I didn’t know much about Runner Runner going in. I’d only seen the trailer for it a week or so previously, and wasn’t particularly grabbed by the storyline or the stars. Although I have enjoyed Affleck and Arterton in their recent releases. My reason for seeing the film was simply that there wasn’t an awful lot to choose from that week. This probably worked in Runner Runner’s favour as I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who saw it for that very reason, and I’m not sure it would have made much of a dent in the box office if it had been released in a week when say Captain Phillips or Thor 2 were out.
I enjoyed it enough but I must admit that it’s not the most gripping plot or the greatest acting on display. I think Affleck’s best work these days is as a director, or when he’s directing himself. I don’t know if that means he tries harder or if the other directors he’s working with aren’t very good at getting the best out of him, but he certainly wasn’t at his best here, putting in a rather cheesy panto villain performance. Arterton had little to do other than look pretty, which she’s great at but she’s capable of so much more. Timberlake for me is watchable but can’t really carry movie, and with Timberlake as the lead, this leaves Runner Runner in a bit of a stalled state.
It’s watchable, but the twist at the end is underwhelming. I’d only recommend it if you don’t have something better to watch. 6.5 out of 10.
My cinema buddy asked my opinion as to what his 1000th cinema experience should be. The choice was this, or Sunshine on Leith. I suggested this but on reflection I think he maybe should have gone with a film with Sunshine in the title.
How I Live Now tells the story of what happens to a group of kids, who are left to fend for themselves after a nuclear attack. New Yorker Daisy (Ronan), is sent to visit her cousins in the English countryside by her father, who clearly isn’t going to win any Dad of the year awards. From the moment Daisy hits UK soil, it’s immediately clear that the world is on the brink of World War 3. Daisy’s Aunt Penn (Chancellor – who has an unspecified government position), is working hard on a peace process, and leaves the kids for a day while she goes to Geneva for talks. As the oldest child is Edmond (MacKay), at 16, Aunt Penn arranges for a neighbour to come check on the children in her absence. When a nuclear explosion rocks London, the neighbour never comes and the aunt is feared dead. The kids look out for each other, with Daisy and Eddie taking care of the younger siblings, and during this time, Daisy and Eddie fall in love. All is well in their little safe haven until the military comb the area for survivors and force the two girls to leave the boys for a “safe house”, where they are forced to work but looked after by a somewhat deluded couple. Will Daisy and Piper ever make it back to Eddie and Isaac?
I first became aware of Prisoners when my bestie in the US told me she’d seen the trailer for the film, fully expecting me to know what it was. As a long time fan of Mr Gyllenhaal I was both surprised and disappointed that this film could get to the stage where a trailer was in theatres and I was unaware of it’s existence. Clearly my dedication is slipping. In my defence, I was expecting Jake’s next film to be a movie going by the title of ‘Nailed’ but apparently that film has long since been shelved.
So onto Prisoners. When two 8 year old girls go missing on Thanksgiving, and the man who is taken into custody is released, the fathers of the girls, Keller Dover (Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Howard), decide to take matters into their own hands. They kidnap the young man, Alex Jones (Dano), and despite his already fragile and child-like mind, they torture him for information. Meanwhile, Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) looks to maintain his track record of solving every case he’s ever had, and continues his search for who he believes is responsible for the abduction.
The unfortunate character name of Gyllenhaal’s detective aside, Prisoners is actually an incredibly tense, sometimes disturbing, look at what happens to the family left behind when a child goes missing. Jackman gives one of the best performances of his career here. His loyalty to his family making his character unhinged in his pursuit of answers. Howard, Bello, Davis and Leo all impress, but Jackman’s main support in the majority of his scenes is Paul Dano, who turns in one of the creepiest performances I have seen in a long time. Then there’s Gyllenhaal, who never fails to impress me. His subtle, understated, performance was just what the film needed to set him apart from the other great actors on show.
The last Jennifer Aniston film I saw at the cinema was Horrible Bosses. Which also starred Jason Sudeikis, who is in this film. And as it turned out, it wasn’t half bad. I heard similar things about this film and decided to give it a shot.
We’re The Millers tells the story of how David (Sudeikis), a guy who has done nothing with his life except sell weed since High School, ends up owing money to big time drug lord Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). Gurdlinger gives David one last chance to pay him back by hiring him to get a ‘smidge’ of marijuana over the border from Mexico to the US. David decides that the only way he is going to pull this off is if he hires some people to pretend to be his ‘family’, and that way they can convince officials they are just on a family vacation. He hires a stripper, Rose (Aniston), who lives in his building to be his wife, a local homeless girl, Casey (Roberts), to be his daughter and his neighbour, Kenny (Poulter), who’s been abandoned by his mother, to be his son. They pick up an RV and have the next three days to become the perfect all American family.
Much like Horrible Bosses, this film is not half bad. It has quite a few laugh out loud scenes, at least one gross out scene which is actually nowhere near as bad as most gross out scenes in movies such as this, and it has it’s heartwarming ending. Here is where I have a problem.
There is nothing new about We’re The Millers but it’s a decent comedy none-the-less. The only downside is that during the heartwarming ending, our hero (or as close to a hero as Sudeikis‘ character gets) has a change of heart so miraculous, it would surely make even the man upstairs do a double take. His speech at the end was not only cheesy, but also completely unbelievable given what we know about his character. It’s a shame too as I really enjoyed the movie, cliches and all, up to that point.
If you can forgive a selfish character growing a conscience 15 minutes before the credits roll you should see We’re The Millers. If not, maybe give it a miss. 7 out of 10.
Having not seen a Sandra Bullock film since The Proposal, I was looking forward to her return to the big screen in this buddy cop comedy.
The film also stars Melissa McCarthy, who by now most of you will know from Bridesmaids, if not one of the several other comedies she’s done since that. There is no doubt that the woman has comedy chops, but I was a little concerned with the casting of Bullock as the straight cop to McCarthy’s funny cop. As Sandra Bullock is a funny lady too and I was hoping she’d have chance to shine.
The story is a relatively simple one. Uptight FBI agent Ashburn (Bullock), gets paired with foul mouthed Boston cop Mullins (McCarthy). The reasons for this being that Ashburn‘s boss thinks she needs people skills, and Mullins‘ boss thinks Ashburn will be a good influence on her. So they work together, hating each other at first but then finding middle ground and forming a friendship strong enough to bring down a drug lord.
If that sounds like a million other buddy cop movies you’ve seen, that’s probably because it is. That’s not to say it doesn’t have merits or isn’t enjoyable, because it does and it is. Just don’t expect anything fresh. Even the idea of this being a female buddy cop movie isn’t new. Well not if you remember Cagney and Lacey anyway.
A good effort on both leads part makes this a fun night out at the cinema (or night in if you’re going to wait for the DVD) but it won’t blow you away. 7 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 28th July 2013
Viewing Date – 28th July 2013
UK Release Date – 14th February 2007
Simon Pegg ~ Sergeant Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost ~ PC Danny Butterman
Timothy Dalton ~ Simon Skinner
Jim Broadbent ~ Inspector Frank Butterman
Paddy Considine ~ DS Andy Wainwright
Rafe Spall ~ DC Andy Cartwright
Kevin Eldon ~ Sergeant Tony Fisher
Karl Johnson ~ PC Bob Walker
Olivia Colman ~ PC Doris Thatcher
Martin Freeman ~ Met sergeant
Bill Nighy ~ Met Chief Inspector
Billie Whitelaw ~ Joyce Cooper
Peter Wight ~ Roy Porter
Julia Deakin ~ Mary Porter
Bill Bailey ~ Sergeant Turner
Paul Freeman ~ Rev Philip Shooter
Edward Woodward ~ Tom Weaver
Anne Reid ~ Leslie Tiller
Adam Buxton ~ Tim Messenger
David Threlfall ~ Martin Blower
Lucy Punch ~ Eve Draper
David Bradley ~ Arthur Webley
Director ~ Edgar Wright
Writer(s) ~ Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Viewing Date – 28th July 2013
UK Release Dates – 19th July 2013
Simon Pegg ~ Gary King
Nick Frost ~ Andy Knightley
Martin Freeman ~ Oliver Chamberlain
Paddy Considine ~ Steven Prince
Eddie Marsan ~ Peter Page
Rosamund Pike ~ Sam Chamberlain
Pierce Brosnan ~ Guy Shephard
David Bradley ~ Basil
Michael Smiley ~ Reverend Green
Julia Deakin ~ B&B Landlady
Rafe Spall ~ Young Man
Bill Nighy ~ The Network
Director ~ Edgar Wright
Writer(s) ~ Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
I might’ve mentioned my love of Disney movies, and that in recent years, this love has only grown with the addition of Pixar to the Disney family.
As I confessed in my recent Monsters Inc. review, that movie is my favourite Pixar movie. Without doubt. Only challenged by Wall•e, which I love, but which only manages second place to the tale of Sully, Mike and Boo. So of course, when Monsters University was announced 10 years after Monsters Inc. I was thrilled. But could it live up to it’s predecessor?
Monsters University starts by showing us a snippet of the young life of Michael Wazowski, a small monster with big dreams. He’s never found his place in the world until he visits Monsters Incorporated on a school trip. He is immediately drawn into the world of the amazing scarers and decides there and then that he must become one. He works hard at school and makes it all the way to Monsters University, which is where he meets James P Sullivan, or Sully as he’s known to his friends. Despite the knowledge we have of what great friends they become later in life, they do not see eye to eye at first. But in entering the Scare Games with a group of misfit monsters, they must work together to make their team good enough to make the grade.
I picked Monsters University as my birthday movie this year. I’m not sure if that put more pressure on it or whether I still would have had high expectations due to my love of the first movie. Either way, sadly, Monsters University did not surpass the high bar set by Monsters Inc.
It was still a brilliant sequel/prequel to the first film, and it was fascinating to see how our well loved monsters started out in life, but without Boo the film did feel like it was lacking something. As far as kids are concerned I have no doubt that Monsters University will go down a storm. There just aren’t many jokes for the adults to enjoy.
As ever with Pixar, the animation is superb. They’ve really shown off their talents with some of the new monsters, there’s a lot of detail so let your eyes just feast on it all. And at the end of the movie, if you don’t come away with just a little bit more respect for these cute, err I mean terrifying little guys, I’d say you’ve missed the point. 7 out of 10.
I don’t remember the first time I saw Say Anything. But I do remember that it was entirely down to my brother, as most of my well informed movie choices were around that time.
For those uninitiated with the 80s movie that put declaring your love with a boombox on the map, allow me to tell you a little about Say Anything. Here we have a movie about your average high school student Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack). He’s nothing special, except that he is nothing like any other guy in the world. He’s had a thing about the high school brain, Diane Court (Ione Skye), for years, and he decides to ask her to the graduation party to end all parties. She’s been awarded a scholarship in England so it’s now or never. No-one expects Diane to say yes, least of all Lloyd, heck, least of all Diane. But she does, and what follows is the account of the early days of their relationship, the ups, the downs and all of the family dramas in between.
This is what makes Say Anything one of the best 80s movies ever made. Not just the family drama, which happens to be an amazingly acted, moving and realistic account of lives being ripped apart. No, not just that. The whole shebang is what makes this movie great. I love the fact that Lloyd’s two best friends are women. That he’s responsible for being the key master at the party, rather than being the typical drunk guy, in fact, I love that he’s not a “guy” as his friends Corey and DC tell him, “don’t be a guy, be a man.” I love that he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, but he knows that he doesn’t know! Say Anything isn’t an underdog story, someone always believes in the underdog, no-one believes in Lloyd, not even Diane, and he proves them all wrong!
It’s funny, it’s heartbreakingly sad, it’s quotable, it’s 80s, it has Joan and John Cusack playing brother and sister, it has a great soundtrack, there are 2 out of 3 Heathers in it! FYI if you don’t know what that means see Heathersimmediately, then see Say Anything. You absolutely will not regret it. 10 out of 10.
Before Sunrise was given to me as a birthday gift from my brother. The fact that I remember this shows that it was one of the better birthday gifts I have received in my lifetime.
Needless to say I loved it. And when I found out there was a sequel set 9 years later, and not only that but that my best friend loved the original and couldn’t wait to see said sequel, I was even more excited. I loved the rich, realistic dialogue. And the chemistry Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy had was the kind that most actors can only dream of.
So, what did happen after Celine (Julie Delpy) sang A Waltz For A Night to Jesse (Ethan Hawke) at the end of Before Sunset? Did he catch his flight back to the US? Back to his wife and son? Did he hell!
We pick up with the couple another 9 years down the road, Jesse’s son Hank is just leaving Greece having stayed with his dad and Celine over the summer. Jesse and Celine now have twin daughters of their own, and that amazing banter they shared in the previous films is still evident, but it’s tinged with sourness due to Jesse’s guilt over leaving his son in the US in order to remain with Celine in France. It’s putting pressure on them, as is Celine’s natural closeness with Hank, that Jesse clearly envies. Will their history be the tie that binds or will they have gone their separate ways by the time the next 9 years have gone by?
Before Midnight keeps the realism of the first two movies, but whilst those movies were filled with hope, this instalment feels very bitter in comparison. *Spoiler Alert* The last half an hour of the film is a very intimate verbal spat between the two, and the way it’s shot, following what was beginning as a love scene, feels a little too close for comfort. Julie Delpy spends most of this scene topless, which I didn’t feel was at all necessary. Especially given the lack of nudity in the previous films, and given the lack of exposure on Hawke’s part. It felt overly unequal that the woman should be exposed in this way. And whilst I appreciate that this was clearly done to prove some sort of point about how women are naturally more exposed in situations like this, or that men always have the upper hand, it just didn’t come across this way to me. It seemed completely out of character with the other two films and entirely unnecessary.
Which is a shame because I spent so much time wanting Delpy to cover herself up I undoubtedly missed a lot of what she was saying in this pivotal scene. This film, along with The World’s End (review to follow shortly), which is another end to a long spanning trilogy, really makes me worry about my future. Both beginnings to the trilogy’s start in the characters 20s, and both films are essentially about being young and carefree and just enjoying life. The next films, set in the characters 30s, are considerably more serious, dealing with much harsher topics; and the final films, set in the characters 40s are all about missed opportunities and bitterness. If that’s all my 40s has in stall for me I’m not sure I’m looking forward to that so much?
Delpy and Hawke’s natural chemistry with each other is still present, and the script they co-wrote with director Richard Linklater, is as realistic as Sunset, but whereas Sunset was full of fond remembrance and hope, Midnight is full of over familiarity and discontent. The romantic in me wants to believe this pair can overcome anything, but the realist in me isn’t so sure.
For those who have seen and loved the previous films, this last instalment is a must. Just don’t expect a happy ending. 7 out of 10.
UK Release Date – 3rd July 2013
The one thing I did like were the flashback scenes. I thought Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were well cast as Jonathan and Martha Kent and that those scenes added much needed weight. But those scenes felt so disjointed because we only saw them in flashbacks. I wish it had been better. Cavill, Adams, Crowe, even Michael Shannon, who I didn’t know until recently and who I’ve now seen in three films in as many weeks, were all decent. I just wish it had been a movie more deserving of them.
I think if I’d never seen a Superman movie and knew nothing about the story, I’d have thought it was passable. But I have and I do and as such, it just wasn’t for me. 4 out of 10.
I only became aware of Behind The Candelabra just before it’s release, when during the press tour for the film, Michael Douglas openly admitted that Matt Damon has the softest lips he’s ever kissed. That was one of the milder subject matters Mr Douglas touched upon in his many interviews; but of course, some of the more risque topics ensure that the film, and it’s stars, are talked about. And when you’re promoting a film like this, the more risque the topic the better.
The film tells the tale of entertainer and rather good piano player Liberace (Michael Douglas). A man who managed to hide not only his sexuality but also his string of male lovers, and the AIDS that eventually killed him, from his adoring – and mostly female – fans. The story is set between 1977 and 1987 and focuses on the relationship Liberace (Lee to his friends) had with Scott (Matt Damon). We follow the couple from their initial courtship, through to some unnecessary and at times comical surgery for each of them, drug addiction, Lee’s insatiable need for promiscuity and their inevitable break up.
The film is very well acted, I honestly could not fault the performances from Douglas or Damon, and the supporting cast is a veritable dream, from Rob Lowe and Dan Aykroyd to Scott Bakula. But what bothered me was how much Behind The Candelabra has been marketed as a comedy, and it’s really not. It tackles some seriously dark subjects, and a lot of the film Lee and Scott are fighting more than they’re loving. As such, it’s not as enjoyable as it appears from the trailer. There are laughs to be had but they’re definitely few and far between.
The film is certainly flamboyant and the filmmakers are not shy at stripping away the facade, eager to show what life in Liberace’s shadow was like for Scott. But in this day and age neither is it especially shocking, so what the audience experiences is a somewhat interesting but mostly mild account of the life of a man who lived a lie.
If you’re interested in Liberace’s life and seeing what hid behind the candelabra that was presented to the public, or if you’re a fan of well acted, true life drama then this is definitely for you. If you’re looking for light hearted laughs then maybe see something else. 5.5 out of 10.
We re-join the Captain and crew of the USS Enterprise as they attempt to save an indigenous race from extinction, from a volcano that is about to erupt on their home planet. Kirk (Chris Pine) and McCoy (Karl Urban) create a diversion that allows Spock (Zachary Quinto) to freeze the volcano’s lava, before it can erupt and destroy the race’s sacred temple. Unfortunately, the crew are unable to make their departure from the planet without being seen, which violates the prime directive of Starfleet. This leads Kirk to get stripped of his rank and sent back to the Academy. Or at least that’s what we’re intended to see.
*What follows is all in the trailer so no real spoilers from here on out* What actually happens is that the baddie of the hour, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), hell bent on destroying Starfleet, blows up the commanding officer’s meeting, just as they were discussing what to do about him. Kirk finally steps up to the plate over what happened and asks to be put in command of a secret mission to take Harrison down. Will Kirk do the right thing? Or will his emotions get the better of him. And will Spock ever allow his Vulcan side drop long enough for his human emotions to shine through?
Another successful Trek and I for one can’t wait for the third installment. I just hope J.J.’s not too busy with Star Wars to take the helm for the third time. As I suspect, if he hands over to someone who’ll use less lense flare than he would, it’ll be a different experience entirely. 8 out of 10.
All in all, a good day, met some nice people and RDJ once again proves he’s the star in this franchise by being such a good sport!
My decent into Marvel appreciation started with Thor and culminated with The Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK). I had seen both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 and liked those movies but they weren’t enough to make me a fan. Regardless of my less than enthusiastic approach to Iron Man I did go to the Premiere for Iron Man 3 (see here for the gossip on that) and I also went to the midnight screening of Iron Man 3. Then ‘why are we only getting a review now?’ I hear you cry! The simple answer is that I was so tired whilst watching Iron Man 3 at midnight that I wasn’t sure my review of that experience would do the film justice. I liked it alright. I just didn’t love it. And I wanted to be sure that that was my overall feeling and not just tired me saying that.
So I waited until today, which just so happened to be the day I went to see Iron Man 3 again. This time on IMAX!!! If you haven’t seen a film on IMAX I will just say that it makes everything bigger, louder and in many respects, especially on a movie like this, better.
For those who don’t know, following the events of Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, Iron Man 3 picks up after the alien attack at the end of The Avengers. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a changed man. He can’t sleep and when he does he has nightmares of what happened in New York and threats that have yet to present themselves. No sooner have we established that these are imagined threats, a very real terrorist appears on the scene calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). And after someone close to Tony is in the wrong place at the wrong time of a Mandarin attack, Tony vows revenge. It’s only when his home is literally blown into the water that Tony has to act to save those he can’t live without.
Iron Man 3 surprised me on many levels. The first being the massive twist involving Ben Kingsley’s character The Mandarin. I won’t give it away in case you’ve yet to see the film but it is brilliant and I hope that you, like me, will not see it coming. The second surprise was just how vulnerable Tony seemed. Usually he’s unstoppable, indestructible Iron Man, but in this installment he seemed much more human. Maybe it’s the direction Marvel are going in (you’ll hopefully understand what I mean by this when you see the last few reels of the movie) but I liked it. I also liked the continuing and deepening of the Tony/Pepper relationship. And some equalling of the ground between them. Pepper kicks ass in this movie on so many levels and it was nice to see her do something other than walk around in a suit looking like she has a bug up her butt.
The Iron Man films have always been the less serious and more humerous of the Marvel movies but whilst this one was still very funny in places, it’s also a much darker movie. Whilst I was happy for my nephew to see Thor and Avengers, I wouldn’t recommend taking a child of his age (7) to see this. At the end of the day superhero movies are generally fantasy films but a lot of the threat in this movie is by a terrorist, and in this day and age that kind of villain is all too real. For that, along with some gory deaths involving people getting literally punched through their stomachs/chests, I would recommend only taking older children to see Iron Man 3.
On a lighter note, I think my favourite scene in the movie is the ‘barrel of monkeys’ scene. If you’ve seen it you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s very tense but so very satisfying. And very well shot. So all in all, better than my initial ‘alright’ response, Iron Man 3 is definitely worthy of a second showing and if you’re going to do it again you really should make it IMAX. A surprising and satisfying 8 out of 10.
*Don’t forget to stay for the post credits sequence* Squee!