Just by the way, Avengers Assemble is out today!!!
Just by the way, Avengers Assemble is out today!!!
Without a doubt, Nolan’s final piece of the rebooted Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises is shaping up to be one of 2012′s biggest hitters! When the trailer hit the web way back in December 2011, the feeling was that this would be THE blockbuster of the year. Long-awaited, way over-due, hotly anticipated! You remember right?
And it was all plain sailing, that was until the Prometheus trailer waltzed in and blew every other upcoming movie out of the atmosphere. From then on, the viral campaign for the Alien prequel/not prequel has gone global and that train does not look like slowing down until Prometheus hits cinemas in June.
So what of The Dark Knight Rises? The choice of Anne Hathaway to play Selina Kyle/Catwoman is BTTF’s biggest gripe and an odd casting to say the least. She is a great actress, but Nolan’s bat-movies have always had a real grittiness about them that Hathaway’s looks just don’t match. Perhaps Nolan is going for a contrast? Who knows!
The question is… Do we still trust Christopher Nolan to deliver a piece that will top this epic trilogy? He has given himself such a huge challenge with the success of The Dark Knight. Trilogies never seem to end the way the audience want them too, with the exception of the Bourne series perhaps…
The Hunger Games has certainly set the bar for the rest of the summer and we will see how Avengers Assemble fares as it opens in the UK this week! (excited much?)
In Nolan We Trust?
The destruction of fond television memories is big business in Hollywood these days. We’ve had to endure Transformers on three separate occasions, with only the stunning Megan Fox stopping many from stabbing out their own eyes with blunt instruments, and now we are bracing our senses for another GI Joe, with the hope that reboot specialist Dwayne Johnson and veteran action hero Bruce Willis can salvage this already struggling franchise. So let’s turn to the cartoons as yet untouched by the corporate staff of box office demons and ask, what childhood favourite can Michael Bay ruin next?
Click images for epic introductions and hair metal theme tunes!
Already a beloved cartoon from the 1980′s, Thundercats gave birth to that awesome logo now seen on t-shirts and tattooed on the arm’s of many who lived in one of the greatest decades of modern times. But who could do justice to the famous calling? “Thunder! Thunder! THUNDERCATS! HO!” And would actors dressed up like cats not just look like something you might find in Snarf’s litter tray?
A galactic marshall stationed on the planet of New Texas, Bravestarr and his trusted talking horse, Thirty Thirty, are accredited with the protection of this far-flung planet and its inhabitants, the Prairie People. The image above certainly resembles another muscle-bound greeting in the 1987 movie Predator, between Arnie’s Dutch and Carl Weathers’ Dillon.
Defenders of the Earth
Adapted from several different comic strips, Defenders first aired in 1986 combining three key characters; Flash Gordon, the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician. The number of supporting characters in the show would have to be reduced if a feature was to be created. But the epic theme song is already there for the picking!
Biker Mice From Mars
An odd premise for a cartoon, BMFM was produced in 1993 and follows three motor sport loving mice who crash landed in Chicago after their own planet was destroyed by some smelly fish-type aliens known as the Plutarkians. For a movie, the production would run into similar stumbling blocks as Thundercats, do you make the characters human? Or use a lot of makeup and CGI to keep them as steroid-abusing, Harley-riding marsupials? This one could turn out like mouldy cheese.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This cartoon has already been adapted into four feature length movies (3 live action, 1 animation) to mostly negative reception. And now, Michael Bay is in the production driving seat for the 2013 reboot Ninja Turtles. In March, Bay revealed that the turtles will be from an ‘alien race’ rather than the mutant creations that they have always historically been, to a very pessimistic response from fans of the franchise. Regardless, this is another theme tune that cannot be wasted!
Things don’t look so good for Peter Berg and his battle ships today as several reviews of his uneagerly awaited board-game-turned-Hollywood-flopbuster Battleship hit the web. Oh look! There I go ripping away and I haven’t even seen the movie!
In the lead up to Battleship’s release, it’s fair to say that no one, with the exception of maybe Hasbro and Michael ‘Boom!’ Bay, were actually excited about this dick measuring contest between Alien’s and the US Navy. So here’s some snippets pulled together from various reviews that should tell you not to spend your hard-earned cash on seeing this film. Instead, just watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon on BluRay and throw water at the TV. I imagine the experience will be similar.
Empire – The Japanese captain who teams up with the Yanks, thus making up for Pearl Harbor; the gutsy veteran with metal legs; Liam Neeson’s gruff Admiral; Rihanna’s gunner, who barely gets anything to do except yell, “Boom!” — all are about as memorable as sea-foam.
Den of Geek – Last year we had Cowboys & Aliens. Battleship’s essentially sailors versus aliens. All we need are highway traffic cops versus aliens, and we’ll be one step closer to the full set: a sci-fi Village People.
SFX – The script unconvincingly tries to justify some brain-curdling dialogue; “Let’s buy this planet another day”, with postmodern winks; “Do people really say that?”.
Total Film – What follows is nigh-on two hours of gale-force military fetishism, a script set to soundbite (“Boom!” says the underused, but surprisingly un-terrible, Rihanna, firing a cannon), and stratospheric levels of product placement.
Empire – The camera lingers so long on slowly turning destroyers, even a seagull would check its watch.
Variety – A reconnaissance mission led by Alex and scrappy female officer Raikes (Rihanna) aggravates the visitors into opening fire, setting the stage for a protracted series of back-and-forth pyrotechnic attacks of increasing sound and fury until an abruptly curtailed finale.
Total Film – Misguided in the extreme. A scene in which Kitsch and co aim blindly for the broadest of targets – and miss by miles – proves painfully apt.
However, there are a few poor souls, reviewing away (which is more than I am doing here I’ll admit), who actually enjoyed the film.
Urban CineFile – With an onslaught of jaw-dropping visual effects, non-stop action and a narrative that delivers some surprises, Battleship booms onto the screen with style and scale.
The general consensus appears to be giving this one a miss. Read the full reviews for more pun-foolery.
On paper, this movie doesn’t look like it should work on any level. It’s bizarre blend of buddy-cop comedy and high school misfortune comprises the majority of this story. Revived from an 80’s TV show that never quite made its way across the pond and gave a mainstream US audience Johnny Depp, this could easily have been another A-Team type semi-failure. However, regardless of the fact that very few cinema-goers in the UK would have seen the original 21 Jump Street, this movie will without a doubt, appeal to a broad range of viewers.
21 Jump Street see’s two useless and youthful looking new police recruits Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) transferred to a police unit that specialises in undercover investigations within high schools.
The captain of this unit, Captain Dickson, played expletively by Ice Cube, is superb and is blessed with just the right amount of screen time for his ‘black, angry police captain’ stereotype to work its wonder. Never has foul language sounded so ridiculously funny. Ice Cube certainly sets the tone for the events that ensue.
It must be said, that 21 Jump Street is absurd. The premise of the film (and the 80’s TV show) does not sound the most appealling and the narrative is quite frankly, nuts. However, for all its preconceived flaws, Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall deliver a masterpiece in comedy, romance, action, friendship and just general lunacy. This is the next step on from Superbad with Schmidt and Jenko reminiscent of younger Officers Slater and Michaels.
The balance of comedy, action and emotional baggage is spot on, with Channing Tatum’s Jenko coming across as an extremely likable idiot that provides real heroism despite his early impression. Hill’s Schmidt plays the high school loser who enjoys his second shot at being a senior a little too much. As frustrating as this element of the story can be, it provides an excellent scene with some rather amusing apparel.
The movie is left wide open for a sequel, which, so long as all original players are involved, could be a hoot. Because the only downside about 21 Jump Street, is that it departs while leaving its audience desperate for more insanity, more ludicrous incidents, more foolish buddy cop comradery than you can shake a night stick at. Kudos to all involved for one of the most refreshing comedies in years.
Cleanskin, in the UK, refers to an individual threat to national security that does not fit the expected profile of the actions they undertake. The film predominantly follows Ewan (Sean Bean), a British secret service agent and former soldier tasked with eliminating a terrorist cell, and Ash (Abhin Galeya), a suicide bomber and terrorist planning and coordinating attacks in London. This explosive action/thriller certainly does not fit the standard profile.
Director, producer, writer and editor Hadi Hajaig took on a mammoth task creating this movie and has done terrifically well to gain financing for the film and secure mass distribution through Warner Bros. As with many British films, there is often a tendency to lose the common elements of a city and assume that because the audience is seeing (in this case) images of London, they will accept it as much more realistic and be able to relate further. Hajaig fell into this trap, creating an uncomfortable first 10 minutes. Comparing it to an episode of Eastenders, even with Michelle Ryan’s stomach churning attempt at acting, would be unfair to the charming Albert Square.
However, it doesn’t take long for the narrative to focus in on Ewan and Ash, and once Hajaig stops introducing new characters, the film settles, making Cleanskin’s London feel more like home. Bean’s performance is particularly grounded and gritty, and without sounding too much like an English class on onomatopoeia, reflects the nature of the story and its environment. The fight scenes and choreography are brutal and unflinchingly violent, reminiscent of the new style of action introduced to the masses by the Bourne series.
Cleanskin trots along at a fairly brisk pace telling the story of Ash’s transformation from an ambitious, bright law student to a radicalised, violent young man. At times Hajaig runs the risk of patronising his audience with an all too basic informative approach, but surprisingly, it is Galeya’s performance that drives the film along at its most joggingly slow points. Refreshingly, there are moments when Ash’s story provides a semi-Usain Bolt sprint to the picture, perhaps more of a Dwain Chambers attempt. Regardless, it holds the attention whilst Ash wrestles with his conscience and the movie builds to its climax.
Some deeper cloak-and-dagger elements to Cleanskin’s story are disappointingly rushed towards the end of the film, but this is more than made up for with a thrilling last 10 minutes. Overall, Hajaig’s movie is an entertaining and unique attempt at a contemporary Jack Bauer story. The focus on the radicalisation of a young man is key and adds a layer that many Hollywood narratives could learn from. Worthy of a watch.
You could be forgiven for not knowing the story of the Woman In Black. The book is different to the play, the play is different to the book and the movie, and the movie is different to the book…. and the play. You get the idea.
So without giving too much away to any of the above, Daniel Radcliffe’s Arthur Kipps is a broken man after the death of his wife some years earlier while she gave birth to their son Joseph. As a young lawyer working in London, he is despatched to the eerie midland coastal town of Crythin Gifford to settle the deeds of the ever reclusive (and recently deceased) Mrs Drablow. The Only problem is, she lived in a house on marshland that is only accessible on the also spine-chillingly named Nine Lives Causeway, which can only be used at low tide. Upon settling there, Kipps experiences some rather sinister hauntings and uncovers a tragic story of heart wrenching loss.
The movie itself is terrific. If you’ve witnessed the play and read the book then it will be an undoubted joy to see this on the big screen. Director James Watkins, backed by a resurgence from Hammer Films Productions, steers away from the gore and guts of recent horror films and works instead to build tension and unease. This discomfort is achieved with great success and is a nostalgic tribute to the old style thrillers of the 50′s and 60′s.
There are plenty of jumps and frights to be experienced throughout the movie as the audience is made to suffer the loneliness and solitude of Eel Marsh House. Once the five minute mark is surpassed and Radcliffe is no longer Harry Potter, his performance as Arthur Kipps is solid and unwavering. Kipps is not a character that would display the broadness of anyone’s acting talent, but for someone like Radcliffe to be able to put in such a solemn piece, is testament to his maturity as an actor.
The special effects are sound and used sparingly, with Watkins preferring to use lighting in his favour. The old hag herself looks terrifically creepy and the final shot of her in the film will leave many with a sleepless night.
There was one particular down point to the script and movie, as it seemed unnecessary to add in the abnormal possession of Mrs Daily to feed the plot line when it was going along so swimmingly. That aside, the story has been adapted excellently for cinema and anyone that is familiar with the previous forms will take pleasure in this adaption. DR does himself no disservice with his performance, but his next choice will have to be a careful one in order to continue shaking the Potter label.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Adrift from the biologically tactical kung-fu skills of Robert Downey Jr’s hyper-intelligent and comically self-destructing portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s 2009 feature, homage is paid to the very fictions that brought the original novels such fame and admiration. Dr. Watson’s love interest, Mary Morstan (upon meeting Holmes for the first time) states that she has ‘piles of detective novels’ and namely refers to Edgar Allan Poe, whose characters in The Murders In The Rue Morgue (1841) are said to be inspiration for Holmes.
Locked Room Mysteries
Poe’s The Murders In The Rue Morgue is arguably cited as one of the very first detective stories and provided inspiration for the creation of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. As well as this, it created the framework and commonalities of future detective fiction.
That’s ‘Who-done-it?’ by the way. This genre became solidified by the characters of Holmes and Poirot, paving way for the common elements of the eccentric detective rubbing the foolish constabulary’s noses in it, when he solves the mystery with a fairly hefty monologue of how the killer killed whoever he or she killed and almost got away with it…got it?
Just because the Americans want in on it, and no, I’m not talking about our free range eggs. The noir-esque brooding, heavy drinking, loner detective generally sulking and feeling sorry for himself, but going against the grain and fighting crime for some higher moral purpose. Cue the positioning of any wooden actor into this template and voila! Great movies materialize in front of your very eyes!
The already critically acclaimed Drive (directed by Nicolas Winding Refn) centres around a movie stunt driver/part time heist wheel man played by Ryan Gosling. As an audience, we are never privy to the name of Gosling’s character, he is referred to only as ‘The Driver’. After becoming close with his neighbour Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, and her son Benicio, the Driver agrees to assist Irene’s husband to carry out one last job upon his release from prison. Standard, Irene’s husband and the Driver must rob a pawnbroker on the outskirts of the city in order to pay off a debt and protect Irene and her son. However, the job goes horribly wrong as the Driver realises they have been double-crossed and the film sees our wheel man racing to protect Irene and her young son from vengeful gangsters eager to retrieve money stolen during the heist.
Refn does a tremendous job transporting the audience back to a glorious vision of the 1980’s while keeping the film firmly set in present day Los Angeles. The aerial shots of downtown LA appear beautifully peaceful despite the visual flow of traffic and bustle on the ground. Credit must also go to Gosling and Refn for portraying a character so out of place in modern society, yet within the confines of the motion picture, he fits in perfectly, wearing a Scorpion emblazoned silver satin jacket and chewing on a toothpick.
The soundtrack by Cliff Martinez provides the final touch to Refn’s 1980’s dynamic, with some beautifully composed ‘retro-synth-pop’. The mesmerising, Under Your Spell and uplifting, A Real Hero, are stand-out tracks that compliment the story arc and leave the audience feeling in awe of Drive’s overall experience.
Some may find the interactions between The Driver and other characters odd, but the minimal dialogue between Gosling’s Driver and Mulligan’s Irene only serve to enhance the emotional intensity between the pair. This seems to create an underlying tension throughout their scenes that explodes near the end of the film with a powerful sequence. The scene, partly shown in the movie trailer, is filmed without any discourse, as the Driver realises he and Irene have stepped into an elevator with a hit man intent on killing them both. As Gosling and Mulligan share one of the most perfect on-screen kisses, the audience are nervously awaiting the explosion of extreme violence that ensues as the Driver ‘removes’ the hit man from the narrative. The elements of this scene are typical of the entire film as Refn aspires to create intense emotions through imagery rather than the typical Hollywood method of spelling feelings out through basic dialogue. This film, and particularly this scene, which is preceded by several other moments of shocking violence in a film that initially feels like a love story, is definitely not for the faint hearted.
As Refn and Gosling told the L.A. Times earlier this year, they wanted to portray and recreate the emotional high of listening to pop music in the car and the ‘trance’ that it generates while driving. They have certainly succeeded and although Drive will go relatively unnoticed by the general population, it is deserved of all its critical plaudits. Perhaps in years to come this film will be looked upon with cult iconography. One can only hope.