Monday, 30 December 2013

Carrie (2013) Review

The 2013 version of Carrie comes from director Kimberly Pierce and is an interesting hybrid of a remake of the 76 film Carrie by Brian De Palma and the original source material by Stephen King. Those hoping for an entirely faithful adaptation of the Stephen King novel will no doubt be disappointed. However those willing to accept the new film utilising some elements of the 76 film and combining them in a unique manner with the source material will find what is a terrific hybrid of both an adaptation of the Stephen King novel and remake of the 76 Brian De Palma film.

Carrie is a shy young girl in her final year of high school and is continually and mercilessly bullied. Her mother Margaret is a crazed religious fanatic who is similarly abusive albeit in a different manner to how those at school treat Carrie. Carrie however still loves her 'momma' and doesn't embrace how she is treat and as the film moves forward goes from a loner to one who begins to seek social acceptance. During a particularly egregious incident where Carrie is being bullied one of Carrie's classmates Sue has a change of heart and begins to try and make amends for her actions. The result of this incident is that Chris (one of the instigators of the bullying) has her right to the upcoming prom revoked when she refuses to accept her punishment for her actions. Chris is unable to accept any responsibility for her actions and seemingly unable to understand that she had even wronged Carrie. Conversely Sue ultimately sacrifices going to the prom and convinces her boyfriend Tommy to ask Carrie.

Both Chris and Sue are given ample time to develop as characters and their motivations and reasons for their motivations are fleshed out (which where unfortunately lacking in the flawed but superb Brian De Palma film). This is of particular importance as up until the prom the title character Carrie is the subject of others actions with both Sue and Chris decisions and actions being what moves the story forward. Characterisation also differs from both the source material and original film when it comes to the character of Margaret who is shown as a highly disturbed yet still loving mother. Numerous of the secondary characters are also given more room to develop which affords actual characterisation as opposed to the caricatures they where presented as in the 76 film.

The seemingly small changes from the 76 and 2013 film along with the more obvious changes permeate the entirety of the 2013 film and not only change the tone of the film considerably but also allows for unique twists on scenes which often utilise the structure of the 76 film but combined with elements from the novel. The most obvious example of this comes towards the finale, but suffice to say whilst not all will be happy with the changes made, their is ample differentiation for the 2013 film to stand alone from both the 76 film and novel.

Much like the novel one of the greatest strength of Carrie is in its depth achieved, which thankfully in the film is presented in a non overt manner. Reasons behind characters actions are well thought out and their is simply something horrifying in how enjoyable it is to watch some of the later horrors in the film as opposed to the earlier horrors.

As a fan of the Stephen Kings novel and Brian De Palma film, Carrie was one of my most anticipated films of 2013. This was especially the case with the Boys Don't Cry director Kimberly Pierce at the helm. With that said it is impossible to not be disappointed by the lack of several elements from the novel that the initial teaser trailer strongly hinted at. This however is an unfair criticism of the film itself which has a different focus to what the initial teaser hinted at. The film itself is successfully able to differentiate itself from prior versions of the story and is a gut retching, haunting, horrific experience that comes with my highest recommendation.

Note: I would strongly urge people unfamiliar with the story to not watch the theatrical trailer for this film as it gives far to much away about the film (the trailer for the 76 film also had the same issue present) and seem to be deigned for those who are already familiar with the novel and 76 film.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My Film Diary (Letterboxd)

Letterboxd is a website I recently stumbled upon that is essentially a movie driven social media website. I personally am not one to use social media such as Facebook frequently and have never used twitter or the various other options out there (is myspace still a thing?). None the less I quite like the idea of a movie driven social media website such as Letterboxd.

I have recently set up a letterboxd account and currently plan to use it as a film diary which will have what films I have watched and when I have watched them. If you would like to see my diary it is available on the below link (I shall also be placing a link on the side menu of this blog):

Even if you do not have any interest in film diaries or similar from my still limited experience I do fell Letterboxd is well worth looking into for any film fan. I may start using the other numerous features at a later time and hopefully it will help me discover films I otherwise may have never heard of or simply dismissed. Only time shall tell.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

American Hustle Review

Irving Rosenfeld is a matchstick man who with his partner Sydney Prosser pull of smaller cons on desperate people as they hit rock bottom. Fortunately for all there would be victims and unfortunately for Irving and Sydney they are caught by Richie DiMaso, an FBI agent and are giving the choice between jail time or helping DiMaso catch a larger number of matchstick men. The details of this agreement as the film progresses escalates with DiMaso seemingly unquenchable ambition. The result is the scope and risk of the operation to continually expand from the largely mundane until both Mafia and politicians are involved.

Performances throughout as expected are superb. Sadly despite the strength of the performances the characters themselves falter. Little reason is given to care about the who and why with the back story for most characters being mostly minimal and underdeveloped. The result is a film with little reason to care for what happens and who it happens to. Admittedly this approach can and has worked in numerous other films, however it stumbles here with American Hustles most egregious of issues in the general lack of consequences present. Whether it is a statesman caught accepting a bribe or a character at the mercy of an aggressive and threatened Mafia, the results rarely have any impact and characters continually walk away unscathed. The stakes as a result could never be lower.

Thankfully whilst the film does falter with a story that is overly predictable, it does feature meticulous dialogue which combine with the performances to create moments that in of themselves vary from griping to hilarious. This moments display the underlining potential of what American Hustle could have been. Sadly whilst individuals moments are frequently intoxicating and enjoyable they never combine into a film that builds any degree of momentum, and the final con is disappointingly hollow and uninspired. All the elements come together in a way that has American Hustle that as a whole is unable to match its individual moments and is sadly less then the sum of it parts.

American Hustle is from director David O. Russell who has recently done such outstanding films as Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. Combine this with an amazing ensemble cast and you have the makings of what should have been (and seemingly for most is) one of the better films of the year. Sadly whilst American Hustle does feature exemplary performances that are only equalled by the films sharp dialogue, American Hustle is a film that is less then the sum of its parts and has provides little reason to car for the characters or what happens. Hence American Hustle falls short of expectations and does not come recommended.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Dredd Review

Dredd is an adaption of 2000 AD after the Sylvester Stallone film based on the same source material sullied the name. Judges are the 'protectors' of Mega City One and act as the police, judge, jury and executioner. Dredd is set in a large metropolis known as Mega City One and follows the 'character' Dredd as he trains and evaluates the new rookie Anderson who had failed the tests to become a judge. None the less Anderson is still being considered due to her aptitude as a psychic which is a direct result of her being a mutant. Dredd and Anderson respond to a triple homicide call which has them go to a neighborhood that is essentially a 200 story slum that unbeknown to the two judges is controlled by the Drug Lord Ma Ma. Soon after entering Ma Ma puts the slum into lock down which causes the entire slum to be blocked from the rest of the city by blast doors and has her entire gang is tasked with hunting down and killing the two judges.

For the most part this is where any pretense to a story ends and what follows is a barrage of action as the two Judges massacre their way to the gang leader Ma Ma. Their are of course some predictable story elements introduced as Ma Ma hires outside help, but they exist purely as a way to provide variation to the carnage on the screen. The degree to which this is successful in providing variation is also minimal as Dredd and Anderson simply continue to dispatch their foes in more or less the same way they would have had it simply been more of Ma Ma's gang members. I imagine the hiring of outside help was no doubt meant to create a sense of escalation to help make the film fell as if it was building towards the finale, but this simply was not an effective means of doing so. As a result whilst the action is reasonably well staged it never fells as it is building to a conclusion, rather the conclusion rather simply suddenly happens without any notable build to what is still an inventive and climatic finale.

Dredd is punctuated by several scenes whereby we see the world from a the perspective of a drug users on a drug called slow-mo. Slow-mo gives the user the impression that time is passing at an extremely slow rate. This is used as a means of providing some variation to the action as we see the carnage and destruction as bullets rip through the flesh of people in extremely slow motion. Whilst I usually find the use of slow motion to be unnecessary and overdone, it if nothing else certainly fells unique with how it is presented in Dredd and provides for a sadistic, disturbing and absolutely joyful way to watch said carnage. Their are also some unique sequences involving Andersons' psychic abilities which provides some much needed variation. This variation helps prevent the film from becoming an overwhelming slog as action scenes could very easily have begun to blur into one another.

As you may imagine characterisation is light. Their are several moments that hint at character growth but such notions are immediately disposed of the moment said scenes end and the carnage then promptly resumes. Likewise the story of the world is hinted at several times as mutants or the radiation fallout and similar are mentioned but no area is explored to any substantial degree which has the film relying entirely on its action to captivate the viewer. Thankfully the action and the brief glimpses of character are enough for an excellent entertaining action romp.

Dredd is beyond a substantial improvement over the 90's film based on the same source material, but that isn't saying anything beyond that it wasn't torturous to watch. None the less Dredd does have some brutally violent and entertaining action with enough variation to stop the film becoming a one note affair and comes recommended.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Fish Tank Review

Fish Tank follows Mia a pugnacious fifteen year old who having been kicked out of school spends her time aimlessly wondering around the streets. In vacant buildings she practices hip hop dance which she both takes comfort in and aspires to become a professional dancer of sorts. Her mother Joanne and sister provide for little support and one day Mia meets her mothers new boyfriend Connor, who initially seems to take on a father like role for Mia and along with Mia is the only at times likeable character.

Expectedly as the film progresses the few good relationships break down as the characters discover the truth of one another’s situation. This of course makes what is an undeniably bad situation even worse. As Mia's life falls further into disarray the film stumbles as it seemingly doesn't have anything of worth to say about the situation at hand. Instead Fish Tank presents that notion that people are simply irredeemably repulsive but doesn't go beyond this. The result is a film that presents a refreshing, unflinching, gritty and immediate portrayal of disturbed characters living in poverty, but unfortunately it is also a film that carries a message that is ultimately adolescent.

As always Michael Fassbender provides for an excellent performance as Connor and newcomer Katie Jarvis provides for an equally compelling and nuanced performance as Mia. The strength of the performances in Fish Tank are unfortunately one of the few saving graces present and are ultimately wasted on a film that simply has nothing of worth to say and is ponderously slow.

Fish Tank is a film brimming with potential. Performances are a particular strength along with its willingness to portray life with little to no hope for the future of those present. Unfortunately the film carries an adolescent message that devolves the film into an uninteresting chore to watch. Hence Fish Tank does not come recommended.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Insidious Chapter 2 Review

Horror films are quite the oddity. Most are low budget, thinly scripted and meekly acted with few to no thrills, lack of any tension and little to no actual horror. With that being said many of my favorite films are the few horror films that do not fall into this trap and are the complete reverse providing genuine horror and thrills that keep you on the edge of your seat. Insidious 2 unfortunately falls into what I find the majority of horror films to be.

Insidious 2 starts of with a tedious and yawn inducing sequence with Josh Lambert as a young boy being haunted by an entity. The purpose however of this scene is little more then for a door to open which of course leads to a lackluster and nonsensical moment later in the film in a seemingly vain attempt to justify the existence of the films opening. Insidious 2 then jumps to the present and continues where the first Insidious film ended. From this point we are 'treated' to a film which has a concept of horror that is no more then people wearing white makeup and black eye liner appearing and at times making some loud noises in several poor attempts at jump scares and nothing more. Put simply Insidious 2 is in no way scary and lacks any tension, suspense or thrilling moments. To make matters worse Insidious 2 also tries to explain the many nonsensical occurrences in the film but has no interesting exploration of what is occurring and its attempts to shock and scare the audience are frequently laughable.

It doesn't help that performances throughout are mostly woeful with the actors and actresses delivering their lines in a robotic and wooden manner. The one exception is Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert who provides for a mostly passable albeit average performance.

Insidious 2 is a mess of a film that lacks any sense of tension, suspense, thrills or anything the least bit entertaining. This combined with mostly wooden performances, a nonsensical story and frequent moments that are unintentionally laughable has Insidious 2 come not recommended.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire continues after the events of the first film and has Katniss and Peeta trapped in a victory tour where they are coerced to continue the love facade that developed during their time in the hunger games. Throughout the tour unrest among the many districts is clearly shown to be growing which has been sparked by many viewing Katniss and Peetas willingness to sacrifice themselves in the hunger games not as an act of love but as an act of defiance. Meanwhile President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee the new game master prepare for the 75th Hunger Games which unlike previous games will pit previous victors of the Hunger Games from the twelve districts against one another.

Thematically Catching Fire is a more fleshed out and poignant exploration of the themes present in the first film which range from interdependence vs dependence, identity, love, sacrifice and more. Thankfully unlike so many films that are as thematically dense and ambitious as Catching Fire the films never gets weighed down by said ambition and doesn't force the themes to the forefront. Rather Catching Fire lets them present and grow in an organic manner steaming from the characters present and the situation they find themselves in. Likewise the film slowly introduces what is at stake in a manner that allows for the film to build itself to its conclusion in a very methodical and tense manner. That is until the finale which is overly abrupt and largely unsatisfying and clearly meant as bait for the next film in the series. Whilst I have no issue with this per se I found it rather ineffective in this case and certainly the weakest aspect of Catching Fire.

Unlike the first Hunger Games film which featured some delightful cinematography, Catching Fire features jaw drooping cinematography throughout. Furthermore Catching Fire doesn't feature the nauseating and overused shaky cam that was used in the first film that was more often then not to its detriment. The budget of Catching Fire has also been reported as being almost twice as large as the first film which no doubt has helped allow for the at times cheap looking effects from the first film to be absent. Simply put Catching Fire is a more polished film with less technical distractions present (such as the extremely fake and cheap looking fire effects which have not only been significantly improved in Catching Fire but actually now look good).

The single biggest stand out of Catching Fire would have to be quality of actors and actresses and the performances they provide. The performances are simply superb and Catching Fire easily features among the strongest casts I have seen in a film for quite some time. Most notably the weaker and underutilized roles from the first film such as President Snow, Haymitch, and Effie are given more substantial scenes which allows for the characters to be more rounded and fleshed out compared to their relatively limited characterization in the first film. The leads Katniss and Peeta are once again superb and along with the rest of cast elevate the film well above what most casts could hope to achieve. With that being said Catching Fire much like the first film does feature a love triangle Between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. Sadly Gale once has such a limited screen time we have little reason to care for his character and thus the love triangle whilst not forced could have benefited from more scenes fleshing out Gale as an actual character to allow us to relate to what Katniss may or may not see in Gale. However as it is the relationship between Katniss and Gale does fall relatively flat compared with the rest of the film and whilst not forced it also doesn't fell necessary.

Catching Fire most notably features a major leap in quality when compared to the already strong first Hunger Games film and features more confident film making featuring superlative performances, gorgeous cinematography and a thematically interesting and gripping plot. Hence The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes highly recommended.

Note: A sizable portion of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has been shoot using imax cameras similar to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. So if you have a real imax nearby it may be worth considering viewing this film in such an environment which I find to immerse in a way that normal cinemas simply cannot hope to achieve. Sadly I was unaware of this until after I had viewed the film so cannot comment further.

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Counselor Review

From director Ridley Scott and Pulitzer prize winner Cormac McCarthy comes The Counselor a film about greed and the consequences of ones actions. The Counselor starts as a character only known as The Counselor enters into a drug trafficking arrangement. Many may immediately take issue with The Counselor as it doesn't explain how The Counselor is involved and is shown to have little knowledge of the exact workings of the deal. But to do so would be to miss what The Counselor is striving for. The Counselor at its core is not a film about drug trafficking rather it is a film about how the decisions of today can effect tomorrows decisions and the horrific consequences that they can eventually lead to.

The Counselor is an unapologetically slow film that despite being classified as a thriller provides for little to no thrills. This in of itself isn't an issue and I quite enjoyed watching the consequences of the various characters actions slowly unfold on screen and how they react in a desperate attempt of self preservation. This is especially helped throughout by the performances which are mostly sublime throughout with Michael Fassbender as The Counselor Brad Pitt as Westray being particular highlights. Those however looking for the film to delve into the Drug Trafficking beyond a very cursory surface glance will likely be disappointed.

The most notable issue present with The Counselor is the quality of the writing which varies dramatically from scene to scene. Some dialogue is razor sharp and often impressively oblique, however other lines are borderline laughable. Thankfully the razor sharp lines overwhelm the relatively small portions of poor writing. None the less the borderline laughable dialogue is accentuated by the serious tone the film maintains throughout and whilst some of the actors and actresses are able to make some of the more egregious dialogue work, others simply come across with delivery that simply fells off. Characters motivations are also in most cases only surface deep which leads the film lacking the impact it so clearly is striving for. Thankfully The Counsleor himself has enough relatable albeit simple motivation behind his greed to keep the films slow but ever present forward momentum present.

The Counsellor is a film that with its at time ponderous pacing, lack of thrills and at times inconsistent writing has the signs of disaster written all over it. Despite this I found the majority of performances coupled with the at times oblique writing to provide for a fresh change of pace and compelling narrative. Hence whilst The Counselor doesn't come with the strongest of recommendations it still comes recommended for those who enjoy a slowly paced dialogue heavy film and are not looking for the edge of your seat thriller it was advertised as.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Byzantium Review

Byzantium has Neil Jordan the director of Interview with a Vampire tackle his second film featuring vampires and tells the tale of two female vampires who have been 'alive' for over two centuries. Byzantium follows these two vampires as they move to a coastal town and delves into the drawbacks and isolation that such a life could bring along with the obvious advantages such a life would also have.

The two leads are Elenaor whose actress Saoirse Ronan provides for a tremendous performance and Clara whose actress Gemma Arterton provides for a surprisingly strong performance. The characters themselves are notably different with Eleanor viewing her 'condition' more as a curse and longs to be able to connect with other individuals as apposed to the life of isolation she leads. Clara on the other hand reveals in the condition which of course causes conflict between the two individuals. Both characters have there own unique internal struggles which evolve throughout the film in what is an interesting coming of age story that is in many ways made unique by the age of the individuals involved.

With that being said whilst both characters have a rather different view on their condition they undeniably live a rather grim life, which is something I particularly prefer to the often overly glamorized life vampires are often shown to have. Byzantium does feature its fair share of blood however it is oddly more of a back drop for the characters and the situation they find themselves to be in, rather then the focus of the film. Put simply Byzantium is a film more interested in the character relationships present and the conflicts that arise as a result of such a life with little focus on the actual vampiric behavior.

Byzantium is not what many would consider a scary film, rather it is a film that provides for some hauntingly beautiful imagery and is paced deliberately slowly. Thus Byzantium is a film that I imagine will only appeal to a niche of viewers. I however found this take on vampires that focused on there internal struggles whilst completely forgoing any illusion of being a horror film a refreshing and dare I say adult take on what I would contend has essentially become its own genre.

Hence Byzantium comes with my highest recommendation.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World Review

When Thor was released in 2011 I was left satisfied yet still somewhat disappointed with the final results. Sadly Thor: The Dark Wolrd follows the first film to a fault. It is similar in numerous ways with many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the first film. But The: The Dark World ultimately falls flat and is a step back for the series with the action being less imaginative and the humour not as entertaining.

One of the primary issues I imagined Marvel Studio films would have post Avengers is that everything would fell smaller and more confined then the individual stories otherwise would. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but when a story requires a larger scale and then fails to deliver, things can start feeling rather tepid. Thor: The Dark World falls into this trap and as big as the stakes are told to be, we never truly understand why or are giving any reason to care about what is occurring on screen. The fundamental issue seems to be the villain who's motivations are so simplistic and undeveloped we might as well have no idea why he is striving towards his final goal. The result is there is little weight behind what occurs and the film fells oddly small given the at times larger then life imagery. It doesn't help that the action itself whilst reasonably well staged is only momentarily exciting and lacks the punch that one would expect from an end of world story featuring Thor.

With that being said my primary issue with the first Thor film is once again the primary issue I have with Thor: The Dark World. That issue is love story between Thor and Jane which in Thor: The Dark World is once again forced and unnecessary. This is most impressive as they even turn Jane into the Macguffin of the story, apparently in a vain attempt to make the character relevant. A good idea in theory but one that ultimately fells contrived and a rather desperate attempt to keep a character present who should simply have been dropped from the series. Thankfully Chris Hemsworth is once again excellent as Thor despite the lack of forward direction for the character and Natalie Portman simply seems bored as Jane which result in even less chemistry between the two, something I wouldn't have believed possible prior to release.

Conversely two of the greatest strengths of the first Thor film was its humour and the character of Loki. Loki is once again a joy to watch and whilst his screen time isn't notably increased when compared to the first film he thankfully doesn't fell underutilised this time around. Unfortunately the humour which was notably catapulted forward in the first film by the fish out of the water aspects (by having a god essentially become human) and by juxtaposing the surreal with the mundane, is not as successful here as it was in the first film. The same style of humour is present, but more frequently fells forced and present only to try and bring life to an otherwise tired scenes. As a result Thor: The Dark world is rarely amusing and often fells more like a poor imitation that was simply ticking of a list of what to include in a sequel to the first Thor film.

One could easily describe Thor: The Dark World as more of the same, but mostly not as good as in the first Thor film. The action is less exciting, the humour less amusing though the unnecessary and forced love story remains as uninteresting, unnecessary and forced as it was in the first film. Thor: The Dark World is not a bad film, it however is a very average film and as a result does not come recommended as anything more then a potential rental.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thor Review

After a great deal of waiting that extended well beyond the titillating tease for a Thor movie in Iron Man 2 a Thor film was finally released in 2011. To this day I still sadly can't help but be underwhelmed by the final results with Thor being the second weakest Marvel Studios film thus far. To be clear, Thor is not a bad film like I found Iron Man 3 to be and still remains enjoyable, it however is in many ways also a wasted opportunity.

The strength of Thor is most notably the comedy and the film contains many extremely funny moments. The visuals are also simply stunning, though the scenes that take place on earth do fell dull and lifeless especially when they are are compared with Asgard. The 3d, which was yet another conversion at times displays the cardboard cut-out effect and clearly was not taken into consideration by the film makers. Put simply the 2d release of Thor is the version to see.

The main issue however resides with the pacing and forced love story. To put it simply whilst both Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Natalie Portman as Jane both give strong performance their is little chemistry between the two and as a result the love story present fells forced and completely unnecessary. This is particularly an issue as Thor fells overcrowded with little to no breathing room and could have likely benefited from either a longer run-time or the removal of a the forced and contrived love story. Likewise whilst Stellan Skarsgård provides a good performance he fells underutilized and once again unnecessary and is seemingly included for his more pertinent role in The Avengers.

The whole angle of the 'villain' also doesn't carry the emotional impact that the film-makers seem to have been aiming for which leaves the ending rather anticlimactic. Admittedly Tom Hiddleston as Loki provides for what is easily the strongest performance and also the most interesting character present. It is just a shame we get a tired, predictable and unneeded love story instead of a more in depth look at Loki and his relationship with his brother Thor and father Odin.

Thankfully the humour is successfully enough to overlook some of Thors more obvious flaws and the action scenes are generally exciting and keep everything moving forward at a brisk pace. Sadly the humour and action isn't enough to overlook Thors wasted potential. Thor is a film that I would have no hesitation recommending to fans of comic book films and those who like large doses of humour in their action films. For those less ecstatic about such films Thor is by no means a film that is likely to change their mind on the genre and thus comes tentatively recommended.

Monday, 28 October 2013

About Time Review

About Time comes from director Richard Curtis who's last film Love Actually was a romantic comedy that featured a large cast of notable actors and actresses which makes it all the more surprising that it was not only palatable but was actually enjoyable. Likewise About time is another romantic comedy though is allowed a more focused narrative as it features a much smaller cast.

About Time starts of with the protagonist Tim describing his overly 'perfect' family life which is juxtaposed with his awkward social skills. The day after yet another new years party Tim's father played by Bill Nighy tells him the men in his family had always been able to travel back in time. Understandably Tim doesn't believe him but none the less takes his fathers advice and discovers that he indeed can travel in time and goes back to last nights new years party and 'armed' with his knowledge of event he is able to change his past with more satisfactory results. Tim then decides he would use his time travel abilities for the purpose of finding love.

Time then sets out to find love utilising his time travel abilities to no avail until he meets Mary in what is an original yet overplayed scene, where they are dinning in a completely dark restaurant with blind waiters. This of course means in their initial encounter they are unable to see one another and in a rare occurrence Time isn't awkward in the presence of Mary and doesn't need to utilise his ability to time travel to correct his mistakes. Tim of course after this meeting time travels and in error erases this encounter from ever occurring. After which Tim sets out to meet Mary again (though why he doesn't simply travel back in time again and meet Mary as he originally did is sadly not given enough attention). Most of Tim and Mary's story from here is as predictable as expected, and whilst both Domhnall Gleeson as Tim and Rachel McAdams as Mary provide for solid performances it never goes beyond what is expected from such a film with the exception of a sprinkling of humor that the time travel enables.

Where the real heart of the film comes from is the relationship between fathers and their children, or most notably between Tim and his father. This is an area whereby the film utilises the time travel aspect to great effect providing for unique and emotionally resonant scenes that otherwise would simply not be possible. It however must be said that whilst there are some exceptions, those expecting an interesting time travel story will likely be disappointed and the time travel aspects are largely used to try and breathe fresh air to provide unique twists in what is usually an overly predictable genre and for the most part it succeeds in doing so. Unfortunately there are moments where the pacing of the film does come to a stand still which doesn't suite the portions of the film they are present in, this none the less is only a minor issue in what is otherwise a film that rises well above the genre it finds itself in.

About Time is a rare example of a romantic comedy done well and features mostly strong performances, quietly amusing comedy that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator and an excellent and interesting take an the relationship between a father and son. Hence About Time comes highly recommended.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Skyline Review

"it's a little of a f u to the audience"

"recycle where you can create new where you have to"

The above are comments made by the directors regarding this film in the commentary and I think highlight what is behind the majority of issues present in this film. The Strauss Brothers (yes, that is what they like to credit themselves as) are clearly talented in the visual effects field as one can easily see by looking at their impressive resume in that field and that they are also the founders of Hydralux. They however have proven themselves here to be incompetent directors in near on every regard.

Hence it isn't surprising that Skyline is a film that has some impressive visual effects (although it also has some rather poor effects as well). However the rest of the film looks as if it was made for tv and cheaply at that. Performances throughout are dreadful (aside from Crystal Reed who provides an adequate performance which is impressive given how little their is to work with here), pacing is inconsistent and the script is simply dreadful.

With that being said the film does offer glimpses of something that could have made for a fun albeit still brain dead film. The idea of how the Aliens would make something beautiful (the light) and use it as a weapon could indeed be an interesting idea if further explored especially had the more interesting and mysterious Aliens forms we get glimpses of early in the film hadn't been turned into nothing more then brain munching zombies. The ending, that is what originally seems to be the ending is also surprisingly well shoot and is at least somewhat satisfying and almost gives me something positive to say about the film. That is until the extra end is thrown on, and their in lays the problem. Whilst some good ideas and a handful of well shoot scenes are nice to see, they are ultimately overwhelmed by every other scene featuring such poor film making it amazes me that they where made by the same people.

Put simply, Skyline is a film that shows faint signs of potential but such glimpses are few and far between and are overwhelmed by horrible acting, horrible dialogue, poor pacing and a dreadful and incompetent ending. Hence Skyline is a film one should go out of their way to ensure they never see.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Gravity Review

Gravity starts of in a rather condescending manner reminding viewers of how life in space is impossible and an incredibly harsh environment to try and survive in (would a film about trying to survive a damaged submarine fell the need to remind you that when surrounded by water and nothing else you will drown?). Thankfully my concerns resulting from this almost immediately vanished among seeing the very first shoot of earth which was shoot in such a way that could be only described as being spectacularly beautiful. The film then doesn't cut for what I have been told is around seventeen minutes and the shoot moves around three Astronauts as they work on what I believe was an optical system of a satellite. As they work they are told about a possible debris risk which is initially not on trajectory with their position but this soon changes as it crashes into other satellites making new debris which of course is on trajectory for their current position. As one would expect this does catastrophic damage to their ship and sends one of the astronauts spinning out of control away from their ship and thus begins the journey for survival for those left alive.

Performances by both Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Matt Kowalski are superb. However whilst the characters are undeniably interesting and one in particular has a strong character arc, Gravity is less about the characters and more about the horrors and beauty of space. This isn't to say that the characters are unimportant, rather that the setting more then anything is the star of the film, whilst the characters provide an emotional core for you to invest yourself in. Simply put Gravity provides for an interesting experience in that it is successfully able to convey both the beauty of space along with how inhospitable and horrifying it simultaneously can be. From a visual standpoint Gravity is breathtaking and unlike the sadly large number of tacked on 3d releases of late (such as Iron Man 3, Wolverine, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel etc) Gravity is a film whose inclusion of 3d comes from the film makers who have been successfully able to utilize it in such a way that adds tremendously to the film.

Likewise the sound design throughout is superb and background space stations and satellites being destroyed in silence provide for some eerie moments that help emphasize the environment the Astronauts find themselves in. Likewise the muted sound design of the astronauts moving around as they come into contact with various objects likewise helps amp up the tension resulting in both the visuals and audio working in harmony along with the superb performances by both Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to create for a tense and satisfying experience that few films can hope to measure up to.

Gravity for good reason has been riding an unprecedented amount of hype for an October release and has also deservedly received critical acclaim which I can only concur with and Gravity comes with my highest recommendation.

Note: Gravity is also a film that I urge those interested in seeing it to do so in 3d as unlike far to many 3d releases this is a film that utilizes 3d in such a way that I can't imagine the 2d release being able to compare favorably to. In other words this is how 3d should be done.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Margaret (Extended Cut) Review

Margaret is a film that for various reasons was delayed several years prior to its eventual limited release which saw the film release in a two and a half hour cut. This however was not the directors preferred cut which has now been released on home video and has a run time of three hours and eight minutes.

Margaret despite my immediate assumption was not about a character called Margaret, rather the films is named after a character from the poem 'Spring and Fall: To a Young Child' by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The reason for which are the similar central ideas present in both the film and poem. The protagonist Lisa is played by Anna Paquin who is a young and apparently talented care free seventeen year old (though we are only told this and are never shown this). This however all changes when she distracts a bus driver who as a result runs a red light and hits a pedestrian who in the minutes that follow dies in Lisa's arms.

From here the film slowly begins to delve into the guilt Lisa fells for her part in what transpired, sadly the films jumps around different characters in Lisas' life and the numerous themes present at will. This results is the film felling overlong and unfocused. Likewise despite all around solid performances (in particular by Anna Paquin as Lisa and J. Smith-Cameron as Lisa's mother) the film ultimately lacks the emotional punch it could have had with a more focused narrative.

Margaret is a film that lacks focus and narrative cohesion that has an excessive number of interesting ideas forced into a film that as a result fells overcrowded yet still somehow manages to move at a snails pace. As a result whilst Margaret does have some strong performances the film devolves into a rather monotonous affair that is harder to sit through because of how uninteresting it is rather then how confronting the subject matter should be. Hence whilst the the extended cut of Margaret has glimpses of potential it ultimately does not come recommended.

Note: Sadly the leaner theatrical cut is not available on home video in Australia so I can't comment as to whether that provided for a more focused film.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Tron Review

“The Original Classic”

As proclaimed in large capitalized text on the blu-ray cover, Tron is indeed a classic that was no doubt not fully appreciated upon release, but more on that soon.

Tron stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn a young enthusiastic programmer who worked extensively to create some of the most popular video games released. Unfortunately his work is stolen by Ed Dillinger (David Warner) who then uses these stolen games to propel himself to the head of the company whilst Kevin Flynn is simply removed from the picture and left to scrape what money he can through his arcade. In spite of this Flynn remains determined to clear his name and return to his rightful place and so starts Tron which sees Kevin accidentally enter a computer world which is populated by users, which are essentially virtual representations of people in the form of programs.

As previously mentioned Tron does not seem to have been appreciated on release however over thirty years later and I imagine it has become increasingly appreciated as some of the ideas and concepts present have become a reality. The most obvious of which being ones second 'life' in the computer world which is indisputably occurring with such wildly popular websites as Facebook and Twitter. Whilst it is true that many ideas are more hinted at rather then fully explored they remain none the less astonishingly present for a film that was made before terms like bit or program where common knowledge.

The acting throughout much like the film is fittingly campy and Jeff Bridges enthusiasm practically oozes of the screen and provides for a particularly fun performance that helps mask the films several shortcomings. The other actors are for the most part are not as impressive as Jeff Bridges but still manage to help give this film heart that it so could easily have not had and saves the film from being nothing more then what today still remains a visual splendor.

Some may argue that the computer generated imagery (CGI) of Tron hasn't aged well, but to do so would to not understand the film makers intent. It is true in the more recent Tron Legacy the film-makers wanted the world to look real, however in the original Tron they wanted the world they created to look digital which they are undeniably successful in achieving, often with more standard techniques although a heavy amount of CGI is none the less present which is particularly impressive given that Tron is over thirty years old at the time of this review.

As I previously mentioned Tron is a classic but it is not without its flaws, but when a film is as overwhelmingly interesting and simply fun as it is in this case, the minor issues are easy to forgive.

Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Collection Update (September 2013)

In the last months or so I have purchased several more films then usual largely thanks to multiple sales that JB HI FI was so kind to combine (20% of the blu-rays along with buy two get one free). Below is what I have recently picked up.

Adaptation is a film I have been wanting to release on blu-ray for quite some time and now I finally have it. This means I can finally get rid of my rather degraded dvd that was heavily damaged yet somehow still ran, though I doubt it would have for much longer. Another Earth is a fantastic little indie film that I recently watched and am currently working on a review for and Hick is a blind buy that I know absolutely nothing about outside of what the front cover shows. Speaking of blind buys below are three further blind buys for films that I have been wanting to see for quite some time but simply never managed to get around to doing so.

Lastly are the 3d blu-rays I have recently picked up (and Super 8), all of which are for films that where intended to be seen in 2d and not 3d. None the less given the small price difference I decided to go with the 3d versions and despite being a 3d advocate I imagine I will generally watch the 2d versions. Note: Iron Man 3 was a gift and not a film I would have picked up given how disappointing I found it. Maybe a second viewing will change my mind I however doubt it shall as it is a very flawed film.

I am most excited to see Jurassic Park in 3d largely as it has been years since I have seen the film bus also as I have been told it is close to the quality of the Titanic 3d conversion. Super 8 is a film that is a great throwback to how blockbusters use to be (for both better and worse) and thus 'only' being available in 2d is rather suitable.

I am rather happy with this haul though I can't help but fell as if I should have been a little less open to the blind buying of films.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Movie 43 Review

“A Very Bad Mistake”, that is one of the tag lines for the film Movie 43. I don't think anyone who is so unfortunate as to view this film will disagree. Movie 43 is potentially the worst film I have seen and should be avoided at all costs. None the less the rest of the review can of course be found below.

It seems that once every year or so a film that features an extensive and well regarded cast is released (usually a romantic comedy and films like New Years Eve and Valentines Day). In spite of the wealth of talent available, such films usually end of being rather bad. Movie 43 is the latest such film and stars a wealth of both well regarded and upcoming actors and actresses including Kate Winslett, Dennis Quaid, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, Gerard Butler, Kristen Bell, Chloë Grace Moretz, Liev Schreiber and many more. It may seem odd that I have listed so many of the cast but the list is simply astonishingly big, but more puzzling is why any of them, let alone all of them decided it was a good idea to star in this unfunny, boring film with no redeeming qualities.

Movie 43 isn't much of a movie rather it is a series of poorly conceived skits that have little to no connection to one another. Whilst this is something that would be more at place on television I wouldn't say that it in of itself is necessarily a bad thing (though I am far from found of the idea). With that being said none of the skits are even mildly entertaining and the attempts at humor throughout often rely on meek attempts to shock or offend the viewer in a misguided attempt to presumably be outrageous. Nothing present is even mildly entertaining, none of the punchlines work and no moment is anything but a dreary movement towards the end of the film. In fact I would say that it is impressive that any video and audio presentation can be as painful and boring as Movie 43 is to watch, let alone one with so much talent present.

I have seen several thousand films and never did I think I would watch a film that made me wish I was enjoying something as dreadful as Batman and Robin or similar which is something Movie 43 manages to achieve. Which I guess could be considered an impressive feat for masochists. For everyone else it makes Movie 43 a film best avoided. In other words Movie 43 makes some of the worst films one will have had the misfortune of viewing seem notably more pleasant and relatively enjoyable in hindsight (much like having one limb cut of by a sharp blade is relatively enjoyable in comparison to all your limbs being cut of by a blunt tool).

In the very rare chance that it isn't obvious I wish to state as plainly and simply as possible, Movie 43 may be the worst film I have and hopefully ever will have the misfortune of viewing. I wouldn't recommend just staying far away, I would recommend fleeing and never looking back.

Note: For anyone wondering if Movie 43 could potentially fall into the so bad its good territory. It simply doesn't.

Monday, 23 September 2013

De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone) Review

Directed by Jacques Audiard, Rust and Bone is a film about an unlikely friendship between two damaged individuals who find solace with one another which in turn allows for two rather different healing processes to begin. Whilst this idea is sound and commonly used in story telling, in Rust and Bone it often is far to predictable and forced with the two stories often felling out of place and rarely adding to one another.

Rust and Bone opens with Ali, a vagrant man who is travelling with his son to move in with his sister and is shown to be living of stolen goods and what they can find as leftovers on trains. Ali appears to be simply drifting through life with no purpose or direction and upon moving in with his sister is able to get a job as a bouncer and whilst at work meets Stephanie. Stephanie is an attractive whale trainer who shortly after meeting Ali is in an accident that leaves her in a wheelchair, depressed and alone. For obvious reasons she is unable to continue her work and some time after her accident calls Ali after the brief chance meting they had. Problematically little time is spent developing the initial circumstances of Ali or Stephanie beyond the above which is where issues in the film begin to arise. Whilst we are provided sufficient reasons for Stephanie to call Ali (she is alone, unhappy and seemingly has no one to turn to) we are never given any reason for why Ali would have any interest in this woman, beyond physical attraction or potentially his hinted at loneliness. However as Ali is shown to care little for those around him to the point of being abusive to his own child the beginnings of Ali and Stephanie’s relationship ultimately comes across as forced.

Despite this the narrative of Stephanie healing both physically and emotionally provides for compelling an engrossing story and the development of Stephanie throughout fells true to what we know of the character. This is helped in small degree by the simply exceptional performance by Marion Cotillard that was snubbed at the Oscars. Likewise Matthias Schoenaerts as Ali provides for an equally strong performance though whilst Ali's journey does lead to what many will no doubt consider a satisfying conclusion the manner in which it gets their does not fell like a natural progression for the character. As a result much like the start of Stephanie and Ali's relationship the character arc for Ali is somewhat forced and largely unsatisfying.

This leaves Rust and Bone with two conflicting stories or at least two stories that don't weave together in a compelling or additive manner. Thankfully the performances of both leads and the support cast is superb throughout which makes even the less then stellar moments engaging and helps give the film an enough emotional punch that empathy for both leads is achieved despite the stories short comings.

Their is a lot to like in Jacques Audiard Rust and Bone, despite this the film often fells forced, far to predictable and left me with the sense that both stories could have been better serviced had they had more time to develop. Despite this Rust and Bone has enough emotional punch carried largely by the strength of the two leads performances to come recommended.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Wrath of the Titans Review

Two years after the anticlimactic and underwhelming Clash of the Titans reached blockbuster success the inevitable sequel Wraith of the Titans was released with a new director and promises that this film would correct the numerous issues present in the first film. Whilst it is clear that an effort was made to do so, Wrath of the Titans still fails to achieve greatness and instead descends into mediocrity alongside the first installment.

The action in Wrath of the Titans is acceptably fast and frenetic and at times even manages to be spectacular. It however also suffers from a severe overuse of quick cuts which often left what was occurring on screen confusing and disorienting (this was made even more irksome in 3d as such editing simply does not lend itself to a comfortable 3d viewing experience). Their however are a handful of lengthy action shoots that manage to linger long enough to draw undue attention themselves but aren't so short as to disorientate and it is in these moments that the action shines and can be enjoyed. Such moments however are few and far between and fail to elevate the action beyond what is expected from such a film which leaves Wraith largely relying on its story which despite some promise is ultimately unsatisfying and barely present.

At its core Wrath of the Titans is a father and son story with this being paralleled in several relationships. However the reason for this focus is not present and what could have made for an interesting framework as fathers, sons and brother where caught in an epic battle is instead barely present as the film moves at such a quick pace which doesn't allow for what is occurring on screen to resonate beyond a superficial wow level. This is further accentuated by mediocre acting (save a few campy yet undeniably fun performances from veterans such as Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy and Ralph Fiennes) and comedy that breaks up the mediocrity of the story despite more often then not falling flat as a result of being overly predictable and ultimately just another flavor of dull. I can't help but find this to be unfortunate as had more time been spent developing the already existing framework and had the epic struggle between fathers, sons and brothers been more developed we could have had an interesting film that didn't rely solely on its visuals to entertain. Hence just as was the case with the series first entry Wrath of the Titans biggest flaw could be seen to be its inability to create characters you cared for. Wrath of the Titans also shares another massive weakness that was present in Clash of the Titans and ends on an anticlimactic note with the final battle ending just as it felt like the action was getting interesting.

In spite of all the issues present Wraith of the Titans isn't horrible by any means, rather it is nothing more then a mostly passable action film that is unable to prove itself a notable improvement on the series similarly underwhelming first entry. Hence Wrath of the Titans does not come recommended.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Most Anticipated Releases for the Remainder of 2013

As we move out of the  winter (or summer depending on where you live) blockbuster period and towards the award and Christmas movie release schedule the quality of recent releases can become rather heterogeneous. It is a time of year where we often find some hidden gems or films with niche audiences released (like the recently released Riddick). Sadly it is also a time when studios often release films that are expected duds in terms of quality presumably to try and take what advantage they can of what tends to be a less competitive release schedule. Despite this their are several film releases I am anticipating. Below are my most anticipated titles for the remainder of 2013.

The Counselor

My main interest for The Counselor comes from the involvement of Ridley Scott who is of course directing and Michael Fassbender (who was easily the highlight of Ridley Scoots most recently released film Prometheus). I do have some concerns and reservations regarding this film which I justify based on some of the issues present in Ridely Scott's most recently released film Prometheus. In spite of these concerns I cannot wait to see how The Counselor turns out. I however am disappointed that both Ridely Scott and Martin Scorsese have seemingly abandoned 3d despite numerous comments both have made and of course as both Prometheus and Hugo are simply breathtaking in 3d.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

No doubt an obvious choice and one that needs little explanation, afterall how many times can one here and read that it looks to be a fun filled fantasy adventure film. Admittedly The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a colossal disappointment and its trailers (especially the teaser) where even more tantalizing then what we have seen for The Desolation of Smaug (which looks as if it could also contain more fan service then I would like). None the less the prospect of seeing the next chapter still has me excited. It also helps that it has been shoot at 48fps (often refereed to as HFR) as apposed to the traditional 24fps which provides for a much smoother image and an experience that currently cannot be experienced at home. Furthermore it also stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug and The Necromancer (both of which briefly appeared in An Unexpected Journey) and who doesn't want to see that?


Carrie is easily my most anticipated film for the remainder of 2013. I am far from a large horror fan and remakes are something I am usually not all that fond of as they are notorious for adding little that the original didn't already cover and are far to often simply terrible films (this is especially true when it comes to remakes of horror films). However in this case I have not seen the original film and some excellent 'remakes' such as Let Me In and The Girl With T he Dragon Tattoo coupled with some excellent trailers has me thrilled to see how Carrie turns out. Hopefully it is not only a good film but provides a new twist on the source material so that it can stand on its on and not be viewed as simply a remake of a much better film (as Let Me In was able to achieve which also starred Chloë Grace Moretz).

Monday, 16 September 2013

Silent Hill Revelation Review

Leading up to the release of Silent Hill Revelation Michael J Basset who both wrote and directed the film showed in several interviews that he understood the source material and thus I was rather exited to see what the results where. This was especially the case given that the first Silent Hill excluding the poor ending is an accomplished horror film that makes some effective changes to both the story and world that the game series takes place in that successfully enhances the experience and was one of the very few movies based on a video game that is recommendable. Unfortunately Silent Hill Revelation is unable to reach the same heights as the first film and catastrophically has even lower lows then the poor ending to the first film.

Silent Hill Revelation as one would expect is a continuation of the first Silent Hill film and follows Heather Mason and her father living on the run from the police for reasons that involves one of the many unnecessary and convoluted portions of the 'story'. Silent Hill Revelation both in terms of the characters present and the story is simply a mess with very little care taken. The extent to which this is the case can be shown when the filmmakers fell fit to develop a romantic relationship between two characters who have been established to be cousins. Most egregiously this isn't part of the horror present rather it seems to be quite a large oversight by the film makers. Admittedly their is a brief campy cameo by Malcolm McDowell which provides for the only modestly entertaining albeit unnecessary scene in the film. Otherwise none of the actors or actresses are anything but horrible in their roles despite the obvious talent that the cast have shown in numerous other productions. Lines fell forced and memorized and numerous accent changes are present. I usually am able to forgive such accent slips and more often then not don't even notice them, sadly the all around poor stilted acting seems to have emphasized the issue in this film moreso then had the acting been otherwise competent.

Silent Hill Revelation is based on the game Silent Hill 3, a game which had an oppressing atmosphere and understood how to tell an admittedly minimalist story in both a creepy and scary manner. Sadly Silent Hill Revelation only succeeds in creating any sense of atmosphere in one of the few positives I can muster up regarding this film, which is the use of 3d which is reasonable well done save some poor use of gimmicky shoots. None the less several moments where we see characters as they walk through the ash ridden Silent Hill are visually striking if nothing else. Sadly all other areas regarding Silent Hill Revelation's atmosphere is beyond poorly done. Creature design is strong when it follows the source materials design but when it strays it is generally laughably bad. The worst offender is a mannequin monster who presumably is meant to be hunting down the protagonists resulting in a tense and riveting scene, however the actual result is a depressingly hilarious scene with an out of place an obvious cgi looking mannequin and a scene that lacks any sense of tension. Likewise scenes that involve the well designed monsters from the game such as the nurses or pyramid head are poorly staged to a degree that removes any degree of tension or excitement that could have been present.

Ultimately Silent Hill Revelation is a disappointing vacuous waste of an opportunity which is perplexing given Michael J Basset in interviews showed that he seemed to understood what worked in the source material (I assume an overly limited budget, studio tampering and lack of talent are all possible causes) . Sadly none of that knowledge has been successfully translated into the film Silent Hill Revelation which is often unintentionally hilarious in a sadly depressing manner. Hence I strongly would urge those who have yet to see the original Silent Hill film to consider giving that film a chance and those wanting more to perhaps try out the original game trilogy released on the playstation one and two. Simply put I would recommend staying far away from Silent Hill Revelation.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Sleeping Beauty (2011) Review

Sleeping Beauty is a film by Julia Leigh which follows Lucy, a student who struggles to afford her rent, has a strong relationship of sorts with a suicidal alcoholic and undertakes in prostitution. One may think at first that Lucy is struggling, however it becomes clear that Lucy thrives on her self destructive behavior and her situation seems to be largely a result of her own doing.

Lucy answers an advertisement for work that ultimately sees her working as a 'sleeping beauty', whereby she is drugged and left in a room asleep which is then rented out to (older) men who can do as they please, except have sex. Oddly Lucy never shows interest in being involved for the money, rather her motives are entirely unclear and this is one of the many areas whereby Sleeping Beauty stumbles. In spite of how strong Emily Browning's performance is as Lucy, their is a lack of any depth to the character as motivations are never explored and Lucy is devoid of any personality beyond being self destructive. Likewise the supposed theme 'present' regarding the desires of men is never explored, rather the film fells comfortable with simply pointing out that men can have some questionable 'desires' and never takes it any further which makes for what is and insufferably uninteresting film and one that tries to rely on shock value for the sake of being shocking.

Sleeping Beauty however is meticulously shoot and is generally gorgeous to look at, however the editing is often heavy handed and features far to many unnecessary scenes that ultimately lead no where (much like the film). Initially I thought this may be an analogy for youth, but as the film continued this become continuously less likely. Ultimately Sleeping Beauty is without direction or purpose, this is unfortunate as had their been a more focused narrative, more depth to the characters present and and actual exploration of the ideas and themes present, we could have had a truly unique and interesting film. Sadly as it is Sleeping Beauty is a film that whilst undeniably unique is devoid of anything of interest or anything I could describe as entertaining.

My recommendation, stay far away.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Kick-Ass 2 Review

The first Kick-Ass film was released in 2010 and to my surprise was not only slickly directed, funny and full of unique and engaging action along with fun and interesting characters but has also since become my favorite film based on a comic book (and one of my favorite films period). Three years have since passed and the director from the first Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughn) and the screenplay writers (Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn) have been replaced by Jeff Wadlow who was in charge of both the script and for directing Kick Ass 2. Sadly whilst some parts of Kick Ass 2 prove to be a welcome continuation of the first film, other moments simply fell of out place and are at times poorly done.

As we continue the journey at the start of Kick-Ass 2 Dave has retired from being Kick-Ass and Mindy is skipping school to continue training as Hit Girl. Sure enough Dave gets the urge to become Kick-Ass again and to form a super hero team and thus starts to skip school in favour of being trained by Hit Girl in the hope of becoming a team with her. Oddly though we are left wondering what Davids motivations are to become Kick-Ass again, with the only reasoning given being that he was bored. This in of itself isn't a terrible reason within the scope of this film, but is none the less and area that could have had more attention given to it. This result of Dave training with Mindy is of course Dave getting beaten continuously as he trains and in an obvious but none the less fun homage to the first film shoot by Mindy whilst wearing bullet proof material. This along with the evolving relationship between Dave and Mindy proves to be the films greatest and sadly underutilised asset.

As Mindy and Dave finally appear to be making some progress with the training, the surreal world that Hit Girl inhabited collides with that of the world that Marcus(Mindy's guardian) inhabits. This ultimately results in a Mean Girlsesque scenario whereby Mindy no longer dons the costume or attitude of Hit Girl and attempts to live a normal teen life. This is a point in the film I imagine will be divisive amongst fans, I however found it to be a refreshing change of pace for the character and one that added more depth to an already interesting character. Sadly not all elements in Kick-Ass 2 work as well as this. For instance as this is occurring Chris D'Amico who was Red Mist in the first Kick-Ass becomes 'The Motherfucker' and begins to plan his revenge on Kick-Ass. Unfortunately in this film Chris D'Amico is elevated to being the lead villain but lacks the presence to fell like a genuine threat and has his goons do all the dirty work for him, which leaves the villain nonthreatening at best. For obvious reason this is not ideal and the film had several opportune moments to give The Motherfucker moments that could lead you to genuinely see him as a villain and threat, but the film at each instance attempts to lighten the moment with humour. This humour more often then not is not only out of place and a detriments to what is meant to be the threat in the film but is also profoundly unfunny. Thankfully their is one new inclusion who is simply a joy to watch who comes in the form of Colonel Stars and Stripes played by Jim Carey who Kick-Ass joins along with several other 'super heroes' forming Justice Forever.

The action scenes prove to be rather hit or miss and in general lacked the intensity and originality of the action present in the first film where I found each action scene to feature its own identity and be wildly entertaining. In terms of the action the worst sin present is some middling use of shaky cam. Shaky cam is something that can be used to great effect, but here its only achievement is to disorient and confuse the viewer in a negative manner. This isn't the case for all the action present which makes it all the more confusing that it is present at all and it isn't so prevalent as to ruin any of the action scenes, rather to simply detract from some moments. One highlight of the film and a stupendously fun action scene involves Hit Girl fighting several of 'The Motherfuckers' goons upon a moving van. Sadly despite some spectacular scenes of similar quality to this their is sadly one unforgivably bad scene (more on that soon).

Kick-Ass 2's most egregious of errors is its humor often falls flat, most notable is the humor surrounding the 'new' villain who names himself the Mother Fucker as previously touched on, who comes of as uninspired and as if it assumes it is more amusing then it actually is (it also doesn't help that the Mother Fucker doesn't fell at all threatening throughout the film). Worst of all is Kick-Ass 2 not only uses toilet humor but does so in a way that is anything but funny, which results in easily the worst scene in the film involving stupidly over the top projectile vomit and spectacularly poorly done diarrhea effects. If this wasn't poor enough the film then seems to take such pride in said scene and references it during the climactic battle of the film.

Despite the several faults present the evolving relationships between Mindy and Dave manages to mostly save the film from itself and what it doesn't make up for Jim Carey's brief but scene stealing role as Colonel Stars and Stripes certainly comes close at doing so. Hence whilst I can't say that I wasn't hugely let down by Kick-Ass 2 I am also likely a bigger fan of the first film then most and no doubt had higher hopes and expectations for Kick-Ass 2. Hence whilst Kick-Ass 2 is not as good as the first Kick-Ass it still manages to inject enough quality action, fun characters to come recommended to fans of the original despite some middling use of shaky cam and one truly terrible scene. However if the original didn't wow you as it did me, you may be better of waiting for a rental if not skipping th.

Note: I must mention that whilst the score in Kick-Ass 2 fails to reach the dizzying highs of the first films score, it is none the less more then up to the task and features several well done variations of themes from the first film along with some new well fitting themes.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

À bout de souffle (Breathless) Review

À bout de souffle (english name: Breathless) is the first feature film by Jean-Luc Godard and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I had only somewhat recently seen his first feature film Breathless, which seems to be so often remembered as one of the 'best' films of French New Wave cinema.

Breathless follows Michel Poiccard a character who at first is seemingly a sociopath and early in the film murders a policeman for very little reason. The film quickly cuts to Paris where we see Michel stealing money, cars and anything else he desires. His aim is ultimately to escape and go to Rome with an American named Patricia Franchini, a person whom he had meet only a few weeks earlier and throughout the film the love Michel and Patricia have for one another is highlighted and put into question.

In spite of all of Michel's reckless and at times violent behavior Breathless remains a story about love, youth and the felling of being infallible when in love. It is of course not as simple as that as Breathless not only features several strong performances but also features characters who all have their own unique desires and motivations which throughout the film blurs just how true the two leads love is (and is a questions the characters ask themselves throughout).

In spite of all this to me what is most intriguing is that contradictory to Michel's frequent sociopathic behavior he genuinely seems to care and love Patricia which becomes more evident throughout the films proceedings. The point and purpose of which i'm sure could be debated endlessly, as is the case with many of themes and ideas present in the film.  But suffice to say their is more to the story then is in most films, especially those that are love stories.

Whilst Breathless is inescapably stylish and no doubt groundbreaking their are numerous jump cuts present (whereby the shoot cuts from one angle to another angle that is extremely similar). Whilst i'm sure many will detest the suggestion, but I personally felt that such cuts detracted from the scenes they where present in and I have been left puzzled by the purpose of their inclusion.

Breathless is a film that many will view differently but ultimately is a film that I intend to revisit and left me breathless (pardon the pun).

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Musing of a crazed film watcher introducing himself... sort of....

Having previously run a blog dedicated to films that I went on permanent hiatus for quite some time I had sadly abandoned writing about films for far to long. However after much contemplation I have decided to restart and reopen under a new name and with a new purpose. On my previous site I focused more on the technical side of films (in particular the quality of blu-ray transfers) and went on a hiatus that ultimately lead to me closing the site. The reasons for which where varied but the most notable reason was that I felt that I had almost got lost in said technical 'jargon' and was missing out on discussing my reason for creating the blog, to write about the films themselves. Hence in my new blog I hope to focus on the films themselves, although as 4k starts to loom ever so near on the horizon this may change albeit in a no doubt infrequent manner. I currently have no schedule in mind and at least for the time being shall be posting in an ad-hoc manner. In any case I hope any fellow film lovers who stumble upon this blog enjoy what is to come.