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


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


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)

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