Friday, 29 July 2011
Leading the run of superhero movies.
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke & Stanley Tucci. Director: Joe Johnston. Screenplay: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Stan Lee and his comic book team have given us plenty to marvel at over this last year. From 2010's iron-tight sequel 'Iron Man 2' , to this years thunderous 'Thor' and 'First Class' addition to the 'X-Men' series. There's more to come too as the amazingly, anticipated 'The Avengers' ensemble piece sets to do battle with Batman and his 'The Dark Knight Rises' in 2012. To start things off however 'The First Avenger' must go to war for country and comic-book. So Chris Evans picks up the shield and responsibility to carry the star on his chest and the role of the first comic book hero in 'Captain America'.
Chris Evans is back in a big way. No not the four eyed, ginger entertainer-that would just be weird and wrong-but a ladies favourite actor, who's only red head came when he portrayed Johnny Storm the 'Human Torch' in the formidable 'Fantastic Four' series. In this years Summer blockbuster season, Evans goes to battle with D.C. and fellow Hollywood heart-throb Ryan Reynolds who has also had experience in playing two superhero's in separate movies (he brought his charisma to 'Wolverine's' Deadpool and a spin-off is rumoured) and is currently lighting things up on screen as the 'Green Lantern'.
It's Captain America who shines the brightest however, (besides Evans has one more comic-book, winning credit with 'The Losers' and even another if you count his evil turn in 'Scott Pilgrim') shielding the glare from 'The Green Lantern's' latest run. Evans is heaven sent, landing into the role perfectly. Standing out with charisma and charm when needed, but falling back and not overpowering the character-first nature of hero movies like this, a-la Christian Bale in Batman. He's tough, but fair in nature and his extensive action/light film resume makes him the right candidate for the Captain. With hope and glory he leads this film right with pride in the legacy of his films traditional and comic book legend. Plus he can pull off looking like a skinny teen perfectly-with some CGI help of course-not bad for a 30 year old gym rat.
You know what to expect from Marvel films these days-there's so many of them. There's always a hilarious Stan Lee cameo's, something to wait for after the credits (it's really worth it this time) and the comic-book franchise always has a real way of telling a story of world history as well as it's own legacy extremely well. Even though the expectations are a given, this is still great. There's a battalion of star power behind Evans character in support. From the brilliant, battle-tested Tommy Lee Jones (armed to the bone with wit and the British intelligence of America's love interest Hayley Atwell) to super villain Hugo Weaving (even though in full evil form he looks more like Samuel L. Jackson) and super-scientist Stanley Tucci. Plus Dominic Cooper channels his inner Downey Jnr charm to play Tony Stark's dad Howard perfectly for a clever twist on the Avenger franchises overlapping themes. Don't forget the other soldiers who have Evans back either, from Sebastian Stan to Neal McDonough and Derek Luke.
Despite being armed with little more than a shield and dodgy, dated costume (it actually works), 'Captain America' is picture perfect from the classic, right look of 1940's America (even if is thanks to filming in England's Manchester and Liverpool) to the cool action choreography. This picture is a perfect period piece. Overall this film is more then just patriotic like the 'Star Spangled Banner' and more then just another vehicle for a Samuel L. Jackson cameo. 'Captain America' is worthy of Nick Fury's initative. Someone call Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye. 'The Avengers' are ready. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
With 'Green Lantern', 'X-Men: First Class' and now 'Captain America' dominating the Summer blockbuster market, this weeks 'DVD Rack' is a 'Comic-Book' special. With a lot of Chris Evans.
FANTASTIC FOUR-THE RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER: Chris Evans may be taking the shield as 'Captain America-The First Avenger' this week but he's no stranger to marvelling us with his super powers. In this installment of the 'Fantastic Four' series Evans' Johnny Storm joins Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis for another great action adventure. This time the iconic silver surfer helped make waves, with the voice of Laurence Fishburne and the CGI of a great special effects team, that stretched it's already thunderous, hot, rock-solid talents to the max. What resulted was a great looking picture, which made for a sublime sequel.
THE LOSERS: Another comic-book film adaptation with Chris Evans, just a little different. These heroes aren't exactly what you'd call super, but still they're by far no losers. Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Columbus Short and Óscar Jaenada are the perfect mix for a winning formula. Based on the different 'Vertigo' comic-books this movie towers above the rest because of it's originality. Dark, funny, thrilling and explosive this is a sure-fire cult hit. Jaenada and Short rose their star stock, while Elba, Saldana and Dean Morgan reaffirmed their serious status. Evans meanwhile just had geeky fun as Jake Jensen with his charm and motor-mouth (Evans really does rival fellow charisma hero Ryan Reynolds) taking all kinds of shots. With this film a spent comic-book genre got reloaded.
IRON MAN: With the last 'Avenger' movie 'Thor' surprising and entertaining critics alike and 'Captain America' now in theatres, let's take a look at another avenging friend. 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.
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.
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.TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 24 July 2011
We pick 5 old films we watched this week for your consideration. This week my personal top 5 favourite films.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON: A true story where a man robs a bank to finance his gay lovers sex change. You know this movies something else. In one of Al Pacino's best ever roles the young actor really displayed his depth and range with this 70's classic. Dramatic but hilarious, tense but touching, this movie is both timeless in it's classic nature and ground-breaking in it's before it's time stature. Al Pacino really had his day with this one. Amongst all his other legendary roles and it's controversy this film has become somewhat lost. You may not have heard of it, but by the time you've finished watching you'll want to tell everybody what you've just seen. Witness the perfect crime.
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.
THE UNTOUCHABLES: Complete, classic cinema. If you ever wanted to know why Kevin Costner became so good. Or just how hot the young, talented Andy Garcia was. Or just how Sean Connery got a second, Paul Newman successful career after Bond. Or just how deep De Niro's classic roles go, touch on this timeless, dramatic action thriller. Costner plays Elliott Ness in the true story of how his police force brought down notorious gangster Al Capone (De Niro). The action is acclaimed, the drama moving and the historical setting perfectly done in 1930's Chicago. Another thing this epic movie is is tense, just check into the train station scene for your ticket to this ride. There you will see movie moments that will live in cinematic history.
COLLATERAL: Action thrillers don't get more tense and exciting then this. The master of celluloid Michael Mann directs a perfect movie that brought the Richard Gere and the best out of Tom Cruise and along with 'Ray' made Jamie Foxx an all-round star and double Oscar nominee. Action and gunfights haven't been this hot since Mann's 'Heat' and in the confides of a taxi-cab the drama and tension between Cruise's hitman and Foxx's driver is perfectly taught. Mann also handpicked a right soundscape and captured the haunting, beautiful, futuristic yet isolated feeling of downtown Los Angeles perfectly on digital cameras. Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith also offer stellar support.
ALI: Will Smith wasn't robbed the Oscar (Denzel schooled everyone with 'Training Day'), but he was robbed the respect. People may have thought his unique personality couldn't capture another so in kind, but Smith really channeled Muhammad Ali perfectly from the impressive speech and mannerisms to the impossible dedication and weight gain. In the actors finest and most underrated performance this lost classic was epic. Another DVD choice in this rack directed distinctly by Michael Mann, this picture helped develop a working relationship between Mann and Jamie Foxx (that lead to another classic referenced here) following a breakthrough, incredible performance from Jamie as Bundini. Jon Voight was also unrecognisably unique as Howard Cossell. Also giving this film weight was it's sublimely soulful soundtrack (the Sam Cooke intro is just so uplifting and inspiring) and the fight scenes which are the best ever seen in cinema...yeah I said it. This film rolls with the strongest of punches. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 11 July 2011
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell & Jamie Foxx. Director: Seth Gordon. Screenplay: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
Just when you thought comedies out of Hollywood couldn't be more rib-tickling or head-scratching the Jason's of Bateman and Sudeikis team up with Charlie Day for the new comedy 'Horrible Bosses'. A film that takes the fantasy of killing the boss you hate to an all new reality.
The three friends really have their work cut out for them, as a psycho, man-eater and tool really are the bosses from hell. Bateman's boss (played by Kevin Spacey) is a power-mad manager who makes his client drink eighteen year old scotch at eight in the morning, all whilst teasing him with a promotion he'll never get. Day's dentist boss (played by Jennifer Aniston) is a sex-crazed maniac which may not sound all that bad until you take into account that Day is engaged and blackmailed by Aniston who really wants to get her teeth into him. If you thought that was bad then wait until you meet Sudeikis boss (played by Colin Farrell) if you thought the bald head was scary then wait until you see how he goes about his working day, or how he literally tries to 'trim the fat'.
So when nothing else works the three look to get rid of their bosses once and for all. To help them with their firing line they hire a man by the name of Mr. Jones (just wait until your introduced with his first name). Mr. Jones (played hilariously by Jamie Foxx (it's great to see Foxx and Farrell back on the screens together for the first time since 'Miami Vice')) acts as the guys murder consultant and offers them direction for their murder master plan. Just as the boys are about to do the deed however, everything goes drastically wrong and the boys have everyone from 'The Wire's' Wendell Pierce to NFL player Isaiah Mustafa on their tail.
This black comedy really is one of the brightest films this year. The story will keep you guessing like an Angela Landsbury murder mystery and you'll die laughing at the throw your head back and grab your belly at the one-liners and set-pieces. The leads are three-of-a-kind. Day impresses, Bateman reaffirms his status as one of comedies best leading men, while Sudeikis shows that with this and the first-rate 'Hall Pass' he may just be the best comedy actor of the year.
The bosses from hell really are heaven sent too. It's great to see Spacey back on the screens as we forgot how scary he could be, while Aniston has never looked or been better with a drop-dead gorgeous and funny turn. Colin Farrell may just be the best of the worst however with a freakishly funny and bizarrely brilliant role, his character really is on something, from middle of the day office parties to un-affectionately naming co-workers after 'X-Men' characters, trust us the way he looks isn't the weirdest thing.
There are also some classic cameo's here too, from Foxx's sly murder 'expert', to a nice role from Donald Sutherland and a fantastic and funny appearance from Mr. Ioan Gruffudd as a 'wet-work' expert. All in all this ensemble cast are guilty of nothing but entertaining us in this great Seth Gordon film. With a perfect plot that mixes all the hallmarks of classic murder capers and modern-day gross out comedy, this film is as clever as it is silly. 'Horrible Bosses' murders this years competition of other so-called, hilarious comedies and in a Summer blockbuster season dominated by sequels and remakes this original, classic film looks set to make a killing. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 2 July 2011
The Thomas directorial Crowne affair.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Rob Riggle, Bryan Cranston, Rami Malek, Maria Canals Barrera, Rita Wilson, Pam Grier & George Takei. Director: Tom Hanks. Screenplay: Tom Hanks.
Tom Hanks really is a living legend and one of the finest actors of this and past generations. From 'Big' to the huge 'Forrest Gump' there are too many of his greatest hits to name. So you know in picking up the pen and camera to write and direct 'Larry Crowne' he's ready to further his lasting legacy. Plus with penning and filming, his female equivalent-reuniting with Julia Roberts after 'Charlie Wilson's War'-you know something special is going to come from the lead, leading man and woman of the nighties.
Special? More like spectacular as this film takes this catchphrase to the 'Bruce Almighty' 'b.eautiful' max. This transitional, coming-of-middle age/finding lost youth comedy has nice elements of drama and romance without these genre-specific themes overpowering the easy-going, feel-good nature of this natural feeling and flowing film. In this movie 'Larry Crowne' is fired from his supermarket job despite being a super, employee of the month type of a guy. The problem apparently is that he never went to college, so back he goes as he makes up disgruntled teacher Julia Roberts classes.
So guess what happens? Love and new life is on the syllabus as Larry is taken to school by some new friends between economising classes and work. From getting a little style to even joining a gang on two wheels (OK, granted it's scooters), Crowne has a royal appointment with cool. Still it's Hanks's character and charm that shows who has the real class however. Hanks blends acting, directing and writing into a perfect performance and picture. This yet again seems like effortless excellence from Hanks, while Roberts matches him with her consistent top-form. Through the semesters to the peepholes the pairs chemistry is set.
The science of the success of this movie also belongs to the students of the supporting cast. Cedric the Entertainer is as entertaining as ever and his name, while Wilmer Valderama shows he's no punk too. Now get ready to laugh with Mr. Sulu, as 'Star Trek' legend George Takei is hilarious as a teacher, while you'll fall in love with nice and genuine Hollywood newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Speaking of love Tom's wife Rita Wilson also delivers in a small but great role in this movie. Even Pam Grier's, Rob Riggle's, Bryan Cranston's, Rami Malek's, Maria Canals Barrera's and Taraji P. Henson's bit-parts help fill out this movie, making it whole. It's Tom Hank's who brings everything and everyone (young or old) together however in character and his own unique style and spirit. This surprising comedy is great for anybody, from matinee viewers to Friday night date-goers. Nice and quaint, they simply don't make movies like this these days. Tom does though, so thanks for him. This feel-good film is the pleasant surprise of the year. The hot Summer-season of films is now in session with this touch of class. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
To celebrate the release of 'Larry Crowne', starring, written and directed by the legend that is Tom Hanks, this weeks 'DVD Rack' take some choices from his classic career.
PHILADELPHIA (1993): One of the most moving performances from Hanks or any actor ever seen in cinemas. Playing a man battling AIDS and discrimination from the workplace Tom turns up the notch as he puts his heart and body into this work. He deserved every carat of his Oscar for this one. Standing alongside the 'other' top male actor of the nighties (Denzel Washington) the pair brought magic to the silver screens. From Bruce Springsteen's epic 'Streets Of Philadelphia' opener around town to Neil Young's deep 'Philadelphia' ending, this is an American classic. Harrowing yet inspirational and moving and real, this really was the genuine article that fought the fight that no one should have to, and still it won.
FORREST GUMP (1994): Sure, people didn't like John Travolta's Oscar snub for 'Pulp Fiction', but realise that Hank's performance as Forrest was as iconic as the film itself. So Hank's deserved the second back-to-back Academy win after legend Spencer Tracy. Critics have tried to have their say but nothing defines the nighties more then this movie. In fact it defines past generations and many of it's young viewers futures with lashings of history and inspiration. Mixing real-footage with the movies most incredible moments, this picture brings to life everyone from Elvis to John Lennon. From military service to playing ping-pong, the actor who's played it all, played a character who really did it all (like the chocolates you never knew what you where going to get from this mans life). A fictional figure, that somehow seemed real in a story that captured the history of America and the world over the decades. Smarter then he looks and as sweet and charming as they come, this movie matched this in all it's tone. It had important statements to make too. truly, timeless, truly classic. We hope 'Forrest Gump' runs on and on through the next generations.
THE GREEN MILE (1999): Just when you thought he had done it all, Hanks raised the bar yet again and starred in this epic that took Stephen King's chiller pages to the screens and spines of it's audience. A film like no other, this movie about prisoners on death row is both disturbing and inspirational. The drama features some of the best acting from Hanks, Barry Pepper, David Morse, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell and James Cromwell but it was Michael Clarke Duncan who proved to be larger then life in this role. This three-hour film really takes you on a journey, through happiness, sadness, elation, hope and introspection. You'll laugh, cry, and be glad you took the time to witness a modern great.
ROAD TO PERDITION (2002): Tom Hank's followed the Denzel Washington, 'Training Day' trend in this one and played his first anti-hero. Yet the nice-guy Hank's could never fully cross over to the dark-side (it even seems strange watching a guy like Denzel do it, I guess that's why they gave him the Oscar) as he played a gangster that we felt sorry for, going on the run to protect his son from James Bond (or should we say Daniel Craig). 'American Beauty' director Sam Mendes gave us an accurate adaptation of Richard Piers Rayner's graphic novel and old America. This acclaimed movie brought out great performances from Jude Law, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Hoechlin and the late, icon of all legends Paul Newman. Dark, gripping, tense but heartfelt this brings the action and drama at a hard-hitting, Tommy-Gun pace. A sure-fire hit.
CAST AWAY (2000): How can one man acting alone hold our attention for so long in a film? Well, easy if that one man's named Tom Hanks. This Robert Zemeckis classic was controversial in it's popularity but anyone who likes a movie that take a gamble that pays off will love this. Hank's accompanied by a volleyball called Wilson plays all the problems and potential that comes with a part like this perfectly making this movie a real success. This isolated acting probably helped Hank's in his development of his following classic 'The Terminal'. This 'Cast Away' brings hope, inspiration and tears to the eye (even if 'current hit 'Bridesmaids' jokes about it). Helen Hunt also gives a trademark top performance but it's Wilson who wins the best supporting actor on this one even if he remains Charlie Chaplin with his acting. Hanks is the real career survivor however with a tough-role that shows the man can make the best of any situation or script he is given. You have to hand it to Hanks, there's no one like him. TIM DAVID HARVEY.