Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner & Simon Pegg. Director: Brad Bird. Screenplay: André Nemec & Josh Appelbaum
Your mission…should you choose to accept it, is to throw away your inhibitions and ideas of reality for a few hours and enjoy some of Tom Cruise and his O.T.T. world. Yep that’s right ‘Mission Impossible’ is back for its fourth go-round and this time with no Bond and Bourne in sight it looks to be the big budget, Boxing Day, box-office, blockbuster smash that Tom Cruise needs to remind the general public that he’s still part of the Hollywood elite.
‘Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol’ begins explosively with, dead-agents, bombings in Russia and the shortest cameo from a British actor ever resulting is Cruise’s IMF team being disavowed (Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Meyers from ‘Mission: Impossible 3’ seems to have made that absentee list too unfortunately) and left to fend for themselves and their country on their own. So Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character is left with the girl who stole a scene in 'Hitch', the next 'Bourne' and Scottie from 'Star Trek'. Or should we say the more than capable hands of the sexy and slick Paula Patton, the next big-thing in Jeremey Renner and Hollywood’s latest, favourite, comic Brit Simon Pegg.
This unique ensemble makes for an equally one-of-a-kind movie, thrilling and exciting, but never taking itself too seriously. Thanks to guys like Pegg and some old friends the corniness is kept in relative check, while the action is allowed the no-holes barred freedom. What results is some exciting, epic, stunts scaling Dubai’s biggest hotel the Burj Khalifa, a Bond meets Hollywood sandstorm chase, some state of the art car park fighting and some incredible, blink and you'll miss it hand-to-hand combat that is as awesome looking as the special effects and could even leave Matt Damon floored. It really does look like Jason Bourne is left in the safe and quick hands of Renner. A born star.
Cruise is again Cruise, and on fine-form leading this picture, but even with his star-power, Simon’s pegged gags and Renner’s appeal, it's Paula Patton that steals the show somewhat…and she even wins the looks battle with a Prada model in this picture. Patton shows she’s more than Mrs. Robin Thicke by showing she has the acting smarts to kick the ass of the notion that she’s just here for her beauty (but she sure is the best looking thing about this movie). Cruise and Holmes better watch out. Patton and Thicke may be the new power couple in Hollywood.
Still for the moment it's this film that is in full-force this fall. From the gorgeous gadgets to the sensational set pieces and the lavishing locations to the classy cinematography that offers even more awe-inspiring, real-world depth on IMAX (to go along with 'The Dark Knight Rises' prologue...if your lucky). This supped up spy thriller goes hard and is as hot as the films threat of nuclear war.
Breaking through and burning bright after the redeeming third installment-that recovered from the sensational sequel slump to the outstanding original-'Ghost Protocol' and Cruise let the hair down, but thankfully there are no 'Terminator' leather jackets or slow-motion motorbikes in sight. Instead what we see is a movie outfitted with enough action and excitement for it to be the most entertaining movie to end this year and begin the new one. This latest mission, accomplishes the incredible. It's clear this franchise isn't going to self-destruct for some time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
To boldly go where John Wayne never did.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown, Noah Ringer, Adam Beach & Sam Rockwell. Director: Jon Favreau. Screenplay: Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Let's face it, everybody still wants to be a cowboy and every other movie these days focuses on alien invasion. So it's time we mixed the two together for the mother ship of all Summer blockbusters. After finishing tinkering around with 'Iron Man' director Jon Favreau decides instead to strap some metal around Daniel Craig's wrist and set about a wild-west story. As Craig's wrist weapon is the only thing that can save these Western gun-slingers from some extra terrestrial company you know where going to have an interesting film on our hands. Now as daft as the title is, 'Cowboys & Aliens' is a great play on words and genres, mixing the classic 'Cowboys and Indians' tale with some good, old-fashioned sci-fi.
Besides you can trust Favreau to deliver a cast-iron action epic with heart, smarts and a few belly laughs too. Especially with a great team behind him including Brian Grazer, the Ron Howard and the legend Steven Speilberg producing things. Also as this movie lasso's Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in for the lead roles you know this pictures in good hands. Besides if you where under threat you'd sure like James Bond and Indiana Jones on your side.
'Cowboys & Aliens' is a great tale of two periods, piecing together the classic hallmarks of western cinema with today's staple of big blockbuster special effects and Hollywood shine. Even with an awkward title and premise everything all fits together perfectly in a movie that you can really marvel at. It just works and this mix of old and new is refreshing in this Summer season of sequels and reboots.
Sure this is based on a classic comic-book but it's still an original film for a creatively starved industry. From appealing action, to easy on the eyes cinematography this movie takes you to all sorts of places. Still it's the cast that leads the charge, galloping on their horses. Daniel Craig shows exactly why he was worthy of big roles like 007 with a stellar star performance, while Harrison Ford just keeps adding to his legacy with another legendary performance. It's about time someone gave this icon a role like this. He may have not been able to take us out this world when the last 'Indiana Jones' movie met those from outer space but 'Cowboys and Indy' works just fine.
The support in this movie really is a saloon of talent from old hand Clancy Brown to young steed Noah Ringer. Favreau also brings Sam Rockwell from 'Iron Man 2 ' with him and the serious A-lister/top character actor really extends his range playing a saloon owner, he does really looks the part. Adam Beach (who starred in Clint Eastwood's (a man who's no stranger to westerns) epic 'Flags Of Our Fathers') gives this movie Indian blood and delivers a heartfelt performance also. Still however, it's Olivia Wilde's role as the love interest that really keeps things intriguing. The 'Tron: Legacy' star may not have brought Jeff Bridges 'True Grit' with her, but what she does bring is her own hardiness and determination.
This movie has a lot to live up to following in the spur steps of the aforementioned classic 'True Grit' and with competent, current competition like Speilberg's other sci-fi foray 'Super 8' (a film who's aliens look better). Still this picture could really win awards for coolest film of the year. Hey, no one said it was going to get any Oscars. From sublime set-pieces to slick alien ships this movie is a great special effects vessel. While the classic Western acting and dialogue-complete with extra ham-is something you'll love to get your teeth into. A movie current and nostalgic that will leave you smiling and tipping your hat, this wild ride is about to invade the box-office. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 18 December 2011
No shit Sherlock.
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly & Rachel McAdams. Director: Guy Ritchie. Screenplay: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney & Guy Ritchie
Elementary my dear folk. Sherlock Holmes is back. After the British intelligence of director Guy Ritchie teamed up with the chemistry filled, charismatic tandem of Robert Downey Jnr.(Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson) for the big-hit 'Sherlock Holmes' in 2009 we now have a sequel for a new take on the Sherlock story that deserves a series. 'Sherlock Holmes-A Game Of Shadows' sees our favourite pair of crime-fighters race against time and across Europe to face Sherlock Holmes' nemesis Moriarty. In a film influenced by Conan Doyle's Sherlock story 'The Final Problem'.
There are no troubles or sophomore slumps here in a sequel that is every bit as good as the original...if not more exciting. Ritchie's second Sherlock has the respect to keep some things by the book, but also isn't afraid to flip the script. Mixing traditional settings with new modern directorial techniques and keeping things fresh and interesting...even for Sherlock. All the hallmarks that made the first film so good are homaged and more. There are more slow-motion scenes than a John Woo flick, more flashbacks than a 'Family Guy' episode and more importantly more action set pieces than the first or most films from this year. From hand to hand combat that would make Bourne blush, and shoot-outs that would keep Bond at bay, there's more to this film than meets the magnifying glass.
From tremendous train scenes by the carriage load, to Sherlock breaking down his fighting techniques with a little help and a little scrambling of eggs, this sequel is whisked into the shape that other franchises have failed to round into. Johnny Depp better watch out it seems that Robert Downey Jnr. is the outstanding, offbeat actor of the moment. As Downey becomes even more perfectly peculiar so does his rightfully oddball Holmes character. With this and the 'Iron Man' franchise this leading man's next few years are set. As Robert Downey has the mettle and versatility to play two completely different characters so well, one thing is evident and remains the same, his cool, contagious charisma.
This enthusiasm catches on to the rest of the cast. Jude Law has found his niche, once again standing firm and next to Holmes and Downey Jnr proud. This actor and his character make the perfect partner for our main character to play off. If that wasn't enough how about a visit from Sherlock's brother Mycroft played magnificently up by English national treasure Stephen Fry. Jared Harris also makes for the perfect villain and formidable foil in Professor Moriarty the Joker to Sherlock Holmes' Batman, with all their back and forth, chess moves. Plus with some old (Rachel McAdams) and new (Noomi Rapace) female friends joining the investigation things look real good.
There really must be something in that pipe of Sherlock's because this sequel is smoking hot. From London to Switzerland by way of Paris this is one star Euro trip you want to be part of. Case in point this film is no copycat of the first film disguised as a sequel. It's a new story in it's own right, that is a real scene turner. Funny and fresh, exciting and entertaining, they don't make sequels like this anymore...until the next one. Let's hope this isn't his last bow. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 16 December 2011
We pick 5 old films we watched this week for your consideration.
THE HANGOVER: With the recent DVD release of the hilarious 'The Hangover Part II' lets spend an night in with Stu, Phil and Alan and watch this original classic. Comedy, gross-out situations, movie homage send-ups and Las Vegas has never looked so good. Plus from babies to Mike Tyson cameos haven't been this classy either. This film threw up everything from audiences stomachs to the careers of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. Director Todd Phillips crafted another comedy classic that didn't take itself seriously at all. Stupid, silly, sick and sensational.
NINE MONTHS: Still if you prefer your comedies a little more family orientated this Christmas...and I do mean just a little why not try this labour of love starring Hugh Grant at his floppy, bumbling best. As he and the beautiful Julianne Moore are expecting a baby your due for some laughs, especially when the comedic delivery of Robin Williams, Tom Arnold and Jeff Goldblum are on hand. Sure this is cheesy, but it's also a hilarious, nighties, feel-good classic. From 'Barney' the dinosaur rip-offs to the worse nightmares you could have Hugh goes through it all just to keep us laughing. Set perfectly in beautiful San Francisco, this film also looks the part and sure Hugh's drive dash down those famous hilly roads is no 'Bullitt' but one of the most hilarious shots comedy cameras has ever taken.
ZODIAC: Let's stay in San Francisco but get serious for a second. One of the best crime-thrillers you'll see based on the true events of San Francisco's 'Zodiac' killer. Cold, chilling, tense and taught this drawn out film works as it's length mirrors the theme of the extensive, erratic killings and investigation. Just check the stunning time-lapse direction of the development of the Transamerica Pyramid building over the dark, deep Marvin Gaye classic 'Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)'. This film showed us that pretty-boy Jake Gyllenhall had the true grit for leading man acting, while born to play a cop Mark Ruffalo (see 'Shutter Island' and 'Collateral') was astounding as was excellent 'ER' actor Anthony Edwards. This film also brought back the uplifting Robert Downey Jnr before 'Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes'. Enough evidence? Case closed. Seek it out.
DEJA VU: Denzel Washington as the good-natured, 'do the right thing', heroic leading man, haven't we seen this all before? In almost everyone of his movies, every year Mr. Washington brings this familiar, favourite character right when where fiending for him. Somehow as well it all feels fresh and new from the rest of the Hollywood fodder. This is because Denzel possess a one in a million, genuine quality and for that he really is the best actor of this generation and possibly the greatest black actor of all-time. This movie is so good it'd be most leading men's best, but with all of Washington's greats it gets lost somehow. That is until you find it out and watch. With Paula Patton (who will be coming to screens soon with Tom Cruise on the latest 'Mission Impossible' film) and Jim Cavizel this Tony Scott great is another example of another classic director/actor combo.
A MAN APART: This year Vin Diesel burned up the box office with 'Fast Five' but this thinking mans tough guy still is more then this, the 'Riddick' and the 'xXx' franchises. In this underrated over-bearing action thriller, the master of the revenge picture gives a real performance. Playing a narcotics cop whose wife is murdered Vin really captures the emotion of a man apart perfectly and I bet you thought this man couldn't act...WRONG! Surely the more emotive scenes in this movie helped inspire the evolution of his character in the fourth and fifth 'Fast & Furious' movies. This actors got more under the hood then you think. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 9 December 2011
Spielberg helps Abrams take us back to the eighties.
Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Ron Eldard & Kyle Chandler. Director: J. J. Abrams. Screenplay: J. J. Abrams. Produced By: Steven Spielberg, J. J. Abrams & Bryan Burk
'Super 8' is one of those special films that don't come around everyday. A classic, vintage feeling picture like the millimetre film of the same name. It's no wonder Steven Spielberg is behind this picture. The man that gave us such classics as 'E.T.' and 'Jurassic Park' oversees a project that tries to recapture the magic and youth of those movies from decades gone by. From the second the silhouette of Elliot and E.T flies into the 'Amblin' logo to start the movie the fond nostalgia and magic comes right back instantly.
This extra terrestrial, sci-fi picture however is written and directed by J.J. Abrams the man that blessed us with the solid, camera shaky 'Cloverfield' (this movie was originally rumored to be a prequel) and the sensational 'Star Trek' reboot. Knowing a thing about new worlds and new civilisations, Abrams boldly goes into this movie with a relatively unknown cast set in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio (or Weirton, West Virginia as a matter of fact). This, however is what makes this film that more special, personal and in some ways scary. It just feels more real with actors that look like everyday people in an everyday setting as opposed to Tom Hanks leading a band of a-list brothers (as good as they are) right through the plot.
Speaking of the story arc, basically a lot of strange things start happening in this small town, and you know in movies like that it spells trouble and a hell of a lot of 'jump' moments. Meanwhile a group of charismatic kids full of character, looking to be the next 'Goonies' or Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's begin filming a zombie movie on their Super 8 camera. While getting some great 'production values' at a train station their script is flipped to some great special effect values as they witness a massive train derailment and one of the most impressive set-pieces you'll see in cinema all year. It really is mint. As even more strange things unfold and glimpses of new life begin to appear these small-town residents begin to realise they are far from alone.
What results is a tense, shocking, twist of a tale with plenty of humor and heart to keep you smiling and ticking over through it's one, twelve run time. As you immerse yourself in this community and movie, you stay with the story and begin to feel and love the characters that you've barely, if ever seen on screen before. That's that Speilberg and Abrams magic we we're talking about. Setting this film back in the eighties helps the small-town, more special feeling, down to the earth of the humble Ohio residents and also helps wake up some of the tired alien films (the alien actually looks original and great for a change). While elements of classic movies like the buddy nature of 'The Goonies', the terrifying suspense of 'Jurassic Park' and of course the extra terrestrial elements of 'E.T.' help make this Sci-fi fictional tale a science of success.
Also the cast-list won't read like a 'who's that' for much longer. From 15 year old Joel Courtney to 46 year old Kyle Chandler there are some born stars in this movie who are set to join the 'who's, who' A-Lists soon. With stellar performances, graphics, settings and set-pieces this movie looks to go out of the world of Hollywood and become a worldwide smash. There's so much to this picture that who knows if you'll laugh or cry in the end. There may be a little anti-climax in this grand picture but it still sits well on the screens as sometimes we all know the journey is better than the destination and this movie takes us on a wonderful one through space, time, nostalgia and classic story-telling and cinema. This movie feels like an independent one as it stands in a class of its own. An '8' out of ten movie that really is super. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
There's no business like monkey business.
Starring: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton & Andy Serkis. Director: Rupert Wyatt. Screenplay: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
OK you apes face it, we humans have had a fascination with primates and how close they are to us in intelligence and mannerisms and that stretches back even way before the first one of these films about these animals taking over was released back in 1968. Almost as fascinated as our obsession and paranoia with end of the world movies that make us feel like they could happen one day. Since then there have been many more movies made and many more end of the world movies made, but nothing have been closer to home and closer to us than this.
First there was Charlton Heston, then there was Mark Wahlberg (in the Tim Burton 2001 remake) and now there is James Franco leading this latest reboot of the 'Planet Of The Apes' franchise to deeper and more meaningful places. Set in the classic, sensational city of San Francisco, Franco's character has a lot to deal with (and where not talking about his great love interest Freida Pinto) he's developed a drug to try to cure Alzheimer's disease which is tested on the apes and is what his father (played brilliantly by John Lithgow) is given to get better. Still, like with any drug there is side-effects and cue some protective qualities mistaken for monkeying around, loss, chaos and evolution to revolution arises.
With the apes looking to takeover like aliens in their own war of the worlds with humans what results is some epic battles, struggles for power, some trashing of San Fran (every movie, that poor city gets it) and refreshingly a story arc that your unsure where is actually going. It's this unpredictable ending that actually leads to somewhat of an anit-climax but save that, some corny words, some ill-advised horse riding and a red sweater moment that looks like something out of a 'PG Tips' advert, this is a perfect picture and homage to the series. Even the lone ranger stuff harks back to the original and an television news clip aside really sets the original story straight to boot.
Franco (an actor who's stock has rose considerably since 'Pineapple Express' in 2008) is on top form recovering from his '127 Hours' to become one of the best leading men this year (especially with his role as Allen Ginsberg in 'Howl') and fellow Danny Boyle darling Pinto is as smart as she is beautiful. Coming from another '3rd Rock From The Sun', John Lithgow is more serious and sincere and what would a Hollywood film be without Scot Bian Cox. The real stars in this film however are the apes, from their convincing CGI to their personal and inter-group development. This really is a heart-warming, though-provoking and smart movie and it's all done by the animals, you'll be left attached to the young, adorable Cesar (no not Julius). This film will leave you able to convey all human emotions like it's hairy stars.
This movie really does rise. With a thrilling third act on the Golden Gate bridge, classic views and shining examples of great time-lapse's in character and story development this picture really does motion well through it's run-time. Even with a decent Summer season and year of blockbusters-especially in the fantasy/end of the world theme-this really is king, beating it's chest like Kong. Howling louder than the rest of what their up against it's clear that the apes have taken over. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
This year with 'Captain America' saving the box-office behind great help from 'Thor' and 'X-Men: First Class' 'Marvel' is at the height of it's powers with 'The Avengers' coming next year. So this weeks 'DVD Rack' takes it back to the comic books.
IRON MAN: Forget about 'The Avengers' for a second, we can't wait for the third installment of the greatest Marvel action hero. So let's take a look back to where it all started. 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.
FANTASTIC FOUR-THE RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER: Chris Evans may be taking the shield as 'Captain America-The First Avenger' currently in theatres 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.
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' out now 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.
IRON MAN 2: How about some more metal from Tony Stark to book-end this feature? Jon Faverau may not be on board for 'Iron Man 3' and Terrence Howard may have been replaced but this sequel proved that the 'Iron Man' franchise was still working, even with a little tinkering. Robert Downey Jnr brought his usual effortless charm and humor as he helped lift this superhero off the ground one more time. Ironman got an even better villain this time with Mickey Rourke playing the menacing Whiplash. As for Tony Starks sidekick, Don Cheadle filled in quite nicely as Lieutenant Rhodes and once he supped up that War Machine suit 'Iron Man 2' brought an artillery of action. An army of A listers filled out the cast from the cheesily charismatic villain of Sam Rockwell to Scarlett Johansson and that brilliant costume department. With another hilarious Stan Lee cameo and another 'Avengers' preview, Iron Man showed he was the king of the Marvel franchise. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
A perfect imitation.
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen,Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje & Eric Christian Olsen. Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Screenplay: Eric Heisserer
The thing about John Carpenter's 1982 classic 'The Thing' is that it was a sci-fi horror that was just so far ahead of it's time. As Kurt Russell et al fought an alien thing that assimilated other organisms and imitated them with blow-torches in an Antarctic research station, the cold, suspense, atmosphere and horror were turned up full blast. The effects were so special they were ahead of it's time and to this day and beyond the film remains iconic. Now they say you shouldn't mess with a classic but this is Hollywood after all. Still, this prequel (you really know it's Hollywood now) does the original justice. It doesn't screw it up. From using no CGI on 'The Thing' to keeping the suspense tight and close to Carpenter's foundations this film is real and true to the original.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead of 'Die Hard 4.0' and Joel Edgerton of 'Warrior' lead a decent cast or should I say list of victims as all the hallmarks of the original are blended together nicely. Threat, paranoia and no way out all encompass this ensemble piece. As 'The Thing' stalks it's prey and imitates them the audience is left as clueless and as suspicious as the cast of actors. There are times were you'll point fingers and say it's defiantly him and there are others were you wont even realise who's a victim until they're too late. Throughout all the 'Cluedo' like investigation to the red herring's the cast play it all (or don't play it all for that matter) perfectly.
'The Thing' imitates part's of the original classic movie of the the same name, but it is done with respect. From the same disturbingly haunting soundtrack to a cinematography that makes it look distinctively eighties it just feel right. The great thing about the original was that it wasn't an overly exposed, glossy Hollywood piece and even in the modern day that integrity is maintained here. There are similar moments of the film that it's almost a roof-check away from being a 'Hangover Part II' (which is still a great sequel sticking to the script) carbon copy. Still, however then these elements are twisted in a way that pays homage to the original instead of mimicking it. For example the rec room scene of testing which human is 'The Thing' is done brilliantly with due respect.
This film sticks to the script but with a nice blueprint of it's own. From the birds-eye icy, remote, 'is it a dog or the ship' start to the font's, logo's and techniques this film does it right. The idea of having a prequel is a great one. A sequel just wouldn't have worked. Take this film out of it's isolated location and bring it to the modern day and then your one Danny Glover away from it being the 'Predator 2', a decent movie, but one that takes away the confined terror that made the original so classic ('Predators' made up for that). This 'Thing' prequel is more like an origins piece, telling us more of the back story but without revealing too much and ruining it. With a fitting ending, the fans will love this is one remake that isn't a rehash. Sure there is never anything like the original, but this movie covers all the bases of respect and homage. John Carpenter should be proud. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Just Another One Of Those Nights.
15, 102 Minutes. Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung, Paul Giamatti & Crystal (The Monkey). Director: Todd Phillips. Screenplay: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong & Craig Mazin
You know those nights you don't forget? The ones where you have a little too much, blame it on the alcohol like Jamie Foxx and swear you'll never drink again? We've all been there (well except monks and me (I don't drink)) but never like this. Never like Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis or Phil, Stu and Alan. I mean these guys go hard. Haven't they learnt from Vegas (In the classic 'The Hangover' movie) they lose friends, alienate themselves, steal tigers, get in to it with Iron Mike Tyson...I mean c'mon now. Bachelor parties are definitely these guys forte...but all in the wrong way. I mean these guys and weddings go as well together as Ross from 'Friends'.
Now these guys are in Thailand celebrating Stu's wedding (to the beautiful Jamie Chung) and you would have thought they would have learnt right...WRONG! There they are losing people again a day before the wedding, all whilst getting into even more trouble, kidnapping more animals, scarring themselves, and doing worse things then they did with a baby, all whilst creating one hell of a Facebook album, but hey at least this time they don't lose Doug! Isn't it always the case, you swear you'll never let yourself get in a state like this again and then you go and make things even worse?
Or better in this case as 'The Hangover Part II' really pulls out all the stops and pops the cork on better action-set pieces, visuals and music...I think these guys like themselves some Kanye West. Speaking of 'Ye, on this films trailer Mr. West's 'Dark Fantasy' plays asking, "Can we get much higher"? Boy do they from more excitement, laughs and gross-out nudity that you could shake a....no that's not a good reference-these boys go big in Bangkok. With blackmailing criminals, the cutest monkey mules and disapproving father-in-laws all these problems for the hungover pals could cause a real headache plot-wise. Still thanks to Phillips perfect mix of comedy, action and detective esque themes this film-like the first-succeeds and keep this 'highest grossing R rated film' ever vehicle going like Mr. Chow was behind the wheel (he may just be the best plus ones ever).
Sure Bill Clinton, Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson may not have made this night out but with the charming, classy Cooper the hilarious Helms and the genius of Galifianakis who else do you need? Plus with some cameos from some old friends and foes no other company is required. This movie called 'Very Bad Trip 2' in some countries really is one of the best journeys you'll take in the cinema all year. Sure it's got nothing on the first one but it was never supposed to. This film follows the formula of the fantastic first and although in many sequel cases this usually means that ideas are thin, in this movie however it works. From the rooftops to that phone-call it all blends together perfectly, working so well. Reprising the fans favourite, familiar elements from the first and bringing them into this story throws up the theme of drunk people making the same mistakes all over again. Still as these mistakes come correct this movie does the right thing, back up to it's old tricks. This is one of those 'yet again' hangovers that actually feels good and is welcome. Now you can drink to that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 2 December 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.
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.