“One Day The Sun Will Set On My Time Here, And Will Rise With You As The New King. Remember…”
As per the norm of contemporary blockbuster cinema, the magnificent movie monopoliser that is Disney Studios once again returns to the big screen this week with yet another big-screen re-hash of one of, if not, the, definitive animation story in the form of The Lion King. Following on from the gush of non-existent, if slightly colourful, air of Guy Ritchie’s middling stab at Aladdin, Disney’s decision to remake a film which positively affected an entire generation of children, parents and extended families, is arguably the biggest stab in the dark yet, begging the immortal question once again of, “what’s the bloody point?” With 2016’s similarly revived version of The Jungle Book placing director Jon Favreau in the holy graces of Disney forevermore, with a healthy balance of critical and commercial success always a banker for career enhancements, the Iron Man and Marvel Universe star returns to helm a strangely lifeless, annoyingly pointless big screen regurgitation, a movie which is the Disney equivalent of the criminally overrated, Gravity, with it being a movie which yes, looks absolutely stunning on a visual and technical level, but fails to tickle, let alone pull with any force at all, at the heartstrings and leaves you with a violent urge to remove it from your memory as soon as possible.
With a central narrative which as everyone knows has a strong basis in William Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, the 1994 original version of The Lion King was undoubtedly Disney at its’ storytelling best, a child’s movie which managed to blend Bambi-esque levels of heartbreak with notions of power, greed, redemption and of course, the “circle of life”, and with the new version adding thirty more unnecessary minutes to proceedings, the storytelling this time around is much more arduous then it needs to be, and whilst I’m all for development of character in any film, the fact remains that it is extremely hard to bond with animated characters who show simply zero range of expression or emotion, resulting in you viewing the movie in a fashion akin to popping down to your local zoo and deciding to sneer at caged animals whilst doing made-up voices within your own head. With the film on a technical level absolutely breathtaking at times to behold, with the photorealistic computer animation making every single living creature look one hundred percent conscious and breathing, the visual splendour is effective for a period but still at the end of the day, animation, no matter how much nonsense Disney can spread about this version being “live-action”, and when a movie’s only good parts are the ones simply nabbed from the original, Disney’s latest movie is absolute sacrilege, but at least a technically proficient work of sacrilege.
Overall Score: 5/10
“I’m Going To Try And Conduct Myself In Such A Way That Does Not Risk Global Humiliation…”
Mixing together the almighty and Oscar winning talent of Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) with erm, Seth Rogen, (The Interview) Long Shot is the latest from American filmmaker, Jonathan Levine, who reunites with Rogen after their work together on the 2011 comedy drama, 50/50, for a romantic comedy which attempts to balance political and social satire with a well-worn tale of unlikely and improbable love. Based around a screenplay from the double-act of Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling, famous for their individual work on the likes of The Post and The Interview respectively, Long Shot is that rare sight in contemporary cinema, an American comedy which actually works, and whilst the central romance at the heart of the story does indeed venture into gargantuan levels of cliche come the end of the almost two hour runtime, Levine’s movie works predominantly elsewhere, with a mix of knowing, and at times, strikingly unintentional, modern-day satire, pleasantly supplementing a likeable and utterly charming core relationship, one which gleefully bursts with volcanic levels of chemistry and pushes the final product into something which although might not be at all memorable, is rather enjoyable.
Coined in the trailer by one of the film’s supporting actors, the one and only, O’Shea Jackson Jr., (Straight Outta Compton) as having a very familiar central narrative to that of Garry Marshall’s 1990 classic, Pretty Woman, Levine’s movie at least jumbles up the profession of the leading characters, with Seth Rogen’s Fred Flarsky not exactly the first person to come to mind when it comes to the prostitution business, with him instead being landed with the role of an idealistic, rough-edged journalist with a penchant for thinking out loud, a character trait of which soon finds him unemployed and penniless. Enter Theron’s Charlotte Field, the highly popular Secretary of State with eyes for the presidency who in her earlier teenage years used to babysit a young and lovestruck Flarsky, and the two suddenly reconnect after Field utilises Flarsky’s innovative written word to boost her appeal to the American public. With worldwide trips on the menu, the two suddenly become attached to each other by the hip, resulting in the film’s central and heartwarming romance, and with an abundance of hilarious set pieces, including one of the best inverted sex scenes in cinema history and a heavy night on the town which results in a majorly mistimed hostage negotiation, Long Shot goes along way to make you care for the film’s characters, and even with a runtime which does slightly drag come the final act, Levine’s movie is a solid slice of American comedy cheese with added Charlize Theron.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Just Because You Want It Doesn’t Mean It Can Happen…”
Whilst aware of the infamous nature of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 independent drama, The Room, a movie widely quoted as the worst cinematic release of all time, I confess to not ever finding the time to sit down and embrace it aside from skimming across YouTube videos and university students screaming “hey, watch this movie, it’s so bad”, of which I inevitably and quickly chose not to listen to. Based upon Greg Sestero’s 2013 autobiographical book “The Disaster Artist”, a first hand account of Sestero’s involvement in The Room’s troubled production and his relationship with Wiseau, James Franco directs and stars in a dramatic adaptation of the source material with Franco himself starring as Wiseau and brother Dave Franco as Sestero. Whilst Franco-led comedies in the past have somewhat failed to ignite my comical ways, the same cannot be said for The Disaster Artist, a sharp and hysterically funny look into one of the more subversive and mysterious characters to originate in the world of filmmaking since the turn of the twentieth century, and a film which on the one hand shares admiration and on the other pokes holes into the darker side of a man whose name is slowly becoming a cine-literate household commodity.
With Franco’s portrayal of Wiseau being introduced in a barmy expose of talentless squander, the narrative primarily follows Dave Franco’s Greg Sestero as he begins to pull back the layers of the mysterious Wiseau after blindly following him to Los Angeles in order to fill the craving of success and stardom in the cut throat world of Hollywood. Bringing into conversation questions regarding Wiseau’s background, age and financial caterings, Franco’s portrayal of Wiseau is indeed one of riveting success, a performance which captures both the comedic traits of the character with a numerous amount of zippy, laugh-out-loud quips, as well as the more subversive, darker means and ways of a person whose societal skills and understanding of basic human conditioning is frankly rather non-existent. With the main comedic bulk of the movie focusing completely on the creation of Wiseau’s dramatic project to an alarming top-notch and uncanny degree, The Disaster Artist is an entertaining blend of comedy gold and character examination, and with a person as inevitably ambiguous as Tommy Wiseau at front and centre of the project, there is no reason to suggest why The Disaster Artist might prove to be the ticket to the Oscars Wiseau always dreamed of after all.
Overall Score: 8/10
“I’m So Happy The Gods Put Our Packages Together…”
Judging from the trailers alone, everyone knew what to expect with Sausage Party, the latest comedy venture from the Seth Rogen rubble, directed by Conrad Vermon and Greg Tiernan, with crude and vulgar humour set to being seeped throughout an animation which attempts to poke holes in the family-friendly works of Disney and Pixar by following in the footsteps of a supermarket-based sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) who like every other food item in the store, believes being “chosen” by the “gods” results in a swift and joyous journey into heaven. Of course the reality of the situation is a closely-hidden secret, a secret in which Frank and his merry band of faithful food friends including Frank’s girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig) attempt to bring to light.
Although strangely hypnotic for the first ten minutes or so, Sausage Party does swiftly descend into plights of sheer boredom, with the one-note shine of relying on vulgarity and ridiculous levels of swearing not exactly managing to survive the full 90 minutes in which subplots aplenty attempt to hold up the animation into earning its’ reason to be on the big screen. Although the final act is one in which all involved must have been patting themselves firmly on the back after creating, its’ ludicrousness as a whole confirms that if made as a 30 minute sketch, perhaps the idea of Sausage Party may have been a successful one. Instead, the film is just another excuse for Seth Rogen to make penis jokes, and although occasional laughter can be created by such, Sausage Party isn’t the comedy I was hoping for. The animation is good though so you know, not all bad. Peace.
Overall Score: 4/10
“We Will Know Soon Enough If You Are Leonardo da Vinci Or Just Think You Are…”
Let’s get this straight. I am seemingly one of the minority in the world where shopping in an Apple branded store for Apple branded products to me would be in similar vein to shopping at Waitrose. Sure everything looks nice and flashy, but it’s price tag and lack of distinction from the norm really makes me want to shop elsewhere. With this thought in mind, I ventured into my local world of cine and into a midday screening of Steve Jobs with rather mixed expectations. On the upside, I love Danny Boyle, with his entire filmography stretching all the way back to Shallow Grave being something I will always love and cherish, and I love Micheal Fassbender, with his recent performance in Macbeth being one of my favourites of the year so far. So all in all, the signs were mixed, was Steve Jobs set to be a success in my own point of view after hearing of possible award ceremony attention heading its’ way? Was Fassbender set to reel us in with his portrayal of Jobs and leave us wanting more by the end of it? After leaving the cinema my instant reaction to both questions was a sincere, yes, with Steve Jobs being one of the most entertainingly and highly engrossing written movies I have watched in recent memory.
Set in the form of three acts, each taking place before the launch of a major Jobs’-led product, Steve Jobs is a masterpiece in how, if written with extreme delicacy and understanding, a two-hour film set basically in one confined space, can become a work of art. Much like the Apple products themselves, Steve Jobs is a rife and intelligent beast, if rather fundamentally lacking in a sense of depth and scope, with Danny Boyles’ latest relying heavily on the influence of Aaron Sorkin’s script, a man best known for The West Wing and the simply brilliant The Social Network, a film which can draw a lot of similarities with Steve Jobs due to both having an extensive amount of the “walk and talk” nature of their scripts, a feat in which Sorkin is proudly famous for. Within the fundamental intelligence of Sorkin’s script, is a heavy sense of theater and stage, giving room for the cast that includes the likes of Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, and particularly the one-two of Fassbender and Kate Winslet, room to go completely full on, adapting scenes of dialogue from Sorkin’s script into a real sense of dramatic power and steel.
Of course, Steve Jobs is not set to be for everyone, with its’ heavy reliance on dialogue and concentration not entirely being set for mass appeal, whilst Fassbender’s inhuman and simply cold portrayal of Jobs himself may be rather too alienating for some of the more humane audiences out there, yet for me personally, Steve Jobs exceeded my rather mid-level expectations twice-fold with its’ flashy and intelligent script and rather brilliant performances of almost everyone involved, but with standout nods to particularly Fassbender, Winslet and Daniels, making Steve Jobs a real joyous surprise. Oscars, you may be right. Steve Jobs is a-coming.
Overall Score: 9/10
Kim Jong Eurghhh…
What is the essence of comedy i hear you ask? In my own view, comedy relies on the importance of timing and delivery in order to effectively produce laughs. British humour is the greatest humour in the world, (No Bias Intended) highlighted by famous British comedy shows/films such as Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and most recently the Thick of It which is easily the funniest and most intelligent comedy show i have seen in the 21st century. My overall feeling after watching The Interview, was that comedy has died. And in a bad way, as well as feeling that there is a clear target audience which, in my view, consists of young males, between the ages of 12 and 15, who will find Rogen/Franco’s new film unbelievably funny whereas I, who is reaching their 21st birthday, found it distasteful, crude and a complete waste of time. The rant continues…
In terms of plot, Franco plays a non-likable caricature, symbolising the laddish-culture that seeps through a range of films and TV programmes that are ripe in society today, who is tasked with Rogen’s “Samwise” to Franco’s “Frodo”, character in bringing down the “most famous man alive,” Kim-Jong Un, after they are both invited to interview him in North Korea. What follows is a 115 minute orgy of racism, swearing, violence and casual misogyny which most importantly, is not in anyway funny, but instead made me wish i had been bombed during the showing as it would have saved me the pain of following the film all the way until the credits came up.
Anyone who is alive will have been aware of the impending bomb threat North Korea have sanctioned in response to the film and so far, i am still alive and well but that may soon change, meaning my last ever review may be on a film that is not only highly racist, but entirely lacks taste and charm, all of which i expect somewhere in a film classified as “comedy”. The Interview, in a word then, is pants. Of the highest order, and is only prevented from 1/10 by the ONE smile i managed during the course of the film which was brought upon by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that featured in the film. Seriously, that was the best bit. A dog. Enjoy.
Overall Score: 2/10
This review here is going to have too be a quicky review for a few reasons.
1 – I didn’t find it funny
2 – I don’t like James Franco
3 – You can only write so much on a “Comedy”
So, This is the End is the tale of the world ending and a group of actors are fighting to survive in Franco’s new mansion. It’s premise is extremely simple and the focus is on the friendship between Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen. Except of world domination, it becomes American domination and the only way to survive the world ending apocalypse is to do all the drugs possible.
For a 15, this movie is unbelievably bad. With a general audience which looked to be 13, jokes which were penis related (Which had no style) and then the constant barrage of swearing and sexual references didn’t fit their target audience and was just an excuse for them to shout at each other. There was also a certain scene which c**t was used, So blatantly that it crossed the line for me. I can deal with swearing and sex jokes but they have to be done in style rather than a general attack. You will also notice something that niggles at you all the way through. Its never attacked, abused or joked about like everything else. It is Heaven and the Bible. A comedy about world destruction turns into a movie that preaches Christianity, America and how drugs are good.
Now, you would think that with such a huge cast, we would have some brilliant actors. Yet we have very little acting. The swearing and screaming doesn’t constitute acting and appears to make the movie a piss about project for all of them. However, all the way through, I did feel that they were all horrible people and if that’s what they were trying to portray, then they did it right.
The actors I did enjoy were Channing Tatum for his small cameo and Craig Robinson throughout. Craig seemed to be the most genuine of the bunch and had the funny moments that made you laugh rather than just a smile.
Visually, a movie with a huge budget for actors, should have a decent sized budget for all of the demons and various other evil dwellers. Yet everything seem blurry or pixilated with little time spent on them. The only good bit of VFX was Satan’s representation at the end. As much as it was phallic, it was clear and looked quite genuine.
Overall, I didn’t really like the movie, so it is getting 4/10. It was loud and obnoxious without any good jokes to make me laugh. I can understand jokes that the Ted movie uses, as it is all so silly, done with style and all around abusive to everyone, but when you compare it too this, you see that it is incredibly mediocre and dick jokes can only go so far. One of the reasons that I could stand it was the music used throughout. It was varied and even had a Backstreet Boys cameo at the end that was funny. Alongside some good cinematography, it deserves my ranking, but I find it hard to understand many of the critics that are praising it as the comedy of the year.