Thursday, 29 July 2010

49, The Karate Kid


First of all, lets get what we are all thinking out in the open.

The original Karate Kid, although now considered a cult classic was not the best movie ever made. Ralph Macchio never looked "hard" enough to be a karate champion and the shameful 2nd and 3rd follow-ups just made it even worse.

So when this came out part of me hoped it would be a "re-working" like The Italian Job or the soon to be releases Sorcerers Apprentice not a "re-make" like Wicker Man but believe me that barring all but two (or maybe three) differences this is an exact replica of the first film, even down to the damaged leg in the final fight.

But after 10 minutes it did not matter.

Change 1, it takes place in China. Change 2, the "Crane" is now the "Snake" and Change 3, they are all little kids.

In the 1st movie our hero had left college, was able to drive and was pretty dependant. This was okay but in the new movie our 12 year old mini "Will Smith" is totally adorable and what makes it even better is the 12 year old bullies look tougher than the adults did in 1984!! Add in the fact that he plays a part that is so familiar to parents with teenage kids I fully believe that barring the money and fame, he is no different to my own brood with their mess, cheek & humour!

The fight scenes are awesome, probably to do with Jackie Chan's input and after memorable Chan movies like Police Story, First Strike and Operation Condor you know that his fight scenes are quick, funny and completely unbelievable. This is replicated here and the laughs come as often as the ouches!!

You should know the plot, kid gets a kicking, mentor steps in, becomes teacher, honour is defended in tournament, film over. Don't think that knowing the outcome will ruin the experience as this is a thousand times better acted, shot, located & choreographed than the original and you actually believe that Jaden Smith could kick ass!.

It may have helped that "Mum & Dad" produced the movie with Will & Jade Pinkett on site in China to keep an eye on their "more than average" teenager and the first "screen kiss" for Jaden must have been a bit odd with the folks looking on, but there is a reason why this little "soon to be superstar" got top billing over Jackie Chan, he is amazing.

He acts well, fights brilliantly and the "balcony splits" make the best of us wince. Add in the fact that he is still just a kid and already has the swagger of Mr Big Willy himself shows that given the right guidance, scripts and helping parental hand this guy could go along way.

The "wax on, wax off" has been replaced with "jacket on, jacket off" and this did get a bit repetitive but the whole movie (all 2hrs 20 minutes of it) passes like lightening and the finale hits with a sweeping rush of joy and lump in the throat!! All I heard was praise from the crowd and for the first time in my cinema experience I heard a ripple of applause at the end!!

There is a bully, a baddie teacher, a girl, a kiss, a car, a fly swatting moment and more pokes at the original (in-kind) that you could ask for which makes for a funny, witty, fast paced, well written film that I dare you to dislike!!

Not a bad word on this one, I would see it again tomorrow and it definitely hits the blu-ray Xmas list for me.

Age?, 6 & 11 year old girls were hooked throughout and both my wife and I loved it. I don't think I have written a bad review since Brooklyn's Finest but I would watch this a hundred times over rather than a single re-sit of that one!!

If you have daughters that want to be the next "Mrs Bieber" then hang around for the end credits. The final song shows that Smith Jnr cant only just act but takes in daddy's footsteps with a rap as well!! alongside Mr Bieber Fever himself. Too much of the "gag" factor for me but what can you do!

See this if................You like to see old dogs learn new tricks!!

Monday, 26 July 2010

48, Inception


Hmmmmmmmmmm, right. Here goes.

Firstly, if you are hoping that this blog is going to explain what the film is all about, think again.

All I will say is be prepared to have to really keep your attention levels at their finest from start to finish during this one, a slight "wee" break or even dropping your Pepsi bottle will be sufficient time to miss key info and lose your place.

You should be able to work it if your GCSE level was above +4C's and if I said that at one point the film is operating with our actors on 3 levels of sub consciousness at the same time with levels of dreams interlinked with subliminal story lines and different scenarios including flight, arctic conditions, floating buildings and Juno being her amazing self then you are only just understanding the depth this movie goes too.

And what a movie!!! If you manage to keep up it is action and adventure flick from start to finish, definitely one of the best films I have seen all year and after Shutter Island, DiCaprio has once again proved he is becoming a true master of the thriller epic leaving his "boy next door charm" on the Titanic and who cares what was eating Gilbert Grape!!

I wont even get into the special effects!! - beautifully staged and believable to the end (if folding a city in two is believable!!) but seamless - this could have made a great 3d film!!

So, onto the rest of the cast and my favourite is far and away Tom Hardy. For those that watched "The Take" (the 4 part TV drama) and like me thought, "Hang on - this guy is awesome!" will not be disappointed. He is a funny, hard, gun totting, tough guy with a quick wit and a dodgy beard but is amazing in the role and in my mind is the best thing to hit Hollywood from England since Knightly bent it like Beckham

Its a "kids become grown-ups" cast with Ellen Page (Juno) playing a very smart uni grad and finally, oh joy!, a film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt that does not include the useless title (and plot) of 500 days of Summer - Sorry but it was a total donkey.

Michael Caine makes a brief cameo and an bloody old looking Tom Berenger pops up which was a bit weird - definitely exposing the " If Mickey Rourke can do it...so can I" philosophy - but credit due, he was not that bad!

That's the main actors covered - everyone was great and i was totally hooked for the whole 2hrs 29 minutes, not even an achy leg and I was in the hell hole Screen 4 - bloody uncomfortable seats!!!

After two animations back to back it was great to engage the brain once more and even though its a 12a don't bother taking anyone under that or it will be question after question and you will find a "matrix" style flying fist leaving your seat space and entering the persons next to you as the slightest crumple of a popcorn bag is enough to jog your thought train and you might as well start all over again.

I don't normally gush this much but if mind bending thriller is your cup of tea - then buy a ticket, take a seat, move all other thoughts to one side and give this film the credit it deserves.

Film of the year? Its definitely up there.

See this if..............you want to feel all clever - if only for 149 minutes.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

47, Toy Story 3


Two kids films back to back but I suppose its inevitable as the Summer holidays kick off!! Get them out the way early leaving room for the A-Team, Knight & Day & The Sorcerer's Apprentice - but back to the matter in hand.

The 3rd installment of this classic trilogy sees Andy all grown up and facing the dilemma of moving to college and what to do with his toys. Bin 'em, Donate 'em or Store 'em? oh the joys of kids plots - nice and simple.

After a few Miss-understanding and some jaw dropping special effects (to a 6 year old anyway) a majority of our toys end up at Sunnyside Daycare Centre (playschool) and we are introduced to the seemingly lovely, cuddly and over welcoming residents who suck our heroes into the life of a disused toy and all the joys it can bring. Blah Blah Blah - trickery, lies and deceit follow and our toys end up having to look for an escape plan - predictable, Yes. but good? GREAT!

The star of the whole movie this time is not Buzz, or even Woody but Ken. Voiced my Michael Keaton (the 1st Batman) he is hilarious, definitely gets most of the gags and the Ken / Barbie bits are "laugh out loud" funny.

Then there is a plot line about an evil abandoned bear who smells of strawberries and his sinister allies. The Monkey is the scariest for little kids and there is a jumpy bit, but on the whole its lighthearted, funny and enjoyable.

Age? maybe down to at least 4 years old would sit through it and my 6 year old was captivated. As far as "happy endings" go for a moment I thought the whole thing was going to end with severe tragedy, but knowing that there is no way the producers would let that happen soon realised what I was about to witness was probably the "happiest ending" I have EVER seen in a movie. Its totally adorable and, (although they probably won't) leaves the door open for Toy Story 4,5 & 6. but I thinks this one has done its due and done it well.

We saw it in 3d but again I felt let down - for those of you that have gone to Thorpe Park or Legoland and watched their 4d adventures they REALLY work - things popping out right in your face and using the same technology I just wish the movies would replicate but they are all mediocre, scenic dimensional attempts, opting for utilising perspective and depth rather than "jump out" visuals so if you get the chance, save the cash and see it in 2d. However, the cinema was totally sold out, even the front rows and the number of "non-kiddie" groups was astounding. Dates, teenagers, even die hard action nuts were queueing and the laughs from the parents overwhelmed the kids.

This is the best Kids series of animations to date and the 3rd just adds a new depth. It's great. See it now, even if its just for Spanish Buzz - he is awesome!! and a quick not to parents - watch through the credits. Humour to the very end.

See this if...............you got a friend in me!! x

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

46, Shrek - Forever After


Not to sound cheap but we went to see this in standard 2d, however when we arrived the projector was broken so with a 6 year old in tears we got a 25 minute wait and a free upgrade, specs and all to the 3d showing - Result!

For those that don't know, and I doubt those of you with kids fall into this category, this is the 4th Shrek Movie. I have only seen 1 & 2 so it was nice to get a little reprise at the start of the "story so far..." (always a nice touch!)

So, all the big names are back, Myers, Diaz, Murphy, Banderas, Andrews & Cleese and all play their parts with the confidence we have grown to love and the story plays out seamlessly from the 3 previous films but at the end of the day its just another kids flick.

The 3d was meagre and to be honest, for the cost of a £1.50 pair of glasses and an £0.80p 3d upgrade, in addition to the ticket price, you might as well watch the 2d version - you wont miss anything!! and seeing as we got the 3d for free - we wished it was better.

It's a good plot idea - Shrek gets annoyed with what appears to be his life turning into "Groundhog Day" and in a moment of selfishness wishes it all away - for 1 day - but the cheeky cad know as Rumple Stiltskin, tricks him into a deal that takes away 1day of Shrek's life for 1 day of "Ogre'ness" and when that day turns out to be the day Shrek was born, his non-existence means Far Far Away Land is without our Green Rooney and he has until Sunrise to fix it all back.

So, alternative reality meets Cinderella - Kind of. but its watchable, funny in parts and Puss in Boot's big ol' eyes (and belly) still make you go AHHHhhh!

Keep an eye out for the background action - there is loads going on with characters away from the main attractions and its those classic moments that get the laughs. With week 1 of the Summer Holidays looming the kids will want entertaining early - and you cant go wrong with this.

Toy Story 3 is out as well next week so between that, Get him to the Greek and Predators I am sure that blog will be coming soon - and to be brutally honest I am looking to that one far much more than Shrek - but that's just the Buzz Lightyear in me! Infinity & Beyond!!

If you have seen the other 3 films then you might as well add this to the list - its better than watching Jeremy Kyle (and I should know, 2 weeks off on sick leave and I would have watched paint dry just to get out of the house!!) and now the World Cup is over...Dad's - Its time to spend some time with the kiddies!!

See this if.............Loves first Kiss still makes you warm inside!!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

45, Twilight - Eclipse


Okay - so "preview" weekends are great. No ads, you see films a week before general release, packed auditoriums and for the hasty few - a midnight screening.

Unlike my sister who ventured out to a 00.10am showing of this to be the first to see it I was a little less eager and the 10.30am was quite early enough for me - the 2nd showing of the movie and here was I, hoping not too many people would join me on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning.

I was wrong - it was heaving!! and the screens at the ticket office showed the evenings performances already selling out fast. so, blockbuster then? Definitely.

Now I have not read the Twilight books but I went in expecting a big blood fest of werewolves meet vampires and fights, battles, teeth etc but I think it is quite clear that this is now not what these films are all about.

They are love stories, pure and simple - chick flicks with teeth which is great but don't go if you want blood and gore - its not going to happen. So, take off my action head and put on my love story head and lets take another look.

By now we have all chosen our sides - Team Edward Vs. Team Jacob and I am not going to tell you what side I chose but it is easy to see why thousands of teenage girls (and some 30+ KAREN!!) are swooning in the aisles for these two actors. Jacob is again more toned than a marble sideboard and Edward carries off gaunt, pale vamp with an air of class, even Bella has appeared to have grown up a bit so the cast are as expected, comfortable in their roles, characters and story lines - no complaints there then.

As for the story - I might get some mild abuse here but it just seemed a bit slow. There are some great scripted exchanges though between E & J (look out for the one in the tent) and during the film these go from full on aggressive to slightly comical and sarcastic as they get to become slightly better allies but it just seems to take forever getting to the battle, which in itself is over before it really began.

You can tell the special effects have cost a packet, they are great and is it just me that thinks Carlisle looks like Tom Cruise? maybe, but the thing is, slow or not, action or love story you have to watch this.

It is the 3rd in what I think is a 4 part saga (if there is a 5th then I apologise in advance) that if you have been in from the start you cant miss. It plays an integral part in the story but Eclipse? I don't get the meaning of the title - Maybe it should read "Twilight - Love Triangle", that would have made more sense.

So, as I said earlier I don't really do books so I cant tell you if it is true to the novel or if huge portions are left out and I don't really care. With any book turned movie people will be disappointed, but if like me you think a film is a film and who cares if bits were left out, it kept me entertained for 100 minutes then you wont go far wrong.

Just make sure to take a girlfriend / wife along - the 2 guys on their own looked out of place in an row of seats filled with couples & female groups - but I am sure they loved it just the same.

So, quick round up....This is a great movie. The Vamps are cool and tough, Emmett is the funniest vamp, the girls look hot, the Wolves come complete with a six pack on each of them and Bella is once again the "not as attractive as everyone makes out she is" damsel in distress - hopefully she will do a comedy next or she is definitely set for roles as gloomy "emo" teenager until she gets too old.

Sorry Bella.

See this if...............You have seen 1 & 2, otherwise - go home.