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Film Review: Serenity

“Say Fate Gave You The Choice: You Can Get The Lady, Or You Could Catch That Tuna That’s In Your Head. Which One Would You Choose..?”

On the one hand, Serenity is thankfully not an attempt to reboot the Firefly live-action spin-off of the same name from 2005, and instead is a movie which this week manages to pull off the contemporary trend of being released both on the big and small screens in a supposed attempt in order to gather an excessive amount of viewers on its’ opening weekend. Backed by the behemoth that is Sky Movies, whose previous endeavors, including the likes of Anon and Final Score, haven’t exactly set the critical underworld alike, Serenity is the latest from Peaky Blinders creator and Locke director, Steven Knight, who returns to the big screen with an absolutely bonkers and unbelievably stupid neo-noir thriller which has already been tipped as the front-runner heading into the next Razzies ceremony. Led by the usually respectable figure of Matthew McConaughey, (Interstellar) Knight’s movie sees the Oscar winning American as Baker Dill, an alcohol ridden, musky small-time fisherman whose quiet life on the island of Plymouth is soon interrupted by the re-emergence of ex-wife, Karen, played in equally over-the-top form by Anne Hathaway, who reunites with McConaughey after their work together on the masterful Interstellar. 

With an opening camera swoop which feels like a sub-90’s porno flick as we are swiftly introduced to the glowing sands and seas of the film’s idyllic locale, the tone of the movie is laid faced down almost immediately, with gobsmackingly awful dialogue and monologues about life-chasing tuna one of the many highlights of a piece which you can’t help but stare at in complete shock as you try and piece together how on earth such a raspberry pudding of a movie came to be. With a central narrative which blends together fantastical romance with some sort of supernatural mystery, the opening hour is stuffed with unintentional hilarity as we become subject to some of the most awful, ham-fisted acting performances I have seen for a very long time, typified by McConaughey himself who seems to have taken the material as serious as his work on Dallas Buyers Club and just ends up making a complete and utter turkey of himself as he drunkenly stumbles and screams his way through a performance which gives The Room‘s Tommy Wiseau a run for his money. Awful editing and effects aside, the real talking point of the movie is undoubtedly the final thirty minutes of the piece in which Knight goes full on M. Night Shyamalan with an already infamous and thunderously stupid jack-in-the-box twist, and whilst it’s obvious to class Serenity as a work of complete and utter nonsense, I cannot shy away from the fact that it made me laugh more times than most American comedies, and whilst such comedy is clearly unintentional and stems from Knight’s soon to be sectioned and ludicrous mind, the fact that certain points were actually quite enjoyable means that Serenity isn’t the worst film I’ve ever sat through, but it may indeed just be the silliest. So bad, it’s almost good.

Overall Score: 4/10

Film Review: The Dark Tower

“You Can’t Stop What’s Coming. Death Always Wins…”

Growing up with Stephen King books going as far back as I can remember, the cinematic accessibility of the American’s many novels has resulted in a variety of classic movies over the course of nearly half a decade, and whilst The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me are arguably the standout examples, even when Kubrick’s famous horror barely resembles the source material, The Dark Tower series has seemingly been in production hell since the first whispers of a possible adaptation came to the floor at the turn of the 21st century. With previously attached filmmakers J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard both passing on the project, the task has fallen into the hands of Danish director Nikolaj Arcel, who along with King’s own blessings and Howard’s descent into a production role, has finally managed to create a live-action adaptation of King’s monstrous fantasy epic. Being an avid reader of all things King, The Dark Tower series is indeed a collection of novels which I have enjoyably devoured, and whilst King’s own notion of such a series being a cross between The Lord of the Rings and Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, the novels do have weaknesses, particularly within the concluding three releases, and whilst many have bulked at particular high profile changes which have occurred in the transition from paper to screen, Arcel’s adaptation is a release I have been eagerly awaiting since the first trailer was announced and with the fundamental and historical issues some stories have when making the jump to the big screen, the question on everyone’s lips is; was it worth the wait?

In a nutshell? Not quite, and whilst Arcel’s adaptation of King’s novels suffers from a wide range of basic filmmaking issues, The Dark Tower was a movie in which I was never bored, never lost in the rapid overlapping of plots and crucially, never bothered by the gargantuan and radical differences that have occurred between the process from paper to screen, and because of this, the movie was a rare case of a film which seemed to be rather enjoyable even when the weaknesses are so apparent on screen. In my own view, my ability to overlook such downfalls such as awful editing, ear-scraping dialogue and cheesy special effects, is ultimately down to my affinity to the source material and although the convoluted plot will undoubtedly seem incoherent and completely bonkers to an audience coming to the film with no previous knowledge of the characters or the setting, Arcel’s movie is so obviously an adaptation made solely for the readers of the series, and for that alone, I applaud the ballsy approach to create such. With obvious production problems at the heart of the finished article, The Dark Tower is a movie which worked more than it failed, and whilst the rafter of negative reviews and poor box office numbers will unfortunately class the film as a failure, Arcel’s adaptation will no doubt be the beginning of a series which is destined to be explored much, much more either on the big screen or the small.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Sing

“When You’ve Reached Rock Bottom, There’s Only One Way To Go, And That’s Up..!”

As we are all well aware, the golden age of animation is well and truly upon us, with the contemporary battle between Universal and Disney for the right to declare themselves masters of the animated art a mouth-watering proposition, resulting in a wide array of superb movies such as the Minion franchise from Universal and the likes of Inside Out and Zootropolis from those crafty devils up in Disneyland, whilst the likes of films such as Song of the Sea and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya prove that gems are being formed from all areas of the globe. Following on from the success of Minions last year, a film which took a staggering one billion plus at the box office, Illumination Entertainment boast an early return with Sing, an animated swing at the tedium of modern-day talent shows featuring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Seth Macfarlane who each lend their voice to an animation which could have been better served by being one of those five minute shorts that precede films that are worthy of being a full-length feature. Sing isn’t necessarily a bad movie in any sense, it’s just a fine example of a film which runs out of steam just under half way through and fails to grasp any effective reason to continue into a staggering 110 minutes of a jukebox style cheese-fest.

Featuring a endless swarm of overplayed chart sewage from the past couple of years or so for the majority of the soundtrack, the film does offer rare snippets of a relieving sense of juxtaposition with half-decent attempts to cover good classic tunes including Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”, but with all the voice talent and Son of Rambow’s Garth Jennings on directorial duty, Sing follows in the footsteps of last years’ The Secret Life of Pets by being a film which ultimately is a resounding disappointment and a movie which completely lacks a punchy and durable narrative amidst semi-laughable set pieces which were used so heavily in trailers and advertisement for the movie. Whilst the plot is somewhat obviously played, Sing suffers too from a rafter of characters which although tick the checkbox in attempting to grab a vivid selection of cultures and societal traits, still resort to singing corporate crap which most of the world is sick and tired of by now and belongs nowhere other than the next version of Now That’s What I Call Music! Forgettable and mediocre, Sing serves to be nothing more than an animated version of season 43 of The X-Factor, just without Simon Cowell’s sarcastic banter.

Overall Score: 4/10

The Oscars – Results *LIVE*

Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscars 1

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Costume Design

The Great Gatsby


Make-up and Hairstying

Dallas Buyers Club

Best Animated Short Film

Mr Hublot
Best Animated Feature Film

Frozen
Achievement in Visual Effects

Gravity
Best Live Action Short Film

Helium
Best Documentary Short Subject

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Best Documentary Feature

20 Feet From Stardom

Best Foreign Language Film

The Great Beauty

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Gravity

Achievement in Sound Editing

Gravity

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Best Cinematography

Gravity

Best Film Editing

Gravity

Best Production Design

The Great Gatsby

Best Original Score

Gravity

Best Original Song

Let it Go – Frozen

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave

Best Original Screenplay

Her

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave

Well, that’s it guys! A wonderful show with heartfelt tributes, gorgeous music, good laughs and brilliant films. With 7 awards falling into the hands of Gravity, it is the top movie of the night by the night ultimately belongs to 12 Years a Slave. Congratulations to all and if you want to see the most retweeted image in history, be sure to go to Ellen Degeneres’ Twitter to find out what all the fuss is about. Speaking of Ellen, her light hearted approach stands well away from Seth Macfarlane’s raw and energetic attitude but personally seemed a little safe after all of the press over Seth’s actions.

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Oscars 2014 – Nominations and Predictions!

It’s been a full year since my first Oscars post. Another phenomenal year for movies and an incredible selection to choose from once again. In the next few hours, the Oscars will be upon us and we will find out the answer to the Internet’s biggest question; “Will Leo win best actor?”. Personally, I’m doubtful. This years heavyweights – 12 Years a Slave and Gravity created huge buzz and have a lot in their corner. Down below are the awards I will be paying close attention too and below each topic is my prediction.

Best Visual Effects

  • Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)
  • Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)
  • The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)

Prediction – Gravity

Best Film EditingCaptain Phillips

  • American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)
  • Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)
  • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)
  • 12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)

Prediction – Gravity

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)

Prediction –  Lupita Nyong’o

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Prediction – Barkhad Abdi

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Prediction – Sandra Bullock

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Prediction – Chiwetel Ejiofor (We are all rooting for you Leo!)

Best DirectingWolf of Wall Street 4

  • American Hustle (David O. Russell)
  • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
  • 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Prediction – The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Best Picture

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Prediction – 12 Years a Slave

 
What do you think about my predictions? Leave your ideas below in the comment section!