Thor: The Dark World Premiere

As many of my regular readers will know, I do enjoy going to the occasional film premiere, especially if it’s a movie I am interested in, or a movie featuring one of my favourite stars. However, as I already managed to obtain the signature of Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, at the Avengers premiere last year, I almost didn’t go to the Thor: The Dark World premiere at all.
 
My main reason for not going was that my usual premiere companion and cinema buddy, was not able to take the day off work and accompany me. Without his camaraderie, home made sandwiches and photography skills, I just didn’t think it would be worth it. But as soon as I got to work on the morning of the premiere I knew I had made a grave mistake. Firstly because it was not raining, as the weather woman (Carol on BBC Breakfast) had predicted. Secondly, as I was present at the Avengers and Iron Man 3 Premiere (and did Iron Man 3 stag), it just felt wrong that I wasn’t there.
 
So I made a snap decision to take the afternoon off work and go to the premiere. I will admit that it was not the best idea I’ve ever had, because as an experienced premiere goer, I know full well that the best thing to do is go up to London early to get a good spot. I arrived in London at around 3pm, which meant that all of the enclosed pens where the fans are held, were all full. So the queue of people I was with were diverted into the center part of Leicester Square. Regrettably, despite there being poster covered banners and red carpet here, this was not an area the stars walked down as this was where the general public were being ushered in. I did however have a good view of the stage from where I was, just a far away view.
 
The first part of the premiere involved a vote for the ‘Thor with the most Phwoar’, a line up of Thor look-a-likes who were all vying for the public to vote for them.
 
After this we saw a precession of Lookie-Loki’s, who were going to be judged by none other than Tom Hiddleston upon his arrival at the premiere. My personal favourite of the Lookie-Loki’s was this person, who did a fantastic job on their costume…
 
I managed to take a video of Mr Hiddleston being interviewed and judging the contest. I can’t post it here but he came across very well, but I always think this of Mr Hiddleston, having seen him be interviewed a number of times.
As I was too far away from the action, with only my iPhone to rely on, I decided it would be better for me to video the main interviews rather than trying to take pictures. The best I did, picture wise, was when I took these images of the main screen as Kat Dennings arrived:
 
But as you can see, they’re not great. The next person to be interviewed was Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth.
Followed by unexpected guest, and head honcho of assembling the Avengers, Joss Whedon. *I love that someone says “oh no” when Joss says he can’t say anything about Avengers: Age of Ultron, come on lady, you really thought he would?
That brings me to the end of my premiere adventures. Next time I will make my mind up earlier, be more prepared and hopefully get some signatures. But until then, here is a giant Mjolnir in the middle of Leicester Square…
 
Advertisements

Movie Review Catch Up ~ October 2013

Runner Runner

Mini Review
Princeton student Richie (Timberlake) decides to gamble what little money he was saving for his tuition on an online gaming site, in the hope that he will win enough to pay for his tuition in it’s entirety. He loses everything, but rather than putting this down to bad luck, Richie is convinced that he’s been played by the site, and that they made sure he lost. He takes his grievance to the owner of the site, Ivan Block (Affleck), a man who has clearly made his fortune through more than running a gaming site or two. Block hears Richie out and offers to compensate him for his loss. But more than that, Block offers Richie a job, and with it, the chance to become richer than his wildest dreams.


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.

 
Viewing Date – 1st October 2013
UK Release Date – 27th September 2013
Cast Overview:
Richie Furst ~ Justin Timberlake
Ivan Block ~ Ben Affleck
Rebecca Shafran ~ Gemma Arterton
Agent Shavers ~ Anthony Mackie
Director ~ Brad Furman
Writer(s) ~ Brad Furman and David Levien
~

How I Live Now

 

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?

 
Although How I Live Now is a very realistic and relevant film (and book), it’s not the most cheery of topics. Not all films are, and I appreciate the dark as well as the light, but there really is not an awful lot of light in this film, figuratively speaking. Daisy is a very hard character to like. I don’t know how she comes across in the book as I haven’t read it, but in the film she’s just really quite mean and spiteful for the early part and you’re never really sure what her motivation is for that. Her cousins, especially Isaac and Piper, are very accommodating to this American brat who has been thrust upon them, and for the most part she just comes across as ungrateful. 
 
I found this made it even harder to understand why Eddie fell in love with her, I mean first she’s his cousin, so that’s just all wrong to me. And second, she’s not very nice. So their relationship just seemed off to me the whole time. And as that is a massive factor in the movie, her whole motivation to get away from the safe house and back home is to get back to Eddie, I just found the whole movie to be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.
 
The actors involved were all very convincing in their roles, especially as they are all very young, and most unknown. But their characters just didn’t really have a lot of depth. I would therefore only recommend How I Live Now to fans of the book, as I think only those people will understand the characters fully. 5.5 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 6th October 2013
UK Release Date – 4th October 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Daisy ~ Saoirse Ronan
Edmond ~ George MacKay
Isaac ~ Tom Holland
Piper ~ Harley Bird
Aunt Penn ~ Anna Chancellor
 
Director ~ Kevin Macdonald
Writer(s) ~ Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni, Penelope Skinner, Meg Rosoff (Novel)
~

Thor: The Dark World

Thanks to the geniuses at Marvel, the detailed teachings of my nephew, and the welcome into the Marvel fandom I have received through my blog, I have become a huge fan of the Marvel movies. As such, when I heard that my local cinema was showing not only a midnight screening of Thor: The Dark World, but also showing Thor beforehand, I had to go and be part of that. However, I then heard that another cinema a little further away was showing Thor AND Avengers Assemble before a midnight screening of Thor: The Dark World, and I knew that was the one for me. I convinced my Avengers midnight screening buddies to come along too and before you can say ‘For Asgard’, we were on our way to a 7 hour Thor-a-thon. You can read my previous reviews for Thor and Avengers Assemble by clicking the respective links.
 
Firstly allow me to say how great it was to see Thor in 3D IMAX, which I did not when it first came out. Wow. It looked great, it was funny, Asgard looked more shiny and sumptuous than ever. And then Avengers. You can’t top it. Or can you?
 
Thor: The Dark World opens by telling the tale of the dark elves, lead by Malekith (Eccleston). His goal is to destroy the universe by unleashing a powerful weapon known as the Aether. In the tale, Malekith and the dark elves are faught to extinction by Odin’s (Hopkins) father Bor, and the Aether is moved to a safe place, far from the reach of those who might mis-use it’s dark power. We move forward to present day London where we find Jane Foster (Portman) and Darcy Lewis (Dennings) discovering strange goings on in an abandoned warehouse; trucks that can be flipped in mid air by the lightest of touches, items disappearing and reappearing when dropped down a stairwell. In the midst of all these strange goings on Jane disappears into one of these voids and finds herself in another dimension, face to face with the Aether. As Heimdall (Elba) is unable to ‘see’ Jane in the other dimension, Thor (Hemsworth) makes the decision to return to earth to find Jane. But he takes on more than he bargained for when the dark elves return, forcing Thor to join forces with his imprisoned brother Loki (Hiddleston), in order to defeat them and return the Aether to safe hands.
 
I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World greatly, but sadly, not as much as I liked the first Thor. I wasn’t keen on the villain this time around, I just found him to be rather lacking in charisma, and as you never really know his motivation for wanting to destroy the universe, it’s hard to ever really see things from his perspective. Plus the name for the race, the dark elves, I’m sorry but I just couldn’t take that seriously. I can’t find elves something to be feared, no matter how ‘dark’ they are.
 
Having said that, I enjoyed the humour of the movie and I particularly enjoyed Loki’s scenes this time around. Bearing in mind that this is the third outing for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, this is the first time in three movies that I have had any empathy for him, and this time I found that I was actually rooting for him a lot of the time. You can tell that Hiddleston relishes this role and has a lot of love for the character and I think this really comes across in this movie. The scene in Loki’s cell with Frigga was just heart wrenching, while Loki’s scenes with Thor are filled with enjoyable banter. 
 
In terms of the Marvel universe and the continuation of things from Thor and Avengers, Thor: The Dark World does not disappoint. Asgard still looks sumptuous and spectacular, while the scenes on earth have moved to London as the main setting. I for one really enjoyed seeing the UK play such a big part in a movie as mainstream as this, and especially as superhero movies tend to always take place in America, with very little mention of the world outside of that. Little touches such as the digestives on the breakfast table, and the ITV news story made me smile and I hope that the US audiences enjoyed it as much as I did. 
 
I must also give praise to the artists who’s work is featured in the end credits of the film as it really is quite stunning. If you don’t want to stay for the mid credits or post credits sequences I would at least recommend staying until the artwork has finished being showcased. Another great edition to the Marvel movie universe, just don’t expect it to surpass Thor. 8 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 29th October 2013 (Midnight)
UK Release Date – 30th October 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Thor ~ Chris Hemsworth
Jane Foster ~ Natalie Portman
Loki ~ Tom Hiddleston
Odin ~ Anthony Hopkins
Malekith ~ Christopher Eccleston
Sif ~ Jaimie Alexander
Fandral ~ Zachary Levi
Volstagg ~ Ray Stevenson
Hogun ~ Tadanobu Asano
Heimdall ~ Idris Elba
Frigga ~ Rene Russo
Darcy ~ Kat Dennings
Erik ~ Stellan Skarsgård
 
Director ~ Alan Taylor
Writer ~ Christopher Yost (Screenplay), Christopher Markus (Screenplay), Stephen McFeely (Screenplay), Don Payne (Story) and Robert Rodat (Story)
 
Based on the comic books by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
~

A Nightmare On Elm Street

The first time I saw A Nightmare On Elm Street was around Christmas time. I remember this because I have a really vivid memory of watching it with the lights off as my mum hung Christmas decorations around the living room of our old house. 
 
I must have been about 16 or so. I wasn’t scared, in fact I found most of the sequences laughable, but I loved it. And so when I saw that my local Cineworld was showing a one off screening of the film on Halloween, I simply had to be there! 
 
For those who are not familiar with the story of the dream killer with razors on his fingers, allow me to initiate you. School friends, Nancy, Tina, Rod and Glen discover that they keep having nightmares about the same scarred man with a razor glove. After Tina is killed by the man during a particularly violent dream, and her boyfriend is accused of her murder, things start to take a disturbing turn for the remaining three teens. When Nancy discovers that the man in her nightmares was not only real, but known to her parents as child killer Fred Krueger, she starts to do some investigation into his death, and how he could be attacking a new generation of children from within their dreams. 
 
If you are going to watch Nightmare for the first time there are a couple of things you’ll need to know. First is that all of the ‘kids’ look about 30. There is one scene in particular where Nancy comments that she looks “20 years old”, you could probably double that. The second thing to bear in mind is that the acting is terrible. Nancy’s mom got a lot of laughs in the screening I saw. 
 
But, if you put those things aside and consider that this movie is nearly 30 years old, you can better appreciate how ground breaking it was at the time. The make up effects alone are still tremendous to this day. And after one of my friends dressed as Freddy for Halloween, I’m sure she now has a better understanding for how long those make up effects took and how much more impressive they are for not being done in CGI. I know I certainly have a greater appreciation for it just from seeing it done. 
 
One of my favourite parts of the movie is towards the end when Nancy is trying to set booby traps for Freddy. I just love the set up of all the traps and the fact that she supposedly did that in under 10 minutes. So unrealistic but so much fun. 
 
It’s kinda silly, parts of it make no sense at all, but it’s a fun horror that will have you laughing as well as jumping. A horror classic, just don’t expect to be terrified. 8 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 31st October 2013
Original Release Date – 16th November 1984 
(USA – couldn’t find a UK release date)
 
Cast Overview:
Lt Donald Thompson ~ John Saxon
Marge Thompson ~ Ronee Blakley
Nancy Thompson ~ Heather Langenkamp
Christina ‘Tina’ Gray ~ Amanda Wyss
Rod Lane ~ Nick Corri
Glen Lantz ~ Johnny Depp
Fred Krueger ~ Robert Englund
 
Director/Writer ~ Wes Craven

Movie Review Catch Up ~ September 2013

White House Down

As I have seen the last three Channing Tatum movies to be released in the UK, Magic Mike, GI Joe Retaliation and Side Effects, with my friend who is a big Channing Tatum fan, I wanted to wait until she was free to see this one. Although I try to convince everyone, including myself, that I don’t really like the guy that much, it’s better for my reputation if I say that I only saw one of his movies because my friend wanted to. In this case though, the dirty white vest on the poster was enough to me.
 
From that point on I referred to this movie as Die Hard at the White House, and that’s pretty much what it is. The film tells the story of police officer John Cale (Tatum), who takes his politically enthusiastic daughter Emily (King), with him to the White House where he has an interview for becoming part of the secret service. Despite knowing the interviewer for the job, Carol Finnerty (Gyllenhaal), since college, Cale strikes out and resumes his White House tour with Emily. It is then that terrorists strike and it is up to Cale, who joins forces with the President (Foxx), to protect the hostages which include his daughter.
 
Whilst I missed Olympus Has Fallen when it came out in March, I understand that there are some similarities between that movie and White House Down. Although I have it on good authority from the friend I saw White House Down with that despite their similarities, they are still very different storylines. In her opinion Olympus was the better movie, but she said she’d rather see Channing Tatum than Gerard Butler in a dirty vest. So I guess your choice really depends on which actor floats your boat.
 
For my opinion on this movie, I really enjoyed it. Yes it’s cheesy, some lines are pure cheddar, but it knows it’s cheesy. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. But unlike director Emmerich’s last movie, 2012, White House Down is still both believable (in terms of the main plot anyway) and not so over the top that it harms the movie. My advice would be to go in with the idea of not expecting too much and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
 
Tatum and Foxx are both very likable and work well together, both comedically and in the action sequences. Gyllenhaal, Clarke, Jenkins and Woods all give strong support that lends more weight to the proceedings. King gives a capable performance for one so young, and is enjoyable to watch in her scenes with the tour guide Donnie, who lends most of the lighter moments to the film. 
 
Overall, this movie had me laughing, it kept me engaged until the credits rolled, and Tatum in a vest is a sight I could get used to. 7.5 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 29th September 2013
UK Release Date – 13th September 2013
 
Cast Overview:
John Cale ~ Channing Tatum
President James Sawyer ~ Jamie Foxx
Carol Finnerty ~ Maggie Gyllenhaal
Emil Stenz ~ Jason Clarke
Eli Raphelson ~ Richard Jenkins
Emily Cale ~ Joey King
Martin Walker ~ James Woods
Donnie Smith ~ Nicholas Wright
Vice President Hammond ~ Michael Murphy
Melanie ~ Rachelle Lefevre
 
Director ~ Roland Emmerich
Writer ~ James Vanderbilt
~

R.I.P.D.

Mini Review
I’m gonna cut right to the chase here because R.I.P.D. is one of those movies that is so bad, it made me want to put off writing the review for as long as possible. The two people I saw it with both fell asleep (several times) during the film, the entire cinema was deathly quiet throughout, despite this being a ‘comedy’ and one of my friends accurately described the movie as an ‘unfunny Men In Black with dead people instead of aliens’. All true.
 
For those who are still interested in seeing this film, for whatever reason you have, I will give you a brief synopsis. Nick (Reynolds) is a Boston cop who is killed in action. His soul is sent to the ‘Rest In Peace Department’, a division of heaven where good cops go to capture bad souls who remain on earth. Nick is partnered with Roy (Bridges) while he learns the ropes of his new assignment and comes to terms with being dead.
 
The problem I have with writing a review for the movie is that I am having a hard time putting my finger on what it was that made the film so bad, because it certainly wasn’t the leads. Reynolds and Bridges had good chemistry and were both good (with what little they had to work with). 
 
I can only think that it was a case of too many cooks spoil the broth, with that many writers being attributed to both screenplay and story I suspect that there were too many hands trying to make light work. The script just wasn’t funny. And when you have someone like Reynolds on board, who initially endeared me to him by tickling my funny bone, that seems a great shame to me. The story is easy to follow but you never really root for the characters or feel that it is any great loss when one of them dies (which seems to happen a lot). 
 
I was also disappointed by the CGI. Considering this is a film that’s heavy on effects, they should have been a lot better. 
 
To sum up, I genuinely feel it’s a shame that R.I.P.D was not better, as I thought it had a lot of potential and all the filmmakers did was squander that on a poorly executed idea. 4.5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 28th September 2013
UK Release Date – 20th September 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Roy ~ Jeff Bridges
Nick ~ Ryan Reynolds
Hayes ~ Kevin Bacon
Proctor ~ Mary-Louise Parker
Julia ~ Stephanie Szostak
 
Director ~ Robert Schwentke
Writer ~ Phil Hay (Screenplay and Story), Matt Manfredi (Screenplay and Story), David Dobkin (Story) and Peter M Lenkov (Dark Horse Comic) 
~

About Time

Had it not been for Rachel McAdams, the fact that this was a Richard Curtis film probably would have been enough to keep me from seeing it. Other than The Boat That Rocked, I’ve not been that big a fan of Mr Curtis. But luckily for About Time, it does have Rachel McAdams, and that was enough for me.
The film opens on a New Years Eve party, during which Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), shakes hands with a girl at midnight rather than kissing her. The next day, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy), reveals that the men in their family have the ability to travel through time, as long as it’s within their own lifetime. Not believing this preposterous story, Tim decides he will try to go back to the New Years Eve party and kiss the girl. All he has to do is shut himself in a confined space, close his eyes and think of the moment he wants to go back to. So when Tim opens his wardrobe door to discover he is back at the New Years party, he is beyond belief that his father was telling the truth. Not only that but he is excited for all of the possibilities this will open up for him, mainly with the opposite sex.
The best way I can descibe About Time is to tell you what I said to my friend as the credits rolled, ‘that was a really nice film’. Now, to some of you, the fact that I said it was ‘nice’ might sound boring, safe, not all that interesting. And I suppose that depends on your definition of nice. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me feel something for it’s rather ordinary characters in an extraordinary situation. With a premise like this there are of course plot holes. To be honest, I liked the film so much that I don’t really want to dwell on that by nit-picking. About Time is a really sweet, touching film, lovingly made by those involved, wonderfully acted and I would highly recommend it to all ages.
It’s rare for me to like British made comedies, it’s even more rare for me to like films by Richard Curtis. Combine the two and I should have hated About Time, but it’s different, and I like that about it. 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 25th September 2013
UK Release Date – 4th September 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Tim ~ Domhnall Gleeson
Mary ~ Rachel McAdams
Dad ~ Bill Nighy
Kit Kat ~ Lydia Wilson
Mum ~ Lindsay Duncan
Uncle D ~ Richard Cordery
Rory ~ Joshua McGuire
Harry ~ Tom Hollander
Charlotte ~ Margot Robbie
Jay ~ Will Merrick
 
Director/Writer ~ Richard Curtis
~

Prisoners


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 direction is tight and the story has more twists than Chubby Checker. But it’s not a fun film, and it’s not an easy film to watch. At over 2 hours, it’s an investment. Having said that, if you want to see great actors in a taught, suspenseful thriller, this is definitely the one for you. 8 out of 10.

 
Viewing Date – 23rd September 2013
UK Release Date – 27th September 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Keller Dover ~ Hugh Jackman
Detective Loki ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Nancy Birch ~ Viola Davis
Grace Dover ~ Maria Bello
Franklin Birch ~ Terrence Howard
Holly Jones ~ Melissa Leo
Alex Jones ~ Paul Dano
 
Director ~ Denis Villeneuve
Writer ~ Aaron Guzikowski

~

We’re The Millers

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.

Viewing Date – 4th September 2013
UK Release Date – 23rd August 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Rose O’Reilly Jennifer Aniston
David Clark ~ Jason Sudeikis
Casey Mathis ~ Emma Roberts
Kenny Rossmore ~ Will Poulter
Brad Gurdlinger ~ Ed Helms
Don Fitzgerald ~ Nick Offerman
Edie Fitzgerald ~ Kathryn Hahn
Melissa Fitzgerald ~ Molly Quinn
 
Director ~ Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer(s) ~ Bob Fisher (Screenplay and Story), Steve Faber (Screenplay and Story), Sean Anders (Screenplay) and John Morris (Screenplay)

Movie Review Catch Up ~ August 2013

Rush


The only reason I was drawn to this film was Chris Hemsworth. I’m not too proud to admit that he is pretty and I based my decision on that. The fact that the film was being shown as a preview at my local Cineworld also didn’t lessen it’s appeal. Having said that, I do find Formula 1 racing to be one of the dullest sports there is.

The film re-enacts the story of rival Formula 1 drivers, James Hunt (Hemsworth) of the UK, and Niki Lauda (Brühl) of Austria. Lauda is a much more careful, considerate, driver than Hunt but still has great talent behind the wheel, whereas Hunt is all about putting on a show. Yes he’s got finesse but he’s also young and reckless. Their rivalry comes to a head during the German Grand Prix race of 1976, when Lauda voices his concern about driving in the rain and is overruled by Hunt and his cocky friends. Unfortunately it’s Lauda who pays the price for their careless thinking when he crashes his car and it bursts into flames, with him still inside. His recovery is miraculous and will change not only Lauda’s life but it will also humble the arrogant Hunt and change the rules of racing forever.

I was so impressed by Rush in every way. The racing scenes were shot so tightly and appeared so slick, it made me excited to watch race after race, which has never before been the case. Helmer Ron Howard and his cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle have done a fantastic job of the look and feel of this movie. 

 
As for the two leads, I honestly can’t fault either. You might go into this, as I did, thinking this was Hemsworth’s film. When you come out of it I hope you will think of it as more of a 50/50 split. Understand that I thought Hemsworth was great, but without his chemistry with Brühl, and the way they shared the load of this movie, I don’t think he would have held the film up by himself. Brühl’s performance is key in you finding Hemsworth’s character at all likeable. They are both wonderful to watch, and the way their dislike of one another sparks is what keeps you hooked.

I really can’t recommend Rush highly enough. Even if you hate Formula 1 I don’t see how you can fail to find something here. 9 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 3rd September 2013
UK Release Date – 13th September 2013
 
Cast Overview:
James Hunt ~ Chris Hemsworth
Niki Lauda ~ Daniel Brühl 
Suzy Miller ~ Olivia Wilde
Marlane Lauda ~ Alexandra Maria Lara
Clay Regazzoni ~ Pierfrancesco Favino
Louis Stanley ~ David Calder
Nurse Gemma ~ Natalie Dormer
 
Director ~ Ron Howard
Writer ~ Peter Morgan
~

The Way Way Back

From the moment I saw the trailer for The Way Way Back I knew I wanted to see it. From the actors involved to the fact that it looked like it would be a genuine and funny summer movie. Something that is all too rare these days. What added to my excitement was when my cinema buddy not only raved about the film, but also told me he’d seen it multiple times. Something he only does when he REALLY likes a film.
 
The story centers on Duncan (Liam James), a kid who is spending the summer in the holiday home from hell. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t belong to his mother’s new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), whom Duncan just can’t see eye to eye with. Along for the ride are Duncan’s mom Pam (Toni Collette), who’s still in that disgusting honeymoon period with Trent, and Trent’s brattish teenage daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). As Duncan and Trent haven’t really hit it off, Duncan tries to find ways to fill his days without being under scrutiny for his every move. Oh and he has a crush on the girl vacationing in the next house. After a chance encounter with Owen (Sam Rockwell) who works at the local water park, Duncan finally finds a place where he feels at home. He gets a job, makes friends and has some much needed fun. What could possibly go wrong?
 
I am pleased to report that The Way Way Back IS one of those rare summer movies that is both genuine and funny. The characters all feel very real but not so much that you feel like you’re watching a dreadful reality show. The relationship between Duncan and Owen is handled perfectly and in the hands of lesser actors could have seemed quite creepy. Given that one of these actors is a relatively unknown 17 year old is really impressive. Liam James is definitely one to watch. At the start of the movie I felt a little bit like I wanted to punch his miserable face, but by the end of the movie I’d really grown to like him. 
 
The other surprise here was that Steve Carell is actually playing an unlikable character for once. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. And he’s brilliant at it. He makes you really despise Trent in a way I haven’t felt in some time. There is no-one in the cast I can fault because even the horrible characters are portrayed so well. And the fact that the movie was written and directed by two of the supporting actors in the film blows my mind a little. 
 
What I love about The Way Way Back is that it’s not like every other teen movie, it’s got good actors, a believable storyline, and it’s feel-good without being cheesy. Definitely the last jem of the summer. 8 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 1st September 2013
UK Release Date – 28th August 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Trent ~ Steve Carell
Pam ~ Toni Collette
Betty ~ Allison Janney
Susanna ~ AnnaSophia Robb
Owen ~ Sam Rockwell
Caitlin ~ Maya Rudolph
Duncan ~ Liam James
Steph ~ Zoe Levin
Kip ~ Rob Corddry
Joan ~ Amanda Peet
Roddy ~ Nat Faxon
Lewis ~ Jim Rash
 
Director(s)/Writer(s) ~ Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
~

Elysium

Mini Review
After the long run of ‘end of the world’ type movies this summer (Oblivion, After Earth and Pacific Rim to name but a few), I saw the trailer for Elysium and wasn’t immediately inspired. But I decided to see it anyway after hearing from my friends that it was a decent movie.
 
The year is 2154. People live in harmony and technology has evolved enough to eradicate life threatening diseases. But only if you’re rich enough to live on Elysium, a second man-made earth that sits in space, just beyond earth’s atmosphere. Those on earth who were not rich enough to take the shuttle to Elysium were left with an overpopulated planet, and have only a short life of hard work in front of them. One such unlucky sole is Max (Matt Damon), who as a boy did not have an easy upbringing. His only friend at this time was Frey but they were soon separated. Following an accident at the factory where Max works, he is exposed to harmful radiation which will kill him in 5 days, meaning he has to get to Elysium at all costs. Unbeknownst to Max, Elysium has a hard hitting Secretary of Defence (Jodie Foster) who will do almost anything to keep refugees from earth from entering their peaceful haven. This includes hiring a savage mercenary (Sharlto Copley) to take down those who attempt to get to Elysium. 
 
Despite my initial trepidation at the subject matter I found myself really drawn into Elysium. I have no doubt that this was mainly due to the calibre of the actors involved. Damon’s performance is believable, and he really does make you feel for Max and the hand he has been dealt in life. Similarly, Sharlto Copley’s performance as the mercenary, Kruger, is quite terrifying. His unwavering determination to get the job done makes his character brutal and quite similar to a Terminator in the later scenes. The only fault I really have with the cast here is Jodie Foster, who seems mis-cast as the cold, calculating Delacourt. I’m also convinced she was dubbed throughout the whole film as her dialogue never seemed to be in sync with her mouth. 
 
The direction could have been better and the effects are not always great but the story is solid, and the actors (for the most part) do a great job of portraying their characters. It’s also quite a different ‘end of the world’ story if you’re kinda sick to the back teeth of those types of films this year. Not necessarily one that has to be seen on the big screen, but not a bad movie for a DVD night. 6.5 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 29th August 2013
UK Release Date – 21st August 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Max ~ Matt Damon
Delacourt ~ Jodie Foster
Kruger ~ Sharlto Copley
Frey ~ Alice Braga
Julio ~ Diego Luna
Spider ~ Wagner Moura
John Carlyle ~ William Fichtner
 
Director/Writer ~ Neill Blomkamp
~

2 Guns

Mini Review
Allow me to preface this review by saying that 2 Guns is not really the type of movie I would normally rush to see, but following a dry spell of more than 10 days without seeing a film at the cinema, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. 
 
The story centers on Robert ‘Bobby’ Trench (Denzel Washington) and his partner in crime Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman (Mark Wahlberg). We open on their discussion of how best to rob a bank, and the sound advice that you should never rob a bank opposite a diner that sells the best donuts in town. After they set fire to the diner, making the bank they have their eye on an easy target, they set about relieving the bank of it’s $3 million, only to discover it actually holds $43 million. There’s also a double cross or two but probably not in the way you’re expecting. 
 
My cinema buddy and I were both pleasantly surprised by 2 Guns. It does exactly what it sets out to do, it’s entertaining, funny in places and has more action than you can shake a stick at. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. 
 
The acting might not blow you away but the explosions sure will, and you’ll no doubt enjoy the interaction between Washington and Wahlberg, a twosome I wasn’t sure would work from the outset but which I enjoyed immensely. And for those inclined, I will say that Paula Patton is a beautiful lady. And just leave it at that. The nice thing about the movie is that there’s enough plot so that even those who are unfazed by the action and the pretty people will still be entertained. 
 
If you like action movies, buddy cop type comedies and big names with big guns, you’re sure to like this movie. A not too shabby 7 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 18th August 2013 
UK Release Date – 16th August 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Robert ‘Bobby’ Trench ~ Denzel Washington
Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman ~ Mark Wahlberg
Deb ~ Paula Patton
Earl ~ Bill Paxton
Admiral Tuwey ~ Fred Ward
Quince ~ James Marsden
Papi Greco ~ Edward James Olmos
 
Director ~ Baltasar Kormákur
Writer(s) ~ Blake Masters (Screenplay) and Steven Grant (based on his Boom! Studios graphic novels)

~

Despicable Me 2

Mini Review
Following the events of Despicable Me, Gru is now a dedicated father to Margo, Edith and Agnes. With Gru’s evil past behind him, another villain soon steps into his shoes by stealing a laboratory containing a mutation potion. The Anti-Villain League begin investigations into discovering the identity of this villain and decide that the best way to find a villain, is to recruit a former villain into their team of investigators. 
 
I must admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Despicable Me. I liked it fine but I didn’t love it. I was therefore quite surprised when I discovered a sequel had been announced. When the trailers started to appear I remembered that whilst I didn’t love the movie that much, I did enjoy the minions. They were a big part of why I went to see the sequel, that and the fact that my friend wanted to see it too and it was Orange Wednesday. 
 
I don’t really remember enough about the first movie to say whether this is better. What I can tell you though is that I do remember liking this movie, and laughing out loud more than once, which for any comedy is usually quite the feat, so for a kids comedy to make me chuckle is noteworthy. My favourite line being – “Believe me, my friend. I too have spent many nights drowning my sorrows in guacamole.” It makes sense if you’ve seen it.
 
It’s not outstanding, although the voice work (don’t worry I won’t spoil it) is spot on as it was with the first film. Universal just aren’t quite there yet with their animated movies. Kiddies will love it and adults won’t be completely bored so overall it’s a win win. 6 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 7th August 2013
UK Release Date – 28th June 2013
 
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
Gru ~ Steve Carell
Lucy ~ Kristen Wiig
Eduardo/El Macho ~ Benjamin Bratt
Margo ~ Miranda Cosgrove
Dr Nefario ~ Russell Brand
Floyd ~ Ken Jeong
Silas ~ Steve Coogan
 
Director(s) ~ Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Writer(s) ~ Ken Daurio (Screenplay) and Cinco Paul (Screenplay)
~

The Wolverine

My original plan was to see this on my Birthday but after a long day at work, followed by Monsters University and dinner, my friends and I were a little too tired to dedicate more than 2 hours to Hugh Jackman and his claws. So we saved The Wolverine for another day.
 
I must admit that my initial response to there being yet another Wolverine movie was not one of excitement. I hadn’t particularly enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I didn’t really see the need for there to be another Wolverine movie. But I started to hear rumblings from people who’d seen it, about an amazing post credits scene. So naturally I was curious. Having now sat through 2+ hours of the film, I can tell you that for me, the post credits scene was not worth it. It’s not that the film is bad. It’s just overlong, and the story’s not all that interesting. 
 
The film is basically yet another tale of Logan (Hugh Jackman) trying to redeem himself from his past demons. This time around he travels to Japan to visit a man – Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), whom he saved from an atomic bomb blast during WWII. Yashida would like to repay Logan for saving his life all those years ago by taking away Logan’s mutation that allows him to heal. As it is this mutation which makes Logan immortal, Yashida thinks that to give Logan the ability to die, rather than continue to see those he loves die, would be a blessing. Of course he could just want the ability for himself, which would allow him to be cured of the cancer that is killing him.
 
Throughout the movie we not only have flashbacks to Logan’s past in Japan in 1945 but we also see his visions of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), whom he killed in X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s a very tangled web that’s being woven, and as it’s trying to incorporate elements from the X-Men films, as well as keeping in line with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it’s not always that easy to follow. The fight scenes, especially the one on the roof of the train are impressive, but the storyline stringing the fight scenes together is a little less so. Ultimately I just didn’t really feel as though I gained anything from seeing this movie and I don’t think it really added anything to the X-Men series, or was necessary in the run up to the release of the next X-Men film. Which is what is hinted at in the post credits scene.
 
I would recommend this to hardcore fans of the X-Men series, or those who like their Hugh Jackman to be sans shirt and with claws. 6 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 4th August 2013
UK Release Date – 26th July 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Logan ~ Hugh Jackman
Mariko ~ Tao Okamoto
Yukio ~ Rila Fukushima
Shingen ~ Hiroyuki Sanada
Viper ~ Svetlana Khodchenkova
Yashida ~ Haruhiko Yamanouchi
Young Yashida ~ Ken Yamamura
Jean Grey ~ Famke Janssen
 
Director ~ James Mangold
Writer(s) ~ Mark Bomback (Screenplay) and Scott Frank (Screenplay)

Movie Review Catch Up ~ July 2013

The Heat

Mini Review

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 – 31st July 2013
UK Release Date – 31st July 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Sandra Bullock ~ Ashburn
Melissa McCarthy ~ Mullins
Marlon Wayans ~ Levy
Michael Rapaport ~ Jason Mullins
Jane Curtin ~ Mrs Mullins
Spoken Reasons ~ Rojas
Dan Bakkedahl ~ Craig
Taran Killam ~ Adam
Michael McDonald ~ Julian
Thomas F Wilson ~ Captain Woods
 
Director ~ Paul Feig
Writer ~ Katie Dippold
~

The Cornetto Trilogy – Shaun Of The Dead – Hot Fuzz – The World’s End

As a long time fan of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, I was incredibly excited about the prospect of another collaboration between Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and writer/director Edgar Wright. So when my best friend informed me that Worthing Theatre would be showing The Cornetto Trilogy, in full, on my birthday weekend, with a free Cornetto to accompany each film, well I just had to go along. Especially as I’d not seen Shaun Of The Dead on the big screen, and had yet to see The World’s End. So we started the day with Shaun and a Strawberry Cornetto (it’s red for the blood see)
 
Brief synopsis of SOTD: The first ever RomZomCom (as my brother pointed out) and an inspiration that lead the way for films like Zombieland and Warm Bodies to name but a few. Shaun of the Dead tells the story of a man in his late 20s who needs to get his act together. Stuck in a dead end job (geddit?), still living with housemates, and a best friend who thinks farts are funny (we all know someone like Ed don’t we?). Everything starts to really fall apart for Shaun though when his girlfriend dumps him. Oh yeah, and then a zombie apocalypse happens. Shaun must think fast and finally get his arse in gear if he’s going to save his girl. 
 
As I was a fan of Spaced when it first aired I honestly couldn’t tell you how I missed Shaun at the cinema when it was first released, but what I can tell you is that it was an absolute joy to watch on the big screen. I love that SOTD is just so daft in places, and so endlessly quotable. I think my favourite is “Ooh he’s got an arm off.” 
 
It’s ground breaking, funny, touching and, in my opinion, one of the best british films ever made. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?! 9 out of 10. 

Viewing Date – 28th July 2013
UK Release Date – 9th April 2004
 
Cast Overview:
Simon Pegg ~ Shaun
Nick Frost ~ Ed
Kate Ashfield ~ Liz
Lucy Davis ~ Dianne
Dylan Moran ~ David
Peter Serafinowicz ~ Pete
Rafe Spall ~ Noel
Bill Nighy ~ Philip
Penelope Wilton ~ Barbara
Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson) ~ Yvonne
Martin Freeman ~ Declan
Reece Shearsmith ~ Mark
Tamsin Greig ~ Maggie
Julia Deakin ~ Yvonne’s Mum
Matt Lucas ~ Cousin Tom
 
Director ~ Edgar Wright
Writer(s) ~ Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Next up was Hot Fuzz, a film I had seen on the big screen before, but if you’re going to commit to a trilogy you can’t leave out the filling in the sandwich! And this was of course accompanied by a Vanilla Cornetto – the packaging is blue see, like the boys in blue…
 
Brief synopsis of HF: London PC Nicholas Angel is good at his job. A little too good. He’s making the rest of his colleagues look bad. So they ship him off to sleepy Sandford, a village in Gloucestershire with the lowest murder rate in the country. The most action he’ll see there is chasing down a missing swan. That is until a series of ‘accidents’ starts to plague the village, and Nicholas uncovers a plot to keep the Village of the Year award in Sandford at all costs!
 
Hot Fuzz upped the ante from Shaun of the Dead considerably. There was a much bigger cast, more locations, and action sequences that will blow your socks off (not literally). But in some respects I do feel like the film suffers for this. It’s over long and feels like there are one too many endings. Just when you think it’s finished, someone else makes a last ditch attempt to be the bad guy. Having said that, it’s still immensely enjoyable and whenever it’s on the TV I will always watch it. HF is also filled with the quotable lines and homages to other movies, much like Shaun and Spaced were. The added bonus for me with Hot Fuzz is that Nick Frost finally got to play a lovable character. Danny is such a sweetie and his scenes with Pegg’s Nicholas Angel are a delight. 
 
Not as good as Shaun for me, but only because they tried to outdo themselves and reached a little too far. 8.5 out of 10.

Viewing Date – 28th July 2013
UK Release Date – 14th February 2007

Cast Overview:
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
The last film of the day, and one I hadn’t yet seen, was The World’s End. The final film in the Pegg, Frost, Wright trilogy, known as The Cornetto Trilogy because in each film there is mention of a Cornetto, and each film has a theme that matches the colour of one of our best known Ice Cream treats. This time we had a mint one. I wonder what that could pertain to?
 
Brief synopsis of TWE: Gary, Andy, Oliver, Steven and Peter are childhood friends who have all gone their separate ways. Andy, Oliver, Steven and Peter all now have steady jobs and have made something of themselves, either professionally or personally. But alcoholic Gary is still living in the past. He decides that before he faces up to reality he wants to recapture his youth by having one last pub crawl with his school mates, using a route they once planned to conquer but never quite got to the end of. It takes in 12 pubs, one pint in each, and the final watering hole is called The World’s End. The question is, will they make it that far?
 
Let me start by saying that The World’s End was not what I was expecting. I had seen the trailer, and I had just watched the previous two films in the Cornetto trilogy. So you’d think I would be pretty well prepared for what was to come. But while the film had many of the same attributes as Shaun and Fuzz, most of the cast having appeared in Fuzz, and a lot having appeared in both films. The foreshadowing that appears in the previous films is also present (in Shaun they talked about having a Bloody Mary in the morning and ending up with shots at the bar – everything mentioned happens, just not in the way they thought. And then in Fuzz Danny asks Nicholas if he’s ever fired a gun whilst jumping through the air etc and then they end up doing those things later on in the movie. Here the foreshadowing is in the name of each pub. Look out for it.) but it’s a very different beast to the previous two films. Whilst Shaun was all about the lack of responsibility you feel in your twenties, and Fuzz was all about finding that responsibility thrust upon you in your thirties, End is all about the mid-life crisis of your forties. As such, it’s quite the sombre wake up call for those of us who haven’t yet made it that far in our lives. And as the previous two films were so lighthearted, it was not what I was expecting from this movie. 
 
The performances are top notch, especially from Pegg and Frost, who really put everything into showing how a friendship between two people can be the best thing that happens to one, and the worst thing that happens to the other. But how, despite their differences, they still mean the world to each other. The supporting cast is not only a shining example of British talent but also of the loyalty and love between the team who have brought these three movies to the screen. So many of the same people worked on all three films and it’s nice to see that kind of dedication in an industry that is normally so fickle. 
 
Not the best of the three but certainly worth a watch if you’re a fan of the other two. Just don’t expect as many laughs. 7 out of 10. 

Viewing Date – 28th July 2013
UK Release Dates – 19th July 2013

Cast Overview:
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
~

Monsters University

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.

 
Viewing Date – 26th July 2013
UK Release Date – 12th July 2013
 
Cast Overview:
(If you don’t like knowing who the voices are DONT SCROLL DOWN! ;0)
Billy Crystal ~ Mike
John Goodman ~ Sully
Steve Buscemi ~ Randy
Helen Mirren ~ Dean Hardscrabble
Peter Sohn ~ Squishy
Joel Murray ~ Don
Sean Hayes ~ Terri
Dave Foley ~ Terry
Charlie Day ~ Art
Alfred Molina ~ Professor Knight
Nathan Fillion ~ Johnny Worthington
 
Director ~ Dan Scanlon
Writer(s) ~ Dan Scanlon (Screenplay and Story), Daniel Gerson (Screenplay and Story) and Robert L Baird (Screenplay and Story)

~

Say Anything

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. 

 
I wonder if he showed it to me because it’s leading man, John Cusack, had a small supporting role in one of my favourite movies, Stand By Me? Or maybe it was because it was a little off the beaten track when it comes to Rom-Coms, and he thought I’d like that? Who knows. But the point is that he did show it to me and I did love it. But more of that later.

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 Heathers immediately, then see Say Anything. You absolutely will not regret it. 10 out of 10.

 
Viewing Date – 23rd July 2013
Original US Release Date (as I couldn’t find the UK Release Date anywhere) – 14th April 1989
 
Cast Overview:
John Cusack ~ Lloyd Dobler
Ione ~ Diane Court
John Mahoney ~ James Court
Lili Taylor ~ Corey Flood
Amy Brooks ~ D.C
Loren Dean ~ Joe
Joan Cusack ~ Constance Dobler
Glenn Walker Harris Jr ~ Jason Dobler
Jeremy Piven ~ Mark
Bebe Neuwirth ~ Mrs Evans
Eric Stoltz ~ Vahlere
Kim Walker ~ Sheila
Chynna Phillips ~ Mimi
Lisanne Falk ~ Sandra
Philip Baker Hall ~ IRS Boss
 
Director/Writer ~ Cameron Crowe

Movie Review Catch Up ~ June 2013

Before Midnight


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.

 
Viewing Date – 23rd June 2013
UK Release Date – 21st June 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Jesse ~ Ethan Hawke
Celine ~ Julie Delpy
Hank ~ Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
Ella ~ Jennifer Prior
Nina ~ Charlotte Prior
Natalia ~ Xenia Kalogeropoulou
Patrick ~ Walter Lassally
Anna ~ Ariane Labed
Achilleas ~ Yiannis Papadopoulos
Ariadni ~ Athina Rachel Tsangari
Stefanos ~ Panos Koronis
 
Director ~ Richard Linklater
Writer(s) ~ Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Characters by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan

~

Much Ado About Nothing

When I saw the poster for Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, featuring Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, my first thought was that it was a poster created by a fan. A mock up. A fake. It was only when I saw the trailer that I started to think maybe it was a real movie. And one I would definitely want to see.
I kept checking my local cinema listings and eventually found the film was showing at Brighton’s independent cinema, The Duke of Yorks, and I asked my ex housemate to join me. When we flat shared we started Buffy night, which quickly became Buffy and Angel night, then after we’d moved into our own abodes we watched Firefly, Serenity and now we’re on Dollhouse. Maybe we’ll finish up by watching Avengers? So of course, she was my go-to person for a new Joss Whedon movie.
The idea to make the film apparently came about because every summer, Joss invites a group of friends to his house and they all sit around reciting Shakespeare. And on this particular occasion Joss decided to film it. So we have the usual mix of actors who’ve all worked with Joss before, performing one of Shakespeare’s best known plays. A word to the wise, if you’ve seen Brannagh’s version, this is very different to that.
We still have the same basic story, Leonato (Clark Gregg), is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) with his brother Don John (Sean Maher) in tow in handcuffs. He asks Leonato if he, along with two of his officers, Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz), can stay at his home until they can deal with Don John’s treachery. However, as soon Claudio lays eyes on Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), he immediately falls for her. A wedding is soon arranged between the two and with love being all around, it prompts Leonato, Don Pedro, Claudio and Hero to match Benedick with Beatrice (Amy Acker), Leonato’s niece. The two have a history of loathing each other so it’s quite the challenge. Meanwhile, Don John, with the help of his allies Comrade (Riki Lindhome) and Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark), devises a scheme to destroy Hero and Claudio’s love and break them apart. Will he succeed? Will Benedick and Beatrice ever manage to say a kind word to one another?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions already I heartily suggest you give Mr Whedon’s version of Much Ado a go, as it was very different from previous adaptations I’ve seen, whilst remaining very faithful to Shakespeare’s original text.
I am unsure if the actors chosen were merely round at Whedon’s house for the annual Shakespeare reading or if he actually planned in advance to cast them in their respective roles. Whichever scenario is true they are all well suited to the parts they are playing here, with Acker and Denisof seeming to take particular relish from all the verbal sparring with each other, and both surprising me with their dedication to slapstick. The only problem for me, as with anything I see Denisof in, is believing his accent! As I watched him on Buffy and Angel for so long and truly believed he was English, I now always struggle when I hear him perform in his native tongue, to believe that it’s his real accent. But I’m sure I’m alone in that and it didn’t spoil the film for me, it was merely a distraction.
If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s other films and TV shows you may like to play a little game that my friend and I enjoy, ‘when have they worked with Joss before’ in which you name all of the Joss Whedon written/directed films and TV shows that the actors have starred in. For example Amy Acker appeared in Angel, Dollhouse and Cabin In The Woods before Much Ado. It’s a fun passtime as Joss does like to use a lot of the same actors time and again. In this instance it works well. With the limited budget and time constraints (as well as having to film the picture in Whedon’s house), I’m sure it helped that most of the cast knew each other very well beforehand. And it certainly worked well from the audience’s perspective, because these characters are supposed to have a history, so it doesn’t hurt that the actors playing them really do have one too.
Although I do sometimes struggle with Shakespeare, Much Ado is one of his more accessible plays and Joss and his crew have worked to make this even more accessible via the setting, costumes and familiar actors in these well established roles. See it, even if Shakespeare’s not your usual cup of tea! 8 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 22nd June 2013
UK Release Date – 14th June 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Beatrice ~ Amy Acker
Benedick ~ Alexis Denisof
Dogberry ~ Nathan Fillion
Leonato ~ Clark Gregg
Don Pedro ~ Reed Diamond
Claudio ~ Fran Kranz
Hero ~ Jillian Morgese
Don John ~ Sean Maher
Borachio ~ Spencer Treat Clark
Comrade ~ Riki Lindhome
Margaret ~ Ashley Johnson
Ursula ~ Emma Bates
Verges ~ Tom Lenk
 
Director ~ Joss Whedon
Writer(s) ~ Joss Whedon (written for the screen by) and William Shakespeare (Play)

~

After Earth

Since I began my cinema arrangement with one of my work colleagues, I’ve seen some films that I probably wouldn’t have seen without her. Films that have been her choice, such as G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I’ll say no more on that! After Earth was one such film. I’m not a huge Will Smith fan, and while Jaden impressed me more than I thought he would in the Karate Kid remake, it’s not enough to make me want to see everything he’s going to do from here-on out.
But as I said, this wasn’t my choice of film. I merely narrowed down the options because I wanted to see something I hadn’t already seen, which meant it was this, or Epic. And as Epic is an animated film, it wasn’t really showing at a suitable time. So After Earth it was to be.
The film shows us the story of father and son Cypher and Kitai (Will and Jaden Smith respectively). Kitai has just been told that his hard work to become a Ranger like his father have not paid off. His squad leader thinks he’s reckless and he needs more training. So his father takes him with him on leave. A chance for the two to get to know each other better as Cypher has been absent for much of his son’s childhood. Unfortunately for them, the transport carrying them – and a dangerous creature called the Ursa – crashes on earth. But this earth is different from the one you and I know. This is a savage land, one that would chew up and spit out any unsuspecting humans that might land here. Even more unfortunate is the situation Cypher and Kitai find themselves in. Cypher has two broken legs and the homing beacon that will allow them to call for help is in the tail end of the ship that has broken off in the crash. All hope of survival sits on Kitai’s shoulders. He must navigate a foreign and dangerous land, and also avoid the escaped and hungry Ursas, in order to save his father and in turn, himself.
We were warned beforehand that After Earth was a terrible film, and in many respects I think that served the film well as we had lower than low expectations and actually quite enjoyed it.
I wouldn’t buy it, but it had it’s merits and was enjoyable enough. The acting however, from father and son, is pretty atrocious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more wooden performance from Will Smith. It seems the intention was for him to appear hardened by his career in the military, to show how distanced he was from his son, but it just felt like he was reading from an auto cue the whole time. Jaden was slightly more believable but still not great. But then with wooden Will as his role model what can you expect?
Overall, considering this is a M.Night Shyamalan film (which have gotten progressively worse over the years), and considering the quite bad acting, you do still care about these characters, and you do want them to get out of the situation they’ve found themselves in. Both myself and my companion found ourselves tearing up at a particularly emotional moment involving an eagle. I won’t say anymore but I wanted to put across that there is emotional depth. Just not always by the humans.
If there’s nothing else on you could do a lot worse (*cough* Man Of Steel *cough*). But keep your expectations low if you want to be pleasantly surprised. 5 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 19th June 2013
UK Release Date – 7th June 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Will Smith ~ Cypher Raige
Jaden Smith ~ Kitai Raige
Sophie Okonedo ~ Faia Raige
Zoe Kravitz ~ Senshi Raige
 
Director ~ M.Night Shyamalan
Writer(s) ~ Gary Whitta (Screenplay), M.Night Shyamalan (Screenplay) and Will Smith (Story)

~

Secret Screening – Now You See Me

 
It turns out Cineworld membership has some serious perks. Other than making it incredibly cheap to watch as many movies as I want per month, and giving me discount on food and drinks, they recently introduced a ‘secret screening’. For Cineworld Unlimited members only, you could get a ticket to an as-yet-unannounced film which would be revealed on the night of the screening. I hope, from the success of this one, they make this a regular occurrence. Especially as the film they chose to secretly screen – Now You See Me – isn’t out here until the start of next month.
 
The film tells the tale of four magicians who are brought together by an unknown figure and given a fantastical plan to bring those in power, a bank, a millionaire who built his fortune on the misfortune of others and the police force, to their knees. And they achieve this, all by the art of illusion. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco play the Four Horsemen, while Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent are the ones in pursuit.
 
I had a feeling from the clues that had been given to the secret screening, that we were sitting down to watch World War Z. I would have happily sat through any film, but I could not have been more pleased that we were actually sitting down to this. I am a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo and had been looking forward to this movie for some time. And I have to say that I really enjoyed it. 
 
I love a mystery and this one had me guessing right up until the reveal. The cast are a dream. We know from Zombieland that Eisenberg and Harrelson work well together, but throw in firecracker Fisher and James Franco’s charismatic and cute younger brother Dave and you have a team that can’t be cracked. Ruffalo’s ruffled cop has great chemistry with Interpol detective Laurent and the thesps Freeman and Caine are clearly having a whale of a time. And so the audience does too. 
 
It’s well put together, pacy, got a good story and great actors. I really don’t see what more you could want? How about locations? Vegas, New Orleans, New York and Paris all look stunning in this movie. It’s not going to win any awards but if you want a fun and intriguing night out, you can’t really go wrong. 8 out of 10. 
 
Viewing Date – 17th June 2013
UK Release Date – 3rd July 2013

Cast Overview:
Jesse Eisenberg ~ J Daniel Atlas
Mark Ruffalo ~ Dylan Rhodes
Woody Harrelson ~ Merritt McKinney
 Isla Fisher ~ Henley Reeves
Dave Franco ~ Jack Wilder
Mélanie Laurent ~ Alma Dray
Morgan Freeman ~ Thaddeus Bradley
Michael Caine ~ Arthur Tressler
 
Director ~ Louise Leterrier
Writer(s) ~ Ed Solomon (Screenplay), Boaz Yakin (Screenplay and Story), Edward Ricourt (Screenplay and Story)
~

Man Of Steel

Many who know me will tell you that I was apprehensive about Man Of Steel for a good long while. I was pleased as punch for Henry Cavill, who I’ve thought was a bit of a dish since I saw him in The Tudors, but I was nervous about the movie overall. This was not helped when I discovered that the director of the movie was going to be Zack Snyder, who had previously not managed to impress me with 300 or Watchmen. I approached the movie with caution and refused to be excited about it nor anticipating it to be terrible. I was as open minded as I could be going in to see it.
 
As Man Of Steel is a reboot, the story is somewhat different this time around. As such, I will give you a run down, but I’ll try to keep it brief. *Be warned that there are spoilers from here on out* We open on the planet Krypton, and are given insight into the first natural birth the planet has seen in some time; the birth of Kal-El to Jor-El and Lara. The planet is on the verge of collapse, literally, and not wanting all their hard work to go to waste, Jor-El plots to send Kal-El to earth, having embedded a code in his genes that will preserve the Kryptonian race. Meanwhile, power mad General Zod overthrows the council of Krypton, believing he can save the planet. Jor-El manages to complete his mission to send Kal-El to earth, but pays for his disloyalty to Zod with his life. Zod is captured and brought before the remaining council members who imprison him and his team in the Phantom Zone. Back on earth we see a grown Kal-El as he tries to make his way in the world, he flits from place to place under different names, any time he does something heroic and is close to being discovered, he moves on. We also see his life as a boy, being brought up as Clark by Martha and Jonathan Kent in flashbacks. Clark discovers a ship in the ice in the arctic and takes a job with the salvage team so that he can take a closer look, believing it may be from his home planet. Once on board Clark activates a hologram of Jor-El who tells him about his origins. Little does Clark know that when he activates the ships programming, it sends a homing beacon to other Kryptonian vessels and draws them to earth. Meaning that Zod and all those who were imprisoned with him are making their way to earth, with vengeance on their minds.
 
I will preface what I’m about to say by stating that while I am a fan of Superman: The Movie, I tried really hard not to compare Man Of Steel to that film. Despite the fact that they are both origin stories, they are very different beasts, and tell very different stories of very different men. The only similarities really are the character names.
 
That being said, I didn’t feel like the changes made to the story, or to the characters, were to the benefit of this film, or the Superman franchise overall. When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman they wanted him to be an immigrant, as they were, an outsider. I believe that the reason they gave him human parents was to allow them to instill in him a sense of humanity, of what’s right and wrong, good and bad and so on. The audience can’t connect to a superhuman alien, but they sure as hell can connect to a boy from Kansas, who’s been brought up well and wants to believe in the goodness of people, who grows up to work in the big, bad city and falls in love with a girl who’s out of his league. We can connect to that because on some level we’ve all been Clark, we’ve all experienced the things he has. The problem here is that we don’t ever really meet adult Clark, we see childhood Clark and teenage Clark in flashbacks, but as an adult we meet the drifter with no name who happens to have super strength and can do weird lazer things with his eyes. We don’t get to know the human Clark before we get the alter ego, and more importantly neither does Lois. She meets drifter Clark and immediately is presented with his super powers. At no point in this movie does she not know who he really is. And I just couldn’t get on board with that.
 
The other thing I had massive issues with were the fight scenes at the end of the movie. There were way too many of them and they’re all really similar, so you just feel like you’re watching one gigantic fight, which gets boring and repetitive. Of the majority of reviews I have read, everyone seems to think the fight scenes are good because there was no action in the last film (Superman Returns – a film I happened to think was not all that bad). But what everyone seems to be forgetting is that Clark is supposed to be a peaceful person, he’s been brought up to use diplomacy, not his strength. He’s not the guy who beats the crap out of everyone with no regard to the fallout. And fallout there is. There is so much destruction caused by the fights, and Clark, Kal-El, whatever you want to call him, doesn’t seem to care. So in turn, the audience doesn’t really care. 
 
And what was with all the metallic shape shifting stuff? I felt like I was watching The Matrix, not Superman. Oh and then Morpheus appeared… It was just all wrong.


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.

Viewing Date – 15th June 2013
UK Release Date – 12th June 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Henry Cavill ~ Clark Kent/Kal-El
Amy Adams ~ Lois Lane
Diane Lane ~ Martha Kent
Kevin Costner ~ Jonathan Kent
Russell Crowe ~ Jor-El
Ayelet Zurer ~ Lara Lor-Van
Michael Shannon ~ General Zod
Antje Traue ~ Faora-Ul
Harry Lennix ~ General Swanwick
Richard Schiff ~ Dr Emil Hamilton
Christopher Meloni ~ Colonel Nathan Hardy
Laurence Fishburne ~ Perry White
 
Director ~ Zack Snyder
Writer(s) ~ David S Goyer (Screenplay and Story), Christopher Nolan (Story), Jerry Siegel (Superman Created By) and Joe Shuster (Superman Created By)

~

Behind The Candelabra

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.

Viewing Date – 9th June 2013
UK Release Date – 7th June 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Michael Douglas ~ Liberace
Matt Damon ~ Scott Thorson
Dan Aykroyd ~ Seymour Heller
Rob Lowe ~ Dr Jack Startz
Debbie Reynolds ~ Frances Liberace
Scott Bakula ~ Bob Black
Tom Papa ~ Ray Arnett
Paul Reiser ~ Mr Felder
Director ~ Steven Soderbergh
Writer(s) ~ Richard LaGravenese (Screenplay), Scott Thorson (Book) and Alex Thorleifson (Book)

~

Mud

Mini Review
Mud was one of those films that seems to come out of nowhere but generates a lot of buzz on it’s arrival. It was the buzz, rather than the stars, that made me want to see it. That and the occasional comparison to one of my favourite coming of age movies, Stand By Me. Unfortunately, due to my recent disinterest in going to the cinema – following Iron Man 3 and Star Trek there just didn’t seem to be anything good out – I missed Mud when it was showing at my local multiplex, but thankfully I managed to catch it at my local independent cinema before it finished. 
 
In the film we follow two pre-teen boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) as they go looking for a boat that they believe has been abandoned on a deserted island. When they arrive on the island they find what they were looking for, along with something they never expected, a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) living in the boat. Mud tells the boys that he’s a wanted man who must take refuge on the island until the woman he loves comes for him. He makes a deal with the boys that if they help him fix the boat up and feed him, they can have his pistol in return. And so begins a journey for the boys which will teach them about love, hope, faith, and what it means to keep a promise.
 
When I went to see Mud I hadn’t seen any trailers for it, and as such, I only had the handful of reviews I’d read, and a recommendation from a friend to go off. It was not what I was expecting at all, but it was so much better than I’d expected. The two boys, Tye Sheridan in particular, give such mesmerising performances. And while it’s nice that Matthew McConaughey is doing some serious acting for once, it’s certainly nothing more than we already know he’s capable of from films such as A Time To Kill and his recent film The Paperboy. The boys are so good that McConaughey’s performance barely registers. And he’s good too. Damn good. But Sheridan and Lofland really are the ones to watch. It felt like Witherspoon was only there because they needed another name and because, like McConaughey, it was about time she did a serious film rather than another rom-com, as that’s all she seems to have made in the last 10 years. Her performance was good but nothing to write home about. 
 
The film is tense, it’s gritty, it shows a side of American family life that most people who watch nothing but Hollywood blockbusters will have never seen before, it’s well acted and most of all, it keeps you hooked until the credits are rolling. The cinematography is stunning and the story moves at an even pace throughout. If you can still catch it at a cinema near you then I highly recommend that you do, but if not, be sure to add it to your LoveFilm list. 9 out of 10.
Viewing Date – 1st June 2013
UK Release Date – 10th May 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Matthew McConaughey ~ Mud
Reese Witherspoon ~ Juniper
Tye Sheridan ~ Ellis
Jacob Lofland ~ Neckbone
Sarah Paulson ~ Mary Lee
Ray McKinnon ~ Senior
Sam Shepard ~ Tom Blankenship
Michael Shannon ~ Galen
Paul Sparks ~ Carver
Joe Don Baker ~ King
Bonnie Sturdivant ~ May Pearl
 
Director/Writer ~ Jeff Nichols

Movie Review Catch Up ~ May 2013

The Great Gatsby

There are some films that you know about ages before they come out. You read up on them, you might even look at set photos and eagerly anticipate their arrival. Others seemingly come out of nowhere and surprise you. Then there are films like this. Which you wonder how you didn’t see coming but then when you’ve seen it you can kind of see why…

Having never read The Great Gatsby or having seen any of the previous adaptations, I didn’t know what to expect, other than what I knew of the story; set in the 1920s and a somewhat tragic love story. And of course there was what I knew of the cast and director. The combination of all these things meant that I had what I don’t believe were unrealistic expectations that this film had potential.

For those like me who don’t know, the film is narrated by Nick (Tobey Maguire), who is recounting the time he spent with his cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton), on Long Island and in New York City in the summer of 1922. He moves into a modest home across the bay from Daisy, his house dwarfed by the massive estate next door owned by a man named Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). A man who throws lavish parties every weekend but whom nobody has ever met. Nick gets invited to one of Gatsby’s parties and eventually meets the ellusive man and gets to know him. Once Gatsby trusts Nick he lets him in on a secret; he is Daisy’s long lost love, returned from the war with the intention of winning her back. Of course Daisy is now married, a fact Gatsby is well aware of, but his love for Daisy is so consuming he is willing to do anything to get her back. Consequently, a lot of people, some intentionally, and some caught in the cross-fire, get hurt. But will it all be worth it in the end?

The problem with the story, and I don’t know if this is with the story in general or just this telling of it, is that you don’t really care enough about any of the characters to feel invested in what happens to them. The film is also really long, which doesn’t help the cause as you put all of this time in and don’t really feel any reward for your efforts.

Tobey Maguire is a good actor but his character is boring. Making him the narrator just slows the proceedings down even more. And I don’t really think the film would have lost a great deal by just letting events unfold without a narrator. His character is so dull, I had to look up his name as I genuinely couldn’t remember it. That’s how little an impact he had on me.

DiCaprio is charasmatic as Gatsby but he looks too young to be believable as a survivor of the war who then went on to have adventures at sea, make a fortune and get a reputation for himself as an extravagant millionaire. He only really gets to shine when cracks start to appear in Gatsby’s facade. Mulligan and Edgerton are both good but are both woefully underused. Mulligan’s contribution to the film being to look pretty in her 20s clothes and appear torn between two lovers, while Edgerton is merely supposed to look like the baddie of the hour (complete with moustache) so that the audience wants Daisy to end up with Gatsby. I for one always find that decision can be more heartbreaking when both men are decent and honorable, rather than having to choose between a cheat and a madman.

The film was too long for my liking and the characters not likable enough to warrant me sitting there for that length of time. A very dull and disappointing 5 out of 10.

 
Viewing Date – 29th May 2013
UK Release Date – 16th May 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Leonardo DiCaprio ~ Jay Gatsby
Tobey Maguire ~ Nick Carraway
Carey Mulligan ~ Daisy Buchanan
Joel Edgerton ~ Tom Buchanan
Isla Fisher ~ Myrtle Wilson
Jason Clarke ~ George Wilson
Adelaide Clemens ~ Catherine
Elizabeth Debicki ~ Jordan Baker
 
Director ~ Baz Luhrmann
Writer(s) ~ Baz Luhrmann (Screenplay), Craig Pearce (Screenplay) 
and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Novel)
~

Star Trek Into Darkness

 
The 2009 Star Trek reboot opened with a spectacular sequence which changed the Trek universe completely. Not only by giving the franchise a fresh cast and using the latest technology to take us into the twenty third century, but also by changing events that take place prior to Captain James T Kirk’s birth. Events that changed the entire future of the Trek movies, and which moved me more than any Trek film that had gone before. 
 
I must confess that I’d never been a fan of the original series, or the original movies. I became a trekkie around the age of 12 when I developed a crush on Wil Wheaton (see here for the full scoop on that) and started watching Star Trek The Next Generation. And that’s also where my interest piqued, as I never got into watching Deep Space Nine or Voyager. But there was something about J.J. Abrams reboot that made me want to see it, namely my affection for Simon Pegg who’d landed the role of Scotty, but it was more than that. And after seeing the film and loving it, I was amongst the millions of born again Trekkies who couldn’t wait for the next installment. 
 
Warp 4 years into the future and here we are with Star Trek Into Darkness, a sequel to Star Trek, which changed history, so will it follow any of the story arcs of the previous Star Trek sequel – Star Trek The Wrath of Khan? *There may be spoilers ahead…*

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?  
 
Well to find out you will have to see the film as I’m not giving that away! Those who are familiar with the story line from Wrath Of Khan will definitely see the similarities, and will either enjoy these nods or will hate them. I myself enjoyed them, but then I’m not precious about the original films so I can’t speak for everyone. I thought the story moved at a good pace, and the action set pieces, as with the previous film, were outstanding. There were also some nice surprises, even if you are familiar with Wrath Of Khan, so if you’re a fan of the original films don’t write Into Darkness off before you see it.

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.
 
Viewing Date – 9th May 2013
UK Release Date – 9th May 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Chris Pine ~ Kirk
Zachary Quinto ~ Spock
Zoe Saldana ~ Uhura
Karl Urban ~ Bones
Simon Pegg ~ Scotty
John Cho ~ Sulu
Anton Yelchin ~ Chekov
Bruce Greenwood ~ Pike
Peter Weller ~ Marcus
Alice Eve ~ Carol
Benedict Cumberbatch ~ John Harrison
Noel Clarke ~ Thomas Harewood
 
Director ~ J.J. Abrams
Writer(s) ~ Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof
Based on the Television series Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek Into Darkness Premiere

The Empire Cinema in Leicester Square getting prepped to boldly go Into Darkness
 
After the date for the Iron Man 3 Premiere was moved, meaning my cinema buddy couldn’t go, we decided to (boldly) go to the Star Trek Into Darkness Premiere. One of the girls I met at the Iron Man 3 Premiere had said she would try to come along in the afternoon, so all we had to do was sit in the sun in Leicester Square and wait for the stars to arrive.
 
The White Carpet for the Premiere
 
The first piece of bad luck happened on arrival as my cinema buddy realised he’d left his memory card in his laptop at home! D’oh! One warp speed dash to Boots later and a new memory card was purchased. Disaster averted. We sat down on the grass to eat our lunch when the second piece of bad luck happened. I got pooped on by a (Klingon War)bird. 
 
Spock quite rightly seems a little annoyed about this turn of events, and understandably so was I. However, this is not my first time at a Premiere and I was equipped with all sorts of anti-bacterial gels and wipes, and another warp speed dash (this time to Leicester Square’s toilet facilities) later I was poop free and ready for my close up. 
 
But enough about me, you’re here to hear about the stars! And stars there were! As with any Premiere there were minor celebrities galore, X-Factor Boyband Union J anyone? The Voice’s Bo Bruce? Nah, we’re not interested in them! We want the big names. Well don’t say I don’t give you big names!
 
The first guys from the Star Trek galaxy to walk the white carpet and be interviewed were the writers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, followed by writer/producer Damon Lindelof
 
 
Next up was British Actor Noel Clarke who is new to the Star Trek franchise and who’s role in the film was shrouded in mystery. He spent ages with the crowd, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.
 
He was followed by the man I had gone to the Premiere to see – Simon Pegg. He spent ages with the crowds too and signed for me and my buddy.
 
Next to breeze past the waiting fans were Zoe Saldana and Karl Urban. Regrettably neither came to sign for the fans waiting in the section I was standing in. Although my cinema buddy did manage to weave in and out of the crowd to get these shots of them
 
British Actress Alice Eve, who is new to the franchise, spent ages with the crowds and signed my Empire magazine (you can just see it under the thing she’s signing in the second pic).
 
 
Captain Kirk himself Chris Pine was next to grace us with his presence, and not only did he sign for everyone waiting on the edge of the white carpet…

 …after he was interviewed he leapt over the crowd to go and sign and take pictures with people standing in Leicester Square too. A true hero!
 
Here he is putting pen to my Empire magazine
 
Director J.J. Abrams also spent a long time with the crowds and even spent some time chatting to a lady behind me. Again he signed for me and my buddy and seemed like a really nice guy. My buddy managed to get a picture of him as he switched places with Chris Pine who was coming back down the line from his interview. They had a little giggling exchange and it was a lovely moment captured.
 
Regrettably Zachary Quinto who plays Spock did not have time to sign for us as he was rushed over to be interviewed and then whisked inside. But my cinema buddy did manage to get some snaps of him too 

Benedict Cumberbatch who plays villain John Harrison also had no time to sign for us and in fact we only managed to snap him on his way back out as the stars came out of the cinema for a cast photo, before they left for the after party, or in the case of Pine and Cumberbatch, as they headed to film The Graham Norton Show. 
 
We had a really great day at the Premiere. Again met some lovely people and got some impressive signatures to add to the collection.
 
All photos (with the exception of the first 3) are courtesy of Blair Holmes, photographer and sandwich maker extraordinaire. Image of Spock courtesy of Google images.

Iron Man 3 Premiere

Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square – all decked out for the Premiere
 
I had planned to go to the Iron Man 3 Premiere with my cinema buddy but when the Premiere got moved from Wednesday to Thursday (due to the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – how ironic!) my cinema buddy could no longer attend. As such, I wasn’t sure if I should still, or could, go on my own. I’d never done a Premiere on my own before and it was a scary prospect! In the end, as I had the day off work anyway, I made the decision to go stag with the possibility of meeting up with one of my Tumblr followers as I’d done that before and it turned out very well!
 
Regrettably the person I’d intended to meet couldn’t make it into the enclosed pens that we’d been put into so I have yet to meet her, but thankfully I got chatting to the loveliest bunch of ladies as I milled around waiting for the stars! One french lady had come to the Premiere with her 14 year old daughter, and we got talking to a lovely 17 year old Thai girl and her 20 year old Brazilian friend who are both studying in London. The Brazilian girl let us all stand under her umbrella for the brief rainstorm, the Thai girl went to get us all hot chocolate to warm us up afterwards and the French lady gave us all cake! I could honestly not have asked for a lovelier bunch of people to wait with me. 

 

RDJ posing next to a flash car
Back of RDJ as he signs autographs for fans
RDJ signing autographs
When the Premiere got into full swing RDJ spent ages signing autographs, but he clearly hadn’t passed this memo to his co-stars as none of them signed for the waiting fans, which I can’t help but feel was a bit of a poor show. As a result, the only photos I managed to take of Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle and Ben Kingsley were all rubbish as I mostly got the back of their heads as they talked to the press opposite where I was standing. 
 
Rebecca Hall being interviewed by Alex Zane
Sir Ben Kingsley being interviewed by Alex Zane
Don Cheadle being interviewed by the press
Regrettably Gwyneth Paltrow was not in attendance so I can’t tell you what she was like. But I did get a fairly decent photo of Samantha Barkwho played Éponine in the recent film adaptation of Les Misérables as she happened to be in attendance and spent time with the fans on the red carpet which was lovely. 
 
Samantha Barks (from Les Miserables movie) with a fan
But the one saving grace was that I FINALLY got RDJ’s signature on my subscriber cover Empire (though it did get a little wet in the rain)…
 
 

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!

Movie Review Catch Up ~ April 2013

Iron Man 3

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!

Viewing Date – 25th April 2013
UK Release Date – 25th April 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Robert Downey Jr ~ Tony Stark
Gwyneth Paltrow ~ Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle ~ Colonel James Rhodes
Guy Pearce ~ Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall ~ Maya Hansen
Jon Favreau ~ Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley ~ The Mandarin
Ty Simpkins ~ Harley Keener
William Sadler ~ President Ellis
Miguel Ferrer ~ Vice President Rodriguez
 
Director ~ Shane Black
Writer(s) ~ Drew Pearce (Screenplay), Shane Black (Screenplay), Stan Lee (Comic Book), Don Heck (Comic Book), Larry Lieber (Comic Book) and Jack Kirby (Comic Book)

~

The Place Beyond The Pines

I’d been looking forward to The Place Beyond The Pines since I saw the first trailer for it. Atmospheric music and promises of stellar performances from the always great Ryan Gosling and the on-the-up Bradley Cooper. I had high hopes. Perhaps too high? 
 
*The following synopsis features spoilers*
The film is split into three different stories, the first is of stunt motorcycle rider Luke (Ryan Gosling), who returns to a small town a year after he was last there with the state fair he does daredevil stunts for. He discovers upon his return that he has fathered a child with Romina (Eva Mendes), a woman he had a brief fling with 12 months prior. Deciding to do right by the child Luke quits his job, allowing him to stay in town and build a relationship with the boy. He gets a job with a local mechanic Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), which leads to him taking part in armed robberies to get money together for the kid. Luke is tragically killed by police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) after a robbery goes wrong. Here we pick up the second thread of the story where we discover that Avery is not the heroic cop that the press have lead everyone to believe. The third act of film is set 15 years later and shows how this chain of events have shaped the lives of both Luke’s and Avery’s sons. *End of Spoilers*
 
The Place Beyond The Pines was one of those films that as I was watching it I was thinking how good it was, how clever, how brilliant all of the performances were. That was until we got to the third act. Up until then I stand by the fact that it is a great movie and features fantastic performances. And if you walk out of the film then, it still will be. I however, stayed until the end, and I really wish I hadn’t. I had massive issues with the third act of this story.
 
For one, it makes the film too long. It’s 140 minutes. If you shaved off or even just cut down the third act it would be under 2 hours. Which is acceptable. But honestly, it feels about half an hour too long. For two, the performances from the teenage boys are not great. Dane DeHaan (you’ll recognise him if you’ve seen last years Chronicle) who plays Luke’s son Jason does a decent enough job, but Emory Cohen who plays Avery’s son AJ is really quite a terrible actor. He’s all swagger and pouty lips and he just can’t pull that off. He also looks in no way related to Bradley Cooper, which is an issue because you don’t ever really feel like they’re related? For three, the whole story of how what happened between Luke and Avery affects the boys feels really unnecessary. They could have hinted at it, shown glimpses of the boys growing up but I didn’t feel like an in-depth look at the boys psyche was required.
 
It’s a shame as otherwise I’d have nothing but praise for Pines. Gosling and Cooper are both superb and Liotta puts in his usual menacing performance which is as enjoyable as ever. Mendes and Byrne are both beautiful and fiesty as the love interests and capable support is provided by Mendelsohn, Ali, Yulin, Clohessy and Greenwood, who is particularly watchable as ever. 
 
By all means see what you think for yourself but don’t believe the hype. 6 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 21st April 2013
UK Release Date – 12th April 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Ryan Gosling ~ Luke
Bradley Cooper ~ Avery
Eva Mendes ~ Romina
Rose Byrne ~ Jennifer
Ben Mendelsohn ~ Robin
Mahershala Ali ~ Kofi
Harris Yulin ~ Al Cross
Robert Clohessy ~ Chief Weirbowski
Bruce Greenwood ~ Bill Killcullen
Ray Liotta ~ Deluca
Emory Cohen ~ AJ
Dane DeHaan ~ Jason
 
Director ~ Derek Cianfrance
Writer(s) ~ Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder
~

Oblivion

Tom Cruise is one of those actors that I don’t actively like, but I don’t dislike him either. I would never go out of my way to watch a Tom Cruise film, but if I think it looks good, I wouldn’t actively avoid it. I saw the trailer for Oblivion a few months back and was not only intrigued, I actually thought it looked really good. And I will admit that I was looking forward to it’s impending release. 
 
The film is set in the not so distant future; following a battle for earth’s resources the planet was all but destroyed, but somehow, the human race survived. A relocation mission was put in place for the earth’s inhabitants to be moved to a colony on Titan. And now only two people remain, a team who maintain the drones – robots who oversee the removal of the water supply, which is earth’s contribution to Titan. In two weeks Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) will be moving to Titan too, the only potential problem with this plan is that Jack is a little too curious about what happened to the earth, in order to just do his job. He starts dreaming about a past life he doesn’t think he lived, and when the girl from his dreams literally drops out of the sky, he can’t just put it all down to coincidence. But as he digs deeper for the truth, will he like what he discovers?
 
Oblivion is a curious little creature of a movie. The first half is sort of like the human version of WALL·E, with Jack and Victoria the only inhabitants on an abandoned earth. Jack going around fixing the drones and collecting ‘human’ artifacts such as books and plants. The second half is where I got a little lost because unlike WALL·E, Oblivion takes a turn for the complicated. In the second half of the movie we meet a band of rebels lead by Morgan Freeman’s Beech. *Spoiler Alert* Freeman’s character explains that Jack has been mislead by his employers and that the alien war was not won by the humans after all. He tells Jack that it is the aliens now claiming all of the earth’s water, not the colony on Titan as there is no colony on Titan. You still with me? He sends Jack off to the ‘radiation zone’ which he’s not allowed in because it’s harmful. When he gets there he discovers no radiation, but instead discovers a clone of himself. Confused? You will be!
 
Basically the aliens took over earth and are harvesting the water for their own use. They need people on the ground to oversee things, so they cloned Jack and Victoria and now each section of the planet has it’s own Jack and Victoria, who all think they’re the only Jack and Victoria and who all believe they’re going to Titan in two weeks time. But they’re not because they’re all clones and there is no-one on Titan! It’s all a lie. So Jack and Beech devise a plot to destroy the mothership of the aliens once and for all, allowing some semblance of life to be restored to earth. *End Spoiler Alert* Phew. Hope you kept up with all that! 
 
I thought Oblivion looked beautiful; the way it showed different parts of New York in various states of disrepair was just stunning. Having stood at the top of The Empire State Building it was weird to see it buried almost up the observation deck but it worked perfectly, taking that iconic imagery and turning it on it’s head. All of this has been captured wonderfully by cinematographer Claudio Miranda who also showcased his unique vision in Life of Pi and Tron Legacy. I could honestly wax lyrical about how gorgeous it looked all day long. But a pretty movie does not make a good movie. 
 
Oblivion had such great potential but I felt it squandered that by under utilizing the supporting cast and trying to cram too much into the running time. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Cruise can carry a movie, we know this. So why make him constantly have to prove that fact? When you’ve got a supporting actor like Morgan Freeman, use him for heavens sake! It’s just maddening. And the last 30 minutes just felt like they were trying to throw in as many brain bending story arcs as they could think of. It just got a little too much for me and I ended up walking out of the cinema with more questions than I went in with.
 
I think if I watched it again, now fully understanding it (or at least I think I understand it now), I think I’d like it better. But as it stands I have to do the review off the one time I saw it. That leaves Oblivion with a not too shabby 7 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 14th April 2013
UK Release Date – 10th April 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Tom Cruise ~ Jack
Andrea Riseborough ~ Victoria
Olga Kurylenko ~ Julia
Morgan Freeman ~ Beech
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ~ Sykes
Melissa Leo ~ Sally
 
Director ~ Joseph Kosinski
Writer(s) ~ Joseph Kosinski (Original Story and Graphic Novel), Karl Gajdusek (Screenplay) and Michael DeBruyn (Screenplay)
~

The Odd Life Of Timothy Green

Mini Review
The Odd Life Of Timothy Green has been sitting on the shelf since August last year. This is usually a bad sign for movies, but after Hansel and Gretel was a surprisingly enjoyable movie that had experienced set backs, I thought I’d give Timothy the chance to prove himself to me. It didn’t hurt that the movie also features Jennifer Garner, who I’m a big fan of since I saw her TV show Alias.
 
The film tells the story of a married couple Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton), who are sadly unable to conceive a child of their own. One night they fill a box with their ideals of what their child would have been if they’d been able to have one. They cite him or her having Cindy’s heart, being a rock star and scoring the winning goal amongst many other things. They lock these notes in a box and bury it in their garden. That night Cindy and Jim are awoken by a storm and discover a boy named Timothy in their house. He says he has come from the garden and is their son. It soon becomes apparent that Timothy is no ordinary boy as he possesses all of the traits that were desired by Cindy and Jim. Could he really be meant for them?
 
The Odd Life Of Timothy Green may be a live action Disney movie but it’s not as sentimental as you would expect from being associated with the famous animators. The acting is pretty decent from a lot of recognisable faces and the story is more heartwarming than heartbreaking. It’s not outstanding but it’s a nice film that all the family can watch and get something out of. 6.5 out of 10.
 
Viewing Date – 7th April 2013
UK Release Date – 5th April 2013
 
Cast Overview:
Jennifer Garner ~ Cindy Green
Joel Edgerton ~ Jim Green
CJ Adams ~ Timothy Green
Odeya Rush ~ Joni Jerome
Shohreh Aghdashloo ~ Evette Onat
Rosemarie DeWitt ~ Brenda Best
David Morse ~ James Green Sr
M. Emmet Walsh ~ Uncle Bob
Lois Smith ~ Aunt Mel
Dianne Wiest ~ Bernice Crudstaff
Ron Livingston ~ Franklin Crudstaff
James Rebhorn ~ Joseph Crudstaff
Common ~ Coach Cal 
 
Director ~ Peter Hedges
Writer(s) ~ Peter Hedges (Screenplay) and Ahmet Zappa (Story)
~

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

As my EE/Orange Wednesday buddy wanted to see The Croods, but I had already seen it, I allowed her to pick our next movie. She is a big fan of Channing Tatum and so her choice was G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Although oddly, neither of us had seen the first G.I. Joe movie. I therefore proposed a reverse movie experience, we could go to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation but we would have to watch G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra on DVD at some point afterwards.
 
The film is set directly after the events of the first movie and follows Duke (Channing Tatum) and his crew as they embark on another mission, unaware that the President (Jonathan Pryce) has been captured and that the man in the white house is actually Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), one of the bad guys from the first movie. The nanomite technology from the first film comes in handy to reconfigure Zartan’s features, allowing him to impersonate the President. Zartan uses his influences as the President to frame the Joe’s for stealing nuclear warheads and moves to disband them, ordering a military strike which kills most of the team. The remaining Joe’s join forces with the first Joe (Bruce Willis) and their former enemy Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) to bring an end to Zartan’s reign.
 
Despite not having seen the first G.I. Joe movie I found it relatively easy to follow the sequel. However, *Spoiler Alert* for fans of Channing Tatum or Bruce Willis I will say now that you’ll probably be disappointed. Tatum is only in the movie for the first 20 minutes and then his character is one of the casualties of the military strike. *End Spoiler Alert* From here, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson takes centre stage, with Brucie coming in about half way through the movie and appearing sporadically with the sole aim of delivering some cheesy one liners. Although the best one liner has to be “So why don’t you take Miley Cyrus and Ryan Seacrest and head that way” when referring to Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) pictured below:
 
You see it’s funny coz they do kinda look like Miley Cyrus and Ryan Seacrest…
 
Anyway, if you’re not a fan of those involved then you’d better be a fan of action as it barely lets up in this movie, with lots of fast paced set pieces, one on wires over a snowy mountain makes particular use of the 3D. Other than that the film doesn’t really have a lot going for it. The end sequence involving nukes from all countries is quite clever but it’s not enough to save the film from falling into mediocrity. I’d only recommend this if you’re a fan of the original/franchise or if you follow any of the actors involved. 4 out of 10. 
Viewing Date – 3rd April 2013
UK Release Date – 27th March 2013
Cast Overview:
Dwayne Johnson ~ Roadblock
Jonathan Pryce ~ President
Byung-hun Lee ~ Storm Shadow
Elodie Yung ~ Jinx
Ray Stevenson ~ Firefly
D.J. Cotrona ~ Flint
Adrianne Palicki ~ Jaye
Channing Tatum ~ Duke
Ray Park ~ Snake Eyes
Arnold Vosloo ~ Zartan
Bruce Willis ~ General Joe Colton
 
Director ~ Jon M. Chu
Writer(s) ~ Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick