Into the final stretch.

Rush 23/9/13


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


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

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 30/12/13

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.