Thursday, 31 October 2013



Game Of Realms.

112 Minutes. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo & Chris O'Dowd. Director: Alan Taylor.

Are thou in a gaming mood? After the classic comic-book, all-time assembling of 'The Avengers' (depending on which country you're in) last year, Marvel's Phase 2 is looking more exciting than the classic/origins mix of 'X-Men-Days Of Future Past'. We've recently had a primetime T.V. show ('Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D') and the epic third part of the Robert Downey Jnr comic 'Iron Man' trilogy to truly enjoy with Marvel's lighter approach to their dark Batman led D.C. battle. What could be more fun, full stop than that before we expose the dark depths of Captain America's 'Winter Soldier' or the green envy of the ever-changing Hulk? Well it's time to dust off your mothers drapes, because the mighty god of thunder, come 'Thormula One' driver Chris Hemsworth is back in a 'Rush' of fall films as Thor in the super sequel 'The Dark World'. Kenneth Branagh's bold first 'Thor' movie took everyone by surprise with a Marvel legend older in history than even Cap and became many peoples favorite character and film (especially the fan girls) even with RDJ's charm and Chris Evans muscles. Oh and yes this case of Shakespeare in the park is bringing THAT brother along for the realm ride too. With these two battling back-to-behind the back, Marvel are just still so unstoppable.

Now Branagh may be joining Hemsworth's on-screen 'Star Trek' son Captain Kirk in Chris Pine's new 'Jack Ryan' thriller (rest peacefully Tom Clancy), but Thor is back and all magically medieval across the Nine Realms with Alan Taylor, the director of THE T.V. series ('Game Of Thrones') that's even putting movies to shame like a 'Band Of Brothers' after 'Saving Private Ryan'. Still even with the darker and more traditionally beautiful, ravishing realm direction of mainstream throne taker Taylor it's the dire straights of these brothers in arms that makes for this film, franchise and series' dynamic direction. No matter how great they get in the next legion of pretty boy Pitt, DiCaprio actors turned good, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston where born to play Thor and Loki. It's what hammered down the first films story arc in a Marvel franchise known for it's epic lesson learned story-telling that matches it's comic effects and laughs. The sibling rivalry was what set the tone and tide of worldwide change in New York for 'The Avengers' movie where Loki stole the show behind a pane of glass, leaving everyone else in the outside looking in. Imprisoned behind those same Khan inspired see-through 'Silence Of The Lambs' jails that Avengers director Joss Whedon actually used with cult comic vampire Spike in his coming of age 'Buffy' series, Loki's tricks, schemes and game of emotions are set free once again. Now not having the two brothers meet into an hour into the film is a De Niro/Pacino 'Heat' masterstroke by Taylor, but when they do meet it's a storm.

A forecast of brotherly banter and argument angst make this the perfect partnership that strikes the fine good guy and bad guy line between sidekicks and villains. If you thought it got cloudy with a chance of meat and balls when Thor touched down on earth and flew Loki out of a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet to a forest of force, then wait until you battle walk through this one. With Thor reluctantly enlisting the help of his imprisoned, wayward brother Loki who will know if this difficult domestic partnership will assemble for the good or the dark side in this dark world. All we know is that in a franchise that can twist and twist and turn the legendary Mandarin into Trevor Slattery and possible back in for the better or worse of the fans. Besides didn't Loki stab Agent Caulson through the heart with his sceptre anyway? All you need to know is that this is probably the most entertaining, fun film of the year that has seen an incredible coral of comic-book and sci-fi movies from the 'Man Of Steel' to 'Star Trek's own dark sequel. It's been quite a year of blockbusters and Thor ends it all with a thunderstruck bolt that could even make 'Iron Man' and AC/DC look as tame as...well that Euro-Dance 'Blue' song. Rocking with a hammer and his 'Point Break' hair out, Chris Hemsworth's fall swing could make him THE leading man of 2013. With his 'Rush' of charismatic fuel to Ron Howard's Formula One drama and proving himself worthy of this kingdom and realms, Hemsworth is the right, one, true king.

Hollywood now must go Down Under, via Great Britain as the classically trained Tom Hiddleston is showing everyone from Benedict Cumberbatch to the Joker that he holds the card as top villain and classically trained actor. Even stepping up the conflicted, troubled sides of the lost boy who wants to be king from the first movie and raising the stakes he opened up to a whole new world in 'The Avengers', Hiddleston is out of this realm and ready to leave even more quims and fan-girls mewling. As great as Academy certified Natalie Portman is as our bearded warriors love interest, it's the bromance between Thor and his Shakespearean brother that steals all the bases and knocks it out the park. If you thought the relationship between these two brothers and actors couldn't get better for the worse, then just wait until this franchise goes film for film, like comic-book, for comic-book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you won't believe how much you want more. These two actors where relatively unknowns just years ago but now they headline a stellar cast that really is a mix of future A-listers and Oscar legends. Portman makes a welcome return after a makeup break that saw her shipped away by S.H.I.E.L.D. in 'The Avengers' movie for safety and possibly salary reasons. With her crack team of one broke girl striking rich in Kat Dennings and the ever versatile and hard-working Stellan Skarsgård, these scientists show more big bang to their theories. While a 'Doctor Who' steps out of the Tardis and becomes the perfect villain that 'The Hobbit' would be proud of as Christopher Eccleston becomes a dark elf with the help of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who has found and unwrapped quite the career after 'The Mummy' and 'Lost'.

Speaking of 'Who', the man who was rumored to be both that and Bond gate keeps the kingdom of Asgard as dryly as he can with another subtly hilarious turn. Idris Elba might not be shouting and delivering rousing, inspirational 'Independence Day' speeches like he did in 'Pacific Rim', but with fewer words he makes his mark and presence known on guard and in control of Anthony Hopkins' world. The 'Hannibal' legend himself wakes up from his Odin, beer soaked sleep for another great performance with his shouting speeches and between the teeth pronunciations of power. With his loyal wife by his side Rene Russo shows she can still kick ass and look great as Queen. Thor's band of merry men return too from Jackie Chan to Xena Warrior Princess. Ray Stevenson (who made 'The Other Guys' that much funnier) with his beard, Tadanobu Asano (with his own, new beard) and 'Chuck' himself Zachary Levi (who replaces the Chris O'Dowd (who actually makes a funny cameo here) looking Josh Dallas (Levi was originally meant for the role but was 'Tangled' up with Disney) who has his own Prince duties to deal with in 'Once Upon A Time') joins the rising talent of Jaimie Alexander, who earns more screen time as much as she should affection from Thor. After all he has her sword and counsel to rely on. This all makes for an incredible cast that even features the greatest Marvel cameo ever and we aren't talking about the classic Stan Lee one, which is as hilarious as ever. You know this is something to Marvel at. You better stay behind after the credits for more shawarma surprises in a movie that is a thunderous Thor-de-force from start to finish. From it's beautiful beginnings of visionary cinematography to the brotherly love/hate that really bonds this story and film together you can trust that this sequel will be just as great and grand if not bolder and better than the outstanding original.

From hilarious tube-stops to one-liners on the other end of the ringtone the light relief is as hilarious as the action and special effects that are blockbuster amazing. With so much fun and excitement you'll throw your drink down and proclaim "ANOOTHEEER" in homage once again. Alan's tailor made direction takes the crown as king, and with Chris Hemsworth heading the throne looking like Sean Bean this is one game of realms that's bawdier and bolder than the rest. These Norse Gods mead more than vikings and with their wooden s.h.i.e.l.d.s show that the future of 'The Avengers' lies somewhat and somewhere in the tradition of the past and a whole new world for Disney. 'The Age of Ulton' may be upon us, but first we want another from the brothers that made the first film that thunderbolt of lightening, very, very exciting. You'll be crying Gallileo for these kings and queens wanting to add another film to you're epic Marvel DVD collection that one day could out shelve the epic comic-book one. In a time where cult fans treat these stories from cell to screen like sacred text, this sequel does it by the comic-book with a God of Thunder legend that strikes twice, the right way into the heart of the story. With more spin-offs at the ready from and for Vin Diesel to Bradley Cooper, these 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' are about to be let into the Marvel universe, but right now the jewel of the realm belongs along the Bifrost in Asgard. It's Thor's world now and in an 'Avengers' alliance series whose characters make each other step it up in the ultimate friendly rivalry has the metal man or the ultimate shield got what it takes to assemble more or will they just be Hulk sick green? From a fall season 'Catching Fire' with 'Lords Of The Rings', the god of thunder was reduced the competition to rocks and rubble. It's all his now. Number one with a hammer down. Anyone else? TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Thortunate Sons.


Fan girls assemble! This ones for you. Now who in the D.C. universe or all of the comic book world can we marvel at to super best the cockiness of Robert Downey Jnr's, Tony Stark's Iron Man, the American symbol of Captain America's shield or the incredible green, mean machine monster that is the Hulk? Hawkeye!? Come on now and no not Batman but two of the biggest superhero stars and actors of the moment in all films, let alone cult comic book characters. Back when RDJ's Iron Man started the Avenger assembling in 2008, Marvel wasn't sure how to follow their X-Men rivalling, popular franchise of individual characters and crew. The Captain had to hold on deck in the waiting room with Dr. Banner as Marvel's next foray was the surprise smash hit of 'Thor'. Now that all the Marvel heroes have come together and defeated everyone including the D.C., Batman and Superman led Justice League (for now, show them what you've got Ben) and Phase 2 has begun with the concluding of an Iron Man trilogy story arc (reactor) and a brand new popular, primetime Caulson led T.V. series ('Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D'), it's only right that to conclude the fall before next years Cap of 'The Winter Soldier', Marvel will strike with another lightening bolt in 'Thor-The Dark World'.

As brilliant as the complete cast and crew of 'Thor' was it was all about the new Hollywood pin-ups that along with Benedict 'I'm In Everything' Cumberbatch can rival the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and co as the new popular and best actors in the world. It wasn't the Oscar star presence and love interest of Natalie Portman, or legend Anthony Hopkins as the great Odin. It wasn't even the dry humor of 'Luther' star Idris Elba (where so glad the British star who almost got both 'Doctor Who' and 'Bond' is back for the sequel), or the bold, theatric direction of 'bard Kenneth Branagh (who unfortunatly isn't back, but is replaced by immensely popular 'Game Of Thrones' director Alan Taylor for a 'game of realms' experience). It was the classic hero versus villain theme of modern day movies (especially superhero ones) with a sibling rivalry twist. As Hopkins Odin made the choice between his two sons for who would hold the hammer and the kingdom of Asgard, Chris Hemsworth's Thor and brother Loki played by Tom Hiddleston portrayed this conflict of interests and emotions perfectly for a real, well acted piece of Shakespeare in the park, even if it did look like they where wearing their mothers drapes.

Hiddleston's Loki especially proved that in this Joker, Bane, Khan, Bond villain day and super age you can really root for the bad-guy no matter how much you love the good. As Loki and Thor wrestled over the hammer and the forces of good and evil, fans debated to who was better, acting wise and pin-up popularity wise. This dichotomy was great for Thor's story, hype and critical and commercial reception. No wonder that when the Avengers finally assembled last year for the ultimate superhero picture Loki was chosen as villain. With so many popular superheroes in the Marvel avenger universe with some to spare (if only the amazing Spider Man and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine had the right), Stan Lee and co needed to find the perfect villain. Especially as all of the best villains belong in the D.C. Universe (even if they are all in Batman). Growing his hair, manning up from some of those childish rants and showing a new trend for glass prison, arresting confrontations (the only man to possibly beat out and throw around (apart from the Hulk) Hiddleston to every part and heart is fellow classically trained 'War Horse' star Cumberbatch who opened up this theme as Khan in this years dark 'Star Trek') for all you mewling quims. As Hiddleston showed his bad guy was just as favourable as the classic Avengers he took over the world as well as New York.

His brotherly battles with Chris Hemsworths Thor made for some of the films best emotional and physical moments, story strands and schemes in a theme filled collaboration piece of Whedon well worked cinema. Thor's lightening Avenger entrance on top of a S.H.I.E.L.D ship is as inspired as Loki's sweat soaked, septre start of the blockbuster movie and as for the forest confrontation that comes after...WOW! These guys are basically God's, to this Marvel world and all it's fans and followers. The sibling rivalry is really a lot more than some dinner table confrontation over who should pass the salt. These guys pass the 'Bard bar with humour, depth and a lot of brilliant over-acting, because sure films about guys with hammers falling out of the not so subtle skies are silly, but oh do we love them. Now that the Avengers have disbanded for the moment (it's going to be hard to top Loki in the Avengers sequel, even with James Spader or Vin Diesel), the God of thunder is resposnible for holding the torch and hammer for the moment and just when you thought Thor couldnt get any better the trailer came along and with a few words sent frost giant shivers down everyones spines. "After all this time, you come to visit me now brother...WHY?!" As Hiddleston's Loki voice gifts the trailer for the biggest and best surprise, fans everywhere where as excited as the comic-con ones who got to see Hiddleston in full reaglier, mocking them like the quims they loved being called. Now as the man who believes he is the righful king goes from villain to sidekick you know this will be no Batman and Robin affair.

'The Dark World' looks to be the sequel Thor deserves, looking like a big, bold and beautiful bifrost trip across realms. Still, yet again it will be the relationship (or lack of) between the brothers and sons of Odin that will make this movie more than just another exciting and entertaining big-budget blockbuster of effects and thunderbolts of lightening. As Thor reluctantly admits to the brother he still loves (even if he calls him adopted) that he needs his help, you know this sequel will return us to the superb and sublime parallel, good and bad partnership that defined the first movie and Avengers legacy. The sight of Loki in a glass prison yet again will assemble fan-girls and boys to theatres by the realms. Especially when seeing Loki throw chairs at the wall like a man force possessed is certainly an upgrade from his shaggy haired Sideshow Bob look, as is his "if you did (trust me), you'd be the fool I always took you for" statement of idle threat over his "when do we start" acceptance of their alingnment. It's clear the actor with BBC and theatre experience is about to add even more classic credits to that incredible resume. The scripts aren't just piling up along with the fans love letters for the British intelligence of Hiddleston however. In this kingdom, the Aussie still rules and reigns supreme.

It's hammer time and nailing quite a career already, it's clear Chris Hemsworth is the future of films and we aren't talking about if Keanu Reeves wants a 'Point Break' remake. Hemsworth whose emotionally charged cameo as Kirk's dad in the new 'Star Trek' really began the franchise reboot with a bold bang of tears and heart is having a career couple of months, let alone year. The man who gave Snow White a dark Huntsman (and will return his character for his own film soon, sorry Bella) is having another double celebration year in 2013. His injection of James Hunt charisma and his own charm in the 'Thormula One' of Ron Howard's 'Rush' has made for one of the best films this year in an epic race of superheroes and science-fiction. In the ultimate fan-girl fantasy, if you cacth 'Rush' at the cinemas, you'll likely see a 'Thor 2' trailer right before and between the Bacon. Just like Hemsworth was Rose Byrne two years ago, this Australian is owning the "Hollywood" movie world. Now with a hammer in hand and a brother in arms he's set to ignite the pages of another comic book classic and answer any critic out for this God's head. The only question remains, which realm will Stan Lee cameo in? Which ever one you can count on these two brothers to continue the legacy of this Marvel family for years and years and realms and realms, as fans scream "another" like Thor drinking tea.

As these Avenger films look to be the new Bond's, decades from now we'll have a new Tony Stark or God of thunder, reboot or not. Even Hugh Jackman won't be able to defy age for long. Still, when this happens-just like those calling time on anyone who dares to follow Christian Bale Bat steps-it'll be the hardest task to top the Thor and Loki portrayed by good friends come brothers in Hemswoth and Hiddleston. Their characters relationship has given this Marvel franchise more depth and distinction amongst the rest. Recharging the comic-book redemption in a rebooted age. Just when Marvel fans thought it was all about the Bat, or at least the man in a can, these two ridiculously dressed thespians proved there was more to superhero films than big-budgest and secret, billionaire identities. Out of this world and realm the Thor films have showed the Marvel world and the D.C. universe that the Superman rivals have done themselves just justice with leagues and leagues of heroes and that one of a kind villain who is arguably the greatest and most popular bad-guy since the late, great Heath Ledger's legendary redefining Joker. Holding all the cards, Marvel look to play their strongest hand with a pair of kings for the next roll of phase two's dice. As for Chris and Tom, expect 'The Dark World' to light up their ignited careers even more. Now do you look to be in a gaming mood?

Monday, 21 October 2013



Suitable For Vegetarians.

115 Minutes. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio, Faran Tahi & Sam Neil. Director: Mikael Håfström.

What do you get when you put two ageing action star, Hollywood hard-men behind bars and give them their own shot at a 'Great Escape'? No not 'Geriatric Prison Break', but 'Escape Plan' starring the two biggest and best action heroes of all-time, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two 'Expendable' stars show they are anything but the name of their comeback and middle-age proud franchise with another great year to add to their 'Terminator', 'Rocky', 'Rambo' and 'Predator' legends. These last action heroes started the year greatly with Arnie's 'The Last Stand' and Sly's 'Bullet To The Head' shot and teaming up together for the perfect partnership in popular guilty pleasure popcorn movies they finish a 12 months that proceeds an 'Expendables' sequel (with even more grey gods of wrinkled muscle) for a trilogy year. Some guys their age will be pushing for their pension, not weights, but these two strongmen continue to flex the entertainment talents they never want to put to waste.

The kings of movie reference catchphrases from Youtube dedications to those you recite with your friends in work, add more to the "get to the choooper" and "Adriannnnnnne" soundbites, even if sometimes it sounds like you need subtitles with their films. I swear it sounded like "veterinarian" (that would still be a funny pet name), but Schwarzenegger in a classically instant moment tells Stallone "you hit like a vegetarian" in the middle of a big, bruising fight that could muscle up with actors generations their junior. You can add that line to the "that's OK, I don't shop here" (in response to a bombers threat to explode a mall) and "I'll be back" ranks. With Sylvester adding more and more picture plans to his action storytelling resume and Arnold sporting a maths teachers grey hair and beard and a gym teachers physique the pair show any young buck or critical ink, that they are rewriting the notion that this is a young mans game. Funny, formidable and with a chemistry that ignites with as much camaraderie as competitiveness there's not much between these two in terms of whose better. The argument of the world strongest action hero is rebirthed with the return of the immense popularity of these two superhero actors punch for punch.

This good escapes action plan is a perfect one. More than your average con artist, Stallone is an expert in breaking out of prisons from solitary confinement to the run of a free man, but when he is put in a hi-tech institute with a waring warden (a step down from playing Jesus Christ, Jim Caviezel steps up the sinister and slick, popular evil villain role) you know its going to have to be an inside job. To battle those Loki and Khan solitary glass cages and masked uniformed, sentinel guards, the Houdini of the cell-block is going to need the guy you ask for in the yard if you need a favour. When that man is the former Mr. Universe and a guy that's gone toe to toe with everybody including the devil you know what makes for a master plan is also going to make one of the more fun and entertaining action flicks that's the right popcorn mix. Sure in this digital, sci-fi, superhero age this is the kind of 'Face/Off' film that would have been the biggest hit 10 years ago, while some of the more hi-technical aspects of this film make it look a little like it's trying to cheaply look ahead of its time, but when Arnie and Sly are making you laugh while making the bad-guys cry the bad rolls off so much that its all good. Writing a slick and sound script, also forgives some of the predictable elements that make some of the scripting lazier than James Franco's left eye.

Still when you have the Schwarz unloading a chopper machine gun and Stone sounding a lot smarter than he looks this is a refreshing rebooted action film and it's stars for a recycled age. Plus with two of the biggest names, faces and muscles of modern day movie history it's even easy to forget some of the other strong cast members through these tight and taught veins and strands of plots. Vincent D'Onofrio (complete with hand sanitiser), Amy Ryan (looking like Mary-Elizabeth Parker in disguise) and Faran Tahir (whose adding more great films to his 'Iron Man' and 'Elysium' 'ography') join a welcome, surprise return of Sam Neil and his new Dr. Alan Grant (who seems to be joining Arnie in a new grey bear and hair look just for men) to the post-90's movie screens. In this great cast yard there's even room on the bus for an ex-footballer (Vinnie Jones) and top-star rapper (50 Cent) who have already done time in a lot of movies with good behaviour. Getting the maximum laughs and bullets out of incarceration Sly and Arnie's movie parole is secure. These cell-mates plan one bar breaking movie that's going to set the good old days of simple but fresh action plots free. They may not be 25 but they've been doing this for life. These old meat eaters are making the young punchers look like vegetarians. Now toss that salad. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013



Piracy Of The Cast Away.

134 Minutes. Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali & David Warshofsky. Director: Paul Greengrass.

Saving Captain Hanks. That's what double 'Bourne' sequel director Paul Greengrass is doing here with his film making of the true story of 'Captain Phillips', who was taken hostage by Somali pirates along with his hijacked ship and crew of the Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean. The only thing that can match the hard-hitting and haunting account based on real life is the harrowing punch of a performance from it's man on-board. Do you remember after the 'Big' fun eighties, when Tom Hanks was THE man and THE actor of the 90's to the tune of Oscar winning films including 'Philadelphia', 'Forrest Gump', 'Saving Private Ryan' and classics more? Well after showing the new millennium new depths and darks the former blockbuster machine has been 'Larry Crowne' and 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' (both great films however) quiet of late. Still after all the big blockbuster superheroes, reboots and sequels have scorched the red hot cinematic Summer, Hanks is back to own the fall and even rival the Oscar worthy double team of Clooney and Bullock's grounding 'Gravity' with a claustrophobic and humbling tensely taught film in it's own right. It's getting serious now...seriously great. It's a testament to Hanks' star power pull that a bleak subject matter like this can still draw a big crowd in a small town to it's first showing of it's first day on a rainy, windy, midweek early afternoon. From it's fall wind worn, broken basketball hoop and old house to it's truck stop drive to the airport of a terminal apart marriage beginning, this is as raw and real as it gets.

With Greengrass hallmark dense and simply strong shooting this taught trip across dangerous waters is the most terrifying and anxiety inducing films you'll get to the grips of your seat with this year...if not all decade. You won't be able to sit still through this cramped and crafted obliterating ordeal of all strewn senses and evoking emotions. This is as frightening as it gets too with all due respect. There is nothing disrespectfully done here in the diligent nature and handling of this horrific and traumatic real-life experience. There is no Hollywood gloss or shine here in a sobering story that yes, is somewhat shamefully exciting but is more of a lesson on how bad things are in the world today to be learned. Hanks desire to make more 'Saving Private Ryan' films that can be shown in classrooms (albeit censored ones) to aid real-modern world learning is really making an education of this thanks to the man that made Jason Bourne more epic than Bond. Greengrass vision sets sail for February's Academy thanks to a crew of cast members who are all brilliant right down to the support of David Warshofsky on deck. Still it's the Somali pirates who almost loot and steal the show and the master move by the director to not introduce them to the ships cast until the first hijacking scene that plays out in front of the cameras perfectly nervously. These men with no previous acting experience show they can really deliver their roles as well as a shock of life-threatening fear into everyone including the captain of this picture whose eyes and "sure's" see and say it all. Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali can expect more jobs soon but it's the leader who almost steals the show and the captaincy from our leading man.

"I'm the captain now", Barkhad Abdi tells Hanks as well as the Hollywood kingdom and Oscar world. The Academy would be wise not to ignore his threats. Look at him, with a killer stare and larger than his skinny and scrawny frame threat and personality. Look at him, this man plays the villain perfectly with his own natural charisma and circumstantial sympathetic feel without idolising the bad guy or playing it up like some Hollywood types to achieve a cult classic cinematic bad guy that's todays trend. He plays no games. Besides this is real life and this character is no one to look up to or root for. Still, with that being said the pirates mission is not one of greed but desperation in a kill or be killed nature of work and what he calls "business". The great Abdi captures this all perfectly in conflicting, confusing emotions as his Muse. As he tries to reassure Hanks' "Irish" everything will be alright over and over again, these are not the words of a man mockingly telling lies, but one trying to convince himself that his hostage situation will lead to money and not murder. A man whose emotionally and physically come so far he "can't give up now", Barkhad is the next great actor for films of ravishing realism and terrifying truths. There's more than meets the cold-blooded eyes in this film and story then simply good and bad and that is explored by cast and crew perfectly from the big ship battles to the small-scale boats of claustrophobic tension that will leave you gasping for air and relief. If you thought this years best 'Prisoners' confined you to fears and tears, then wait until you unlock this. There are so many layers and lessons to this movie and it's subject to explore that we haven't even traversed yet which keeps this tough and swaying film afloat and that's its Captain.

Tom Hanks is never anything short of great, even when it looks like he's not trying he produces films that would be amongst other actors most applauded best ('Road To Perdition', 'The Green Mile'), but when he's at his best he's just something else to film making entirely ('Philadelphia', 'Saving Private Ryan'). Here he does exactly that portraying this real life hero perfectly in all his no nonsense protective and emotionally draining desperation from the calm seas to the anxiety tears. This isn't only the best performance of the year, but also not only Hanks' best role in years but possibly one of THE performances of a versatile movie career that can't be matched by anyone in this industry alive right now today. Honest and heartbreaking, the leading man is back to the big and best picture of the year territory he always was on course for. This 'Cast Away' can still storm the isolated seas without 'Wilson' and emerge all character. What's next for the man in his middle-aged maturity looks bigger than that floppy haired boy who turned into a 30 year old man and the best actor of the 90's and possibly all decades and centuries. It's only right this man will be the first to play THE movie-man Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks', but first can you say "and the winner is", because this Oscar favourite lays it all bare-chested on the table anxious with the relief of a man that's returned home to where he belongs on our movie screens. What's next on the radar for this captain and crew is the recognition they deserve after giving it to a real hero and story that deserves to wake up the ignorant attention of the ills of troubled times. On stranger tides against the pirates Hanks navigates a perfect storm of a performance. Career wise, after hitting the rocks, it's now all smooth sailing from here on out. It's his time and tide once again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


That Thing He Does.


"That's art, man. What can you do? You aim for something and don't always hit it, but you keep slugging away. It's like any great band that's been together a long time. Not all the records work – but you can still hear the band in there." Tom Hanks In An Interview With 'Rolling Stone'.

Turn on any entertainment or news channel on your television or any page of your magazine or daily paper right now and you might see a fond and familiar face. One that is ageing but still has that playful look of youthful exuberance about it. One where you can still these those trademark eighties curls beneath the grey. A face that reminds you of a teenage boy and 30 year old man all in one. Or the serious and stern look of a depression era Chicago gangster or the sweet and silly look of a man-child who told us about his mother, life and box of chocolates. A man sounding something like a cowboy who could play seven parts in one film, or grew a moustache and play the movie master Walt Disney himself. Yes, its Tom Hanks season once again as the release of the critically acclaimed and Academy awaited of the deep and dark, rough sea depths of 'Captain Phillips' looks to help set sail away from a career cast away before this man reaches Disneyworld in this falls Hollywood. The only question remains, where's Wilson?

Recently I took a walk with my girlfriends father down movie memory lane whilst pushing the next generation of his family in his pram. Making the usual noise about how they don't make films like they used to or how it's all sequels, reboots and no original ideas I talked about the good old days of filmmaking...a time that doesn't seem too long ago. Where Michael Jordan was the 'Space Jam' man in Basketball and Steven Speilberg was THE director chairman of the Hollywood hills. The golden era of the 90's where Tom Hanks was the man. The Bruce Springsteen rock star of modern moviemaking (the pair both hit Oscar gold with their moving and magnificent performances for 'Philadelphia' from studio to screen) before he passed the torch to city of brotherly love co-star Denzel Washington for the new millennium. Tom Hanks silly but sincere, curly haired decade of the 80's seemed like nothing in comparison to his serious year after year hit parade in the last decade of the nineteenth century. It wasn't Han Solo or Indiana Jones but a 90's classic 'The Fugitive' that inspired this writer to tell his mother he wanted to be Harrison Ford, but this young aspiring actor soon saw that just like Michael J in sports or music, the movie world of the 90's belonged to Tom.

That's not to discredit the 30 plus year of three terrific decades of time on the screen that Hanks has given is for the memories, from his humble beginnings to the honesty of his current output. It's just the 10 years of the new age of cinema and his career that just stand out as being that iconic, influential and inspirational. This was a regular Joe, everyman that grabbed the attention of everybody with his straight forward roles, even in a decade that saw dinosaurs run rampant in theme parks. I mean...dinosaurs!! Just like they don't make films for kids anymore like 'Jurassic Park' ('Twilight', come on!), they don't make actors like Hanks, with all due respect to the DiCaprio's, Pitt's, Damon's and new greats of the world. At 57 years of age Thomas Jeffrey Hanks has made more than 8 and a half billion dollars for his movies and so many more memories for his family and fans. It started with a move to New York one year shy of the 1980's and a low budget slasher thriller ('He Knows You're Alone') to start the decade and be the first cut of a classic career. T.V. and game show followed before Tom won big on the biggest of screens.

After playing a disgruntled old friend of the Fonz, it was all 'Happy Days' for Hanks when the beginning of one of the leading mans great director partnerships started with Ron Howard's work on 'Splash'. Making mermaid waves, Tom was cast as the lead while loveable late legend of the 80's John Candy (we miss you Buck) was given the wisecraking best friend role that Hanks was originally meant for. That was just how impressive this young actor was. This Speilberg rivalling acting/directing dynamic duo would go out of this world a decade later in the amazing gravity gravitas of 'Apollo 13' before book ending a Dan Brown double feature ('The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels And Demons', Hank's lesser known big hits that would have made someone else's career 'Jerry Maguire' complete). The man that was so big and great he made megastar Cruise the 'other' Tom for two whole decades then just got goofier and better. 'Bachelor Party' didn't turn him into a sex symbol but a real stand up comic actor. 'Nothing In Common' did the same, as did the dark, hilarious Sally Field assisted comedian drama 'Punchline'. He copped a buddy role, next to big 80's legend and 'Blues Brother' Dan Akroyd in 'Dragnet' in what seemed like a rush hour, while striking gold in the home entertainment 'Money Pit' and years later he hit a homeward bound, home run, slobbering up to a soppy but anything but sloppy classic one man and dog story as he played another cop in the heart-warming, hilarious 'Turner & Hooch'.

Just when people thought it couldn't get any bigger it did...literally. As a young boy wished he was a little bit taller like Skee-Lo he became a 30 year old Tom Hanks for the bold and beautiful 'Big'. A film that made our mans career and made that piano in that New York toy store a popular tourist destination. The chopsticks where ready for the new king of Friday night movie dates and even though on reflection some of what happened in this film seems just plain wrong, in a sweeter and more innocent time in movies Hanks and films like this where just perfect for the family. Able to channel that mature but youthful man-child essence of his Mr. Nice Guy personality, Hanks was the new kid on the block to make everyone's everyday dreams and the reality and lessons of them a picture perfect for movies whose moral, underlining messages where more subtle and stronger than what's forced down people popcorn full throats today. After ending the 80's on a high, his start of the next decade threatened his status as a household name as 'The 'Burbs' and 'Joe Versus The Volcano' left his hot streak dormant. These lukewarm received films where still explosive however and then in a blockbuster bang it all erupted.

His 'Moneyball' strike and hit alongside pop queen Madonna came with 'A League Of Their Own', as Hank's knocked it out the park, playing a down and out but rough and ready female baseball coach, punch drunk off piss and vinegar. He told the aptly named 'Vanity Fair' make that this modern era of films took him from the fake facade of previous funny films. Showing his range in playing real characters with darker depths and all sorts of flaws he rose like elevators to the top of the rock. 'Sleepless in Seattle' turned his career supersonic and gave his on-screen muse Meg Ryan more star-power and claim that their "relationship" partnership could rival those director/leading man combos. With chemistry to the letter that went electric with the now dated but then forward thinking internet of 'You've Got Mail' and those old bricks and blocks laptop. This leading males career was anything but spam in this new age. In the spectrum of this stars career it really got stellar on the streets of 'Philadelphia'. Springsteen laid the intros superb soundtrack and pink ribbon, haunting and moving tour of the city, while fellow top leading man of his generation Denzel Washington held counsel while the Academy provided the Oscar. An award worthy performance of a man who lost De Niro weight and ultimately sacrificed his health (Hanks has recently revealed he suffers from diabetes, we wish him good health) to portray an AIDS sufferer never jeopardised his reputation. Alongside Washington in 'Philadelphia', Hanks inspired and ignorant time to open their mind and hearts to the rights of homosexual people in the community and workplace.

The heartfelt performances didn't end their for the boss of movies who truly brought that American heartland music feel to the scores of his Hollywood pictures. In 1994 he followed his Oscar year of 'Philadelphia' with another Academy Award for another born in the U.S.A. classic. You could even see the Springsteen similarities in a snow scene of fall family moment, black and white, photographic capturing that you can see in the press photo's of Bruce in the 80's. 'Forrest Gump' is just that timeless a movie. Good enough to beat the 'Pulp Fiction' of Travolta no matter how commercial this is just THE cult classic that will take your emotions all over the place and world as still to this day you'll be unsure whether those tears are of joy or sorrow. From war to peace, the Beatles and John Lennon and all the entertainment and real world inbetween Gump literally runs and runs through it all. With inspired performances throughout (Sally Field goes from 'Punchline' love interest to 'Gump' box of chocs mother in 0 to 60 greys) it's Hanks who owns this storyteller from the bus stop. The comedy is classy, the mix of real world footage a homage and anything but tasteless (they just can't pull things off like this today) and the drama of love and loss devastating. Put it this way it's the "is he smart or dumb" question that will leave you lump in the throat unable to answer. This film grossed it all, even realising Bubba Gump's shrimp dream, to the tune of a multi-million business of nationwide chain restaurants inspired by the movie. I guess Bubba got to go home after all.

Becoming the first and only actor since Spencer Tracy to win consecutive Oscar's it looked like it still couldn't get better for Hanks at his peak, but his prime time in the middle of the 90's was far from done. He soared even higher in his reunion with Ron Howard and Gary Sinise for the amazing, number one hit 'Apollo 13'. Houston had a problem but Hanks and Howard didn't and even this years 'Rush' formula for Ron and latest Clooney and Bullock star powered space expedition of 'Gravity'-that rivals Hanks' current-couldn't takeover or ground this rocket. Another expedition saw him executive produce, co-write, and co-direct an Emmy award winning HBO docudrama 'From the Earth to the Moon' which looked at the history of the space program in twelve part episodes. Tom's career took on a whole new dimension when he voiced the sheriff of all toys in arguably the most popular animation since his namesake and that mouse Jerry. Despite all the amazing CGI animations that have come since from the monsters to the minions, the 'Toy Story' series is still THE standard for modern animations and kids films that can translate to the adult audience with a rivalling ease. Hanks' cowboy character Woody is now as iconic as the futuristic Buzz Lightyear as the friends rival each other as the films most popular characters and yearly Christmas present top sellers. The story of the talking toys with a life of their own that Disney should have wrote decades ago is a modern classic that has made a timeless trilogy that is warming and moving in it's life and now it's own nostalgia. You know this halloween you're in for a treat with their latest trick in the 'Toy Story of Terror' which we're all knocking and waiting for. These favourite toys are something we'll still want to play with for generations.

By this tip of the cartoon stetson cap the sheriff of leading man had done it all from action to animation. All that was left was the light and cameras of directing and chairing that role Hanks brought a coming of age story in the light and warm star shine of 'That Thing You Do'. Recently Tom also starred in front and behind the camera alongside his female equivalent Julia Roberts for a hallmark nice and sincere romantic comedy 'Larry Crowne'. Neither film broke blockbuster budgets or billboard charts, but to Hanks and his formidable filmography they where still great successes. After taking it to the future of space travel with 'Apollo 13', the only way for Tom to go forward was to go back somewhat and that's where he made history and started his classic collaborative legacy with his 90's directing equivalent Steven Speilberg. 'Saving Private Ryan' remains the epic war movie that is haunting, harrowing, moving and meaningful, unlike the tasteless, stylised copycat army of war films that followed. 'Saving Private Ryan' turned Matt Damon into a star, showed the dark depths of last remaining action hero Vin Diesel in a cameo performance and really started the acting talent of a 'Band Of Brothers' that lead to 'The Pacific'. No expense or emotion was spared in a Hanks performance that confirmed him as the best. Today Tom and his 'Captain Phillips' role wants to make factual movie they can show in class, well we where watching this one for countless history lessons when I was just a high-school kid. It's safe to say I got an education.

To close out the decade of the 90's where he took everyone to school Tom Hanks hit the books. The epic, 3 hour adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller 'The Green Mile' was an arresting drama of hope and despair that haunted and inspired from behind the bars to the last walk of a man on death row. Hanks yet again performed perfectly like it was all too easy, but also showcased his humble and heartfelt ability to even take a back seat in a leading role to let his co-star teammates have their time to shine. Here the late, great big soul of Michael Clarke Duncan stole the show and everyones hearts. Hanks too a backseat somewhat as a cop on the chase of another Speilberg classic 'Catch Me if You Can', where the runaway talent of a young but maturing Leonardo DiCaprio roamed free. Then in the first year of the new millennium he went truly alone for the shipwrecked drama 'Cast Away', showing he could make fire and make two hours worth of solitary screen time thrilling and entertaining. He even displayed that gracious standing to the side talent and allowed his iconic soccer ball co-star Wilson warm our hearts and shed our tears. That's just how great this good guy is. All he could do was go bad and as he played it crooked for Sam Mendes epic gangster tale 'Road To Perdition' his character still had the heart and nature of a good man trying to do the right thing in a bad situation. Hanks may not have gone full Denzel villain for the Oscar like in 'Training Day', but his conflicted gangster gun shot at darkness and depth remains one of his most underrated performances and films.

Hanks and his actress wife Rita Wilson produced a hit runaway bride comedy 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding', behind the scenes to follow all this but the leading mans time in the lights shining lime was far from shut off. 2004 saw him switch it up all snooty and slimy in the Cohen Brothers 'Ladykillers' comedy and align with Speilberg again for the grounded flight rom-com, drama 'The Terminal'. With solitary and confined elements inspired by his solo work in 'Cast Away', Hanks played a foreigner forced to live in an airport terminal with subtle humour and emotional depth that criminally went over some critics heads as their pens wrote it off. Speaking of 'Cast Away', it's director Robert Zemeckis reunited Hanks with CG (literally his likeness is amazing captured in digital animation) for the warm Winter Christmas favourite 'The Polar Express', which is as beautiful and magical as grown up children's films get. The Dan Brown double that broke Da Vinci codes and box-office records came next before Hanks output filmography took a little bookmark break. Maybe his cartoon cameo appearance in 'The Simpsons' was telling us something as he tussled that boys hair ("Hi, I'm Tom Hanks. If you see me out in public please leave me alone").

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame star returned to the best actor fight for his role in 'Charlie Wilson's War' which began his Meg Ryan rivalling partnership with Julia Roberts. In 'The Great Buck Howard' he then played the on-screen father of his real-life son Colin Hanks who now has his own rap career. After more sequels and classic 'Saturday Night Live' shows (you really have to check his Carrey replacing 'Night At The Roxburry' with king of comedy Will Ferrell), Hanks has returned to the Oscar circuit of late with the Academy nominated film 'Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close'. Although his fatherly performance was one of great inspiration and influence it was yet another back seat for normally the star vehicle and driving seat of a movie. The leading man now looks to return to the wheel and turn his career back around to his way this year however. He's ready to play any part like the multiple faces he took on for the book adaptation 'Cloud Atlas'. The ever hard-working man has never stopped working behind the scenes at his love and craft of telling stories on screen, he even does comedy side-shows of Shakespeare in his spare time (a man whose dance card also includes dining with the President and Queen of England) for charity with friends of the business like the genius and hilarious William Shatner and 'Crowne' co-star Cedric The Entertainer. Still, Hanks is a leading talent that deserves centre stage and it certainly doesn't get much bigger in that movie world respect than playing Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks', being the first actor to ever play the iconic filmmaker...and may we say the right actor too.

First though we see Hanks voyage into dangerous waters with 'Bourne' sequel director Paul Greengrass. True life hijack film 'Captain Phillips' may just be the film of the year and another Oscar for the Academy favourite to start 2014. The man who was once cast away, will wish he was just stuck with a soccer ball after this one. Terrifyingly tense and taught, Hanks restrained passion and emotion looks to be the makings of one of his definitive performances in a redefining moment of his career. Just look at his first meeting with the hijackers (something director Greengrass helped craft to it's effectiveness by not introducing Hanks and cast and crew to the captors (who have no acting experience, for the record but are incredible)) and how he performs as fearful as he can with the full force of every "sure". It's clear to hear and see the captain of 90's classic moviemaking is back on the Academy radar and heading in the right direction for sure. The 80's may have been the career introduction to the 1990's that belonged to him but the new millennium maturity and second decade is far from his swan song. It's clear there is more to this man who is also actively involved in the environment and politics off-screen. Critics used to say this guy always played the same character but the everyman, rare versatile leading actor who has grown and matured over the decades has done it all from romancing comedy to thrilling action in all the depths and complexities of his characters and he's only just beginning to scratch the surface. Everyone's favourite actor of the 90's still has so many more stories to tell today and tomorrow and if you've forgot about yesterday there's always a library of great American tales of Hanks for the memories.


To celebrate the release of 'Captain Phillips', starring the legend that is Tom Hanks, this weeks 'DVD Rack' take some choices from his classic career.

PHILADELPHIA (1993): One of the most moving performances from Hanks or any actor ever seen in cinemas. Playing a man battling AIDS and discrimination from the workplace Tom turns up the notch as he puts his heart and body into this work. He deserved every carat of his Oscar for this one. Standing alongside the 'other' top male actor of the nineties (Denzel Washington) the pair brought magic to the silver screens. From Bruce Springsteen's epic 'Streets Of Philadelphia' opener around town to Neil Young's deep 'Philadelphia' ending, this is an American classic. Harrowing yet inspirational and moving and real, this really was the genuine article that fought the fight that no one should have to, and still it won.

FORREST GUMP (1994): Sure, people didn't like John Travolta's Oscar snub for 'Pulp Fiction', but realise that Hank's performance as Forrest was as iconic as the film itself. So Hank's deserved the second back-to-back Academy win after legend Spencer Tracy. Critics have tried to have their say but nothing defines the nineties more then this movie. In fact it defines past generations and many of it's young viewers futures with lashings of history and inspiration. Mixing real-footage with the movies most incredible moments, this picture brings to life everyone from Elvis to John Lennon. From military service to playing ping-pong, the actor who's played it all, played a character who really did it all (like the chocolates you never knew what you where going to get from this mans life). A fictional figure, that somehow seemed real in a story that captured the history of America and the world over the decades. Smarter then he looks and as sweet and charming as they come, this movie matched this in all it's tone. It had important statements to make too. Truly, timeless, truly classic. We hope 'Forrest Gump' runs on and on through the next generations.

THE GREEN MILE (1999): Just when you thought he had done it all, Hanks raised the bar yet again and starred in this epic that took Stephen King's chiller pages to the screens and spines of it's audience. A film like no other, this movie about prisoners on death row is both disturbing and inspirational. The drama features some of the best acting from Hanks, Barry Pepper, David Morse, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell and James Cromwell but it was the late, great Michael Clarke Duncan who proved to be larger then life in this role. This three-hour film really takes you on a journey, through happiness, sadness, elation, hope and introspection. You'll laugh, cry, and be glad you took the time to witness a modern great.

ROAD TO PERDITION (2002): Tom Hank's followed the Denzel Washington, 'Training Day' trend in this one and played his first anti-hero. Yet the nice-guy Hank's could never fully cross over to the dark-side (it even seems strange watching a guy like Denzel do it, I guess that's why they gave him the Oscar) as he played a gangster that we felt sorry for, going on the run to protect his son from James Bond (or should we say Daniel Craig). 'American Beauty' director Sam Mendes gave us an accurate adaptation of Richard Piers Rayner's graphic novel and old American Chicagoland. This acclaimed movie brought out great performances from Jude Law, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Hoechlin and the late, icon of all legends Paul Newman. Dark, gripping, tense but heartfelt this brings the action and drama at a hard-hitting, Tommy-Gun pace. A sure-fire hit.

CAST AWAY (2000): How can one man acting alone hold our attention for so long in a film? Well, easy if that one man's named Tom Hanks. This Robert Zemeckis classic was controversial in it's popularity but anyone who likes a movie that take a gamble that pays off will love this. Hank's accompanied by a volleyball called Wilson plays all the problems and potential that comes with a part like this perfectly making this movie a real success. This isolated acting probably helped Hank's in his development of his following classic 'The Terminal'. This 'Cast Away' brings hope, inspiration and tears to the eye (even if 'current hit 'Bridesmaids' jokes about it). Helen Hunt also gives a trademark top performance but it's Wilson who wins the best supporting actor on this one even if he remains Charlie Chaplin with his acting. Hanks is the real career survivor however with a tough-role that shows the man can make the best of any situation or script he is given. You have to hand it to Hanks, there's no one like him. TIM DAVID HARVEY.