Monday, 23 May 2011

119, Blitz

3 things commonly make a great movie.  1, Its got Jason Statham in it.  2, Its set in London & 3, Its not called "Attack the Block".  So - all boxes checked - here we go!!!

Firstly, lets start with the 18 certificate that Blitz has been labeled with.  Not worthy! Yes its got a lot of violence but no sex and not a single actual gory moment, however its funny how the introduction of a single word can send people into a mad frenzy when rating movies.  So, to be specific (but not too much as I know the little kiddies read this) it has got every body's favourite swear word in it - one that only gets banded about in either extreme confrontation or that of a giggling group of friends but definitely not one for polite conversation.  And that in a nutshell is the dilemma of making a movie an 18.  Moving on........

Statham does what he does best.  A gritty London copper, plain clothed and a bit on the edge as the movie opens with him taking a hurling bat to a gang of car thieves outside his apartment / flat.  Then the credits role - so, nice guy? Well.  Yes.  He is not a dirty cop, just likes to dish out punishment to those deserving of it and his softer side comes to light a few times with his slightly odd couping of the new Gay Superintendent, transferred from Posh London to the S.E to head up the criminal unit after the untimely death of his predecessors wife leading to a leave of absence.  Between them they are like Kenneth Williams meets, well - Jason Statham!  but its has his funny moments and Statham dishes out one liners as quick as he does broken noses while keeping it non-cheesy and specific.

With an all British cast its not just Statham that stands out, Zawe Ashton (Bianca in St Trinians 2) is brilliant as an ex-undercover junkie cop who is crying out for love and support and has grown up a hell of a lot since beat boxing in Frittens Dorms!  The other cops and The Blitz himself are also brilliant and mostly are all recognisable from TV dramas.

Its great when this kind of movie comes along.  America hype up cop movies with all action, over the top drama that is well received but not ordinary of maybe an LA freeway or a New York suburb.  We manage to keep all the action and suspense while at the same time make it believable, down to earth and entertaining.

Imagine Bad Boys or Mission impossible on a smaller scale? - They would not work and they don't have too.  They make big budget worth it but this does not need the glitz and glamour of huge names - Statham is a main attraction at the best of times but in this he truly does show his down to earth roots and is backed up brilliantly.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this even with the "C" word thrown in a few times and being a cert 18 kept the noisy kids out which left me, My wife and about another 200 movie goers in silent awe as the 90 minutes barrelled past like a freight train to Alaska.

If Pirates 4 left you excited then this a happy "down to earth with a bump" movie and one completely deserving of awesome write ups. I hope you read this Jason - Keep making them and I will keep watching them!

See this if...............................................You're proud to be British (or if American, which I know about 1200 of my readers are, This ones ours!  MI4 is yours)      

Sunday, 22 May 2011

118, Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

Instalment number 4.  For those who have started losing count it all began back in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl, then in 06 & 07, Depp had back to back releases with Dead Mans Chest and At Worlds End until we find ourselves in 2011 with Stranger Tides.

There are notable unfamiliarity's, the sad losing of original cast members Bloom & Knightly in my eyes are greatly missed but with Sparrow, Barbossa & Gibbs all in attendance and the great additions of Ian McShane, Penelope Cruz & Stephen Graham as Blackbeard, Angelica & Scrum with a cracking 30 second cameo from Dame Judy. D leads to a pretty impressive cast listing, even without our much missed British double act.

So where are we - well, there is no mention of Bloom & Knightly to start, Barbossa has switched sides to the British Navy and Sparrow is still without the Pearl, taken from Barbossa by Blackbeard.  Sparrow is in London and hears that he is supposed to be collecting a crew to seek for the fountain of youth - an apparent impostor! on investigation he discovers that its old flame Angelica (Cruz) pretending to be the wayward captain, working on behalf of daddy dearest, Blackbeard himself.

Everyone meets up and Blackbeard, The Navy and a gaggle of Spaniards all race to find the fountain of youth by the way of collecting some Goblets and a Mermaids tear.  Sorted - Ahoy me Hearty's!!

I love a good pirate movie - the first three had me in stitches with laughter at Sparrows antics and the colour and settings of the Caribbean always make the dullest, rainiest days seem a joy to behold.  I was a little worried out Knightly's departure - she always bought something demure to being a pirate but Cruz manages to take over quite seamlessly, a pirate from early on she carries the charm and charisma of any of her male compatriots and manages to make a name for herself in this very male environment.

McShane as Blackbeard manages to balance evil with a small touch of mercy brilliantly and has always been destined to play this role - even since the early days as Lovejoy!  Barbossa is his normal craggy self, now minus a leg and Scragg, the new chatty pirate played by Stephen Graham (Tommy from Snatch) is as dumber a pirate as you could have hoped for.

The mermaids are tantalisingly graceful but there is not an "Ariel" in sight as these ladies of the deep are as deadly as they are beautiful and the collection of a single tear proves harder than you may believe.  But not all is lost, as you will see - they are not all like it!

There is no real plot spoiler here - its a road movie on boats with swords and as with the previous three its Johnny Depp who steals the limelight.  Depp is again amazing and I believe he truly loves this role, maybe above all others.  He IS Jack Sparrow.  Cunning, devious, funny, witty, charming & deadly, a lovable rogue.  And he continues to get better and better with each outing.

Its a good 2hrs this one and being a 12A there are some jumpy bits - We saw it in 2D but no matter - the cinema was still full and although you could tell the bits that would have jumped out at you it was a joy to behold as much without the specs as I am sure it would have been with them.

I might wait to see if there is a Fifth on the way in the next few years but if not - then the box set might be a great little investment.  There has not been a pirate franchise like this before and there probably never will be again - Not a bad word.  Loved it.

See this if..........................................You're partial to a bottle of Rum!


Sunday, 15 May 2011

117, Attack the Block

So, it's National Lottery funded "Film 4" presentation time once again.  These pop up every now and again, a low(ish) budget Brit flick movie with a wholly English cast, set in a realistic UK setting with a plot as English as time itself.  Quietly brilliant.

Until now that is.

I could not wait to go and see this movie.  With comical legend Nick Frost starring I was easily expecting a great reprise for him to the screen after Paul, Hot Fuzz etc and hoped that A.T.B was going to just another great string to his bow.  The trailer looks hilarious - a group of South London youths who witness an alien invasion and rather than get the cops involved, tool up and decide to take down the unidentified menace themselves!

That is the basis of the entire plot sorted.  Nut comedy? Uh......no.

If this was meant to be a funny film then I totally missed the plot.  Was it meant to be an actual serious alien attack movie?  Probably - its just a shame though as it did drama and seriousness relatively badly, humour even worse and acting, well lets just say there was a reason why most of the cast have only done small TV roles until now.

I cant totally slate it though - I did find the gang in question relatively amusing with their South London quips and their blatant disregard for law and order.  The backdrops were well utilised of the council estates with the darkened corridors and back alleys proving quite a scary playground for our alien invaders.  Which brings me onto the Aliens themselves.

Either to save on costs or for any other given reason the creatures were pretty featureless except for a glowing blue set of chompers.  Balls of hair and teeth, jet black in colour with no facial expressions they just gave the appeal of brainless drones and I suppose this was the intention but it was just predictable and pointless.

Written and Directed by Joe Cornish (from Adam & Joe) I was hoping he was progressing towards becoming the 2nd Noel Clarke.  Noel, Coming from TV and penning such great movies as Kid & Adulthood and 4.3.2.1 I fully expected this to be on the same level - dark, gritty and real.  Instead it fell on its arse.  Heavily.  It's easy to see how Frost got involved, Cornish starred in Hot Fuzz & Shaun of the Dead so its more a friendly favour from Frost, rather than a contractual obligation.

I wish I could say something more positive.  The lead role, Moses was okay, the supporting cast (including Frost) were slightly dull and "Hi Hats" was a total waste of space.

I would rather sit through eyeball surgery then watch this again.  I am not one against swearing, violence or attitude in fact, I welcome them in my movies but this was just poor.  On all levels.  Sorry Joe - Stick to 6 Music.

See this if.........................................
Right, at this point of the blog I usually come up with a quirky one-liner which defines my own feelings or comparisons to other movies that you may like, allowing you to make concerted judgements on if you also choose to spend your hard earned cash on release.  However, on this one, the blog may turn you off going but in all honesty - its not all that bad and although probably belongs in the "straight to DVD" cabinet may appeal to some of you.   

SO, with that in mind, See this if..................................kids and knives and bikes and guns and aliens and gangsters and gangs and BMW's and mopeds and blue teeth and quiet neighbours and drugs and baseball caps and samurai swords and petrol filled supersoakers and wheelie bins and afro's and security doors and meat wagons and tiny tempah specs are your thing.  If not, dont bother. :-)

116, Hanna

To date, there have been a few movies with a female child assassin.  Leon, more recently Kick-Ass but this one is a little bit different.

The movie opens in the icy wilderness.  A lone hunter is tracking a deer with a bow and arrow and strikes with almost pinpoint accuracy.  After she proceeds to shoot it point blank in the head and gut the poor beast she is crept up on by a hooded figure who claims "you're dead" a fight breaks out and our two characters proceed to battle in a "mortal kombat" style with the older male pulling no punches about giving the younger female a kicking.  After our hunter takes a small initiative it becomes apparent that this is not ordinary 16 year old Justin Bieber fan!

Father and Daughter, living together without any outside influences for what appears to be her entire short lifetime.  Initially, there are lines and plot stories spoken about that don't make any sense at this point but luckily the film story pans out to explain everything along the way.

Hanna, played by Saorise Ronan has previously had a few good roles in City of Ember, The Lovely Bones and most recently, the Way Back (See Blog 81) but this is definitely her best one to date.  She is brilliant.  Dark and deadly with an air of slight anonymity she is keen to discover her true identity and that of the world around her.  Trained solely by her father, Eric Bana - an ex spy turned rogue, hiding out for his own, and that of his daughters protection the pair are living out a quiet, nomad existence until it becomes time for her to spread her wings, knowing the whole time that when she does they will both be hunted down.

So here come the bad guys!  Led by Cate Blanchett, playing a slightly less darker version of her role in Indie 4 with a strong Southern accent leads the US government's spook division aided by quite a camp little blond oddball with two skinheads as back-up.  Not your first choice of government heavies but under the radar and a nasty temper as lethal as their dress sense!

A tiny cameo from who I believed to be Gemma Arterton goes completely uncredited so I am not even sure if it was her.  If so, the threw her hat into a tiny role after some recent big hitters - hope things are not drying up for this english rose.

Its a strange one this, I enjoyed it but there were parts that did drag out quite a bit.  The small battles that take place are well executed and Hanna is definitely the kid at school you want in your corner!  She bunks in with a travelling family, led by UK legend, Jason Flemyng but its his daughter in this that gets the laughs - the same age as Hanna but from oh, so different backgrounds.  Its her british wit that grabs some of the few laughs in this and her sweet naivety of the big wide world, tied up in her small "Hello magazine" outlook on life.

12A this one and there were plenty of kids in the audience but as mentioned in The Priest (Blog 116) certs seem to be relaxing - My 7 year old could have come along - but no chance!

If deep and meaningful is your thing with a slightly odd requirement of seeing kids kicking the crap out of bad guys then you will love this!

I was in a packed cinema and although there were a gaggle of chuckling teens behind me I managed to zone out and enjoy the movie.  hopefully you will too!

See this if.................................you want to see what Hit Girl would be like, all grown-up! 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

115, Priest

Its about time we had a proper vampire movie.  No room here for floppy haired, pasty "don't want to eat anybody" wimpy heartthrobs.  Vamps should be nasty, no mercy critters with a true thirst for blood and look mean as hell to go with it.

Set in an apocalyptic "Mad Max" style world we have 2 races, Humans and Vampires who have warred for years with the humans apparently becoming victorious under the lead of a group of Priests.  A legendary martial arts & weapons trained fraternity of biblical worshipers who defeat vampires with swift ease and deadly style.

We are quickly bought in to this realm buy a great little 5 minute anime cartoon which shows the story of the great war and how the humans come to gain supremacy over the vampires. 

After being sent to prison camps the vampires are supposed to be a distant memory until an old adversary shows his head again and leads them to a 2nd coming.

There are some great parts to this movie.  Firstly, the lead Paul Bettany is his normal amazing self and carries this type of role easily as he did in Davinci Code, just not as evil!  On a mission to rescue his niece from a rogue vampire squadron our hero breaks his code of secrecy and heads out into the wasteland to take on an army of blood sucking Vampires.



This is a 12, not a 12A and in 3D there are plenty of jumpy bits to keep you on your toes.  Certs have definately got a bit more relaxed recently, my daughter could have seen this but I am convinced she would have jumped right out of her seat!

With other vampire movies the vamps are just like humans with dodgy teeth and a slightly "near death" complexion.  In this, those stereotypes are there but called "familiars", humans who have sided with the vamps - the actual vampires are hideous, blinded, all teeth, animal like creatures who awake at dusk with only one thing on their mind.  Living in hives they excrete, eat and roar their way through desolate wasteland, demolishing everything that comes in their path.

I was not expecting great things from this movie but I was completely overwhelmed. 

I loved it. 

The effects were great, the battles were epic, the weaponry on show were impressive and the motorbikes with their tagged on jet engine and 300mph thrust buttons were awesome.

There are plenty of other great actors in this and all playing great roles but its actually all about Bettany.  He rocks in this and if its still on at your local multiplex and you fancy a bit of an unexpected thrill then check this one out in awesome 3D before they take it off.

Hopefully you will love it too!

See this if.......................There is more to Vampires than a floppy hair cut!

Monday, 2 May 2011

114, Insidious

Categorically speaking, I don't do horror films (See Scream 4 Blog), but Scream 4 is not a Horror.  It's Hollywood's interpretation of a glamorous slasher movie.  Boobs and knives etc.  On the other hand Saw, Hostel, Hills have Eyes etc are also not scary films.  Sometimes they are gross out blood fests that make you squirm and in my case as it was with Hostel, feel a little queasy but again, not pinned to your seat, white fear kind of stuff.

Jump back a few decades.  As a kid I sneaked peaks at Poltergeist, Amityville etc and they proper freaked me out and I sadly cant comment on recent outings with Paranormal Activitie(s) so going into this one was a bit of an experience.

Firstly, I had to look up what Insidious meant!  My love of Russell Brand does not always stretch to his vocab talents so,  Research was required;

Insidious - Adjective

1. intended to entrap or beguile: an insidious plan.
2. stealthily treacherous or deceitful: an insidious enemy.
3. operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect: an insidious disease.

Hmmm.  Nice!


Yes, its a scary movie - I dare the toughest of you not to jump even a little bit at a number of points throughout and I have to admit, slightly sweaty on the palms - I jumped, but not a proper scream out loud, popcorn in the air, kick to the back of the head of the guy in front kind of way.

The plot is a simple one - sweet young family move into nice big Amityville style property (should have seen the signs early!) and after a short time the son falls into a coma.  Wifey staying at home while husband skirts the issue by working longer hours etc.  Then the ghosties start to appear, and not Beetlejuice stylie ghosties.  Actual creepy ones.  The main, resembling a nasty version of Darth Maul but there are a few that jump out at you throughout.  To try and fix this, they move house, but the trouble moves with them.  More ghosties thrown together with knocks, bangs and hand prints lead to a bit of a spine chilling adventure until an unlikely combo of old friend / demon hunter and her "Egon Spengler(ish)" like double act of assistants descend to film, capture and send home the Demons from within.

Each of the cast plays their parts brilliantly - the movie even manages to get a slight chuckle towards the end with a "my flashlights bigger than your flashlight" moment and I am not even going to tell you if there is a happy ending! Like me you will have to sit through the 90 minutes of thinking if you are actually going to scream like a girl in public (which I didn't) or if this is another disappointing outing from the movie people trying to be scary.

Either way - for an up to date psychological thriller it definitely ticks lots of boxes.  Horror film though? Well, not really.  But I urge you to take someone slightly less brave than you and make them see it, as I did.  And that is where this blog resolves, in a heartfelt thank you to my wife.  Although she shares a name with the leading character (which really did not go down too well) she manned-up and sat though her worst nightmare purely because I asked her too.  Yes she got scared, Yes she wont ever go again but to those who know her personally, She deserves a big well done!!

See this if................................you want to relive those early scares of 80's Horror in 2011.

113, Red Riding Hood

Having seen this trailer a while ago it had "Tim Burton" written all over it, bit with the lack of any casting from Bonham-Carter it became apparent that he actually had nothing to do with it.  Instead it is Twilight Director Catherine Hardwicke who has turned her hand to recreating one of the most famous tales of all time.

And the comparisons to Twilight are remarkable!  Okay, so there is no Vampires but the wolf is played out as a Werewolf, initially being thought to live up in the mountains but after the arrival of Werewolf & Witch hunter Gary Oldman we discover the enemy lies withing and one of the villagers has a dark secret to hide.

All throughout the movie they play around with who it might be, little snippets of eyes and voices, statements etc lead you down a few paths but when the wolf is discovered, well................don't panic - I'm not that mean!

The best bit of this is the set.  A small village in who knows where, snugly settled in the forest with log cabins and open fires.  Given the constant snow cover, quite a warm and cosy little hamlet.  Being Hollywood, most of the village ladies are stunning!  Amanda Seyfried leads the way in a slightly more darker role than she has portrayed before as our normal on screen Sweetheart has taken a bit of sinister, troublesome teen turn as Valerie, our lady with the Red Cape.  Other famous faces include the already mentioned Gary Oldman, Charlie from Twilight (Billy Burke) and a welcome return (albeit quite short lived) from Stargate legend Michael Shanks.

So, the plot - Well, after 10 or so years of peace due to regular annual sacrifices the "wolf" has left our little village of wherever alone.  A medieval cluster of blacksmiths and farmers live out their basic lives until the Blood Moon bears down upon them and the Werewolf returns to reek havoc on this unlikely band of warriors. 

Thinking they have killed it early on, (very "Jaws") a band of soldiers, led by a Priest arrive with a manner of traps and tricks to lure the beast out for capture but there is more than just meets the eye and the wolf has rhyme and reason (and quite freakishly) a voice for what its doing and goes about a particular line of attacks to get what it wants.

The special effects are not as good as Twilight, the Wolf in particular is quite lame in comparison and up until it speaks to Seyfried I was totally into the movie - but then it just gave way a little.  not sure why, it was a good film but just got a little cheesy in the middle.

Dont let this put you off though, Grandma's house in the forest is brilliantly made and there are the "Grandma, what big eyes you have" lines thrown in for good measure.  Having Amanda in it means there has to be an underlying love story, which of course there is so the romantic ones out there will have something to celebrate but being a 12a the most you get to see is a slight roll around in the hay, not a full on Medieval romp, but never mind.  There is always next time!

That's it really.  The movie does leave a few questions, mainly how is everybody keeping warm in frilly summer dresses in the deep winter snow but that's just me being my normal over analytical self, ignore me.

Is it for the kids? Well, its a 12a but after having mine now forever petrified (to the point of tears) of clowns after watching "The Hole 3D" I tread a little more carefully when approaching this slightly bewildering age certificate.  Personally, my 7 year old would have been frozen to her seat but 12 and above, they should be fine. 

Its not around for much longer so if like me, this is the only thing left at the multiplex still to see then catch it while you can.  It wont win any awards but it fills a Sunday evening.

See this if.....................................................What big Teeth you Have!