Monday, 24 June 2013
2 In A Minion.
98 Minutes. Featuring The Voices Of: Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan & Ken Jeong. Director: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud.
How much fun can you have in a cinema? How about a minion? Let's yellow face it no matter how many special effect, out of this world blockbusters come out this year, there's no fun quite like watching a computer generated family comedy. Fun for all ages, it may just look like the kids are laughing their heads off, but you can see their parents trying to hide those shaked-head grins behind the popcorn and all the condiments too. Following the super success of the first film of our evil genius, 'Despicable Me 2' lands in the middle of this heavey blockbuster season looking to attract more film goers and fans then any other mainstream success story. With enough power to stand on Supermans cape and kill off Brad Pitt's zombie film, Steve Carell's villian turned good is back baby!
Here's to Gru. Quite possibly the best thing Carell has done...even with his American take on 'The Office' and his cult, classic character of Brick in 'Anchorman' whose legend continues this Christmas. Incredible he, with his trademark comic-timing and an accented voice he is perfect as everyones favourite bad guy who has swapped the freeze-rays and moon stealing for jam, jellies and fatherhood. That's right after adopting the adorable girls of Margo, Edith and Agnes our mastermind is enjoying the quiet life. He was won over-like we where-in the first film as soon as he read that sock puppet story about the three cats (they really need to release that). Now between dressing up as fairy princesses and trying to fend off some desperate housewives, Gru still has a lot on his plate. Still it's all worth it...the Unicorn loving Agnes may just be the cutest kid and character...EVER.
Gru is still a wanted man however. You can't commit all those crimes and get away with it. Kidnapped by the AVL (Anti-Villian-League), Gru works with the good guys to track down a villian who is hell-bent on taking over the world with mutant killing machines. Getting his James Bond on Double-Gru-7 teams up with Kristen Wiig who returns, but plays a new character here in Agent Lucy Wilde, who proves to be a popular new character like Miss Hattie in the first film. As Gru spys hard as a cupcake salesman in a towns mall he must try and get the better of the bad guys and one boy whose taken the eye of his oldest. Father time has never been funnier.
It's the minions that steal the show however, as oddly hilarious and weirdly wonderful as they are. With no need for translation these favourite army of characters keep getting bigger and better. The planned Minion spin-off film can't come quick enough. Be-ba-doo! From putting out fires to dancing the YMCA these little guys are the biggest and best thing in CGI Kids films right now...even the 'Toy Story' alienes have to give it up for these cute characters...OOOOOH! The rest of the cast are an army of talent too. Russell Brand's awesome, unrecongizable voice is back as Dr. Nefario, while Steve Coogan also joins the party with a different voice of his own. As does the hilarious Ken Jeong who is on one hell of a morning after, following 'The Hangover'.
How good does this all sound set to the backdrop of Pharrell Williams 'Fun, Fun, Fun' soundtrack? With Robin Thicke's (he had a great song in the first film) number one 'Blurred Lines' and his Daft Punk collaborating contributions 'The Neptunes' star is back on every other song in the charts like it was 2001 again. After his cult success following his contributions to the first films soundtrack, the producing N.E.R.D. is given the musical reigns yet again for the second films top score. Not only is his 'Despicable Me' theme perfect, but the happy-go-lucky tunes he's making really hit the high-notes for some of the best records he's made in his entire career...and this is a man who has worked with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Jay-Z as well as having success with his own songs and side-projects. Everything is set up here right for a perfect sequel and who knows maybe a trilogy. The minion spin-off looks set to run circles around eveything as this popular franchise and it's cult characters look to keep turing and working. Roll out the yellow carpet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 20 June 2013
116 Minutes. Starring Brad Pitt, Ded Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Ian Bryce & David Morse. Director: Marc Forster.
Zombie films...aren't you just sick to death of them? It must be the apocalypse. Unless Woody Harrelson's playing a banjo I'm not listening. Sure 'I Am Legend' was a classic but those zombie-like mutants where actually vampires. It's all getting a little confusing and crowded. This dawn of the dead has reached dusk for the last of us...or has it?! Thanks to the cult 2006 novel by Max Brooks, we have a fresh, new and original coffin dodger tale in 'World War Z' and thanks to Brad Pitt's zombie (and apparently scissor) survival guide we have a great film too in a Summer season of Sci-Fi blockbusters that keep that genre hungry for more like a million zombie's chasing the worlds biggest Hollywood star like teenage girls in the 90's.
Beneath all the tabloid fame and reclusive hair stories, it's easy to forget that Brad Pitt is more than a pretty face...even though he's one year off 50 (yeah...I know right...is he a vampire?! How about another interview?!). Pitt is not only one of Hollywood's biggest stars but also it's best actors, whether his films are mainstream blockbusters or cult classics. Here the 'Oceans', 'Basterds', 'Benajamin Button', 'Jesse James', 'Troy', 'Fight Club', 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith', 'Se7en' and 'Twelve Monkeys' star strikes the fine line between both even adding a crowbar 'Moneyball' swing and strike to hit this one out the park. Here with Marc Forster's take on Brooks' book, Brad gives a big-budget popcorn movie more sustenance and substance with a well acted, mild-mannered exercise of restrained passion and bold and brave leadership, like any Hollywood leading man acting against the impossible plot odds should do. It might be strange to see Brad Pitt in a movie like this in this day and age, but it's his and this movies refusal to sell-out in a saturated genre that makes this horror film anything but horrible.
This different take on the undead brings this subject matter back alive with it's investigation into what caused these former people to run amok despite looking like lazy adolescents. This isn't just a gun blazing, escapism tale, but there are still more thrilling and scary set-pieces that give this plot of substance some action style. From Middle-East madness, to terrifying airbone action that could ground Denzel's 'Flight', this film goes everywhere from Philadelphia to Wales by way of South Korea, meeting everyone from a maddening David Morse to an uncredited, but worthy of note Matthew Fox. Nothing is lost here with a film that raises the tension along with Hollywood obsession of an undead apocalyptic future. Set to the sonic soundscape of Matt Bellamy's magnificent Muse '2nd Law' tracks, it all sounds and feels perfectly like the end of the world. As horrible and nerve shredding as that is. Technology, politics, economics, culture and the military all have a method to the madness place here in the first zombie movie that really does feel 'real-world'. Brooks and his adaptation have taken this idea to the max. This living dead social commentary is a plauge to all that is wrong with todays world with an ideal ready to get fed for anyone with a brain. Does humanity have a chance?
As thousands and thousands of crazy, graphic and incredible CGI zombies clamber all over each other to reach Pitt's position (at one great point you can't tell which running men or zombies or humans and this is what makes this film that tense and that great) it's easy to see why our star and Leonardo DiCaprio where in a bidding war for this big picture. Still as good as Leo would be this truly is Pitt's picture. With strong support our lead, charges through the way as the only hope in a world gone mad. From action smarts to scientific senses who better to lead the fight and the new world battle royale? The title works best if you pronounce it like an American, as this really does feel like the third world war. 'World War Zed' just doesnt sound right. Still in these world 'warz' nothing sounds better for a planned trilogy and video game (hey, there doing better than movies these new days) than the new team of Pitt and Forster and their army of talent in reserve. The books are something else and after this, there's no reason the films can't be that formidable either. This perfect pandemic isn't over yet and after this you'll be itching for more without the need for a cure. Don't moan and groan at these flesh eaters because this really is infectious. The dead just got resurrected. Pitt won the battle but who will win the Z war? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 14 June 2013
The Steel Knight Rises.
143 Minutes: Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Richard Schiff & Russell Crowe. Director: Zack Snyder. Producer: Christopher Nolan. Screenplay: David S. Goyer.
Superman returns and begins again. This isn't the Reeve series, or the George Reeves one. This isn't 'Hollywoodland' (although now legendary 'Argo' and 'The Town', actor/director Ben Affleck was offered the directors chair (he turned it down due to a lack of special effects experience)). This isn't the new adventures of 'Lois & Clark'. This is far from 'Smallville', bigger than the tattoo on Shaquille O'Neal's arm and higher charged than the last reboot. This isn't a bird...this isn't a plane. It's the 'Man Of Steel'. The new Superman for a new 'Justice League' era. Deeper, darker but still with that 'S' on the chest hope, that even though the 'Dark Knight' trilogy has ended, Batman's alley begins and rises in his place. You saw the soaring, roaring teaser before last years most anticipated film and conclusion in 'The Dark Knight Rises' and this years biggest and eagerly awaited movie doesnt disappoint either the mainstream blockbuster circut, or the hardcore superhero, cult comic-book one.
That's thanks to director Zack Snyder. Even though there are production touches and typography of legend Christopher Nolan everywhere for fearful fans, this is still Snyder's flightplan. Set to a sensational script by David S. Goyer and a epic orchestra score from the one and only Hans Zimmer, Zack is back. After his dark visions of the most epic battle ever in '300' and his own classic comic-book darkness of 'Watchman' Snyder saves his best for his latest. Taking cues from his previous work and Nolan alike, Snyder balances the themes and the worlds of Krypton and Earth's Smallville to Metropolis perfectly. Weird and wonderful, the perfectly peculiar elements of this film can still wow the regulars. With all of Marvel's Avengers assembling more movie-goers and sequels then imagined it was about time that D.C. had more behind it's belt then the greatest superhero series of all time in Batman. The 'Justice League' looks ready to do battle with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk now, even if these dark Superman and Batman's will look strange standing next to Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern and of course that guy that talks to the fish.
If anyone can save the day however it's Henry Cavill who is THE perfect Superman. Sure this will aways be the late, great Chrisopher Reeve's role and all the series' have done so well, but this may just be the best Super film yet. With all due respect to Brandon Routh-whose great, Reeve channeling debut and film was better than people thought-this is Cavill's cape and glasses now. He's Clark Kent with a flick of the hair and new prescription in what may be the worst disguise of all time. Still, we can reveal that with a new suit and state of mind this Superman is here to stay, looking as strong as steel and even like Wolverine in some bearded scenes. A hero worthy of a trilogy that fans will want to see come faster than a speeding bullet. We haven't even talked about the girl yet, but Amy Adams investigates a new Lois Lane that finds herself perfectly in this new digital age of the Daily Planet. Speaking of which the edition of Laurence Fishburne in this matrix as Perry White is perfect and he leads a great supporting cast, which even features the likes of the great Richard Schiff and Diane Lane's moving mothering.
Still, it's the father figures that give this grandiose flying film it's gravity. Russell Crowe may be starring in all the biggest films this year...but just thank Zod he's not singing. As Superman's biological father Jor-El, he's perfect, rising to the special effects occassion of the beginnings and having a bold, Brando like presence throughout. He holds his nerve...I mean he even has time to put on his robes during an hour glass defying, life or death situation. As for Clark Kent's real dad, Jonathan Kent, the perfectly cast Kevin Costner reminds us of just what made him the legend he is today. Giving this film it's emotional weight and grounding guidance, the 'Untouchable' star shows that when he's at his best no one can mess with him. The only threat here is well...a big one in Michael Shannon's General Zod. Powerful and with his own purpose, Shannon who has been winning crowds as of late as 'The Iceman' gets even colder here as a sublime and seriously sinister villain that could even give the slimy Lex Luthor the creeps.
From an artillery of firepower to out of this world planets, the action and special-effects are like no other you'll see this year. With super-speed, break neck formidable fights you may find it hard to keep those 3D glasses on. Finally the super 'Star Trek' sequel has some competition as Superman plunges into his own darkness. Just when you thought this film couldn't get any IMAX bigger, bolder or better, the final day to night showdown between the flickering light skyscrapers of Metropolis could put even King Kong in New York to shame. Sure this may not be as classic as the first two Batman films, (and the real, enlightening religious references are spoiled by some potent product placement) but Snyder and Nolan help this Superman soar over 'The Dark Knight Rises'. With flashbacks for it's 'begins' moments and here and now, end of the world stakes the cape is not pulled over our eyes. Now could we get a Joker Card hint of a sequel?! As Cavill's Kent takes flight, this Superman has not met his Kryptonite yet. With justice to Reeve, this 'Man Of Steel' is in a league of his own. 'Step inside the booth, loosen up the tie, Superman is alive'! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 8 June 2013
100 Minutes. Starring Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo & Zoe Kravitz. Director: M. Night Shyamalan.
In a year where Science-Fiction movies are ruling the Hollywood blockbuster universe we have seen some out of this world movies this season. Tom Cruise took us to 'Oblivion' and 'Star Trek' delved into 'Darkness' for arguablly the best trek and film this year and we still have Brad Pitt's 'World War Z' with zombies, the 'Godzilla' meets 'Transformers' fight club of 'Pacific Rim' and countless comic-book adventures to turnover. With all this mainstream Sci-Fi going on, you know the Fresh Prince had to get involved. The man who in 1996 relaunched his career with two very different, mega-hit Sci-Fi's in one year ('Independence Day' and 'Men In Black' (whose trilogy concluded last year, with our Hollywood heaveyweights last outing)), is bringing his son along for the ride for their third collaboration and a director who is trying to get back to 'The Sixth Sense' storied signs of his early career and not the 'what is happening', airbending failures of late.
Well once his name appears at the end credits M. Night Shyamalan can be proud of this one, despite the rumors that his name was shyed away a lot as the stuggling director looks to rebuild his reputation that went-for some-from strangely wonderful ('Unbreakable') to just weirdly strange ('The Lady In The Water'). Here however with lavish landscapes and current, classic cinematography M. Night see's the light of day again, with a Sci-Fi tale that is big, bold, and beautiful but one that exercises restraint on the usual Hollywood pomp and circumstance. 'After Earth' is a story by it's star Will Smith about a spacecraft that crash lands on earth. A desserted earth in the near future where all animals have evolved to kill humans (better watch out for those Koala Bears). The only survivors from the crash our father and son, who need to rebuild their communications, both back on their home planet, and in their home-life relationship if they hope to stand a chance to survive in this jungleland. From being chased by all creatures great and small, to fighting alien life forms there's more character to this human story then just two survivors. From sensational skydives to grounding allergic reactions that look like Jaden needs to drink the same Benedryl his father did in 'Hitch', this is a voyage like no other.
Sure right now when there's a Will, there's a Jaden but don't think this is just a showboating affair for Will to parade his son off in a film. Sure this is a Jaden Smith vehicle but the young man who is growing before our eyes (as an actor too) takes the wheel in his own right, with a controlled, mature performance from the teenager. As his character navigates around the torturous terrain of this new earth with his injured father's guidance, (even Uncle Phil couldn't get him off this ship) Jaden's character and reputation develops on screen. After the father and son duo went from heartbreak to prosperity in the influential and inspiring classic 'The Pursuit Of Happyness', Will took a producers backseat as Jaden furthered his reputation with the brilliant remake of 'The Karate Kid' with legend Jackie Chan (which had a blindsiding serious scene of real, emotional acting from both the young Smith and the usual light Chan). Now together again the pair show this is more than just a family affair. This is an acting duo whose chemistry translates on screen for this Science-Fiction story that is refreshingly original. A survival of the fittest, man versus nature lesson rooted in the bond of family coming together or falling apart. Emotional and exciting-and complete with a great, groundbreaking 'fear is a choice' message-this is a story that takes you to different places than you'd think both in its landscape and in its nature.
Besides if Will really wanted to make this all about the Smith's he would have cast Jada too and had Willow whipping her hair in the background. Instead the great Sophie Okonedo plays wife and Zoe Isabella Kravitz furthers her reputation as more than just her family name. After her first class 'X-Men' apperance the daughter of the rock/'Hunger Games' (Lenny has shown he is a 'Precious' actor in his own right too) gives this film another emotional dimension and it's grounding balance. Will Smith's story really brings everything together nicely for Shyamalan to direct with a new vision. Playing a different sort of character from his usual charisma and charm too, Smith senior gives us militant, emotional restraint in a focussed fatherly role that is tough but fair and strong but sincere. It's Smith junior that truly shines however. With his current filmography right now he is a star, as well as one for many decades to come. He's inherited his dad's acting smarts...as well as those ears. Listen up for more from the new Fresh Prince however...this is his legend. Malibu, California born and raised, in the manistream movie circut is where he's going to spend most of his days. Shyamalan and the Smith family are back and Science-Fiction is here to stay in Hollywood. Now 'After Earth', what's next for the movie world? TIM DAVID HARVEY.