Friday, 29 March 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation


Fun, fun, fun. These are the key words here, and words I will repeat while talking about this movie. 

To begin with I had mixed feelings about the first movie, on first watch I didn't like it at all but on rewatch I kind of got the sense of fun about it, from the clich├ęd characters to to the over the top action. And I have grown to really become quite fond of the original. so when the sequel was announced, I was a little confused  it didn't do very well at the box office and wasn't well received but I was happy, anything like the first would render a good time.

But then came the delay, and the rumours. Not a good sign for a movie but I remain hopeful. The original rumours were that they went back to shoot more Channing Tatum scenes given his success since the first. Other rumours were that the lots was re-shot after bad test screenings. whatever the real reason I didn't care much, I just wanted to see the movie!

This time around we find the Joe's betrayed and on their own seeking retaliation (see what they did there!) against those who betrayed them, mostly Cobra!!

All the rest will contain spoilers!!

The action kicks off with the Joe's on a mission to basically reacquaint us with Channing Tatum's Duke and introduce the new characters, at the forefront of which is The Rock as Roadblock. Now it was known pretty early on that Tatum's Duke would be killed off, and then came the rumours that he was being put back in given is success in other movies, as I said above.

But those rumours were false and Duke is promptly killed off pretty early on as the Joe's are betrayed and mostly killed off. But the death doesn't have the desired effect for the audience and is soon forgotten.

But let's be honest the plot is just there to propel the action forward and the intricacies of it are not all that important. This is a showcase for over the top action and it delivers on that. 

Lots and lots of big guns! Lots of explosions. And as we have all seen from the trailers, Ninjas, on ropes, swinging fro mountains. And it it this scene in particular that makes me love this movie. And this is where the 3D works best. I mean it is the stuff of our boyhood fantasies (well some of them anyway), ninjas fighting while swinging around from giant cliff faces.

This set piece is the highlight of the movie for me.


The rest of the movie is lots of action, lots of one liners and lots of fun.

The Rock is a little decent enough but a little underused as the lead, in fact the movie seems confused as to who is the lead and I am not sure if that was intentional or not, it starts with Tatum, then it seems The Rock is going to step up but then it seems like they want Bruce Willis's retired general Joe to take the lead but he seems to step aside for The rock.

That aside all the actors do what they need to do and are solid for what this movie is. And the inclusion of my favourite character actor Ray Stevenson is a bonus.

The 3D is weird in this, during the action it s good, especially the wire fighting Ninjas but other than that it seems out of place, and there always seems to an object in the foreground slightly out of focus obscuring the scene just to give depth.

I can see a lot of people not liking this but I would urge them to just switch off and have some fun!!

Rating: 3/5

Film Diary 27-03-13


A very mixed bag again this week but some real gems and some not so good rewatches. The past two weeks have been quite busy both work and just watching movies, so I have not had a chance to update the blog with stuff I would like but I will soon get into the swing of it and get a sort of routine going for it and have some other content



BOTTLE ROCKET

Debut of Wes Anderson and straight away you can see his style and wit in the movie. The confidence in filmmaking is evident and the blueprints for his other movies, his own unique style is there in abundance.

All Wes Anderson traits are here, his unique music choices, his eve more unique characters that seem to live in their very own world  a little deluded maybe but likeable none the less.


A lot of the credit has to go to the Wilson brothers who are fantastic in this, and I wish they and Owen Wilson in particular would do a lot more movie like this.

Overall not a perfect movie, but you can see both the confidence and the future of Wes Anderson  but I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it.

Rating: 4/5



CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

Outside of Pixar animated movies can be very hit and miss, and I avoid a lot of them when I hear middle of the road reviews, but Cloudy got some great reviews and I absolutely love it. 

It has great animation, great characters, a good story, great humour and most importantly all of these are balanced perfectly.

The movie keeps things fairly simple and above all else fun. It definitely falls into the category of all round family fun, there is fun galore for the kids and as with most modern animated movies there is a few jokes thrown in there for the adults to keep them happy and amused.

The characters are all great, and of coarse there is a strong moral message at the core but let's be honest most people are just looking to be entertained, and this more than does that.

And there is a monkey sidekick!!

Rating: 4/5



A SHOT IN THE DARK

What can you say really, its Peters sellers at his best as the bumbling detective.
If you have never seen it, rectify it immediately and you will have such a great time.

I think this is my favourite of the Clouseau movies, I spend nearly the whole movie just laughing and not just simple giggles but full on laughs.

Peter Sellers is at the top of his game here, but the supporting cast and their reactions to the bumbling detective are what make it special.

Rating: 5/5





HANNIBAL RISING

I liked this a lot more the first time I watched it.  And each time I watch, and I think this my fourth time, I think. 

And this time there was not much that I enjoyed.  The story is not my issue with it though and I think it is a fitting story for Hannibal Lector but this time around especially I have a real problem with the actor portraying the young Hannibal. 

Obviously he would never have the gravitas that Hopkins has but he doesn't have a great presence in this movie, and whether it has o do with seeing the movie before but I didn't find him terrifying or intimidating, or even interesting. 

I cant help think a better actor would have really raised this movie up.

Rating: 2/5



THE CRAIC

A simple movie, but very funny. Outside of an Irish audience I'm not sure how this would play, its not that the jokes are very Irish but they have a very Irish 'sense of humour'.

Gonna recommend it to some none Irish friends and see what they think.

One thing I will say that really helps the movie is the main actor, who is also a comedian, Jimeoin. He has good presence and great comic timing but above all he is likeable and believable.



Rating: 3/5





COMPLIANCE

I had heard of this last year and had read the story behind it and thought, surely they cant make a movie out of this, the story is a bit too strange, but someone thought they could and they did.

Firstly the subject matter is not something to be taken lightly and the director, Craig Zobel, does not take it lightly but treats it with the respect it deserves.

The story of fast food workers duped by a hoax caller who leads them down a dark path for his own amusement. 

It is frightening How a simple authoritative voice and a few basic facts can lead to such and incident.

It makes for uncomfortable watching as the innocent employee is subject to more and more degrading treatment.

What makes it more uncomfortable is the fact the the lead actress chosen is, lets be honest, very good looking, and this lends a sense of voyeurism to the viewer where we become the cop who is exploiting all these people but unable to see.

It is really hard to understand why people didn't stop at points, and there were many, and just think to themselves, "hang on, this isn't right."

The performances are superb, each actor playing their part to perfection, the lead actress in particular.

My only issue with the movie is the reveal of the hoax caller quite early on, I think it would have been better if the reveal was made at the end or not at all.

Rating:  4/5



PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE

I had always heard good things about this from lots of people but I had always blown it off for the inclusion of Adam Sandler, and while I am a fan of his, I am more a fan of his comedies and thus avoided watching this.

I am so glad I decided to watch this now though, it was fantastic. Sandler is fantastic, and some manages to maintain his over the top and slightly crazy but a bit more subdued, especially when played off the more straight Emily Watson.

But as with most of his movies it's PTA that is the star, with fantastic cinematography and what I can only imagine was experimental sound design, however experimental though it works. I can see a lot of the music choices made here carried over and improved upon especially in The Master.

A great experience and a wonderful movie.

Rating: 5/5



THE SHADOW

Ambitious comic book adaptation that is campy fun but restricted by the time in which it was made.

Alec Baldwin is a Playboy by day, crime fighting super hero by night former Asian crime lord. Honestly.
I know it sounds a little silly but not as bad as some other movies ive seen and comics ive read for that matter.
And when I say this was ambitious I mean that the restraints that were on it for the time it was made must have held them back from making the movie i presume they imagined in pre production.

The Shadow is a super hero who can cloud men's minds and make them see or not see whatever he wants, and while the effects aren't the worst they are a little dated now and I remember them being a little bad when I first say this. But effects aside the movie is actually quite enjoyable.

I remember really enjoying it the first time I saw it and this time around I had great fun in the campness of the whole thing. The setting is perfect, 1930's is a perfect period for a super hero like this. Adam Baldwin is camping it up as the lead and the supporting cast all do exactly what is needed to make this just simple camp and great fun.

I cant help but think this is ripe for a remake!!

The Effects let it down and while I know they are pretty good effects for the time, they date the movie badly and garner a few giggles that the movie probably doesn't deserve

Rating: 3/5



Jack The Giant Slayer


The latest fairy tell re-imagining to hit the big screens sees Jack, of the title, thrown into and in certain ways causing a war that sees giants come for there home high in the clouds to wage war on the kingdom of Cloisters in the land of Albion.

With Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters earlier this year and the several Snow White movies last year it was only a matter of time before Jack and The Beanstalk got its own re-imagined movie.

Nicholas Hoult plays the Jack of the title, a simple farm boy who dreams of more but is easily distracted. As with the fairy tale he soon comes into possession of some magic bean that will bring about the beanstalk that will create a bridge to the giants world.

There is also a princess who wants adventure and soon finds herself on one, and subsequently captured by the giants. And several other characters that aren't really important.

As you can probably tell I am not the biggest fan of this movie but since reflecting on it, it was perfectly fine at the time, but most of it is forgettable. But thinking more on it only makes it worse and reveals the problems, of which there are many but there was potential for a very good movie here.

Firstly the rest of this may contain spoilers!

After his fantastic performance in Warm Bodies, Nicholas Hoult is very pedestrian here and disappointing. Ewan McGregor seems to be having a lot of fun but that has an adverse effect on his performance and the fun he was having doesn't come through on the screen.

The only person who really has fun is Stanley Tucci, and that really shows, he is a very cartoon like character/villain ad even looks cartoon like. And he is dispatched relatively quickly!
In a way he sums up what this movie should have been, cartoon like, over the top and camp fun. But unfortunately he seems to be in a different movie.

Now on to what I enjoyed the most, the giants themselves. The CGI on the giants is really top notch, they look natural and believable and interact with the world seamlessly. Bill Nighy's two headed giant general in particular looked great.
While the main source of humour comes from bodily function jokes, they are still funny and dont seem out of place here. And when the giants finally get down and attack everything looks really good. Its just such a shame that the rest of the movie is so-so.

The story plays out much like you would expect and doest do anything interesting with the fairy tale, mores the pity. And that kind of sums up the movie, every time it looks like they might do something interesting they do pretty much what you would expect.

I found it perfectly fine while watching it, but the more I think about it the more I dislike it, should really stop thinking about it.

I really did expect more from Bryan Singer than a showcase of special effects.

Rating: 2.5/5

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Film Diary 20-03-13


With the non new movies I watch I am going to group them together in one post as a movie diary, unless I think a certain movie or maybe a few movies deserve their own post.

Depending on how many movies I watch, the movie diary will probably be a weekly post, or a twice weekly if I watch a lot. It will consist of smaller reviews than the main reviews.

I may not include all the movies I watch here, the ones I dont include I probably dont really like or feel I dont have much to say about.




   PROMETHEUS


Second watch for the is it/isn't it Alien prequel. First time round, it was disappointing, but not as terrible as everyone claimed it was. On the second watch I am pretty much the same with it. Alien prequel status aside, as a stand alone movie it is a very average Sci-Fi movie with decent enough story and effects but lacks major originality and anything to really pull you into the story.

The story is simple enough, scientists discover a map left behind from possible our creators and with the financial backing of a large company they head out to discover their origins.

But when they arrive on the planet they discover everything is not what it seems.
Like I said this is a so-so movie, it looks good, it feels like it belongs in the Alien universe but it doesn't at the same time.

The performances are what you would expect in a movie like this, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba are fine but are not given too much to do. Naomi Repace is good but feels like she is a little too good for this movie but the outstanding performance is Michael Fassbender's android David, he emotionless but clinical performance  with a bit of childish fascination with everything thrown in is the best thing about this. The rest are just fodder really.



                      "Big things have small beginnings"






But it is the story itself that lets in down, if they hadn't spent as much time on the 'engineers' and the so called discovery of the origins of mankind and actually made it more of an Alien prequel it would have been much better.

While there is loads of hints and nods to the Alien movies, that's all they are, hints and nods, and this should have been a return to that universe.
As I know they are making a sequel to this, I will be curious to see if they move closer to the alien movies or just continue like this.

Rating: 2.5/5



   ANTIVIRAL 



Directorial debut of Brandon Cronenberg, son of David. And it is very clear from this debut that daddies movies are a huge influence, though I doubt he calls him daddy.

And while he is very influenced this is by no means a cheap knock off, this is a very confident and talented film maker.
The influence of his father is clear from the story and feel of the world Brandon creates.

Our main character Syd March becomes infected with a virus that kills one of the most famous celebrities and must unravel the mystery of her death to try and save himself.

The world in which Syd March occupies is a bleak and oppressive world that idealises celebrities to the point where a whole industry has grown collecting and letting people experience celebrities diseases. also this world let you eat meat injected with celebrity DNA.

Now I could bang on about Cronenberg's cynical look at celebrity culture, but even from the synopsis of the movie that is obvious, it is easier to talk about Brandon Cronenberg himself or more importantly his abilities as a film maker.
He creates a world that as I said, is oppressive but also clinical and rough at the same time. Everything has a minimal quality and a sort of polished roughness to it. And while none of the actors really shine or stand out, although I did like the main actor, Caleb Landry Jones, who does a very good job of looking on the verge of death throughout the movie, the rest do the job required f them to further the world.
Overall very solid debut and looking forward to more from him.

Rating: 4/5



   VIDEODROME


                "Death to Videodrome, long live the new flesh!"


After watching Antiviral I was in the mood for a bit of Cronenberg and what better way to get a fix of Cronenberg than Videodrome. And it was the first Cronenberg movie I had ever seen so it was a nice bit of nostalgia.

James Woods plays a sleazy TV programmer who soon gets caught up in the out of control future of TV interaction.

Woods is great as a man who thinks himself untouchable and soon finds himself being dragged into and manipulated into something beyond his control and ability to understand.

The story aside it is the style of the movie that appealed to me when I first saw this. That and what has become a trademark of Cronenberg, body horror. And with a simple phase within the movie it was defined, "long live the new flesh". But he uses body horror in a way that was different form the type of movies I was watching at the time, late 80's and early 90's schlock horror, with little to offer apart from overused stories and styles. But then I saw This, and it was like a revelation, It had story, style and good original effects and designs.

I really would like to do a 'Director's Spotlight' on Cronenberg in the future as I am a huge fan of his style.

Rating: 4.5/5



   ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE


I cannot remember where I heard about this movie and I cannot remember if it was recommended or not but I thought I would give it a go anyway.

Low budget tale of a superhero group being tormented by their arch-enemy.

Cant say this is a great movie but it is not a bad movie, there is a lot of potential here. the style is simple but confident, and while the performances are poor, they seem to fit the overall style of the movie.  
the most positive thing is the score which sounds like it belongs in a much better movie.

I can see what the makers where going for, trying to bring a mix of Watchmen and Saw but fails, maybe due to budget and performances but it show potential and maybe with a decent budget and some guidance this could be remade into something quite good.

Rating: 2/5



   DO THE RIGHT THING


Classic stuff from Spike Lee here. On the hottest day of the year a series of trivial events lead to racial tensions and underlying bigotry boiling to the surface and exploding in violence.

It has been a long time since I watched this, and that is something I wont let happen again, this movie is so good it deserves to be watched regularly. Spike Lee's story and direction are so confident and pinpoint perfect here as he knits together what at first appear to be a bunch of trivial events. But Lee uses certain characters to join these events together and a larger story soon unfolds.
A lot of characters are quickly presented but each plays their part in this little micro world that is literally at boiling point as the weather and there own bigotries boils to the surface.

It's hard to talk about the story as it is just little encounters throughout the day, mostly following Lee's Mookie as he delivers pizza for Danny Aiello's Sal, an Italian pizzeria owner in a predominantly black neighbourhood.

While the story is great and the way Lee ties all the little bits together is fantastic but what I was in awe of this time around was his direction. The flowing camera as it follows characters around, especially Mookie. And every scene is busy, there is always something going on, even in the background, someone is doing something that might not be important but really gives you the feeling that the neighbourhood is bustling with life.

Every character, ad there are many serves a purpose, to comment like a Greek chorus or to antagonise. While the end result is slightly nihilistic and inevitable  sympathy cant help but to be give to characters that are pushed to boiling point by external forces. Aiello's Sal is the prime example of this, while he tries to help his so be a better person and seems to genuinely care about the neighbourhood, however, when challenged his natural prejudices come to the surface. 

I cant wait to watch this again, and take in everything.

Rating: 5/5



   FLIRTING WITH DISASTER


I have watched this several times and really enjoyed it each time, but can never remember it long after and am not sure why. It is a good movie and very funny in places. The cast is solid and Ben Stiller is great in this. 
But why can I never remember it a few weeks after seeing it? A mystery!

Ben Stiller plays a neurotic adoptee searching for his real parents as he tries discover his identity. He heads out on the road with his wife, new baby and someone from the adoption agency.
Mix-up with the real parents, sexual tension and the inclusion of some gay married FBI agents make for a fun an very funny road trip.

Rating: 3/5



   THE HUNGER GAMES


Another rewatch, but this time its a movie I knew I would really enjoy on rewatch. 

I think by now everyone knows the story, two 'tributes' from poor districts are sent to the capital to compete in a tournament to the death, The Hunger Games.

This was one the biggest movies of last year and well deserved its success. The story is good and well flushed out, the characters given enough time to develop and grow and the world build is subtle to begin with but soon expands as the story moved to the capital.
But the real success is the performance from Jennifer Lawrence, she inhabits the character of Katniss perfectly.
The supporting cast are good too, Woody Harrelson in particular is solid and Josh Hutcherson is fine too, doing his job but no more.
And while this is only the first part of a three part story it works as a stand alone movie and works very well.

Once the story moves to the contest itself, the action is swift and well done and is paced perfectly, hitting all the beats necessary to reflect the book. 

I am very much looking forward to the next part.

Rating: 4.5/5






Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Side Effects


So it seems kinda fitting that I am starting my new blog with the end of something else, that end is the film career end of Steven Soderbergh. Well, that is what he says anyway, he has said he will be working on TV and theater. He does have one more movie  the Liberace biopic. Although it is to be a TV movie for HBO stateside it will get a theatrical release here. But withe the quality of Soderbergh's work the last 7/8 years it seems a shame that he may actually be serious.



The plot sees Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) who falls victim to depression upon the release of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) from prison after a sentence for insider trading. She soon finds herself in the care of psychiatrist Johnathon Banks (Jude Law). After been prescribed a new drug Ablixa, things start to take a turn for the worst.


With the quality of Soderbergh's work of late, including Haywire and Magic Mike, I had no doubt going in that this would be good, but I was not prepared for how great it is. This is the second movie in the space of a week that can honestly be refereed to as Hitchcock-esque, with Stoker last week.

But while this is similar to Hitchcock thrillers it is definitely not a cheap knock-off.

The movie is stylishly shot, like all of Soderbergh's and pacing is exceptional.The plot takes a few twists and turns and is nothing short of engrossing from start to finish.

The  performances too are spot on, Mara and Law are fantastic in their roles and have great support from Tatum and Zeta-Jones.

It is very hard to talk fully without spoilers, which I will do shortly, but overall this is one of Soderbergh's finest moments and it is a shame he will not be delivering quality like this from now on, all I can say is that TV and theater are lucky!


***SPOILER SECTION***

Movies like this that contain twists and turns are very hard to speak about without spoilers. So here is the spoiler section.

The first semi-twist comes with the catalyst for the movie, Emily, now using some experimental drugs, kills her husband while sleepwalking. This leads to Law's character's life is sent into turmoil as he falls under blame. But as he tries to clear his name and help Emily he investigates her past and her original psychiatrist, Victoria Siebert, he begins to uncover a plot that may show that Emily is not as innocent as she seems.

So to the big twist, it turns out that Emily and Dr Siebert entered into a relationship and plotted the murder of Tatum's character. They decide to use her depression and blame side effects of certain drugs to cover the murder.
But Law's character uncovers it by manipulating both of them into betraying the other.

So from the trailer and what I read I was expecting this to be an indictment of prescription medication and there effects on some people. But it isn't  in the end it is people who are to blame for their actions, and not the side effects of prescribed medication and I think that that was Soderbergh's intention.

While the characters try to blame the side effects of prescription drugs, it is their own greed that is to blame.

Here we go again.........


THIS IS NOT A SEQUEL......this is a reboot or remake, I'm not quite sure.


This my second go at a movie blog, the last blog fizzled away after a few months when I started getting busy at work and was able to watch less movies.

Also I was not going to the cinema as much as I liked, quite rarely actually and that was a problem  no one wants to read a blog about movies that have already been and gone from the cinema.
I now have a little more time to go the cinema and now that I a living near a Cineworld and have taken advantage of their unlimited card I am able to go to the cinema several times a week, and more importantly see and talk about movies while there are new and fresh

So I have decided to began a blog again, I took the decision to start a new blog rather than continue the old one.

The blog will consist primarily of movie reviews and a few bits of news thrown in, I am hoping to do more in the future, like lists and similar things movie related. I will keep it simple to begin with while I get back to reviewing the movies as soon after they come out as possible and will broaden things once I get into the swing of it.

I will start with a full review of new movies, and once or twice a week a diary of sorts of other movies watched.

Anyone reading please let me know what you think.