Saturday, 28 July 2012
106 Minutes. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane & Giovanni Ribisi. Director: Seth MacFarlane. Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild
Remember when you where little and when you went to bed at night with your favourite teddy bear all you wished was that he came to life and became your best friend? Well...dream on pal I'm sorry but this is the real world. You're 30 and it's time to put him in the loft. Still if you want to relive that "pipe" dream and see what that might just be like today then why not let 'Family Guy's' Seth MacFarlane take you on a cinematic journey of movie magic...with erm, bongs, blunts and booze!?
Because even teddy bear's grow up my friend and life is no picnic. Unless your picnics consist of cereal and weed in the middle of the day. Seth MacFarlane writes, directs and stars (albeit as a classic, genius, incredible, CGI bear that sounds somewhere between Brian and Peter Griffin) in his first feature and after bringing as many protests as laughs to his classic 'Family Guy' series he returns with a film that walks the tightrope of being just as funny and censored.
We don't want to give anything away but between homages to T.V. show legends of the past and a narration from the perfect captain this ship sails. From getting around work, the girlfriend and the couch this is a laugh a minute and right there with '21 Jump Street' as funniest film of the year. Just like 'Family Guy' too MacFarlane knows how to bring the warm fuzzy feelings and human side to this bear tale. If you want more from this beautiful Boston bear biopic then how about a Red Sox, Fenway Park finale that's almost as thrilling as 'The Town'?
Seth MacFarlane also brings family girl Meg's voice Mila Kunis to this two-point-bear household and after her hilarious turn in one of last years best ('Friends With Benefits') she shows that it's more than just a swan that's making her a star...it's a bear too. With great, peculiarly hilarious support from Giovanni Ribisi and some classic cameos (one providing the ideal opening track) this film has it all. Still it's Mark Wahlberg and his Academy nominated, 'Departed' Boston accent that looks and sounds the part perfectly.
The ever improving and underrated (see practically everything he's done, especially 'Four Brothers', 'The Fighter', 'The Perfect Storm', 'Three Kings' and more) Wahlberg who's already revealed a hit this year with Ribisi in the concealed find 'Contraband' again subtly shows superiority and skill here. The type of big name actor that can make his mark but also blend in and not take any of the fuzz off the crass and cuddly main attraction. Following his hilarious, shirtless cameo on 'Date Night' and his perfect partnering up with the funniest man on the planet Will Ferrell on 'The Other Guys' Mark shows he's just as funny as he is unsung.
Still expect more praise to come his way with the film everyones talking about this year. 'The Dark Knight' may have to fall to this one because I think we've just found our Summer smash everyone can enjoy...that is if you don't mind prostitute deification and cock fights with geese. Those who won't be offended will be outraged with laughs in a classic comedy that makes 'Family Guy' look like...well 'The Simpsons' (DOH!). 'Ted' is every boys wish and every film censors nightmare. He does everything except show his bear necessities. Now isn't that just the perfect present? Christmas has come early and it's swearing and smoking this Summer. Ted bares all. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 23 July 2012
164 Minutes. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Morgan Freeman. Director: Christopher Nolan. Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan
Batman begun again with a realistic rebirth once Christopher Nolan flipped the comic-book script on a franchise that made silly but super-fun light of Tim Burton's early, dark shadows. No more cheesy, ice-cold Mr. Freeze catchphrases and Bat-Cards that the films should have been left without. Instead came 'Batman Begins' the inception of this new, dark start. Then thanks to a classic Oscar-winning, every scene stealing performance from the late, great Heath Ledger (besting Jack Nicholson's Joker with his own reinvention and rebirth of a timeless, incredible, classic characterization) 'The Dark Knight' wasn't only the greatest Batman, let alone superhero film of all time. It was also arguably the greatest sequel and one of the best of all movies of all time. Now to become one of the greatest trilogy's of all time alongside 'The Godfather' and 'The Lord Of The Rings' how do you follow such a groundbreaking, earth-shaking classic? You rise!
Still 'The Dark Knight Rises' was always going to have a lot to live up to and a lot to deal with. Especially when triumph turns into tragedy with the loss of a great actor and man. Still with all due respect to Heath, Nolan moves on with no reference to the Joker out of taste and decency to Ledger's memory. It's a bold and thoughtful move. Thank God they didn't try to replace him (like the early Johnny Depp rumors stated) because they wouldn't have been able to do it. Instead of that Nolan takes the story forward eight years and brings some more classic characters to the comic-book fold. The amazing Aaron Ekchart's both side of the coin perfect portrayal of Two-Face is gone too, but Harvey Dent's presence is influentially felt throughout. Still like Nolan's distinct direction and Hans Zimmer's sublime, cinematic, classic score more old faces than you expect are back in black.
Bale's brilliant Batman and wonderful Bruce Wayne alter-ego are back in their cape and cowl in the centre of things. While the old veterans Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are back on helpful hand as the Bat's amazing alleys and with brilliant acting from the big three, this third act stays on the grand epic scale. Still to close this Batman chapter out a little more is needed and that's where Nolan brings practically everyone apart from Leonardo DiCaprio (he was actually rumored to play The Riddler at one point, now how good would that have been?) from his incredible, inbetween 'Inception' dream movie to wake up this finale. Caine was already in place and if you where wondering Ken Wantabe was in 'Begins'. OK so Ellen Page from 'Juno' isn't in this but rising star Juno Temple is. Mainly though femme fatale Marion Cotillard, the Peter Pan of Hollywood Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the classic by the casting, character chameleon Tom Hardy are and it's the latter two that steal the show from our leading Bat, just like they did to the leading Leo in 'Inception'.
A lot has been made from the buzz and hype of Hardy's Bronson like portrayal of Bane (just look at the size of him, and his post-Pittsburgh training in last years best picture 'Warrior' for the size of it). Aside from the fact that no one was ever going to beat Ledger's Joker and a few almost "I'm Ron Burgundy", hilariously, weird vocal moments we have the perfect villain. Instead of The Joker's mind games this physical foil literally beats Batman and his city down. It's the only way you could go after Batman's psychological destroying by the clown. With this film and the selection of Bane, Nolan had to go physical until this Dark Knight had nothing left. The peculiar muffled voice is perfect in parts and maddened and magnificent in others. While the look, feel and prominent presence of this villain is just too much to handle, making for some truly tense and gripping, thriller moments
Gordon-Levitt may be the one man who can take Bane though almost man-handling the show away from him. It's a wonder this boy isn't the same kid we saw in '3rd Rock From The Sun' because the baby-faced thirtysomething still has that youth about him which makes him perfect for this young beat-cop role. It's clear to see from his mature acting and lead aspiring performance that he is all grown up and ready for even bigger stages that he was chosen for. He's truly inspired. That's not to forget the other cat that Nolan has let out of the bag. Taking the controversial choice of Anne Hathaway's Catwoman and showing it's another Joker mind-changer. Anne doesn't only fit into the catsuit perfectly. She also owns and wears it, making it her own. Just like Nicholson to Ledger, Michelle Phiffer will always be great, but its a new day now and it's Hathaway's character now. Selina Kyle's cat-burglar steals some scenes and helps the show go on.
Blending elements of 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight' together 'Rises' truly hits new highs, but it isn't without some lows and falls however. Nolan gets his Michael Bay on throwing everything at this epic, relentless end. Still when you throw everything at the wall sometimes not everything sticks. There's some mistakes, 'Basil Exposition' and almost Adam West era, corny 'Batman' moments. The pace is a little off at times too making this thing move a little awkward, like the bold but brilliant addition of the flying 'Bat', but still just because this movie isn't a stone cold, send you Bat-S***, crazy classic doesn't mean it isn't great. As for the best picture accreditation, this film will be a lot closer to the classic worthy competition of 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Avengers' in the great year of 2012. Still this isn't the end of the world. It's just how good everything truly is.
The genius move however is taking Gotham City back to it's origins of New York. The classic, 'untouchable' city of Chicago provided a beautiful backdrop for the first two flicks but taking Gotham back to it's core in New York City is truly something else. From some aerial assaults, to the best, brutal hand to hand combat that leaves other superhero films in a league of shadows to stadium rocking, special effect field days this big and bold film makes brilliant noise. Even if it is louder than some expect. This trilogy goes out with a bang and as exciting and enthusiastic as it is it's just as moving and awe inspiring. The finale and closing chapter is formidable, favorable and fitting too. Still, even though Nolan has closed his comic it's clear this isn't the end for Batman and the legend will live on. Through a reboot, a 'Justice League' movie or something else we don't know. What we do know is it won't be the same without Nolan and Bale's Bat and all the other realms of this reality they could make real. This can't be the end. Can it? Is this it? Or do you want more? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 16 July 2012
As this is a Christopher Nolan classic and practically everyone in it apart from DiCaprio (who was originally rumored to play The Riddler (how good would that have been?)) is in 'The Dark Knight Rises' how could we leave this out of our 'Batman Week'? In undoubtedly the movie of 2010 Leornado DiCaprio assembles a team of dream thieves to 'incept' an idea into Nolan's favourite scarecrow Cillian Murphys mind. Expect incredible action, thrills and twists and turns while DiCaprio and his team go within dreams. This supporting cast all step it up a level, especially the charming, not like Bane Tom Hardy and Gordon-Levitt. Again Nolans cinematography is captivating, his brothers script compelling and Hans Zimmer's score classic by any standard. This film is one part 'The Matrix', one part 'Memento' but overall very much it's own film. With shifts in gravity you'll never see better fighting scenes and Leornado DiCaprio plays the conflicted man lamenting lost love again so well just like he did in 'Shutter Island'. As a matter of fact DiCaprio may have made two of his best films this year. As for Christoper Nolan's greatest, 'The Dark Knight' still reigns supreme but with 'Inception' Nolan hasn't told a better story since 'The Prestige'. Simply one of the best cinematic experiences you could ever dream up. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
In Loving Memory.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk have recently assembled some record breaking box-office returns for 'The Avengers' and in what looks like to be arguably the greatest year of comic-book, superhero movies ever (just wait however), a rebooted 'Spiderman' is set to spin a new web this sensational to be, scorching Summer. Still despite all the hype and buzz of Stan Lee's greatest heroes you have to look to D.C. for the most anticipated movie of the year to marvel at.
With a combination of three trailers that have revealed a little bit more with each tease and an otherwise almost non-existent and therefore intriguing marketing campaign 'The Dark Knight Rises' coming July 20Th is the film of the year that everyone really can't wait for. From the intimidating and influential presence of Tom Hardy's big and bold portrayal of Bane, to the incredible 'Inception' cast reuniting and Anne Hathaway's Catwoman being let out the bag, the latest in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale 'Batman' saga looks set to follow cinemas greatest sequel of all time. Set to compliment the other two classics by making this stellar series right there with 'Lord Of The Rings', 'Star Wars' and 'The Godfather' as one of the greatest trilogy's of all-time.
After 'Batman Begins' re-energised and heated up a franchise that was dying off in the ice cold, Mr. Freeze corniness of 'Batman & Robin', fans just want to know how 'The Dark Knight' legend ends. A legend whose legacy lasts due in most part to the last iconic movie and its ultimate star. As good as Bane is and as great as he's set to be in this movie, something tells us that when this trilogy goes down in history someone else will have the last laugh. Nobody beats the Joker. Let's not forget what took this franchise from favorite to formidable.
I still miss Heath Ledger.
Four years is a long time. Almost half a decade's gone, but the feelings are still raw. To say Tom Hardy's Bane probably won't beat Heath Ledger's Joker is unfair, especially since we haven't seen the final product. A final product that really does look to be almost as iconic and the closest you could probably get to Batman's greatest villain. Still that's just how good Heath Ledger's Joker was. It was beyond the character itself. A redefinition of a cult character that changed everything. Let's not forget or ignore with all due respect that when Heath was originally named as the Joker fans were far from perfectly pleased like when they saw what his portrayal produced in the end. "NOT that 'Brokeback Mountain' guy" they cried. "Jack Nicholson is the ONLY Joker". There more than a sense that this casting was far from right. Just how wrong the doubters where.
All these things where said let's not forget, but then after the first trailer and the sound of that voice and that laugh people started to listen. Then after people finally saw the darkly made up purple reigning anti-hero after the second trailer, there where no more second thoughts and it wasn't just out of respect at the then recent and rawness of the tragic news. Before the final trailer everyone's mind was made up. When arguably the most eagerly anticipated films of all times rolled through projectors worldwide it was over. Sorry Jack. Here's the real Joker. Nobody has ever defied and re-defined a legend and it'll take something far greater to do it again.
Modern movies deserved a better class of criminal and Heath Ledger gave it to them. From the self-made make up, applied in patchy perfection to telling stories of how he got those scars, this part Jack/part 'Clockwork Orange'/punk rock inspired Joker was sinisterly superb, a great bad guy, a perfect nemesis. The formidable foil to the Bat was taken off the comic-book pages and brought to life with a dark vitality and enthusiastically with a certain charm that took this callous character and gave it charisma that left even the geekiest Bruce Wayne fans rooting for him. From a well-worked bank job that revealed the mask behind the mask, to pencil tricks which drew guilty laughs, with a conviction and a now iconic cold, chuckle and cackle Heath Ledger redefined a character and flipped the script on a classic story.
He made it his own. Invited himself into the role until we where all welcome to appreciate how he really crafted a classic. He really was our entertainment, crashing parties with a shotgun and daring 'Batman' to "HIT ME"! From flipping the usual routine of a good/cop bad cop interrogation scene (all of Batman's strength couldn't do anything compared to the Joker's mental problems) to his corrupting bedside manner and hospital guise with Two Face, he really showed both signs of the character complexity coin. Showing that whether hands on or playing mind games the Joker had more than one or two tricks up his sleeve. Stealing every scene he was in and making viewers wish he was in everyone he wasn't, Ledger's Joker made 'The Dark Knight' his. From locking himself into a hotel room to perfect his character to getting deep into the psyche of a psychologically thrilling villain Heath's Joker truly deserved the posthumous Oscar and the outstanding 30 other awards that followed for more than tributes sake.
He straight scared Michael Caine, took the shine off Christian Bale and took a classic character and made it something more. From the "cheap purple suit" to the slicked down green hair Heath more than looked the part...he owned it. Like the iconic scene of the Joker hanging slyly and coolly out a getaway Police car (which would have been a fitting last image of the Joker) every move, gesture and sentence was a classic. Jack Nicholson may have paved the way with his own iconic performance, but Heath Ledger took his legacy down the road and spun it in a whole new direction. Can you even imagine Steve Carrell and Robin Williams where in the running to take the Joker wheel (no offence)? Now not even a former rumored Johnny Depp and all his excellent eccentric performances could step into the Joker's pointed shoes or ever replace(although he, Jude Law and Colin Farrell did a fine, beautifully respectful job of finishing Heath's great character on the inventive 'The Imagenerium Of Doctor Pannesus' by Terry Gilliam). Decades and generations could pass with different takes on the clown, but none could possibly be taken to with smiles and laughs like the definitive performance.
Heath Ledger has many classic performances in his filmography. From becoming a heartthrob in '10 Things I Hate About You' to becoming a star in 'A Knights Tale'. Or from bringing brave beauty and dutiful depth to what shouldn't be a controversial subject on 'Brokeback Mountain' with Jake Gyllenhal to capturing a part of cult icon Bob Dylan in the inventive, inspired 'I'm Not There'. Going from more than just another "pretty boy" tag like Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Josh Hartnett to showing he was a real, bonafide actor, bolder and better than the rest, just like the aforementioned. From 'The Patriot' to 'Monsters Ball' in his life Ledger became more than just an icon in Australia like the late, legendary Michael Hutchence of top band INXS. He even showed a directors eye in the beautiful video of great singer Ben Harper's beautiful 'Morning Yearning' song. Close friend Ben returned the favor by writing a lovely lullaby for Ledger's daughter called 'Happy Ever After In Your Eyes'. Now that's art imitating life's loyalty and friendship. What a guy he really was.
Still all these amazing accomplishments are awe-struck in comparison to Heath's last and legacy making role. The Joker performance holds much more resonance and it's beyond the emotional. Some may worship late celebrities more than the living for whatever reason but Heath's performance is the thing of legend regardless of his tragic circumstances and it should be respected as such. Its a real shame one of the Joker's last lines ("I think you and I (Batman) are destined to do this forever") didn't come true. It's a real shame we can't see Heath Ledger's Joker in this sequel, or the more incredible performances Ledger would have added to his legend if he was still here but more important its just too tragic that the man himself isn't here. Beyond the fame and fans for his family and friends words cant justify the loss, but like the circumstances of his death that is his business not ours. When it comes down to his life in movies however for us we witnessed one of the greatest, most perfect performers of modern and all times. With his signature, 'Why So Serious' Academy winning role Heath blessed us with a classic that made us smile more even through the tragic times.
There will never be another individual like him. With all due respect when it comes to the Joker, Heath Ledger should have the last laugh.
A Hidden Gem.
110 Minutes. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster & Giovanni Ribisi. Director: Baltasar Kormákur. Screenplay: Aaron Guzikowski
Before 'The Hunger Games', 'The Avengers' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' where even released early 2012 proved to be an incredible year for movies, even after a somewhat slow start. The reason this 12 month calender is going to make for some classic cinema is due to a lot of pleasant surprise films that really will rank among the best coming out right now.
Take last weeks DVD comedy relief release of the surprisingly hilarious Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum comedy '21 Jump Street' for a great example. How about another? How about Academy certified but underrated lead leading man Mark Wahlberg? He's revealing something great. No don't worry we aren't talking about the same 'thing' as in 'Boogie Nights'...I think we've all seen enough of that. What I'm talking about is his new hit thriller; 'Contraband'.
Wahlberg is possessing another great film to add to his line of smuggled successes, that include the brilliant, pull no punches 'The Fighter', the formidable 'Four Brothers', the tide of 'A Perfect Storm', the straight-firing 'Shooter' , the hilarious 'The Other Guys' and his Oscar nominated turn in 'The Departed' with all those great actors around him. It's clear Wahlberg is a class in his own right. Those Marky Mark rapper days are long behind him, Wahlberg is a serious talent and those who don't see that seriously don't see movies. Once again he brings his brave and bold, no b.s., brawn with brains part to another blue-collar action thriller.
This really is thrilling too. It's rare these days that action thrillers are unpredictable and able to keep you on the edge of your seats, but this grimey and dark crime thriller is anything but generic. Genuinely this is one of the best and truly tense stories you'll be told in theatres all year. Wahlberg's character is on the straight and narrow, but this new life is on shallow ground when his wife's little brother gets in the kind of trouble you don't want with the kind of people you don't want to meet. Therefore in order to make things right, Wahlberg has to do the wrong thing and get back into the world of illegal contraband smuggling.
Wahlberg needs an even bigger boat as he sets sail on a cargo ship for the perfect storm of loyalty and double-crossing in all its tension and drama. As he looks to get into some funny money, there are little laughs afforded in a seriously desperate race against the wrong side of the law on a story that goes for broke and cashes in with substance and success.
The seemingly ageless and versatile Kate Beckinsale gives one of her most gritty and great performances to date standing by her man and looking out for her brother. While rising talent Ben Foster yet again shows why he's worthy of more attention than most establishing actors. His phone won't stop ringing after another great outing. J.K. Simmons and Mark's brother Robert Wahlberg also get in the way of things with some great performances but it's Giovanni Ribisi that almost steals the show. Just call this guy the new Woody Harrelson. A leading, classic character actor for our times with more to him. It's clear he's more than Phoebe's brother from 'Friends' these days. Looking even dirtier than he did on 'The Rum Diary', Ribisi is seriously sinister as a vile villain reeking of evil.
All in all this potent mix reveals a truly taunt and twisting tale of tension. It's one of those one and done films in the sense that you don't see anything coming as it gets better as the scenes and the stakes raise. As the plot thickens, your doubt if this picture is any good thins. It's the kind of film you wish you could watch again with a fresh mind. It's one of those raw but refreshing action movies that actually but the 'thrill' in 'thriller'. If you don't keep your eye out, this 'Contraband' may pass by unseen, but it's time you sniffed out something real in cinemas. Wahlberg makes his mark once again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Dollars & Sense.
110 Minutes. Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Matthew McConaughey, Tate Spalding & Olivia Munn. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Screenplay: Reid Carolin
"Honey, I thought this was just a film about a magician called Mike"?! "What it's not a basketball documentary about Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan"?! Please! OK so when you go to watch the new Channing Tatum male-stripper film with your boys, while your date is busy then you really have no shame. If your the only member of your group of males and females who like woman and this film then you might have something to worry about. It's one of those bear-pit 'Anchorman' jumping, "I immediately regret this decision" moments when you buy your ticket on your own. Still, 'Magic Mike' isn't that bad I must admit. Strip me of my credibility but there it is all laid out.
Bound to make your date more excited than 100 more pages of '50 Shades Of Grey' and with shades and echoes of 'The Full Monty' and 'The Wrestler' (there's even a Mickey Rourke lookalike) this film has more depth than the shallow water it appears to tread. OK fellas sure, heed the warning this film may make you look bad but it'll make your date owe you one and Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claud Van Damme and the rest of 'The Expendables' are returning next month for the perfect revenge movie. You've earned it.
Still the man that directed the assembling of 'Oceans Eleven'-the ever versatile Steven Soderbergh-puts on another great show. This film really reveals all and how good it is however with the charm of Channing Tatum and the charisma of Matthew McConaughey. Tatum brings his 'Step Up' dancing up a notch to some cool choreography. The guy who showed just how funny and better he is in this years best comedy-'21 Jump Street'-shows he's the man of the moment...well maybe the co-man of the moment.
With his slick, Southern drawl and his recent resurgence via last years big, career case making 'The Lincoln Lawyer' and last weeks murderous 'Killer Joe' McConaughey is in classic control here. Like Tom Cruise's coming out in 'Magnolia' McConaughey holds the stage vocally and the way he carries himself. From serenading the ladies to being the coolest, charming and charismatic compare (check him out as Uncle Sam on a 4Th July ladies 'we want you' special) ever this is the film-following his indie hits-that puts Matt back on the mainstream map. Like the woman in this picture this film is putty in Channing and McConaughey's hands.
Still its new kids on the block Alex Pettyfer and Cody Horn that are more than alright and bring the real depth and raw emotional side to this picture, from the troubled and concerned aspects of the brother and sister respectively. Matt Bomer, Tate Spalding (who really has a ball) and rising star Olivia Munn also bring more to the floor. Still this film is more than just shaking it for dollars. It may lead some people to leave the cinema shaking their head and complaining; "why wasn't their more ****", but that's because this funny looking picture is a bit more serious than you'd expect.
Exploring the glamour starved world of turning tricks to make money this film takes the issues of drug abuse and the no salary life to task. It also takes a deeper look into relationships both romantic and related with some awkwardly brilliant acting from all parties. Sure the darker and realer this movie gets the uglier it gets but anyone that knows Soderbergh should know this is not for show. With some classic comic-relief you can take this but there's a real story to be delved into here below all those leather chaps and tank tops and it looks pretty good as a result. 'Magic Mike' has a few tricks up his sleeve. Just wait until they're revealed. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
109 Minutes. Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle & Ice Cube. Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Screenplay: Michael Bacall
If you thought this modern action/comedy based on a T.V. show that made iconic actor Johnny Depp a teen idol wasn't going to live up to the legacy and hype, then I'm afraid you're wrong. If you thought Channing Tatum couldn't lead a picture that wasn't about lost love, then again I'm sorry you're wrong. If you thought a new slimmed down, Academy nominated Jonah Hill couldn't get much funnier than 'Superbad' then...yes you got it, wrong again. This is 'Superbad' with more balls...literally.
'21 Jump Street' makes the jump from the late eighties series with avenues of hilarious lines of comedy. Tatum and Hill turn out to have even more roads of talent then originally thought. With this, his legendary 'Superbad' mainstream debut, 'Get Him To The Greek' and so many more classic comedies under his new notched down belt, despite what critics thought, losing the weight and Justin Timberlake N*Sync 'fro has done nothing to hurt the laughs coming from Hill. There is a new King of Comedy for the Weezer generation...and his name is Jonah.
Channing Tatum also shows just how versatile he is. In between making indie-hits and winning the girls over in sloppy romantic comedies, Channing also shows he has the tongue to be a mainstream comedy success. Drawing just as many laughs as his punchline perfect partner. Tatum and Hill play so well off each other that what we're left with is a surprising hilarious buddy comedy which could make best friends with even the harshest cynic. Even with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy's recent smash, these two agents of 'Jump Street' raise the stakes. 'This Means War' indeed. Let the games begin.
To reveal anything about this film would be a massive spoiler alert, so let's just say its a surprising hilarious classic comedy that more than does justice to the original and does even more to its argument to be one of the best films of the year...even if it is early 2012 days. As these two cops go back to school and the drawing board of remakes (the film brilliantly parodies itself here), they take the comedy competition to class and task. As their old school days are out, the pair greet the new school generation with little glee, but make their mark, singing, dancing and free-basing.
There is hilarious support from Brie Larson, James' talented younger brother Dave Franco, (OK we ruined that one, but it isn't hard to tell) Ellie Kemper, the rib-tickling Rob Riggle and Ice Cube who slams a stereotype with some foot to the floor, formidable funny moments. Also from hallucinations to staged fights and sensationally silly set-pieces this is one entertaining coast through education. With pleasant and unpredictable surprises too, that we can't reveal too much into this is one refreshing modern movie. Someone spiked the punch and everything tastes better for it. Now we can't wait for when this street jumps to '22'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
The Admirable Peter Parker.
136 Minutes. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen & Sally Field. Director: Marc Webb. Screenplay: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Andrew Garfield recently stated in an interview that he thinks his role as Peter Parker will be "the closest" thing he'll ever get to living his dream of being Spider-Man. Well...yeah...of course, unless he actually gets bitten by a radioactive spider while taking a picture of a hot-girl he could only previously dream of being with, then this is the closest. Still Garfield and comic-book fans can rest assured. This Spider's in safe, sticky hands.
After Sony cancelled the fourth installment of the Sam Raimi/Toby Maguire 'Spiderman' trilogy director Marc Webb goes back to the story-drawing boards of this Marvel hero and goes by the comic-book for 'The Amazing Spider-Man' only four years after the last film. A strange move especially since Marvel's 'Avengers' (which Spider-Man (rights pending) should be a part of) are dominating everything comic-book and superhero this year...that is until 'The Dark Knight' truly 'Rises'. You would think a hero and a film like this would be dismissed as filler. That is until you witness the unforgettable role reversal done by this superhero's star. With an equally amazing performance from your friendly, neighbourhood lead it's safe to say Andrew Garfield has woken up his dream. He IS Spider-Man.
And a great web-slinger and Peter Parker he makes too. Going back to the more comic aspects of this character creation, Garfield brings equal measures of a shy-reclusive Peter Parker developing and a cool and cocky Spider-Man alter-ego. At one point while spinning the webbed tricks of his trade he boasts "it's so easy" with a cocksure swagger which shows he' not only wears the suit...but he owns it too. These Parker/Spider parallels result in the perfect performance and from skateboarding to basketball the Spider slick senses even bring the best and the boast out of Parker.
Still there's more deeper elements to deal with and from those he saves to those he can't Garfield brings the 'Never Let Me Go' acting, grasping hold of his indie beginnings in a big, mainstream motion picture. Two years shy of his 30Th birthday Garfield plays a kid a few more years shy of drinking-age and leaving the teenage days behind him. Still with an ownness and an ownership Garfield makes this role his and one he won't be ready to part with soon. The kid has made it.
Going back to the 'begins' like Batman did years ago and Superman will do in some 365 days director Marc spins a new web of intrigue into Peter Parker's back-story. We may have seen it all somewhat too early before and even get frustrated that our 'other' boy-wonder is making the same mistakes again (remember this is no sequel), but Spider-Man's start has been done better. Once our outcast opens-up and gets out of the blocks however this film races into action and adventure. With that classic old Stan Lee cameo. Some real heart and soul, to go with some sensational fight scenes that swing back and forth and some first-person, vertigo-inducing Tarzan trails through the city of New York (which is JUST iconic Spider-Man) that do IMAX and 3D proud, it's hard not to be caught in the web of this new feature presentation.
Although Garfield draws us in, the other cast keep us wrapped up too. From Emma Stone playing Gwen Stacy's, heart-filled love intrigue (the chemistry between Stone and Garfield has even translated off set) to the viral-buzzing, villainous Rhys Ifans. It's hard to believe he was once Hugh Grant's lazy, smoking roommate who told him he was a "daft P****" in 'Notting Hill'. It's even crazier to see him play the Hulk like, lab-coat ripping lizard but with a slick and equally slimy performance yet another Brit (like Garfield) has made it in America.
This film would be nothing without some parental control and from Sally Field's mothering aunt to Dennis Leary's police protective parent of Gwen (you think you've got it bad, not only is he a disapproving Dad, he's a cop too) there are standout performance throughout. Still it's the polished performance of Martin Sheen as our hero's Uncle and true hero that almost steals the show. Moving and magnificent this casting is almost as genius as Kevin Costner being cast as Superman's dad. It's all relative.
All in all Garfield shows both great power and great responsibility in tackling the role of Spider-Man, rising in his own way with avengance. Sure 'The Avengers' and 'The Dark Knight' will dominate this years proceedings but there's always room for one more hero. Especially since 'The Avengers' have assembled and Batman has a few more weeks to wait before the rising. This is the perfect precursor. Now it's Garfield's time and we aren't talking about no ginger cat. Spider-Man is back and better than ever, besting the previous trilogy all whilst starting his own one. Now if only we could get all these heroes in one movie. Now that would be something to truly Marvel at. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Not Your Average Joe.
105 Minutes. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon & Juno Temple. Director: William Friedkin. Screenplay: Stacy Letts
Matthew McConaughey has always been a great, unique actor. Far from a poor mans Woody Harrelson this leading light has his greats...he's just really has to dig deep for them. As popular as he is with the female crowd, rom-coms just aren't his thing. Now far from being haunted by the 'Ghosts From Girlfriends Past' and chick flicks that suffered a 'Failure To Launch' the man with this distinct drawl is back and speaking well for himself. One of last years best movies 'The Lincoln Lawyer' made the case for Matthew's career recharge and now following a hallmark performance the courtroom expert returns with 'A Time To Kill' on his mind in another thriller based on a page-turning, heralded book.
The story of 'Killer Joe' really is something else, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's a good thing. In a trailer trash tale of the lowest order. Rising talent Emile Hirsch plays young man graduated from the school of 'effing up' owes big dollars to the kinds of people you don't want to owe the slightest bit of money to as the 'Lucky Number Slevin' saying goes. His solution; hire somebody to kill his mother whose life insurance policy should cover him and his fathers (obviously the ex, whose obviously up for it) needs to go along with his little sister and some other interested parties. Family values hey?!
This is where Matthew's Joe and the kids even more perfect planning comes into play. Joe (who is an assassin and a cop...oops) demands payment up-front. When writing a cheque doesn't even work. Joe settles for what he coldly calls a "retainer"; the younger sister. What emerges from this 'does she look old enough' agonizingly awkward scenario of the highest order is one of the weirdest love stories you'll ever see. 'Moonrise Kingdom' sweetly strange this is not. It makes 'Romeo & Juliet' look tamer than 'Bridges Over Madison County'. Far from Mconaghey's other romantic work-you certainly couldn't lose this guy in ten days-this is hard to take. We thought this was a hit-man movie...the criminal nature is something much worse.
'Killer Joe' is equal parts slick and sick. What more could you expect from William Friedkin, the man that directed both the horrifying as hell 'The Exorcist' and the cool as class 'French Connection'. Comparing 'Joe' to last years indie hit 'Drive' where the brutal scenes-where somewhat justified in the name of love-it pales because there are no redeeming characters here. This complex study does collaborate features that redeem however. This films nature is cruel and callous but to its credit it's also compelling. That thanks to another star-turn from McConaughey who despite some unnecessarily sickening moments is suffering no ill health to his current credibility. Sensationally sinister and coldly calculated our lead straddles the fine line between being charming and creepy as well as law and illegal disorder. It's a tough and unlikeable role but one that McConaughey brings some reverence to with some ease. You have to admire that.
The rest of the cast are great too-that's what you can expect from Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple-even if they do represent the worst of the worst here. The film is shot well too from thunderous atmospheric beginnings to the Walton's gone wild ending which may have a good case in point excuse for the next time someone asks why you don't sit at the table for your meals anymore. Unfortunately like a T.V. Dinner this offering could have been so much more but some unnecessarily too far, sick and violent moments almost make you hope your popcorn tub is empty. Let's put it this way I'm no chicken but you'll never want to eat KFC again. With too friendly too be true mobsters and some wardrobe malfunctions there is comic relief in this picture and let's face it you'll need it. Unsettling but unique, off-putting but on-point 'Killer Joe' is far from regular and in some way or another is bound to make as killing. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
105 Minutes. Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell & Marton Csokas. Director: Timur Bekmambetov. Screenplay: Seth Grahame-Smith
Abraham Lincoln is the presidents President. One of the most inspirational and influential political figures of all time. He wore a top hat, freed the slaves, sported a bold beard, delivered the rousing Gettysburg address and at nights slayed vampires by the four scores like his name was Buffy...wait a minute! OK so that last bits obviously as fictional as 'Twilight' but it's the story here in 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' where between wielding speeches and axes our leader fights for freedom from dusk 'till dawn.
Produced perfectly by legend of the nightfall Tim Burton but delivered and directed darkly by Timur Bekmambetov. This is one cult hit that will rise from the shadows and light up the competition like stakes to the heart. It's all taken higher here. From strangely pulling-off being respectable to the late, legendary President to being one cool, guilty-pleasure popcorn movie. You don't have to know anything about politics or vampires to enjoy this one. Although both themes are expertly addressed here.
Stunningly shot in 3D from close combat to murders on trains that rival the orient express this film looks the part and with serving as a hallmark capturing of history this period piece feels almost perfect. The cast is great too. Benjamin Walker takes the oath of President with good faith. Switching between young and old like a seasoned pro, all whilst resembling a young Liam Neeson. Which makes us think that the hardest working man in Hollywood would make for the perfect President in Speilberg's upcoming Lincoln epic biopic. Still, sorry Neeson it's taken. The iconic Daniel Day Lewis will be sworn in instead.
Dominic Cooper AKA 'The Devils Double'/a young Howard Stark in 'Captain America' and many more continues his chameleon turn as a great cast character with charm and charisma. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jimmi Simpson also further their credits. Still its Anthony Mackie leads the support of the Presidents men. The next great actor of the moment plays this period performance perfectly (just wait for his eras gone by 'Gangster Squad' police story) and shows he's the perfect right hand man. You can thank his show-stealing, charming star-turn in 'The Adjustment Bureau' for that. Even when he's criminally underused this actor is guilty of being a scene-thief. He's just that good...like this film.
Far from a proclamation this funny but fresh film is an emancipation. Especially from the tired vampire movies that are slowly turning into dust. The stakes are raised on this one however, showing this theme is far from the coffin. This re-imagining is a rebirth. With a nice nod to current times and some respectable moments to past ones this strange film is done right. Now we can't wait for 'JFK: Werewolf Hunter'. Hey, anythings possible. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Going by the book, McConaughey reaffirms his case.
15, 119 Minutes. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo & Michael Peña. Directors: Brad Furman. Screenplay: John Romano
We haven't see a lot of Matthew McConaughey over the last few years, apart from the odd romantic comedy and perfume add (where he shows us a little more of himself, ladies be advised). It seems this Southern star is at his best however when he steps into the courtroom on the right side of the law, ('A Time To kill', 'Amistad') but in the case of this Michael Connelly novel based movie 'The Lincoln Lawyer', McConaughey has his feet on both sides of the law in this Brad Furman picture.
McConaughey heads an all-star cast, full of talent. He plays Mickey Haller, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who is more spin doctor then 'do the right thing' lawyer like he was in 'A Time To Kill'. McConaughey's office is in the back of his classic, Lincoln sedan, as he is driven round L.A. while making his rounds and his name. The people he represents really are in need of a lawyer and after years of defending criminals McConaughey is handed Ryan Phillippe's case. Phillippe's, Louis Roulet character is being charged with assaulting a prostitute, who he assaulted him and set him up for his money. As McConaughey looks deeper into the case he realises it mirrors a former case of his involving a client Jesus Martinez (Michael Peña), the deeper McConaughey gets the darker it gets, as he really becomes involved in this case.
It's only mid-March but it's already been an amazing year for movies and this is by far one of the best. From the sheen of the 60's esque opening credits, to the views of the beautiful bright city of Los Angeles and the scorching, classic soundtrack (Bobby 'Blue' Band, Marlena Shaw and a lot of classic, real hip-hop) this movie is as slick and cool as McConaughey and his hair. McConaughey himself is on career-best form, slick, savvy, cool and charming, McConaughey makes his case yet again as the perfect lawyer. Still, this is not a case of a former top actor being typecast, this is a different role all together for an actor who is firmly sat in the front seat of his prime.
The supporting acts in this movie really make this film the main feature presentation for this Friday. Playing 'The Lincoln Lawyer's' ex-wife, Marisa Tomei shows yet again that she's the hardest working actress and one of the best there is with Hollywood firmly in her sights. Ryan Phillippe is also back on fine form and you'd never believe how menacing this guy can be with all his cruel intentions. William H. Macy also bring his trademark A -game, even if he forgets his hair clippers and comb, assisting McConaughey to the end. Great, but underrated, versatile talents, John Leguizamo and Michael Peña also have small but significant roles pulling out big performances, supporting this movie, helping it be one of the biggest films this year.
Overall this film is as dark, classic and timeless as this lawyers automobile. As good as this movie looks however-from the fresh suits to the crisp Californian mornings- it's serious substance outweighs it's seductive style. When the case of 'best movie of 2011' comes to a close this fall, when the jury reaches their verdict, 'The Lincoln Lawyer' will be found guilty of being one of the best. Gripping, entertaining, powerful and alluring this is further evidence that McConaughey and court-room dramas don't belong back in the nighties. This court-room thriller with a real story can be stood up and sworn in todays generation of popcorn and 3D movies. The defence rests. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 1 July 2012
Spy Hard Love.
97 Minutes. Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine & Tom Hardy. Director: McG. Screenplay: Timothy Dowling & Simon Kinberg
Let's get it on. This Valentine's brought us a sneak preview of one of the funniest romantic comedies of the year...well make that a rom-com that pulls more punches than the rest. This is one action flick that is the perfect date night film, making cases for both sides of the argument beyond the hot, young talented cast. Now 'This Means War', let the games begin.
Fellas! Ever liked the same girl as your best friend? Come on now and admit it. Well at least your not spy's, then things would have got even more complicated than a Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin triangle, because it's all here. Ever wanted to see Captain Kirk of 'Star Trek' and Bane from 'Batman' get it on (fighting that is)? Because that's exactly what happens when both Chris Pine and Tom Hardy fall for Reese Witherspoon.
The two CIA agents take stalking to the next level as they spy on each other and use all sorts of tactics and equipment to one up and keep tabs on each other. With hilarious consequences this triangle of turmoil shapes up to be one of the funniest and refreshing comedy films of recent time. From Pine's Kirk to Hardy's British charm the two young actors of the moment show they have the class and charisma to carry this picture, all whilst duking it out for the girl, as this gentleman's agreement turns from hand shakes to fist fights.
Also the Academy certified Witherspoon once again walks the line confidently in a leading role. Showing she really is one of the contenders to the rom-com throne. The crown fits well as she leaves the boys to play off of each other while she deals with the games the play from trank darts to making it rain. Love may be in the air...but sabotage is on the cards too.
Sam Worthington, Bradley Cooper and Seth Rogen may have turned down this movie, but you shouldn't. It was good enough for notorious director McG and the production chair of Will Smith. While the fresh princes of Hardy and Pine show they really are the men for the job even if it's unclear who Withersppon will end up with. That's what makes this film great, its crazy unpredictable and therefore insanely funny, watchable and thrilling. From the action set-pieces to the more tender moments this film has everything. War is good for one thing in this movie. Absolute entertainment. TIM DAVID HARVEY.