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)
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