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Top 10 Films of 2014

2014 turned out to be a pretty good year for films, there were the big blockbusters we were expecting but also the little films we didn’t know about, that provided big surprises. Some of the films didn’t live up to the expectations, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, was a very long and overblown mess, I have enjoyed the previous films at various levels, but this forth instalment bored me, and if I see another city being destroyed! Even one of my most anticipated films was a bit of a let down, Insterstellar had all the ingredients to be one of my favourite films and yes it looked good but to be honest it left me really cold. I will give it another try on blu ray as I love Christopher Nolan’s work.
So onto my top 10, there were a couple of great films that didn’t quite make the 10, David Fincher’s Gone Girl came very close, I thought it was a brilliantly tense and at times darkly funny film, and not having read the book, I had no idea where it was going, Rosamund Pike really showed what a good actress she is.  X-men: Days of Future Past, also just missed out, with Bryan Singer back in charge of the franchise he started we had a real solid comic book movie with some amazing set pieces, especially the Quicksilver kitchen scene. Jonathan Glazer provided another visual treat with Under The Skin, a very odd but beautifully shot film that stays with you long after you finish watching it. Then there was the return to the Planet Of The Apes and also a new Godzilla which easily washed away the taste of the 90’s one. Also the return of everyone’s favourite cute dragon Toothless in How To Train Your Dragon 2, even Spider-man had a few good moments.

10. Pride

Like most people, I hadn’t heard the story of the gay rights group who decided to help out the Welsh Miners during the strikes of the early 80’s. On paper it looks like it could be made up for a British Comedy film, but knowing it is based on real life made it all the more compelling.  It is full of great performances from the always reliable Bill Nighy to Dominic West and Imelda Staunton. It is a very funny film as you have the culture clash between these two groups, but it is also very touching and makes you realise the hard times both groups went through in the early 80’s. It obviously gives a slight one sided opinion of the times and  you do get a few clichéd scenes, but overall it was a very enjoyable film, which also had one big effect on me, until I saw this I had not been on the electoral register, but seeing what the Tories did back then made me want to be able to vote this year and stop them getting back in, a bit of politics there!

9. The Wolf of Wall Street

I know it’s a bit controversial to say, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Martin Scorsese’s films, I appreciate what he has done in the film world and he seems an interesting man, but some of his films leave me a bit cold and I don’t get the hype that some of them get. I really need to go back and watch a few again I think, as I loved The Wolf Of Wall Street. Probably the biggest compliment I can give the film is that it was 3 hours long but didn’t feel like it all. I was engrossed in this story of greed, from start to finish. DiCaprio plays Belfort with a mixture of charm and repulsion. This guy ruined the lives of many people, but you enjoy watching the ride he goes on. Jonah Hill also again shows that he can really act outside of comedy, though this film is really a very dark comedy. Margot Robbie is just stunning and looks to have a successful career ahead of her.

8. Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal has had a bit of a rollercoaster career, from Donnie Darko to Prince of Persia, and in the last few years he has popped in a few really good films, such as End of Watch and Prisoners. I heard a few reviews coming in about Nightcrawler so thought I should check it out, and was glad I did. It tells the story of Lou Bloom a man always trying to find a new money making scheme, who when he witnesses a traffic accident, is intrigued by the camera crew who turn up to shoot footage to sell to news channels.  Starting with a small camera he soon starts building up his business through various immoral routes. Bloom is such an unlikeable character near the end but you can’t look away, and it was great to see Rene Russo back on the big screen, as the news channel boss who’s morals are almost as dubious as Blooms. Gyllenhaal has created a real watchable psychopath along the lines of Travis Bickle, he should really be among the nominees for best actor this year. Mention also has to go to the look of the film, LA hasn’t looked so good since Drive and Collateral.

7. Next Goal Wins

I love a good documentary, they can both inform and entertain and in some case bring about big change as has been shown by Blackfish. This film will not bring about any chance but it is damn entertaining. It is about the small island nation of American Samoa’s football team, who in 2001 suffered a record 31-0 defeat to Australia during the World Cup qualifiers, and were rooted to the bottom of the FIFA world rankings.  The documentary makers joined them as they prepared for the qualifiers for the Brazil 2014 World Cup and having never won in 17 years and only scored 2 goals. It was decided to make some changes and after answering an advert a new coach was brought in, in the form of Thomas Rongen who had played with Cruyf and Best and brings in a tough new training regime.  The team members themselves have their own stories with the 31-0 goalie coming back to try and wipe out that nightmare game that still haunts him and Jaiyah the first ever transsexual international footballer. I’m not gonna tell you what happens, you really need to check this film out, you don’t need to be a football fan at all, just a fan of a great story.

6. Frank

I was never that knowledgeable about the work of Mr Frank Sidebottom, apart from his nasal tones and papermache head, but when I starting seeing pictures of Michael Fassbender in the head in film magazines I was intrigued. I never managed to catch it in the cinema, but on blu ray at home. It’s a funny little film with quite an odd sense of humour but with great songs.  Following Domhnall Gleeson’s keyboardist as he inadvertently finds himself in a band with the worlds weirdest frontman, the eponymous Frank and trying to take them in a new direction. Despite not being able to see his face, Fassbender manages to give an expressive performance, even if he does have to say what his face is doing at times. Frank’s most likeable song has been stuck in my head ever since, all thirty odd seconds of it!

5. Locke

When you describe the plot of this film it sounds like the most boring film ever, but it is anything but. The film features Tom Hardy driving a car down the motorway from Birmingham to London talking to people on the phone, that’s it! I was a bit sceptical at first when I put it on, and thought I would probably turn it off after ten minutes, but as the calls come in and the drama of John Locke’s life unfold I was gripped.  It’s not a long film anyway, but you are pulled into this man’s life and how one mistake is changing everything for him, I also learned a bit about concrete. It’s a testament to Tom Hardy’s acting skills and a pretty good welsh accent, that it works as well as it does.  I believe it will be on Netflix this month so worth a watch.

4. 22 Jump Street

Funnily enough I watched this again last night, which is probably why it ended up near the top of the list. It’s a very funny film that has a lot more going on underneath it’s mainstream comedy persona. It should suffer from being a sequel, but where Lord And Miller who made the Lego Movie work so well, have succeeded is in making it very self referential. It has lots of jokes about being a sequel, and the usual traps they fall into. It also has one of the best site gags of the year, involving the name of a building in the university campus where Jenko and Schmidt find themselves undercover and even manages to get an Annie Hall joke in as well. To top it all off the best closing credits of the year.

3. Edge of Tomorrow

Since his infamous couch jumping appearance on Oprah, Tom Cruise has been on the end of a bit of a backlash, his films seem to be shot down before they have even hit the theatres. Last year both Jack Reacher and Oblivion got a lot of negative reviews but personally I really enjoyed both. When Edge Of Tomorrow came out, it actually got very positive reviews from the film press, but for some reason, nobody went to see it, I can vouche for this, I saw it the week it came out and had the entire screen to myself, bad for the film, great for me. It’s a shame as it is a great action film, with a unique twist, as Tom Cruise’s Lt Cage experiences the same day over and over everytime he dies in a D-day style battle against alien invaders. Even if you don’t like Tom Cruise it is so worth checking out, especially as you get to watch him die many numerous and even humourous ways. He is able assisted in the film by the lovely Emily Blunt who as the ‘full metal bitch’, kicks many an aliens butt and tries to keep Cage alive long enough that they can maybe find a weakspot in the invaders plan. I can’t recommend it enough.

1. Guardians Of The Galaxy/ Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Okay so I have copped out when it comes to my favourite film of the year. I have really tried to pick one over the other but, really can’t separate them. Marvel are on such a high at the moment, their films just seem to get better and better, I can’t wait to see Age of Ultron.

It’s funny as Captain America was one of the phase one films that didn’t get a huge amount of love and was stuck in Tony Starks shadow, yet was a fun old style action film, so to see the complete change of tone in Winter Soldier is amazing. What the Russo brothers have produced is an old fashioned conspiracy film but with superheroes and have totally shook up the universe that Marvel has been creating in it’s movies. When the big twist came I was as surprised as anyone. There are clever shots hidden in the film as well, I loved the fact that while Cap is in the lift about to have a contained smackdown, they put the Watergate hotel in the background, the symbol of conspiracies and then to top it off get All The Presidents Men’s, Robert Redford in it as well. Not only did he bring that legacy to the film but also a level of gravitas, a recognition that these are not just silly comic book films anymore. The Winter Soldier was a clever twist as well, making us believe that he was the big bad but really he was just a tool for the real villains and also an important part of Steve Rodgers life. I just loved this film from start to finish, I even made a second trip to the cinema to see it again, something I did with my other number one.

I’m not bragging but back at the start of the year when I first saw the teaser trailer I put my neck out there and said it would be the biggest film of the year. There was just something about it that looked like it had elements that everyone could enjoy and most of all it looked really funny. I was almost right as well, It was the biggest film in the US and only just missed out globally to Transformers, what a disgrace! I think in a year where we eagerly waitied to hear about Star Wars, a fun sci fi film had potential to be huge and in director James Gunn we had a man whose films are always slightly off kilter and made the film fit into the Marvel cinematic universe but also made it very unique as well. I had seen Chris Pratt in Parks and Recreation and he always seemed very likeable, but I would never have said he would be a superstar. He has so much charisma in Guardians, that you can’t help but be a fan, from his little dance at the start to his blacklight joke. The rest of the crew are equally as strong, I have never been a wrestling fan, but Dave Bautista is so good as Drax with his literal interpretation of everything, then we have Rocket and Groot, two completely cg characters but so real, and even though she is back in alien worlds Zoe Saldana adds a good foil to the rest of the gang. The fact this film has been so huge isn’t just due to it’s amazing visuals and action, but because it is a funny film that has a lot of heart. Oh and a killer soundtrack!

Well there you go, thank you for taking the time to read this, if you got this far. There were a few films that have been in the presses top lists of the year, such a Boyhood, which I never got a chance to see, but I shall endeavour to catch up.

Here’s to 2015 a film that has so much to be excited about as a film fan.

 

 

 

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Super Bowl Blockbusters

There was a small little sporting event yesterday, that for the film fan usually means big movie trailers, yes it was Super Bowl Sunday, and while the Denver Broncos were getting their arses handed to them by the Seattle Seahawks, a few trailer were debuted for a couple of this summers blockbusters. Following the few I posted on here at the start of the year, these were more full trailers so here are a few for your delectation!

First up we have the first glimpse at Michael Bay’s return to the Transformers franchise, after saying he wasn’t going to do another one, Paramount bribed him by financing Pain & Gain, a film he had wanted to make for a while. This 4th addition isn’t a reboot but it does see a new set of human characters for us to follow. It also sees the first appearance of the Dinobots, which the die hard fans have been crying out for in the franchise. It looks pretty much more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing, and I like Mark Wahlberg and hopefully he won’t be a dick like Shia LaBeouf was in the last film!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv6fVuvcHis&list=PLPCb6qD6nQhDIVL_B9qZ3kGChWUfBloTl

Next up is the film I am very excited about, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The first teaser trailer was great and set up the tone of the film really well, and this one takes it to an even higher level. Nothing more to say just watch it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4LVE9OUTfw

Next we have a long trailer for Spidey’s return, in The Amazing Spider-man 2. I was a little nervous about this one, due to all the villains, but watching this trailer it looks great. I especially like Spidey’s quips which were a bit lacking in the Raimi films but were warming up in the re-boot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW5u_y27LmQ

Finally it wouldn’t be right to not have a bit of Muppet action! The last film brought the Muppets back with style and great songs and I hope this one keeps up the quality. I  am especially happy that Brett Mckensie  of Flight Of The Conchords, is back on song writing duty again, and I even spied his Conchords co-hort Jermaine Clement in the trailer. It appears that they are following the funny campaign they used on the first film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3eh84cCzQk

 

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman Almost Famous

It was very sad news yesterday, when I saw a story pop on facebook, saying that the great actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead in his apartment. I like many film fans hoped that it was a hoax, but alas it seems he died of an overdose.

I’m not gonna pretend that he was my favourite actor, but he was an amazing presence in nearly every film he was in.  You only have to look at his IMDB page to see the huge amount and very varied films he acted in during his career. For me personally I think the first film I noticed him in was Twister, where he played Dusty, a live wire storm chaser, it’s funny but I forgot he was in, until I watched it again recently and had one of those, “oh it’s him” moments.  From there he went into Boogie Nights which brought him to a lot of people’s attention, and his career really took off, with classic films like The Big Lebowski, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and in 2005 he won the best actor Oscar for his role as Truman Capote in Capote. He was nominated a further 3 times but never won another, something you can believe he probably would have done if he hadn’t been taken away. As well as award magnet films he has also did some more mainstream movies and was brilliant as the bad guy Owen Davian in JJ Abrams, Mission Impossible III, he showed real menace, something bad guys have been lacking of late. For me though my favourite performance was in Cameron Crowe’s amazing, Almost Famous, This is one of my favourite films and he was one of the best things in it, playing Lester Bangs, a real music journalist from the 60’s-70’s. In the film he takes the young William Miller under his wing and warns him about being friends with the bands he is writing about, and is very funny. If you haven’t seen this film, I can’t recommend it enough, it’s sort of based on director Cameron Crowe’s own teenage years where he became a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine and followed bands around the United States.

It is very sad that we have lost a great actor, who has brought us many memorable performances, in a very varied array of films, and at least we have those to look back on, if we don’t have those potential amazing films he would have gone on to make. He will be missed.

Lex revealed

jesse jeremy irons

Despite the film being put back a year to 2016, it seems the casting for the Man Of Steel sequel continues apace. It was rumoured that Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor would be in any sequel, especially with Luthorcorp signs popping up all over the place in the first film. Obviously the rumour mill started throwing names around including Joaquim Phoenix, Denzil Washington and because he plays a great baldie, Bryan Cranston. Well today it has been officially announced that Jessie Eisenberg will play the genius billionaire, following a previous billionaire role as Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher’s The Social Network. Have to say I didn’t see this coming, we all expected Lex to be an older actor, but as he’s previously shown not all rich powerful men are old and it puts an interesting spin on the character and his inevitable confrontations with Superman and Batman. He is a very good actor and will handle the sinister and arrogant businessman well I think.
There was also another bit of casting announced for the film, that of Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth, following in the big shoes of Michael Caine, is another classical British thesp, Jeremy Irons. Seems a perfect fit for me.

batman-the-dark-knight-returns-batman-vs-superman

2015 was looking to be the mother of all summers at the cinema, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, Ant Man , Jurassic World,  and of course the Man Of Steel sequel which was going to feature the on screen face-off of Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman, along side Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Well we are unfortunately now going to have to wait another year, as Warner Brothers have announced that the film has been delayed. It will now be released on May 6th 2016.

The studio said in a statement it was giving them “time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story”, and “We are happy to take advantage of these coveted summer dates, which are perfect for two of our biggest tent pole releases. We share the fans’ excitement to see DC Comics’ most popular figures, Superman and Batman, together on the big screen for the first time, which will now be arriving in theatres in May 2016.”

It’s sad we now have to wait another year to see the film but if it means they can spend more time getting it right, then it will hopefully be worth the wait.

Into the final stretch.

Rush 23/9/13

Rush

Wouldn’t say I am a fan of Formula One, I used to watch it but the last few years with Vettel’s dominance it’s become boring, but the older days of F1 are a lot more interesting, and Ron Howard thought so. I saw a programme about this story on the BBC a few weeks before the film came out and saw the trailer and had to see the film.  Ron Howard has created a gripping drama about a rivalry between two men that pushed both to the edge with almost deadly consequences. Chris Hemsworth has that 70’s swagger of James Hunt down perfectly, a real ladies man and risk taker. Daniel Bruhl steals the movie though as Nikki Lauder, who takes the analytical approach to racing rather than driving on the seat of your pants. Howard has captured the style of the period and in a rare move this day has used a lot of real cars and car mounted cameras to drag us into the cockpit, to experience how fast and dangerous the racing was. This would make a great companion piece to the excellent documentary Senna.

The Lone Ranger 23/9/13

the lone ranger

Every year some critics, without even seeing a film, will have their knives out ready to destroy it, John Carter suffered this a few years back and this year The Lone Ranger was the target. Whether they had it in for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, or Johnny Depp playing another wacky character, whatever it was they went after it and unfortunately the film appeared to suffer at the box office. It’s a shame as this is actually a really fun, entertaining film, that I thoroughly enjoyed. I will admit it is a bit long, it definitely needed a lot of editing but it makes up for the little bit of drag by giving us some great action sequences, especially the last act train sequence. The chemistry between Armie Hammer (the twins from The Social Network) and Johnny Depp really worked and was very funny at times. When it was first announced it had a massive budget and a supernatural element, to get the budget down, the supernatural element was dropped but strangely you can see little bits of it, especially some nasty rabbits that even King Arthur and his Knights would struggle with.  If you were put off by the negative reviews, I can say it is worth checking out if you want a bit of fun for two and a half hours.

White House Down 3/10/13

white house down

The second of this years White House in peril movies and to be honest the better of the two. The action isn’t any better than Olympus Has Fallen, but what lifts this film above Gerard Butlers film is the humour. Where OHF took itself very seriously and quite violently this film was having good fun with the ridiculous situation.  It helps that the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx really worked as well, Foxx playing the Obama, that Obama wishes he could be, riding across the White House lawn in the Beast taking out bad guys with a rocket launcher. Tatum picks up the McClane mantel, trying to save a family member whilst wearing the white vest. Replacing OHF’s Korean bad guys with home grown terrorists makes a change, and there are a few nice little twists as well. I enjoyed both White House films but this one definitely wins my vote.

Thor: The Dark World 3D 4/11/13

thor the dark world

The second of Marvels’ Phase Two films, following Iron Man 3, which took mega money, it put a little bit of pressure on Thor’s return to not be a let down, and you know what it wasn’t.  After Loki’s mischief in New York, it’s back to Asgard for Thor, trying to bring peace to the nine realms, but an evil from thousands of years ago is back, and  Jane Foster, missing her Hammer wielding hero, makes an amazing discovery. I have to say I was a little anxious going into see the sequel, but I needn’t have worried, it was another classic Marvel film, lots of action and funny laughs. Marvels’ plan is working and I hope they can keep it going.  The film maybe called Thor, but the star of the show is again Loki, now imprisoned for his attempted take over of Earth. Despite being in a prison cell, he still tries to manipulate his family. They even shot extra footage apparently due to the popularity of the character after the first film and Avengers, and it’s a good thing as he does add that extra element to the film. My favourite character from the first film, Darcy (Kat Dennings) is back as well and again provides a lot of the laughs. Again it’s nice to see London on the big screen, though as always it ends up in a bad state, but Thor does get to try out the transport system. With this and Iron Man 3 Marvel had a good year and with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy this year it could be equally as good.

Saving Mr Banks 15/11/13

saving mr banks

It’s a shocking thing to admit, but I don’t think I have ever watched Mary Poppins, at least not all of it, but I was still interested to see the story behind it, especially as it was a free screening. I am a big Tom Hanks film, so to see him tackling such an iconic person as Walt Disney was an interesting prospect.  The film tells the story of Walt’s attempts to charm writer P.L.Travers into selling him Mary Poppins so he can make a film about her, but little did he know what he was facing. Emma Thompson as Travers, is sensational, her prim and proper writer is a one woman storm giving strict demands about how her prize creation will be treated, not falling for Disney’s charm offensive. A scene where she arrives in her Los Angeles hotel to find it full of Disney merchandise is hilarious. You have to feel sorry for the production team of Mary Poppins, played brilliantly by Bradley Whitford, BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman as they try to convince her about their songs. As well as this story we also get flashbacks to Travers early life in Australia with her alcoholic father, played well by Colin Farrell, and how it influenced her creation. This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, it was touching and funny and as I said Emma Thompson was amazing, especially when you hear a tape in the credits of the original Travers. I have now bought Mary Poppins to watch!

Gravity 3D 25/11/13

gravity

I am a bit of a space nut, visiting the Kennedy Space Station back in 2005 was one of the best days of my life, so a film about a space mission going wrong was right up my street, add to that Sandra Bullock and I’m a happy bunny.  This is probably the film with the most positive word of mouth of any film this year, and when you see it, you can see why. It isn’t just a film, it’s an experience, it has to be seen on the big screen and in 3D, even 3D non fan, film critic Mark Kermode has been singing it’s 3D praises. I wanted to catch it on an Imax cinema but had to settle for my local. The visuals in this film are frankly stunning, you do feel like you are up there floating around, and considering it is nearly all created in a computer is even more amazing. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney put in good performances considering how little they had to work with while filming it. The only downside is that the script is a little lacking at times, but because you get so dragged in the film you don’t really notice some of the dialogue. As a space fan, there was one occasion where I saw a flaw in one scene, and the fact that the Space Shuttles have been decommissioned stuck with me and again it made me tear up a bit near the end. Will be interesting to watch this again in 3D but on a smaller screen, to see if it has the same effect.

Captain Phillips 8/12/13

captain phillips

The second Tom Hanks of the film for me, though it was released before I saw Saving Mr Banks, it was one I was really looking forward to, but kept struggling to find a time to catch it. Finally in December I managed to catch it, and am so glad I did. Based on a true story of a tanker being held by Somali pirates, it was a story I did vaguely remembered from the news, and unfortunately I remembered how it ended, or I thought I did. With Paul Greengrass in the directing seat, the film had his trademark realistic shooting style, and rather than just portray the pirates as the bad guys we get to see their story as well. Lead pirate Muse is played brilliantly by Somali actor Barkhad Abdi, as are the rest of the pirates, but it is Tom Hanks film. I haven’t seen him as good for a while and he deserves all the award nominations he is receiving at the moment. No spoilers, but his performance in the last few minutes of this film are stunning, again I was in tears, it’s an amazing scene, I have never felt so gut punched by a performance. As you would expect from the man that brought us the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum, it is a tense, gripping drama.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug 3D HFR 16/12/13

https://stuntgoat.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-3d-hfr/

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 30/12/13

https://stuntgoat.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/anchorman-2-the-legend-continues/

So there you go, my cinema going review of the year, hope you enjoyed it. There are a few films that I watched at home that I would like to give mention to as well, so I shall bang up a short piece giving those films their due.

So we have reached the second half of the year and blockbuster season is in full swing, but we start with a comedy.

This Is The End 11/7/13

This Is The End

The film that was ironically the last film you could rent from Blockbuster before they closed, but a fitting send off, as it is pretty damn funny. Jay Baruchel comes to LA to visit Seth and gets dragged along to a party at Franco’s ridiculous house during which a new take on the end of the world happens, and for a change it goes for the religious one, but with ejaculation jokes. The film could have been a back slapping ego trip for the cast but they all play off the public image of themselves and in some cases destroy that image, especially Michael Cera. Have to say it was one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year, as a film fan I got a lot of the jokes they were making about each others careers, and look out for an hilarious cameo towards the end, this in a film full of famous faces.

Monsters University 3D 12/7/13

Monsters University

The first of what turned out to be a monster 3D double bill day for me. I have managed to see every Pixar film at the cinema since Toy Story, this year will be empty without one, and as ever the quality shines through. A prequel to Monsters Inc. which shows us how Mike and Sully became the best friends and ultimate scare team they would become.  Following the first film was gonna be a challenge and this one suffers a little because we know where they end up. It does play up the college frat culture we’ve seen in everything from Animal House to Old School, but with a monster edge. It was very enjoyable and did make me laugh quite a lot, shame the projectionist forgot to turn the lamp up a bit as it was a bit dark!

Pacific Rim 3D 12/7/13

pacific rim

The second of the monster bill, but with added giant robots. Guillermo Del Toro, after dropping out of The Hobbit, went back to the old school monster movies of his childhood and produced this massive movie. After a portal between worlds opens up at the bottom of the Pacific the human race finds themselves at the mercy of the Kaiju, giant monsters, and to fight back they create giant robots called the Jaegers, controlled by two pilots. That’s all you need to know about the plot, giant robots fighting giant monsters, and it’s that simplicity that made this great entertainment. The dialogue was a bit cheesy and Top Gunish but I went to this film to see the visuals and as always Del Toro provides. This film has some of the most breathtaking scenes of the year, a fight that takes place in Hong Kong in the rain is simply stunning, and the 3D added so much in terms of giving scale to the size of the protagonists. I have already watched this film a couple of times at home and it stills looks great on a tv.

The Worlds End 19/7/13

the worlds end

Right this is where I am going to lose a lot of people and probably get a lot of stick, but this film disappointed me a lot, and it left me cold, which surprised me a lot. I absolutely love Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, they are great, funny films that I have watched numerous times, so I was looking forward to the finale of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. It seems the problems started when I saw the trailer, something about it didn’t feel right, I don’t know what, but I even mentioned to a friend that it didn’t get me that excited. I put these fears to the back of  my mind and went to watch it, and when I came out a couple of hours later, as said earlier it had left me cold.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film, it did make me laugh but I just couldn’t get past Simon Pegg’s character of Gary King, he is such a dick, and I know he’s supposed to be, but I just couldn’t understand why the other four would agree to get back with him on a pub crawl when they clearly don’t like him. I also had a problem with the end as well, but I won’t spoil it. I had a similar problem with Edgar Wright’s, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but when I watched it a second time I thought it was genius, so I bought the Three Flavours boxset and gave World’s End a second chance, but it unfortunately didn’t make any difference. Maybe in a few years I’ll go back and try it again and like it, we’ll see.

The Wolverine 29/7/13

the wolverine

When I first saw Bryan Singer’s X-Men, the one stand out for me was Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, I didn’t know anything about the character, but he stole the film and as we now know, has been the catalyst for the whole franchise. So it was in 2009 that he got his first solo movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, now unlike a lot of people, I actually quite liked that film, it had it’s problems, but it was okay. When talk began a few years back of a second solo movie, a lot of the feedback was negative, but I was keen and when they started talking about a darker film I was especially interested. I hadn’t read the Wolverine comic book series this film is based on, I have since, but the idea of him amongst the Yakuza and ninjas sounded great. This film has surprised a lot of the nay sayers, as Logan heads off to Japan, called over by a man whose life he saved in WWII, but soon finds himself as a guardian. Taking Logan out of the X-men universe into his own story works really well, Jackman gets to show a lot more emotional range in the character as he tries to deal with not only protecting the daughter of his friend but also the death of the woman he loved, Jean Grey.  The action also doesn’t disappoint, though the cinema cut does lay off the blood we were hoping we would see more of in this harder take, though if you get the 3D blu ray it comes with a much longer and bloodier cut, which is actually better.  There is already talk of a third solo film, and if you stay past the credits you get a sneak at whats to come this summer in Days Of Future Past.

Elysium 16/9/13

elysium

Back in 2009, a small film came out, from a pretty unknown director and became my favourite of that year, the film was District 9 and it’s director was Neil Blomkamp.  He’s waited a few years to follow it up, but it was worth the wait. The film is set in a future where the world has succumbed to poverty and climate change, leaving a dry arid, polluted planet, but not for the rich. They have all moved to an orbiting space station called Elysium, where they have a privileged existence, and machines that can cure any illness. The design of the Elysium space station, has a bit of irony, in that it looks a lot like the Halo space station from the game of the same name, which Neil Blomkamp was going to direct the film version of, before it was scrapped and he instead made District 9.  Down in the slums of Earth the poor dream of getting to Elysium, and among them Matt Damon’s Max, but after an industrial accident leaves him with days to live, the need to get there becomes urgent, and into the hands of the criminal world. The film also stars Sharlto Copley, who came to fame in District 9 as Wickus, the prawn relocation officer, but this time he plays all round nasty piece of work Kruger, Jodie Foster’s operative on Earth doing all the dirty jobs for her.  On first viewing I enjoyed it but didn’t think it was anywhere near as good as District 9, the story didn’t seem to flow as nicely and was missing some of the charm of Wickus. On second viewing though it seems to a tight action thriller which rockets along at a good pace. On both viewings though the visuals are great, Blomkamp has a great way of making the unbelieveable seem very real, we don’t get the sleek Apple style technology of Oblivion but a dirty and damaged realistic style. I cannot wait to see where Blomkamp goes in the future as I think he is going to be huge.

With all the award ceremonies out of the way it was the time of year where Hollywood starts off it’s blockbuster season, so lets go blow some shit up!

Oblivion 16/4/13

oblivion

Tom Cruise’s second film of the year (okay Jack Reacher was released in 2012), again got a bit of stick, but not to the level of the previous film.  From the director of Tron Legacy, Joseph Kosinski it had the same beautiful visuals, but also like Tron it was sometimes a bit slow. Recently watched it at home and have to say it does improve on second viewing. It was criticised for stealing bits from other famous sci-fi films, but these days what films don’t, and the story had some nice twists and turns. M83 should also get note for their soundtrack, which like Daft Punk did with Tron Legacy, added a whole new level to the film. If you like sci-fi that isn’t all about spaceships blowing up should check it out.

Olympus Has Fallen 23/4/13

olympus has fallen

For some reason in Hollywood, especially in recent times, we have had an epidemic of two different studios bringing out films about the same topic. For A Bugs Life, we also got Antz, for Deep Impact we got Armageddon, for Dante’s Peak we got Volcano. This years face off saw two films about the White House coming under attack, Olympus Has Fallen, was the first out of the gate, more on the other one later.  Directed by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, this sees Gerard Butler as an ex secret service agent, who was involved in a tragic accident (aren’t they always), coming to the rescue of the President as the Pennsylvania Ave property is taken over by North Koreans.  As far as dumb action films go, this one is pretty good, if a little over violent at times, Butler seems to spend a lot of the film stabbing people in the head.  Unfortunately it does at times take it’s self too serious, which was the one element that made Die Hard (the film this so wants to be) so great. Butler shows he has the leading man chops though and the action scenes are pretty good, it also had my second best line of the year when Butler has a conversation with the bad guy on the phone, and gives him a great sign off.

Spring Breakers 23/4/13

spring breakers

Another of my double headers, came out of Olympus Has Fallen, and fancied watching something else, saw this was about to start and it’s diverse range of reviews made me curious to see it. It’s the story of four girlfriends who are desperate to get to Miami for Spring Break, so decide to rob a fast food restaurant. With the money in their pockets they head off for the debauchery of the college holiday and soon start taking advantage of what it has to offer. Soon they attract the attention of drug dealer, Alien, played with relish by James Franco, and find themselves doing his bidding robbing other students for drugs and money.  This is a divisive film, it’s like a music video dialled up to a 100, the opening shots of all the spring breaking students baring breasts and divulging in drugs and drink is certainly an eye opener. Unfortunately the film suffers from being all style and no substance, some of it seems to be about shocking us by having girls who we know from the Disney club having threesomes in swimming pools. It does have memorable moments though, the girls turning the tables on Alien as he thinks they will be impressed with all his stuff, and the scene that got talked about a lot, the girls in pink balaclavas and holding machine guns, standing around Alien as he plays Britney Spears, Everytime, on the piano. Not a bad film, but not great.

Iron Man 3  29/4/13 & 7/5/13

iron man 3

Yes you read that right, I saw this twice! This was the  first big blockbuster of the year, that I was really looking forward to. The original Iron Man was an amazing film and specifically Robert Downey Jr, if it wasn’t for him, I don’t think we would have got The Avengers film we did. I was also very excited about this because of the choice of director, Shane Black, the man who has written some of the great films of the 80’s and 90’s, a man with a very distinct style. He didn’t disappoint. He has always been known for his snappy dialogue and with Tony Stark as the outlet for his lines, it was the perfect mix. We found Stark suffering from the events of New York and then throw into that the arrival of a new terrorist threat in the form of the Mandarin and Tony was on the edge. Soon he found himself without all his gadgets relying on his smarts and this I think was the master stroke. There was also an amazing twist to come, which some people love and some absolutely hate. I have watched this film a few times since getting it on Blu ray and have to say it is one of, if not my favourite film of the year. This was the film with my favourite line of the year, when a henchman comes face to face with an armed and angry Tony Stark. Also a nice little post credits sting.

Star Trek Into Darkness 3D 13/5/13

star trek into darkness

The first film/reboot by JJ Abrams was such a pleasant surprise, it took a franchise that had run out of steam and gave it a whole new life. It was fun and full of action, so the question was where would they go next. This films release was a bit overshadowed by the news that it’s director was jumping off to helm that ‘other’ space series. In what will probably be his last Star Trek film, JJ left it in a good place, well unless you are a Trekker, who recently voted it the worst film of the series, really!  After the Federation finds themselves under attack from one of it’s own, Kirk and the crew set off on a galactic man hunt for the mysterious John Harrison.  From it’s fun, Indiana Jones style opening to the space battle the film rockets along at a great pace, never dragging at all.  As we come to expect from JJ Abrams, the visuals are impressive as was the 3D, which even though was a post conversion, added to the film, though the usual Lens flare’s were a little bit out of control. Pine and Quinto were as good as the first time and Benedict Cumberbatch was menacing in the first of his bad guy appearances of the year.

Fast And Furious 6 20/5/13

fast and furious 6

It’s weird writing about this film now after the terrible events of a last month, that’s why I picked the above poster to represent the film.  I am an unapologetic fan of the Fast And Furious franchise, in fact my favourite film of the series is still Tokyo Drift, yes you read that right.  After the amazingly OTT action of Fast Five and it’s shocking post credit surprise, I was really looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint. It was great seeing a Hollywood film set in London, and the car chases we love from the franchise were all there.  The chemistry between the crew has got better and with Luke Evans they had a great foe with an amazing flip car, and we also discovered the worlds longest runway. Like the first one, this also had a great credits sting, one that actually made me exclaim out loud when I saw how it locked into the franchise and who was gonna be in F & F 7, I was very excited. Then of course things took a dark turn, Paul Walker’s death was a very sad thing, and put the franchise’s future in doubt. He wasn’t a actor who was gonna win any awards but he was good at what he did and away from the F & F films he did some good work, I especially liked Roadkill with Steve Zahn. He will be a very big missing piece when the franchise returns next year.

Man Of Steel 15/6/13 & 22/7/13

man of steel

Ahead of Iron Man 3 in my most anticipated films of 2013 was the return of Superman. As I may have mentioned on my blog in the past, Superman has a very special place in my heart as the Christopher Reeve film of 1978 was the first film I can remember going to see at the cinema, I even liked Bryan Singer’s 2006 film as well. So following the amazing Dark Knight trilogy I was looking forward to seeing what Warner Brothers were going to do with the Man Of Steel. I was a big fan of Zack Snyder’s previous superhero film, the Watchmen, and enjoyed this a lot more. I thought Henry Cavill was perfect as Kal El, and the flash back style of telling his story was a clever move as it avoided the now common origin story model which a lot of the films in this genre follow. The supporting cast also gave the film a real sense of gravitas, Russell Crowe’s  Jor El was a good new interpretation of the character, from a Krypton we have never seen before. As his adoptive parents on Earth you can’t beat Kevin Costner, as Pa Kent, his line about him always being his son, had me tearing up again and Diane Lane was the supportive mother you expected. Amy Adams, who I am a big fan of, brought a nice harder edge, investigative side to the character who in the past has been a bit of a ditzy character. Am looking forward to sequel, whatever they decide to call it, though I have to admit I am a bit concerned about the amount of characters they seem to be cramming into it.

As is the way, as we start a new year, we look back at the year that has passed. For Christmas 2012 I was bought a cinema gift card, the perfect gift for a film nerd like me (received another one this year!). So as 2013 began I saw a lot of films, some I probably wouldn’t have paid for, and some I definitely would have. Now follows is a look at the films I got off my backside and went to the cinema to see, as there were a lot I shall break it down into a few parts. You will notice I have actually put the dates I saw the films, this is because I actually keep all my tickets and last year with a pile of them sitting around I decided to frame them, 3 big frames worth! For note they go from 1989 Batman to The Worlds End 2013.

cinema tickets

Well on with the show.!

The Life Of Pi 3D 8/1/12

life of pi

When I first saw the trailer for this I thought, “That’s ridiculous a kid wouldn’t survive with a tiger on a boat, he’d be eaten”. I don’t know what changed my mind but I decided to check it out, and I was glad I did. A beautiful film both in visuals and story, I was thoroughly gripped and must admit was a bit teary eyed at the end. The 3D was also amazing especially the flying fish sequence and the scene off the above poster. Watched it at home in 3D and it’s still amazing viewing.

Les Miserables 14/1/12

les miserables

I’m not a big fan of musicals, okay you could call The Blues Brothers a musical I suppose, but apart from that I think Moulin Rouge is one of the few I’ve seen.  I got talking to one of my customers while on delivery and he knew I was a film fan and asked whether I was gonna watch Les Mis, I said probably not, his response was, “oh you must, if you don’t cry you are cold” something along those lines. As a fan of Hugh Jackman and the lovely Anne Hathaway, I thought what the hell, so off I trotted. Well I really enjoyed it, loved the music and the massive scale of the production, thought the performances were great and even Russell Crowe’s singing wasn’t as bad as I expected. My customer was right, again I teared up!  (Where’s the action films to make me to sound more manly!). I have since got the film on Blu ray and enjoyed it equally as much.

Jack Reacher 15/1/12

jack reacher

Tom Cruise gets a lot of shit from the media, mainly because of his religious (?) beliefs, but as an actor I have to say I am a big fan, I don’t think he has done that many bad films. When it was announced he was tackling the Jack Reacher film, One Shot, there was a huge backlash from the fans of the book. This was mainly due to the size difference between Cruise and the character of Reacher who in the books is 6ft 5. Having never read the books I was just looking forward to a crime drama, and it is a great drama film. The story is really gripping with some nice twists and turns, and actually holds up in repeated viewings.  Thought Tom was good and there is a strong supporting cast as well. I know a fan of the books who actually enjoyed it as well.

Django Unchained 22/1/13

Django Unchained

A new Quentin Tarantino film is always a big event, and Django Unchained certainly lived up to it. His first film since 2009’s Inglorious Basterds, it had been a long wait, and Quentin tackling the western genre was an exciting prospect. As we come from to expect from Tarantino, it was a mix of scintillating dialogue and violence, with the usual excellent soundtrack. With great performances from Jamie Foxx, Leonardo Di Caprio and especially Christophe Waltz, who won his 2nd Oscar from a Tarantino film. Some said it was too long, but I have to say I’ve seen it twice and neither time did I feel it dragged. The only downer on the film was Quentin’s Aussie accent!

The Impossible 22/1/13

the impossible

You may notice next to the title, that I saw this the same day as Django Unchained. The cinema I visit, is an Empire Cinema, and they have a great policy of not charging ridiculous prices to see films, and on a Tuesday it’s only £3 a film, so on occasion I will watch a couple of films. On this day, I had come out of Django and thought I quite fancy seeing something else, and The Impossible was about to start so I thought lets do it. Didn’t know much about it other than it was about the terrible Tsunami of 2004. With Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor who I both find very watchable, I sat and was transfixed as the story of a family ripped apart by a terrible natural disaster played out. The tsunami sequence was visually amazing and upsetting at the same time, in fact a girl sat in front of me nearly threw up at Watts’s injuries. She gave a great performance and her son played by Tom Holland was exceptional.  It managed to avoid being too saccharine, and yes I teared up a bit near the end!

Zero Dark Thirty 28/1/13

zero dark thirty

When I went to see Kathryn Bigelow’s previous film, Oscar winner, The Hurt Locker, I was the only person in the cinema, certainly not the case with Zero Dark Thirty. This film was already being written before Bin Laden was killed, so when he was taken out, they had the dramatic ending for the film. The film got wrapped up in a row about it’s depictions of torture, which is a shame as it distracted people away from what was a tense and very interesting story about one woman’s obsession with finding the worlds most wanted man. The raid sequence while extremely tense is played totally straight without the usual bombastic bravado we get in most films about the military. It was a shame that the controversy over shadowed what should have been an awards winner.

The Last Stand 31/1/13

The Last Stand

Following his small appearances in The Expendables films, this was Arnie’s big return to the genre he helped define in the 80’s and 90’s. The story of a small town sheriff left between an escaped drug kingpin and the border. It didn’t break new ground but was a fun and dumb action film, with Arnie on good form, killing bad guys and quipping away. It was surprisingly quite bloody as well.

Lincoln 5/2/13

 

lincoln

If you have read any of my posts in the past, you will know that I am a huge Steven Spielberg fan and will try and see every film he puts out. A lot of the buzz about the film was the performance of Oscar magnet, Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th president, and for once the hype was right. You forget very quickly that you are watching an actor, he inhabits the role. He’s helped by a great supporting cast including Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. It also had a bit of the West Wing vibe to it with a lot of the film being about the background goings on off American politics and Government.

Wreck It Ralph 3D 11/2/13

wreck it ralph

As a gamer, I was really looking forward to this film, watching it I realised I don’t know as much as I think I do about games,  as I didn’t spot that many of the numerous hidden and not so hidden references.  The story of the game bad guy wanting to be good worked so well, especially the bad guys anonymous scene. The only disappointment was that they seemed to spend too much time in the Sugar Rush land, there was a lot of potential different worlds they could have visited, but maybe that will be in the sequel. John C Reilly was the perfect choice for the voice of Ralph and I was impressed with Sarah Silverman’s work on a character that could have been easily very annoying. The 3D was also exceptional, especially in the Halo like battle game world of Hero’s Duty.

A Good Day To Die Hard 26/2/13

A Good Day to Die Hard

If you read my Christmas films feature recently, you know how much I love Die Hard. It is one of my all time favourite films and easily one of the best action films ever made, but the last few films are starting to taint it’s memory. Die Hard 4.0 was a softened down money making exercise, but it had it’s moments and wasn’t terrible, just average. It’s the same with this 5th instalment, but now it seems like even Bruce Willis doesn’t really give a shit, he sleep walks his way through the film, which it has to be said has some good action sequences, the chase through Moscow being one of them, but it just doesn’t feel right. I really hope they don’t do another one, if they do, they need to remember where it all started and stop going bigger, it isn’t always best.

Happy New Year

Image

A Happy New Year to my couple of readers, and to start 2014 here’s a picture that was released near midnight from Marvel. It’s the first official photo of the cast of The Guardians Of The Galaxy, one of Marvels Phase 2 movies for this year, and one I am very excited to see.