Monday, 27 June 2011
Bay transforms the franchise back to prime-time.
12A, 154 Minutes. Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Malkovich & Ken Jeong. Voices: Peter Cullen, Leonard Nimoy & Hugo Weaving. Director: Michael Bay. Screenplay: Ehren Kruger
If Michael Bay does anything, you know he does it BIG! From creating an 'Armageddon' to hanging out with 'Bad Boys' his big hits come with a bang. Still his loudest exclamation point on Hollywood, popcorn, blockbuster movies has got to be the 'Transformers' franchise. When he first took the cartoon to the big-screen in 2007 he gave the geeks and sci-fi nuts a wet-dream with a classic explosion in cinemas. 'Transformers' was just too good, the sequel 'Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen' was a little too much however. Good but a little grandiose, even for this director. So with this third part of this trilogy, Bay decided to tone things down a little and grow things up. With a darker, yet cooler film we see less robots and Megan Fox but more awesome action and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Fox as Shia LaBeouf's lead love interest).
In this movie the 'Autobots' and humans war with the 'Decepticons' really steps up to an 'Apocalypse Now' pace as the fate of the world once again is in the metal hands of either the good or bad alien robots. From Washington D.C. to Chicago and the rest of the world the invasion looks epic and as for fighting the good fight, these tin-cans really get it on. 'Transformers-Dark Of The Moon' cranks it up a notch, re-charging the series with exhilarating excitement and amazing action set-pieces. From mid-air transformations to tense, gripping moments, you'll drop your popcorn and maybe even shed a tear (can you believe that?).
The Speilberg overseen piece takes a leaf out of other film scripts and pays homage to everything from 'The Dark Knight' to 'Star Trek'(just listen out with Spock ears). It's also got a first-person shooting angle of respect to gaming and a rear-view reference to the executive producer's 'Jurassic Park', just look. Most of all thought this film pays the right homage, justice and respect, to itself, saving the legacy of the young and olds favourite cartoon by giving us a more adult-favoured movie that is still suitable for children's excitement levels.
This right balance is maintained despite there yet again being more action and robots then you could shake a metal stick at. Sure the throwing everything at the wall philosophy is applied again, but this time more sticks. Sure you've still got regional robots with annoying accents and crazy going on, but it makes up for the cool comic-relief from all the high-octane action that really makes the most of imax, 3D and movie escapism. Throwing everything on us again, all in all this time it works. Plus from Bee's buzzing makeover to Optimus Prime's, 'take no mess' dominance this movie is the sequel that 'Revenge Of The Fallen' should have been.
Everytime this film looks like it's going to fall short it picks itself back up. So there's some crazy CGI of JFK (they should have just got Greg Kinnear) but there's a legendary 'how did they get him' cameo from Buzz Aldrin, now that's cool. Plus even though there's a few subtle, unnecessary jabs at departed Megan Fox, and a desecration to the legendary Lincoln Memorial in D.C.-which is just plain wrong-this can be forgiven. With horrendously hilarious cast additions of John Malkovich and 'Mr. Chow' himself Ken Jeong and a strong consistent return from magnificent mainstays Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Tyrese Gibson, all the parts come together perfectly. Even with a complicated blueprint, this just fits.
LaBeouf has the mettle to lead and his steel and iron based friends really do give this huge movie it's weight. Plus with a top scoring soundtrack featuring Linkin Park yet again and their epic latest hit, 'Iridescent', everything sounds, looks and feels as great and exciting as it should. This massive hit is really wrapped up however by the addition of 'Decepticon', 'Shockwave' and his 'Driller' pet making for some of the most jaw, people and building dropping scenes in the whole movie. This dumb-fun film has all the smarts to make it extravagant yet engaging. Kicking the a** of the slumping-sequel. 'Dark Of The Moon' stands tall and prime in a series that could still hit it's optimal peak if it looks to improve even more. Down-grading the faff and up-grading the action this franchise goes from a fail right back to A-star territory. Top marks. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Showering all in reception with laughs.
15, 125 Minutes. Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd, Jon Hamm & Jill Clayburgh. Director: Paul Feig Screenplay: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
If you've always been the bridesmaid but never the bride then this is the film for you. Guys you don't have to worry either, this is one ladies-choice, Friday date night film that isn't a chick flick. 'Bridesmaids' is not only one of the funniest films from this years Summer blockbuster season, it's also the best female-fronted movie in years.
A pleasant surprise of humor and heart this movie is as good as people say it is. Billed as the female version of 'The Hangover' this movie is also something refreshingly different from the similar structure of this seasons 'The Hangover Part II' (still an excellent film mind you). Still these maids take the comedic honors as 'Saturday Night Live' alumni Kristen Wiig leads her band of sisters on a wedding plan they or we will never forget.
From the grossest and most inconvenient case of food poisoning, to the most awkward speeches (and you thought you've heard them all), Wiig crashes these wedding plans as hilariously as Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson. Just try and stop watching when Wiig tries to get O'Dowd's policeman's attention. She's not alone though as woman of the year Rose Byrne adds to her Summer blockbuster, dominant trilogy (see her in 'X-Men: First Class', 'Insidious' and every trailer when you go see a film too) with a bitchy but brilliant performance.
The bride to be (Maya Rudolph) show us more of her comedic styling after last years 'Grown Ups' , while Melissa McCarthy plays the Zach Galifianakis, 'Hangover' role to a tee (golf-gear included). The iconic Jill Clayburgh is also brilliant in her last movie performance (Rest In Peace). The grooms in this movie look and walk the part too, from British, 'The I.T. Crowd' funny man Chris O'Dowd to 'Mad Men's' Jon Hamm, who quite frankly plays a d#@$ to a fine point, nailing it and giving the movie some of it's funniest moments. BOOM!
All in all from the big problems to the big day, to freaking out on airplanes to taking care of business in front of automobiles this is one hell of a funny film. If you don't think it looks like it is, then go see and prove me wrong. Everyone can enjoy this film, it's not just for hen party invitees. With a matrimony of class, crass comedy and a simple, but sweet story this is one proposal for a film for Friday that won't leave you with cold feet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
We pick 5 old films we watched this week for your consideration.
WEDDING CRASHERS: With this weeks release of 'Bridesmaids'let's take it back to another classic wedding comedy. This hilarious woman-hitting on hit stars Owen and improv-king Vince Vaughan as guys who crash other peoples big days to get dates. The pair try to 'hitch' up with women at weddings...classy indeed. There's a great cameo from Will Ferrell in this hilarious 'frat pack' comedy. The guest-list of this movie really is incredible too, from Christopher Walken to the rising of Racheal McAdams. There's also a convincingly cold, callous performance from Bradley Cooper, (you can currently see him in before the big-day sequel 'The Hangover Part II') minus the stubble, hair and class-act charm.
I LOVE YOU MAN: Keeping the Wedding theme engaged, this recent comedy classic about a man who goes on a series of man dates to find a best-man for his wedding is simply hilarious. Comedies best and still most underrated leading man Paul Rudd really shines in this one, as does Jason Segel, (who stars with Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake in this weeks 'Bad Teacher') who established himself a comedic star after his breakthrough performance in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'. With a rush of nostalgia, Hollywood highlights and some of the greatest gags out that side of Los Angeles in years this is truly a bright, delight of a Summer film.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK: Not 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall', this spin-off/unofficial sequel may not have featured Segel or Sarah (apart from a hilarious cameo), still it did feature one of the best young funny men (Jonah Hill) and it warmed us to the acting talents of Russell Brand (who tickled every funny bone and even pulled a few heart strings). Getting him to the Greek Theatre we also saw just how funny Diddy really was in support and we also where convinced that Australian (yes she's not America either) Rose Byrne was British. The woman of the moment who stars in this weeks 'Bridesmaids' and also holds the box-office with top draws 'X-Men: First Class' and 'Insidious' was on top form here too, as was every character, gag, comedy set-piece and scenario scenes. This is how comedies should be made, the stupider the better. You'll want a to line your house with fur and see more comedy from hip-hop mogul Diddy after this one. Go Greek tonight and get the DVD.
BOBBY: With the sublime series 'The Kennedy's' making it's mark on British television despite being cancelled in the states lets take a look at Emilio Estevez's classic film about JFK's brother, 'Bobby'. With an all-star, all-time cast featuring guys from acting/singing legend Harry Belafonte to young star Shia LaBouef (who's set to do battle with and against robots in next weeks, latest 'Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon'), this movie had everything mixing real-life footage of Bobby Kennedy with the inter-mingling stories of the films subjects. Taking cues from 'Crash' and even 'Forest Gump' this movie had stirring performances from Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Nick Cannon, Ashton Kutcher, Freddy Rodriguez, Anthony Hopkins and more from a star-studded A-list. A truly deep, at times inspiring, but ultimately moving testament to what could of been one of the greatest moments in American history but turned out to be one of the most tragic. A must see and learn.
X-MEN ORIGINS-WOLVERINE: When franchises have run out of sequels, it's time for the prequels and going back to the 'Origins' of X-Men really was something to 'Marvel' at. With all the characters to choose from it was clear that Hugh Jackman's most-popular 'Wolverine' character would sharpen this series. Darker, bigger, more exciting and epic, Hugh was joined by some new friends who now deserve 'Origin' movies of their own. From Liev Schreiber's villain, to versatile superhero Ryan Reynolds (catch him currently as 'The Green Lantern') and all his 'Deadpool' charm and deadpan wit and super-cool Will.I.am. this might just be the best X-Men yet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 17 June 2011
With 'Green Lantern' out this week, 'X-Men: First Class' soaring up the box-office and 'Captain America' on the way to save the day this weeks 'DVD Rack' is a 'Superhero' special. Expect more from Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans.
X-MEN ORIGINS-WOLVERINE: When franchises have run out of sequels, it's time for the prequels and going back to the 'Origins' of X-Men really was something to 'Marvel' at. With all the characters to choose from it was clear that Hugh Jackman's most-popular 'Wolverine' character would sharpen this series. Darker, bigger, more exciting and epic, Hugh was joined by some new friends who now deserve 'Origin' movies of their own. From Liev Schreiber's villain, to versatile superhero Ryan Reynolds (catch him currently as 'The Green Lantern') and all his 'Deadpool' charm and deadpan wit (told you) and super-cool Will.I.am. this might just be the best X-Men yet.
DAREDEVIL: Critics and comic-book fans alike hated it. We loved it. They said Ben Affleck was no good as the blind super-hero. We think apart from the pointy ears this was one of Affleck's best from his big-budget blockbuster days. They cruelly said Michael Clarke Duncan shouldn't have played 'Kingpin'. Well we think it has nothing to do with race (we see you Idris Elba, great performance in 'Thor') because Duncan leads the pack with one of the most convincing performances in the entire film. Michael has the last laugh starring in the 'Green Lantern' this week (the whole reason for this feature) and wasn't that him in 'Thor')? They also said Colin Farrell looked stupid as 'Bullseye'...OK we'll give you that one but he was still great. As was Jennifer Garner and Ben's significant other to be after this movie. Electrifying as 'Electra' her sex appeal and strength of character garnered her a spin-off prequel. Overall the action and the effects where top-notch and if you've got something to say about the low-key acting, remember this is a superhero movie after all. Plus even if you do hate this movie it helped Jon Favreau get a better take on the comic-book genre. You got to love that.
SUPERMAN RETURNS: Another one they hated but shouldn't, this should be celebrated. No other superhero movie has re-done and updated a classic series to the modern-day with this much integrity without having to cross-over to the dark-side like their name was Anakin. Still this red cape and boot franchise is about to be re-booted since this movie flopped. Even the DC Comic is getting updated. Gone are the long sleeves, tights (the underpants over the tights has never been a good look) and red boots. Instead some workman boots and jeans are making our hero look more like a construction worker or rock star. Is that a bird? Is that a plane? No it's Bruce Springsteen. Still returning to the topic of this '06 movie it was really no kryptonite for this franchise. Everything looked good from Metropolis to Lois Lane. Kevin Spacey and Frank Langella where also perfect as Lex Luther and Perry White. Still it was the unknown Brandon Routh who soared above the rest. Not only looking and sounding like Christopher Reeve's (R.I.P.) Superman but also making the role his own. Sorry 'Smallville' fans. You have to feel sorry for this kid. He could have saved this franchise but instead they let him go. What more did they want? He lowered a plane on to a baseball field.
IRON MAN: With the latest Avenger movie 'Thor' surprising and entertaining critics alike and 'Captain America' about to follow, let's Marvel at another superhero classic. With his charisma and charm Robert Downey Jnr breathed new life into the genre with Gwyneth Paltrow by his faithful side. Hilarious and thrilling, the graphics and the action where sublime thanks to Jon Faverau's direction (he'll be missed). Speaking of those missed by the franchise Terrence Howard raised his and the films stock (although Don Cheadle got his 'next time baby'). While fan favourite Jeff Bridges (dude where's your hair?) made a surprisingly sinister, coldly convincing villain.
THE DARK KNIGHT: The greatest Batman and sequel of all time was an instant classic thanks to the late Ledger's legendary performance that re-defined the comic books character. Still this movies legacy also belongs to Nolan's dark direction, Bale's best Batman and Eckhart. Playing a hero living long enough to become a villain, Eckhart had inspiring integrity as Dent, then criminal coldness as Two-Face. A ground-breaking great. 'Rises' won't be the same without Ledger or Eckhart. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 10 June 2011
This week our 'DVD RACK' delves into some selections to celebrate some amazing Asia cinema.
BROTHERHOOD (TAEGUKGI): With as much action and heart as American classic 'Saving Private Ryan', this movie is as thrilling and harrowing as any Hollywood picture about war, if not more. South Korean movies really know how to convey heart and meaning in a genuine way. Showing two brothers and two nations struggles in the Korean war this film does what any film about dark moments in history should do and teach about it and not glamorise it. The relationship between the two brothers is beautiful(played with perfection by Jang Dong-gun and Won Bin), the relationship between the two nations is shocking. As Westerners need to learn more about the problems in North and South Korea, this film makes us sit up and pay attention to the problems in the past. This epic may not exactly be enjoyable but it's necessary viewing and the realest of respect to those tragically lost. There's not much else that can be said that this film hasn't already told and taught us. Words can not express.
THE HOST: Not exactly 'Godzilla' but in actual fact this monster movie is even better. As a green beast rises from the sea and terrorises the city what results is a blockbuster beast in all it's destructive dominance. Epic, thrilling and chilling, scary in parts and sensationally surreal this movie roars with pure power. With gratifying graphics and amazing actors and actresses all parts in this movie pack a hulking punch. Plus like the aforementioned movie, this popcorn movie brings a more real emotional and meaningful edge which is refreshing from some basic blockbusters straight from Hollywood. Another heartfelt hallmark from South Korean cinema.
TOKYO SONATA: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's acclaimed classic on family dysfunction and dynamics is a functioning film that is moving, hard-hitting and thought-provoking. All at the same the stories from four family members are brought to the table in real drama and heavy doses of heart from a long-suffering wife to a child musical prodigy. This Japanese hit doesn't just show the incredible and beautiful city of Tokyo (rise up) in all it's glory, it also shows the most meaningful, emotional and personal of relationships between family members in all their highs and lows. What this gives us is more then perspective, but a clear-cut perfect story for any audience worldwide. The kind of real-life familiarity we can all relate to without translation.
HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS: OK, so this film may not be as epic as 'Hero' or as groundbreaking as 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'-the catalyst for this type of movie-but still 'House Of Flying Daggers' is a timeless, influential classic. With stunningly beautiful cinematography and stunningly sensational choreography this film features action and romance in epic proportions. Just look at the dancing or fight scenes for some of the most ascetically amazing moments in cinema. From the architecture and decor of Chinese temples to the incredible natural beauty of the Chinese countryside your eyes will be taken on a thrill-ride of beauty as this cat and mouse second act races through the scenes and landscapes. If that wasn't enough then there's as many improbable twists and turns in this movie as there is impossible flying and climbing above trees with ease. What results is a scintillating story to match the sensational action and adventure.
FEARLESS: Still if you like your martial arts a little more serious then how about Jet Li's last epic? From the fighting to the cinematography and the score, to the scenes of old China, this film is beautiful. With an incredible journey both spiritual and gruelling, what results is a poignant message. A traditional film which pays proper and due deserved homage to the craft of martial arts. Unlike many of the Hollywood re-hashes that are chopped up these days. Jet Li shows he really is a bonafide actor with a genuine performance of depth and character, showing the change between an emotionally driven man and one at peace. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 3 June 2011
To marke the release of 'X-Men: First Class', marvel at this weeks 'DVD Rack', it's an 'X-Men' special.
X-MEN: The original which started this academy of great superhero films off. With great special-effects, action and entertainment this really was an enjoyable epic. Bringing the comic-books and children's wildest imaginations to life this movie made the most of everything. Hugh Jackman's career took off, Halle Berry's one was given the movie it always needed, the legacy of legend Sir Ian McKellen continued and Patrick Stewart finally escaped the Captain Picard typecast. Simply great all-round.
X2: Sequels are usually nothing on the original, unless they continue the story along and this is exactly what this film does. 'X2' really did multiply the life of these mutants, making classics out of the characters and attracting more action and a unique set of special effects. As well as the stars cast-members like Famke Janssen and James Marsden increased their popularity. As the White House got involved (fictionally) this top superhero franchise got presidential beating the other Summer blockbuster candidates. It got cold as Winter for the competition as this franchise heated up.
X-MEN-THE LAST STAND: The third part of the trilogy completed things nicely but in reality and things to come it wasn't really 'The Last Stand'. Still as the war between the good and bad mutants reached breaking point we saw darker shades of Jean Grey and an increased vibrancy in the action. This made for some hot, thrilling bridge burning scenes in San Francisco (there's not many other movies that have torn up the Golden Gate better-and a lot have tried-it seems to be a staple for Hollywood destruction (but why? It's so nice)). Also with the additions of unique actors Kelsey Grammer and Vinnie Jones this movie really was different. As the plot of this movie looked for a mutant cure, fans where left not wanting immunity from this franchise. Years later they'd be in luck.
X-MEN ORIGINS-WOLVERINE: When franchises have run out of sequels, it's time for the prequels and going back to the 'Origins' of X-Men really was something to 'Marvel' at. With all the characters to choose from it was clear that Hugh Jackman's most-popular 'Wolverine' character would sharpen this series. Darker, bigger, more exciting and epic, Hugh was joined by some new friends who now deserve 'Origin' movies of their own. From Liev Schreiber's villain, to versatile superhero Ryan Reynolds and super-cool Will.I.am. this might just be the best X-Men yet.
X-MEN-FIRST CLASS: Or you could just go to the cinema, as released this week this would be the best of all the 'X' blockbusters if it wasn't for 'Wolverine' -but he does make an incredible, unforgettable cameo. Europe's finest exports James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender channel Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen's respective Xavier and Magneto with dignity and excellence. These students really learnt the ways of this franchises academy with skills, fight and heart. Plus with a great alumni of Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones and Zoe Kravitz this class of it's own brought a new school of X-Men actors to the series already impressive register. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
12A, 131 Minutes. Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne.
January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Zoë Kravitz, Oliver Platt & Kevin Bacon. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Taking the competition back to superhero-movie-making school.
Superhero movies have been taking off as a Summer blockbuster staple for many a season now. Still as ideas for popcorn movies get thinner in Hollywood (hey, they can only do so much) prequels and reboots seem to be trending more then a Charlie Sheen Twitter topic. Fashioning the time between the Spring ('Fast Five') and Summer ('Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon') biggest blockbusters comes 'X-Men: First Class'. Following the success of the the terrific trilogy and the wonderful 'Wolverine' prequel comes another, beginning, 'coming of age' story from the 'Origins' series.
In this movie we are taken back to the old days (the 60's to be exact) when Kennedy was president and Professor X and Magneto where Charles and Erik and the best of friends, before they got old and ended up looking like Captain Picard and Gandalf. Before battling each other together they had to battle the threat of nuclear war, the humans acceptance of mutants and their own personal demons, not to mention Kevin Bacon and his meatier, meaner mutants . Most 'Wanted' Scottish actor James McAvoy and 'Inglorious Basterds' scene stealer Michael Fassbender play Xavier and Magneto respectively perfectly, with all due respect to the elder statesmen Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen. Doing justice to the legendary actors they carve their own lasting legacy in this super Matthew Vaughn film. From classic Vegas to outstanding Oxford there is a timeless quality to this picture that is in all the right locations.
Bar a few mutated misfires and characters that look like the love child of Papa Smurf and the more hairier member of 'Harry and the Henderson's' this film, looks and feels great, almost tipping the trilogy (still, the 'Wolverine' movie claws the competition. From hilarious, classic cameos to homages to other movies like 'Basic Instinct' this has it all. Awesome action, engaging effects, sensational set-pieces, determined dialogues, fantastic fun, actual acting and helpings of heart. This 'First Class' picture is truly top notch.
McAvoy and Fassbender aren't alone. Bacon is brilliant as always in the villain role. While the beautiful wonder women in this hero piece almost take all the glory. Woman of the moment Rose Byrne (with this 'Insidious' and 'Bridesmaids' she played in three major back-to-back trailers recently) is sexy, stylish but most of all serious in a sublime role as a CIA agent. Even without a super-mutation her character still powers through. The born-for-the-big time January Jones is also getting better by the month, 'Mad Men' series' and movie with a classic femme-fatale character. Jennifer Lawrence also brings another, deeper side to Raven, while the rest of the magnificent mutants (acknowledgment also due to developed performances from Edi Gathegi and Jason Flemyng) are led by Zoë Kravitz. The daughter of Lenny rocks. We have another star in the making.
You don't have to be telepathic to tell I like this movie (and it took awhile for me to warm to this hot franchise) and a brotherhood of mutant fans would also tell you that this is a hell-fire, heaven sent movie that pays homage and respect to the classics from the celluloid's to the comic strips. Now if only they could make more like this. TIM DAVID HARVEY.