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A Man Walks Into A Bar…
Time-travel movies always seem to have a fundamental, and crucial, element of attempting to prevent the audience from asking too many questions in regards to the sciencey-wiency, timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly (Yes, Doctor Who is amazing) stuff that happens during the course of the film. Thankfully in the case of Predestination, such a crucial element is adhered to, with it being a rather enjoyable, and slightly confusing, 90 minutes of science fiction which gripped me from start to finish.
Ethan Hawke, fresh from his role in the wonderful Boyhood, plays an un-named time agent who seeks to bring down the one target that has eluded him throughout his life, the Fizzle Bomber, yet during his undercover operation in the 1970’s, he comes across the transgender John, who begins to tell the tale of his life and, most importantly, the one man that has eluded him, prompting Hawke’s character to make the most of his time-travelling capabilities and help John understand the nature of his mysterious saboteur. The film has echoes of previous sci-fi films such as Looper and Jumper, yet Predestination stands strongly on its own two feet by having a brilliant script, albeit one that asks a range of questions, particularly in regards to paradoxes and fundamental time-travel problems, and some solid acting, particularly from Australian actress Sarah Snook, whose portrayal as the transgender Jane/John being a particular highlight.
Although Predestination may have slightly sunk under the UK film radar, it is definitely worth seeking out and watching, with it being the on par with the other stand out sci-fi film so far this year; Ex Machina. It is also good to hear that Sarah Snook has been recognised for her role in the film, with her winning “Best Actress” at this years’ AACTA Awards and it is her performance, and the film’s rather strange script that makes Predestination a reel sci-fi winner.
Overall Score: 8/10
Oscars 2015: Best Supporting Actor
We are now on to the penultimate blog regarding this years Oscars ceremony, the focus of which is on the “Best Supporting Actor” category, featuring Hulk, Hamlet, J. Jonah Jameson, Tom Hagen and, oddly, Hulk again. In terms of bookies favourite, J. K. Simmons is the best bet to win the gong, and for the second time running, I completely agree with them. His performance as the ferocious Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash, transformed a film with a rather simple and, dare I say it, boring plot, into the most gripping cinematic experience I have witnessed in a long while. Hats off to him. As an added extra, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Edward Norton or Ethan Hawke, pick up the award instead, for their roles in Birdman and Boyhood respectively, highlighting the strength of the nominations in this particular category this year. In terms of overlooked, James Gandolfini for The Drop, and, i’m calling it, Dave Bautista for Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s right. Drax the Destroyer. Instead, we have:
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash
Next… Best Supporting Actress
Oscars 2015: Best Actress
And now on to the “Best Actress” category which this year features actresses who may have shown off their acting skills in films that might have just slipped under the radar of the average cinema goer. A prime example is Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, which I admit to not having seen until I began writing this blog and thus decided to catch up with. In terms of bookies favourite, Julianne Moore is tipped to win for her performance as Dr. Alice Howland in Still Alice, even though she equally could have been nominated for her freakish performance in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars which also came out last year. ‘Tis was a good year for Ms. Moore. On the subject of freakish, my own nod goes to Rosamund Pike for her portrayal of Amazing Amy in Gone Girl which (without spoilers) was spine-tingling. I’m not too sure Neil Patrick Harris will want to see her again at the Oscars. For the overlooked category, Essie Davis in last year’s brilliant The Babadook, who sadly, hasn’t had a sniff in this year’s main ceremonies anywhere. But you know, whether if its in a word, or if its’ in a book, you can’t get rid of the Babadook. Here are the nominations:
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Next… Best Director
5. The Raid 2: Berandal
Godfather Part Two. The Empire Strikes Back. Aliens. Get the trend? Sequels that were arguably better than their predecessors and the Raid 2: Berandal nicely fits into this list. Action-packed, beautifully choreographed, and includes the character of “Hammer Girl”. Every film needs a character called “Hammer Girl”.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The first of two Scarlett Johansson films on the list, while also following The Raid 2 in being a better film than its’ predecessor, The Winter Soldier is a fantastic, paranoid spy thriller that differs slightly from the Marvel Film format in triumphant fashion with a great performance from Robert Redford and paving the way for dramatic changes within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A possibly controversial pick as many believed Gareth Edward’s take on Godzilla was rather boring and slow with it only properly showing the big guy himself towards the latter stages of the film, however after seeing Edward’s previous outing “Monsters”, i kind of expected this to be the case. The dramatic build up throughout the film led to an epic conclusion and personally, i thought the film was fantastic, especially that HALO scene. WOW.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
One of the main reasons Guardians of the Galaxy is so high on this list is that i went into the cinema with my expectations rather low. What a joy then to have witnessed probably the best addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe which not only included fantastic characters and laugh out loud moments throughout, but a brilliant soundtrack (Ooga-Chaka) and the best prison-breakout scene i’ve seen in a long time. Utterly charming.
1. Under the Skin
Now here is a change of tone. I missed Under the Skin when it was in the cinema so i chose to rent the Blu-Ray when it was released and it is fair to say i was blown away. Blimey Charlie. Firstly, it definitely isn’t a film for the masses with its’ dark tone, slightly ambiguous death sequences, and lack of dialogue but for me it was a perfect blend of art, sci-fi, and horror, something that i hadn’t seen in a long, long time. Simply, it is brilliant.
Let’s be honest, what do we really expect from a Liam Neeson movie? The answer is – Not much, not much at all. We also know his acting range which is rather short. Movies like Luc Besson’s ‘Taken’ demonstrate the exact character archetype and cast-typing that goes through every writers mind when they write a mid-level thriller on a budget. Although the Taken series is very beloved by myself. Mindless, simple and to the point action that is only a little exaggerated by the fact Neeson isn’t getting any younger and no emotional ties needed to connect to a rather cool frontman.
Walk Among the Tombstones is something a little different. Evidently the writers have tried to create something very difficult and provoking but in reality have created something extremely basic. With an intention to create something convoluted, the aim is to make it difficult to understand and to leave you dazed as you try to figure the mystery yourself before the puzzle pieces are fitted finally by the story. Any aspect of thriller was drilled out by the fact that there was no mystery. Nothing solid enough to bite into as everything is already being shown. Even in the trailers we know the back story of Neeson’s character ‘Matt Scudder’ before the movie even came out. Other than that, we hear about it towards the end rather than fairly early on if it mattered so little. The reality of Among the Tombstones is that we have a cop drama with very little drama and action. As an unlicensed PI, Scudder is called upon to investigate the rape, black mailing, murder and dismemberment of Kenny Kristo’s (Dan Stevens) wife. It soon becomes clear that these guys work over women of particularly dangerous men who are traffickers of illicit drugs. Their connection to the drug industry means that police contact will only end with them in jail. Forced to pay the ransom, the women never return and the money disappears. This time, its caught the attention of Neeson who takes it upon himself to end it, once and for all. See, not very elaborate…
So we’ve spoken out Neeson’s acting degree and its short tether. Now we must look at the rest of the gang. Eric Nelsen plays the character who originally introduces Scudder to Kristo. A troubled artist who left the army with a heroin addiction. With that sort of premise, his character could have been something intricately deep but he just sits in the background with a lit cigarette and little chance to flourish. As for Nelsen’s acting, it was rather bland. Simple and easy. Certainly not worthy of an Oscar and not worth loosing any sleep over when you forget his name. Dan Stevens is a man who has only recently popped onto my radar with The Guest released in recent week. With experience in Downton Abbey I feel its safe to say that he is a fairly solid actor. Although his lines weren’t great, he is convincing enough to make you feel sympathy for his character but once again he was let down by a rather disappointing script. As for our villains, don’t expect anything good. For a pair who have some ghastly scenes that managed to make me recoil into my shell, they had the worst directing ever. There is a significant difference between acting dark and psychotic and just plain nothing. There was nothing remotely scary about this pair, one of which does very little talking and looks like he’s continuously got a crowbar wedged up his arse. So bad that I won’t even grace their IMDB’s on this page. Or that I’m too lazy.
Is it worth a night out to see? Sure…A Wednesday with EE/Orange 2 for 1. A fairly dull movie with little to engage or excite. Action that is practically non-existent with a rather annoying child that appears throughout. 6/10.
A remake of a hugely popular trilogy that plummeted harder that a rock from the top of the Empire State Building as time went on has just been released. The re-envisioned Robocop pays homage to a much loved franchise that many of my generation remember from childhood but in a new light. Seeing that I probably watched them 15+ years ago, I’ve lost a lot of memory of the films so I can’t credit the films that far.
So jumping straight in, consider that the movie is built upon a sci-fi action classic and desires to follow the trend, however, the movie doesn’t feel to much like a sci-fi. Understandably, the idea of a robotic human seems very sci-fi but set 20 odd years from now, the world hasn’t really changed. People are still driving Fiat 500’s and Volkswagen station wagons. With the advancement in human biotics and robotics, none of the potential has moved into any other industry and actually aid the entire world. It’s hard to get a real feeling that the world has developed and I’m in a futuristic setting when cars have replaced stylish alloy wheels for bin lids. In all honesty, I wouldn’t class this as science fiction, simply an action movie. But once again, an action movie is trying to create sub plots and stories to create emotions and it is well out of it’s depth. To convey emotion, it takes a good script, good acting and a good narrative. Action movies can’t provide these. It began with the partnership with his cop buddy who was just shot and then trying to create a family bond between Alex Murphey (Joel Kinnaman) and his son but then completely abandoning them later down the line. The son only appears 3 times and nothing concrete is done to show a connection.
Looking at the action, it is alright. Nothing truely wowing. At points questionable, such as the explosion that in reality would have killed Murphey but immediately after, left him with all of his limbs with minor burning to then have them all removed! His condition was that of a minor burn victim and after a giant explosion, no one battered an eyelid. The wife walked down and then ran back in a few minutes later, the son never appeared in the first vision and neighbours just thought their partners had ripped a rather large one in bed. The rest of the action was simply mediocre.
I’m lacking much enthusiasm for the movie. Pumped to be reintroduced to a childhood hero, I felt rather let down. The incessant need to create connections, is truly useless. Paying Samuel L. Jackson to play a role that isn’t even necessary and use Kinnaman for the major role when his acting leaves you wondering if he’s always that boring, not to mention that they needed to use Jackson and his iconic “motherfucker” to grab a laugh from the audience. Then casting Jay Baruchel, who I don’t like very much and just want to poke him with a stick while repeating “Hey, awkward”. Probably the only sufficient actor was Gary Oldman but he looked rushed and looked to have only been given his lines 2 minutes before. All together it tried too hard on so many levels that shouldn’t have been the primary focus, thus neglecting the others that truly needed the work.
Although a shoddy movie with a poor character development and acting, the visual aspect of the movie was gorgeous and action had moments in which it was enjoyable to watch. Sticking with the lower end of reviews, I feel the 6/10 is a good representation.
2013 has been one hell of a year. We have yet to hit our first birthday (Feb. 18th) but I’ve had plenty of time to spend procrastinating, watching films and playing games. Nothing different to my normal lifestyle, apart from the fact that this site gives me a reason to sit up until 3AM.
In no particular order, I have chosen my 5 favourite movies of the year.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Rush details the lives of famed racing drivers Nikki Lauda and James Hunt. Ron Howards directions gave this movie an incredible feeling. It is a raw depiction of one of the most dangerous sports with little regulation and safety precaution. Gloriously shot, the colours pop and focus is always drawn perfectly with the right balance of focus in high speed chases. An exciting thrill ride with an intriguing story and a must-see for any F1 fans, both new and old. Full throttle excitement with some strong language and a feels trip for old fans. Rush – Review
2 – Captain Phillips
Based on the events in 2009 where Somali pirates board the MV Maersk Alabama. The five day ordeal is compressed down quite substantially but still is a brutal watch. Nothing is skimped out and you can really feel the tension oozing off screen. The space that they had to work in is also incredible when you think about it. The work that went into getting the stunning shots is massive and it paid off 100%. With Tom Hanks at the helm, his acting talent shines. Contrasted against Barkhad Abdi, two completely different men bounce off of each other. Abdi’s skeletal frame is token to how well they have cast everyone. A roller-coaster ride with one of the best ending scenes I have ever seen. Packed with emotion, superb acting and gorgeous filming, anyone with half a brain will adore. Captain Phillips – Review
Giant monsters, giant robots and a shit ton of action? What’s not to love!? Yeah the script and acting are a little wack but no one can say that Pacific Rim is a terrible movie. Visual effects are probably the best I’ve seen in many years and the choreographed fight scenes are just epic. Plus a bit of Idris Elba never goes a miss. The perfect movie. Nothing to complicated, great fun and a gaggle of laughs.
Considered the biggest Marmite film of this year, I felt that this movie was a work of art. Directed by the same guy as Drive, the gruesome violence transcends into this wonderfully excessive environment. Yeah, sure, Ryan Gosling isn’t an amazing actor and has the voice of a prepubescent boy who can’t convey anger without squeaking away like he lost a game of Call of Duty. All that aside, it is a really meaty and creative piece of work. It’s a film that demands a lot from it’s audience and if you’re in the right mindset, you could really enjoy the neon lights and the twisted story to this dramatic thriller. Only God Forgives – Review
5 – Saving Mr. Banks
Seeing that I only just reviewed this the other day, I was in love with this movie. It’s a real feel good movie which feels like it has every bit lovingly worked upon to give it this feeling. The jumping between time periods to elaborate and expand the story is a wonderful addition to document the life and creation of the beloved Mary Poppins. An all around great film with little – if anything wrong with it. Saving Mr. Banks – Review
As an excessive internet fiend, I’ve been involved with many communities on the internet, particularly Tickld.com (go check it out!). My involvement with this community brings many fandoms to my attention on a regular basis and anything that involves Jennifer Lawrence tends to be fairly popular. With the constant push of these groupies, I caved in and watched the first of this series, the night before we saw Catching Fire. Unfortunately, I was let down. I’m still adamant that the Hunger Games is just Battle Royale with cheese and less blood. I had high expectations of violence, excitement and characters that would grasp my interest. After my disappointment and being reassured that the second book in the series is far more action packed, I went in with hope. What I’ve failed to grasp is the tween audience and devout love for everything and everything related to it, but it could be worse, they could have been “Beliebers”…
Carrying on. With a lot of hope, I sat through the movie. Considering I haven’t read the books, I was a bit pissed with the cliffhanger ending but otherwise, it was alright. Very little has changed from the first film. a lot of shit is still going on, riots have put various districts under lock down and general discomfort feeds a waiting beast. The only thing that has really changed is the settings for “Peeta” and Katniss which lacks any of the suspected riches. A year has rolled on, comfortably living in their shabby mansions with little colour and all the aesthetics of a mental institute plucked from Batman’s Gotham city; suddenly joined by Tim Burton’s wet dream – Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), garnered in vividly sickening colours with influence from Medieval England and a bin, she begins spluttering about some tour across the districts and all that jazz. As I couldn’t work out a name for this tour, lets call it the, “Look how rich I am because I won a game tour of 2013”. Funnily enough, Katniss was oblivious to the riots she caused with the salute mid-game and notices an impending trend which she begins to abuse. Noticing that it gets people killed, she backed up and did what she was told. Until, you guessed it, the Hunger Games. Each districts winners are called upon for the 75th anniversary slaughtering because grumpy old president doesn’t like being beaten. Once the big baby is satisfied, the games start but don’t end in your typical fashion. Yeah, so as a story, it’s pretty easy to deduct how big plot pieces unfolds with a few additional little surprises tucked away. Even if I had watched the previous movie on release day, I could have jumped into this movie without worrying to much about a complicated story line and forgetting everything that previously happened.
I’d like to pick on the visuals a little. I’m an ass for good CGI and FX from big budget movies but there is certainly occasions that I have to question what on earth they were thinking. At one point there centre island and the water effect around it lost a lot of it’s focus and resolution and some of the rocks genuinely looked like set props from the Flintstones movie. I fully understand that the Hunger Games world is representing the deformities between the bourgeois and proletariat with the upper classes manipulation of those with little power but I feel it really misses the potential to really portray it after the whole Occupy movement, but I digress. On a positive note, the CGI for the baboons was far better than the ass-faced ‘dogs’ from the end of the previous movie. But then we get to a few of the deaths. If you’re going to walk about without a top, I would at least like to see some blood when you get shot in the chest with an arrow.
Being that Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, It’s a common belief that they could continue this streak through their other projects. Occasionally, it felt as if she was really struggling to push Katniss. It’s hard to get much when he doesn’t play much of a role in the actual fighthing too. When Katniss has to act joyfully and blissful, she can do that but it’s nothing we don’t expect from a person that is a very much the same. It’s when she has to portray despair, fear and the really raw emotion. Perhaps not Michael Fassbender’s breakdown in The Counsellor with snot smearing his face like a Jackson Pollock painting, but a medium. This issue probably falls on the script and poor directing for not really exploring her to give J.Law some form of platform. Peter, or the incompetent way of spelling it – ‘Peeta’ (Josh Hutcherson) is a fairly standard role. With very little context to him, he’s once again left out by a weak script that makes him look like a giant pussy. The rest are fairly standard, Liam Hemsworth decided he’d tag along and take a bit more time on screen but then just blends back into the ether for the rest of the film. Philip Sermour Hoffman is probably the strongest of the cast, he powers through the lines and enjoys to play a game like a cunning fox, throwing you from pillar to post wondering what he’d do next and redeem himself for playing both sides of the fence.
With all of it’s flaws, the film is better than it’s predecessor. Not massively but a little better. Created for teens, I may just be an old git. The overall will probably be a 7/10. The script is weak and reflects on everyone. Without the aggression, you never feel the rush of excitement that is a foundation for anything action. A few of the FX were weak and I just longed for more from a production of it’s size.
Sorry for the chaotic review. I’ve been procrastinating all week and it’s a bit of a mess so I could get a review up for Saving Mr Banks tomorrow!
So, yesterday, we went to the release of the brand new Riddick movie. I probably should have watched the previous movies as I can’t really remember them that much and I feel that a little more context about the world would help me understand a little more. Otherwise you can drop in without to much worry. Speaking of dropping in, we start of the movie finding Riddick (Vin Diesel) abandoned on a desolate planet and that is really it. We watch him try and survive for the majority of time until until he needs to escape from impending doom of the planets ecological cycle. Eventually some bounty hunters come and try to catch Riddick, the inevitable fighting ensues and we see the obvious outcome. It’s simple, right? Too simple for my tastes.
The question is, where to start? The movie didn’t really do much for me and didn’t infuse me with excitement, it was linear and didn’t delve into the complexity of living on a hostile planet, on your own. As it is a franchise, it could have been beneficial to have some sort of character development that showed a chink in Riddick’s Armour. You do also sit there predicting the next move, it even hands you these moments on a plate if you were that stupid not to fathom that it would happen.
Visually, the movie is pretty bad. I’m not sure whether it is trying to keep the bad CGI as a trend from the previous ones or that they just turned out poorly. Most of the CGI was vivid, it forced its presence on the screen and screams green screen in many scenes. The set pieces were lacking and looked fake alongside the terrible background CGI which showed the tiny space that they worked with during the filming process. Some of the effects were good, but these were more practical than vast areas and monsters. Firstly, you have the dog that he trains from a pup and ends up becoming his pet. This animal was well done and at points looked real to the touch but upon his predictable death, it loses it. A scene depicts a man being beheaded – de-brained if you will – and they draw out the shot enough for you to watch the top half of his head slide off into a box and see the innards of his skull. A few other bits are much like this and can cause the whole cinema to yelp in disbelief at how grim certain parts are.
Finally, one of the most imperative parts of this movie is the acting. There is a couple of noticeable faces, obviously Vin Diesel, but you also have WWE’s Batista and Jordi Molla. These were the faces that I recognized, even if I did have to Google Batista’s character when I got home. Beginning with the main man, you do wonder why he keeps doing this. Then I look back at the other things he has done and realize that he isn’t a great actor in general and it’s reflected in this piece. He doesn’t take me as the big, violent ruler that he is trying to portray. Tom Hardy’s abilities and portrayal of Bane would have been a far more beneficial for such a character. As a person, Vin is a badass and grateful for his fame, but when he talks about his acting, I find it a little unbearable. As I don’t watch WWE, Batista is unknown to me, but for the big hulk of a bloke, he played his merc role quite well and fitted his character perfectly. Jordi Molla is an actor I enjoy. He can play the snarling, wicked man with ease. He looks the part of the sly deceitful man and plays the bounty hunter leader brilliantly. A funny man – a little simple at times but brutal in the end. The rest of the players were alright, a little weird at points and the women are comfortable going nude in a 15+ movie.
Overall, I wasn’t best pleased with Riddick. I was expecting a lot more violence and action from him, he isn’t even armed with his notorious weapons and the story just added up against it. Moments came when I found myself going “Oh, really? Why?” on several occasions and the humour didn’t really help those situations. It was a cluster of bad visuals, bad script, terrible plot and lack lustre action. I can’t see myself getting this on DVD even if it’s 0.01p on Amazon next year. This time around, I find myself agreeing with the general consensus on Rotten Tomato, so my overall score is 5/10.