Grieg Fulton, Michael Bisping, Art Parkinson, Gordon Alexander and Brian Cox

Writer: Simon Lewis

Trailer: THE ANOMALY

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What a mess. Noel Clarke’s (DOCTOR WHO) second film as sole director shows a significant degree of regression after the lively 4-3-2-1 and the genre definining sequel Adulthood.  The Anomaly is a mid-budget sci-fi in style of The Matrix. However, in just about every department this film shows itself up to be an out-of-date, dimwitted, ego-preening exercise in bad filmmaking. Elsewhere, Noel Clarke has proven himself to be a reliable force for good in the UK film industry – making films that are relevant to young audiences be-it a throw away teen-horror flick like Storage 24 or an Olympic Games PR exercise with Fast Girls. Just recently though he’s begun to believe his own hype by appearing in lazy shit like I Am Soldier or over-stylised ego-wanks like this.

Considering the talent that went into making this film, it’s strange how nobody stopped Clarke to ask him why he was embarking on such a foolish mission. Everything about this movie screams FAIL!  Clarke’s various roles directing, writing, acting, stunting, producing and posturing has probably left nobody on-set to question his decisions. Did he want to have a larger wage packet by doing all the work for his friends? We’ll never know.

Please read my colleague Joe Pesci II‘s review below for a plot overview below because he’s used to watching convoluted crap like Doctor Who and Babylon 5. The majority of this belated Matrix rip-off seemed nonsensical and pointless to me. The main reason I kept on watching it to the ending was to see what Brian Cox (HER) was going to add to the story. I also had Cash and Curry lined up to watch for Britpic and I was dreading it.

Witness the slow-motion fight sequences which had all the comedy and threat of watching four year olds recreate the Transformers films in a sand pit – there are endless scenes of characters yelling ‘rarggggh!’ in slow motion whilst being belted around the head. If there were no slow motion sequences in The Anomaly I could’ve begun watching Cash and Curry half an hour earlier.

The Anomaly is a sad disappointment because it’s a low-budget monument to the folly and ego of Noel Clarke. He’s gotten a sniff of Hollywood fame with his bit-part in Star Trek – Into Darkness and now he’s lost the ability to stay down-to-earth. This unfortunate, unimaginative and badly realised sci-fi clunker should bring him down to earth with a bump. It’s not to late for him to re-assess his career choices and remember why he’s got famous and respected in the first place.

3.5. out of 10 – Exceptionally stupid sci-fi from a floundering megalomaniacal Noel Clarke. Come back to reality, it’s not too late.

Review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher (he thought it was shite as well).

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “THE ANOMALY

  1. THE ANOMALY – review by Matt Usher

    Never has heart sunk so low so swiftly as mine! As this tedious trite tripe reached its merciful end, as I began to consider the dire drear codswallop that had swallowed me whole for 94 minutes, my eyes were simultaneously shocked and saddened: as the film’s final shot concluded, it was replaced by a black screen upon which was the following (possibly proud) proclamation: Directed by Noel Clarke. Oh Noel! How? Why? What did I do to deserve this? What did you do? I’ve got an excuse – I didn’t know anything about THE ANOMALY until I started watching it (I don’t even remember it coming in to my possession) (Actually, even after watching it I don’t know much about it). What’s your excuse Noel? After all you directed it, starred in it (though curiously took second billing to some minor American who used to be in Lost), produced and did the catering. But why? I truly hope this is your career nadir (and I’ve seen DOGHOUSE). Now you’ve got through your high-concept-sci-fi-wannabe phase you can get round to making something less second-hand, less pretentious and more genuine.

    Noel Clarke stars (despite Ian Somerhalder nabbing top billing for a supporting role) as someone who can’t remember being a murderous kidnapper. But it’s not his fault as he’s subject to some sort of mind-control thing and it’s really Brian Cox (surely earning his easiest-ever fee as a bloke standing in a box) (honestly that’s all he does apart from a brief TV interview where he explains the plot) who mentally controls Clarke all the time except for a period of nine minutes and forty-seven seconds every now and again (i.e. whenever the plot requires) when he reverts to being nice Noel who looks after prostitutes and children and small animals. We only see Clarke’s character during these ten minute reversions to reality where he has to piece together the clues and work out (a) what carnage he’s caused and (b) how to stop it all before time’s up and he turns into Brian Cox again. It’s the Jekyll and Hyde story with Hyde remaining unseen throughout (which could have been interesting).

    So Clarke wakes up in the back of a van with a small child who’s been chained up, and whose mother has been killed. Clarke slowly realises that he is himself the villain, but why? And why doesn’t he remember? Then he wakes up again and he’s grown a beard, then he wakes up in bed with a lady of the night, and he’s had a shave, then he’s in New York, but then he wakes up in London with more hair, and then he does a really bad impersonation of a posh bloke (presumably Brian Cox because the latter wears a bow tie), and then he wakes up whilst being tortured by dodgy CIA-type torturers, and then he helps a crazy Russian scientist do something which may or may not have been bad (I can’t remember, which is ironic given the film’s conceit). And so on it goes as our hero works it all out with only the help of a trouser-averse tart-with-a-heart (to be fair Clarke turns up frequently shirtless and/or trouserless himself), whilst knowing that he must somehow make it up to the little kid whose mum he slaughtered in cold blood (albeit when he wasn’t feeling himself).

    The decision to only show events from our hero’s perspective is understandable but it doesn’t work. Maybe the leaps in time are too great, maybe there’s insufficient explanation of our hero’s forever varying hair situation, or maybe we’d rather be watching Bad Noel on the rampage rather than Good Noel acting hungover and wondering just how bad it got last night. The science fiction element has the potential to be interesting, though I think the various elements (mind control, amnesia, evil governments conspiring against each other) have all been done better many times before. So the film concentrates on action, which basically means fight scenes which play out in slow motion, speed up for a bit, then revert to slow motion and so on. All this really does is enable us to laugh at our hero as he does fighting acting, which involves various facial contortions which the director would have vetoed had it not been for the fact that the director was on the wrong side of the camera at the time. Someone should tell Clarke that it’s OK not to do everything. And someone should also tell Clarke that he should be making his own films not just rehashing ones he (presumably) likes. We’ve already got THE MATRIX and MEMENTO and INCEPTION (I haven’t seen the latter but I bet THE ANOMALY nicked something from it), and this doesn’t add anything. It just looks like someone deluding themselves (though not us) by saying ‘let me play, I can do it too!’ There’s nothing wrong with stealing from other films but the film-makers could have at least tried to make the material their own. But this is the depressing thing: everything about THE ANOMALY suggests this is the film Noel Clarke set out to make. The last of his that I saw, 4.3.2.1., might best be described as entertaining pap, the kind of film which looks diverting enough on a proper film-maker’s CV. THE ANOMALY is a desperate straight to DVD punch-em-up without much punching, too much nudity, and evidence of a controlling spirit which needs to be pegged back (another irony, seeing as that is arguably the plot of the film).

    On the positive side THE ANOMALY does at least come up with a recognisable future-Earth (probably for budgetary reasons, but then again future-Earth will also be determined by money so that makes sense). There’s a lot of futuristic advertising going on in the background, and there are some CGI bug-things which were probably really important. But (back on the down-side) nothing feels integrated, it’s a film of bits and pieces and Noel Clarke trying to look hard.

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